Alcohol, SBC Senior Pastors & Laity: Surprisingly Different

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Three years ago Lifeway conducted a study titled “Perceptions of Alcohol: Protestant pastors and Laity.” Within the study, they specifically singled out Southern Baptist Senior Pastors and laity, and compared them with other Protestant Senior Pastors and laity. The exhaustive study can be found here.

Of all Southern Baptist Laity polled…

29% drink alcohol (compared to 3% of Senior Pastors).

77% strongly agree (compared to 98% of SP), and 8% somewhat with this statement: “Scripture indicates that people should never get drunk.”

35% strongly agree (compared to 20% of SP), and 23% somewhat agree (compared to 32% of SP) with this statement: “Scripture indicates that all beverages, including alcohol can be consumed without sin.”

21% strongly agree (compared to 27% of SP), and 12% somewhat agree (compared to 14% of SP) with this statement: “Scripture indicates that people should never drink alcohol.”

48% strongly agree (compared to 85% of SP), and 22% somewhat agree (compared to 12% of SP) with this statement: “When a Christian partakes of alcohol in a social setting, it is a liberty that could cause other believers to stumble or be confused.”

28% strongly agree (compared to 15% of SP), and 25% somewhat agree (compared to 32% of SP) with this statement: “When a Christian partakes of alcohol in reasonable amounts, they are simply exercising a biblical liberty.”

41% strongly agree (compared to 46% of SP), and 17% somewhat agree (compared to 29% of SP) with this statement: “When a Christian does not drink alcohol, this makes non-believers who see this more interested in Jesus Christ.”

44% strongly agree (compared to 60% of SP), and 15% somewhat agree (compared to 17% of SP) with this statement: “Christians should not use alcohol as a beverage.”

It appears, at least concerning this subject, that many Southern Baptists disagree with their pastors.

Do these statistics surprise you? Why or why not?

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.


  1. Dave Miller says

    A friend used to tell a corny old joke.

    Never take just one Baptist fishing with you. He will drink all the beer.

  2. Lydia says

    You might even be more surprised at those who are mail ordering red wine to drink a glass a day to replace anti statin drugs that have horrible side effects. :0)

    • says

      I am related to an IMB missionary who is trying all kinds of dietary changes to control cholesterol to get away from the anti-statins. His Muslim doctor (relevant because Islam is more anti-alcohol than the SBC) recommended a glass of red wine a day with a meal, but he can’t have the wine—the IMB would terminate him. They would rather pay for the expensive meds and the side effects.

      Makes one wonder about Timothy and his little wine for the stomach, you know? (1 Timothy 5:23)

          • says

            Kenneth, a deacon in my church was advised by his doctor to drink a glass of red wine every day. On a later visit, the doctor asked him if he had been drinking a glass of red wine. Kenneth said, “No.” “Why not?, the doctor asked. “Because I’ve never drank alcohol and I’m not going to start now.” The doctor said, “Well, then, drink a glass of grape juice. It will do the same thing.”

            “Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place?” Kenneth asked. The only reason his doctor gave was that wine has less calories. I think a lot of doctors assume everyone drinks, or at least have no problem with it.

            By the way, you can get reduced calorie grape juice. Also, one small glass a day is not going to do much about causing a person to gain weight. I sometimes add a little Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (shekar) to my unfermented wine.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • Bill Mac says

            This is not a slam dunk. Most of the studies have been with red wine, because they were studying people groups, such as the French, who regularly consume wine. The best I could come up with on a quick search is that grape juice may possibly offer the same benefits.

            It is most likely that the health benefits of red wine are not worth starting to drink wine if you never have. That was the advice of my doctor. However one should not be made to feel guilty if they drink red wine for health or pleasurable purposes.

        • Jake Barker says

          There is NO such thing as “unfermented” wine. You are always so ridiculous about anything alcohol.

          • says

            You said, “There is NO such thing as “unfermented” wine.”

            The Bible, and ancient writers such as Aristotle, Plutarch, Columella, as well as classics scholars would disagree.

            When you press grapes, what comes out is unfermented wine. This substance is called wine repeatedly in the Bible, and in modern English Bible translations.
            Your vats will overflow with new wine. -Proverbs 3:10
            No treaders will tread out wine in the presses. -Isaiah 16:10
            The vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. -Joel 2:24

            Aristotle said sweet wine would not intoxicate.
            Plutarch could not figure out why some wine intoxicated, and other wine did not.

            In Bible times and the ancient world, there was alcoholic wine and nonalcoholic wine. They knew how to make and preserve both. They called both “wine” just like we use the word “drink” to refer to alcoholic beverages, and nonalcoholic beverages.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • Todd Burus says

            It’s a shame how your logic wrecks havoc on the text of Scripture. If new wine is preservable, unfermented grape juice that Christians drink, then why is Jesus so worried about it being put into old wineskins in Matthew 9.17?

        • Jake Barker says

          Professor Brumbelow,
          You don’t need to excercise anymore today. Your mental gymnastics should be sufficient for this session.

          • says

            You said, “If new wine is preservable…”
            There is no “if” about it. It was preserved in that new, unfermented state. That is easily proved historically and scientifically.

            A brief explanation is found at:

            Second, I’ve never argued all wine in the Bible was nonalcoholic, just that it could be either one. That was proven in Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 16:10; Joel 2:24 and elsewhere.

            Third, about not putting new wine in old wineskins. The simple reason is because old wineskins would contaminate the new wine and cause it to ferment. Fermenting wine would burst new or old wineskins. By the way, Jesus contrasted His new wine ministry with the old wine of the Pharisees.
            David R. Brumbelow

        • Jim Shaver says

          Better check this out again. My source tell me that the sugar and fructose in a daily glass of pasteurized grape juice has more negative effects on your insulin levels that the other benefit you get from it.

          The red wine does not contain those sugars and fructose.

          • Frank L. says

            Better read the post again. The post was not about treating “diabetes,” but cholesterol.

            So, if you’re gonna be snippy, at least be accurate :)

            Justifying social drinking by alluding to some medicinal purpose is a red herring. I would bet–though I’ve never officially taken a survey–that most people who consume Jack Daniels do so for reasons other than medicinal.

            And, just for the record, I recently had a heart attack and my cholesterol was off the charts. With moderate meds, a strict diet, and four nasty fish oil pills a day, my bad cholesteral came down to a third of what is considered normal.

            So, there are other options besides medicinal wine.

      • Christiane says

        He needs to eat OATMEAL.
        Yes, old-fashioned oatmeal every day. His cholesterol WILL begin to come down.

  3. says

    Two Baptists had a fender bender on a old country road. They get out, examine the damage and introduce themselves. The one guy says “Hey, since we’ll have to wait for the cops, let’s have a beer. I’ve got a six pack my car.” He pulls two cans out and hands one to the other guy who replies “Well, guess the preacher ain’t around so it can’t harm nobody.” He guzzled his beer and noticed the other fella hadn’t opened his. He asked him “Hey, you’re aren’t gonna drink that?” The man replied while putting his beer can back up “Nah, I’m just gonna wait for the cops to show up.”

  4. says

    In a way the study is not surprising. Most senior pastor would have stronger convictions about a number of things than the average church member; stronger convictions about theology, morality, and practical Christian living. A lot of things that would disqualify a pastor, would not disqualify a member.

    A church member does not have to be perfect and fully mature to be a part of the church. Besides, us pastors need some people to preach to and work on J.

    The way questions are worded in a survey are of crucial importance. For example, “Scripture indicates that people should never drink alcohol.” Some would disagree because they believe Scripture permits the medicinal use of alcohol; while otherwise maintaining we should abstain from beverage alcohol. Perhaps the question should have read, “Scripture indicates that people should never drink alcohol as a recreational drug.”
    David R. Brumbelow

    • Bill Mac says

      David: Your question is loaded as well. Recreational drug? That is hardly an unbiased question. How about: Scripture teaches that it is permissible to consume alcoholic beverages for pleasure.

      The survey responses do not surprise me, because evangelicals have, for years, encouraged people to study the scriptures on their own. So it should not come as a surprise that lay people come to their own conclusions. Baptist clergy talk about the perspicuity of scripture, but I sometimes wonder if they really believe it. It seems we get along quite nicely with missions, evangelism, gospel preaching, etc, with the English versions of the bible. But when people start talking about wine or beer, suddenly you need to be a Hebrew and Greek scholar.

      • says

        You said, “Scripture teaches that it is permissible to consume alcoholic beverages for pleasure.”
        I strongly disagree. The Bible never says it is permissible to drink alcohol, or to take drugs, including alcohol; with the possible exception of taking them for medicinal purposes; never for pleasure.
        David R. Brumbelow

        • Todd Burus says

          Scripture doesn’t have to tell people it’s permissible to drink alcohol–everyone was already doing it and God had no problem with it in moderation. Likewise, the Bible also doesn’t say it’s permissible for people to have sex. What it does is tell us how to use sex in a way that’s glorifying to God. I woud guess there is a lot you do in a day that the Bibe doesn’t explicitly say is permissible. It is silly (and probably sinful) to try to live ones life by some sort of holistic regulative principle.

          • says

            Not sure what you are trying to say there. The Bible doesn’t just permit sex it actually commands people to have sex. Be fruitful and multiply dontcha know.

          • Todd Burus says

            The Bible commands people HOW to have sex. There are ways to have sex (and practices afterwords) that are not fruitful or multiplying.

          • says

            I guess my only question was because of your ‘phraseology’. The word permissible typically means allowed and so saying that something isn’t permissible has a different connotation that what it appears you are trying to say.

  5. Bart Barber says

    I think a more interesting contrast would be in we could juxtapose (a) what Baptist congregants say that they believe about drunkenness and (b) their Facebook pages or other indications of their actual practice with regard to using alcohol. I predict that we’d find a lot of Southern Baptists who have a need for this.

    And, of course, if the vast preponderance of drinking Southern Baptists are regularly getting intoxicated, then that is their liberty in Christ to do so. After all, the Bible never really defines a blood alcohol level at which one is intoxicated, and we ought to err on the side of liberty.

    • says

      Bart? The goal should be not to err. Are you suggesting that it’s better to err on the side of legalism than on the side of liberty? Regardless which side you err on, you’re still erring, and thus, still sinning. Legalism and liberalism are two sides of the same coin.

      Also, there is admittedly some conscience involved concerning the level of alcohol before someone is drunk; same goes for gluttony. At what point is someone a glutton? Can you really put an amount of food someone must consume before they’re a glutton; or, will it be different for every person?

      Finally, abuse of something does not prove that all who partake are sinning. Someone that watches 20 hours of TV a day doesn’t prove that watching TV is wrong. Someone that spends 20 hours on the Internet does not prove that Christians shouldn’t get on the Internet. Etc.

      We must believe and teach everything that the Bible says, even when we hate something that it allows. Arguing that our conscience is authoritative over everyone else is evil.

  6. says

    Everyone, I’m a teetotaler by choice, not conviction. I personally HATE alcohol; but, my personal hatred should not form my doctrine. The Scriptures alone should.

    Deut. 14:22-27 – ” 22″You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.”

    How do you teetotalers by conviction answer Deuteronomy 14:26 where God encourages the Israelites to buy strong drink to celebrate in worship to Him? If God permitted the consumption of strong drink (the equivalent of at least a beer today; and possibly some liquor), how can we say it’s “unwise” to consume today? Would we argue as well that God was “unwise” to permit the Israelites to worship Him through enjoying strong drink?

    I think in order to argue that drinking strong drink for pleasure is wicked and unwise, we have to communicate something about God as well. Are we prepared to call God “unwise”?

    If drinking for pleasure is not permitted by God, He could have easily condemned it; yet, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate His condemnation.

    I personally think Southern Baptists need to start looking at gluttony, a pandemic problem in the SBC, instead of passing resolutions against alcohol, and adding teetotalism as a requirement to serve in our local, state, or national conventions.

    I hate alcohol; and my conscience won’t let me drink it. Although some of you may see this as a strength, the Apostle Paul says that my conscience is weak. I am a “weaker” brother in this area.

    • says

      Regarding Deuteronomy 14:26 “wine or similar drink” (NKJV). The word used is “shekar.”

      Shekar was a drink made from fruit other than grapes. Like wine, it could be either unfermented, fermented and alcoholic, or vinegar.

      If you assume this passage is speaking of God sanctioning the drinking of strong alcoholic drink for pleasure, that is your “interpretation,” not just you taking the Bible for what it says.

      It should also be questioned about taking an obscure verse like Deuteronomy 14:26 while rejecting clear prohibitions in Scripture like Proverbs 20:1, 23: 29-35, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8. Proverbs 23 goes into great detail describing alcoholic wine (they had no word for alcohol), and then said don’t even look at it.

      It also reflects on God’s character to say He is for us using a mind altering drug for recreational purposes.
      David R. Brumbelow

      • says

        David, where do you get that shekar can be unfermented or vinegar? Where are you reading this from?

        David, this has nothing to do with “my interpretation.” Shekar is intoxicating. Where is it used in Scripture to refer to anything other than alcoholic drink?

        Also, none of the verses you quote condemn drinking alcohol. They simply warn their readers. You desparately want the Scriptures to condemn alcohol, so you’re reading your opinion into the text. The verses you quote condemn getting drunk, not drinking.

        Also, saying “they said don’t even look at it” is taken out of context. It’s figurative. The next verse speaks of it biting like a serpent and stinging like an atter. Would you suggest that alcohol becomes a serpent and an adder as well? If your interpretation is true, then you’d better close your eyes when a beer commercial comes on, or you walk by alcohol in wal-mart or a gas station.

        Also, to say that it reflects on God’s character to say He is for us using a mind altering drug for recreational purposes simply proves your eisogetical bias. God condemns drunkenness. He does not condemn drinking alcohol. Show me some Scripture where He condemns drinking alcohol.

        • says

          You said, “where do you get that shekar can be unfermented or vinegar?”

          Shekar is usually used parallel with wine. Just as wine (from grapes) was available and kept in all states (unfermented, fermented, barely fermented, vinegar), so was shekar.

          The scholars of the NKJV translated Deuteronomy 14:26 in such a way that it can be interpreted in any of these ways.

          John Wycliffe translated shekar into the English word “cider” (Luke 1:15). That is a valid translation because, like shekar, our word cider can mean either an alcoholic or nonalcoholic drink.

          Jerome spoke of shekar that was fermented, and unfermented.

          We get our words for sugar, cider, saccharine from shekar. Fermentation took the sweetness of fruit juice away. Why would they use a word that only meant what was bitter and intoxicating to form these words?

          A number of scholars have pointed out the various forms of shekar:
          Sikera – “Sweet drink, (often fermented).” -Dr. Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Eerdmans, 1970. Sikera is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word shekar.

          “As yayin is the generic term for the liquid of tirosh, so shechar is the generic term for the liquor of yitzhar or any other fruit than the grape, such as dates, pomegranates, etc.”
          -Leon C. Field, Oinos: A Discussion of the Bible Wine Question.

          “It is tolerably clear that the general words ‘wine [yayin; oinos]’ and ‘strong drink [shekar]’ do not necessarily imply fermented liquors, the former signifying only a production of the vine, the latter the produce of other fruits than the grape.” -Dr. Lyman Abbott, A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, Harper & Brothers, New York; 1876.

          “There is enough evidence to say that it is unjustifiable to claim that shekar must essentially be an intoxicating drink, and since the circumstances of its use in Deuteronomy 14:26 are such that an intoxicant is inconsistent with God’s commands given in other places, we must assure that a non-intoxicant is intended here.” -Dr. Stephen M. Reynolds; The Biblical Approach to Alcohol (a linguist and one of the NIV translators).

          “Not only the word yayin but also shekar can refer to grape juice as well as to wine (cf. Deuteronomy 29:6; Numbers 28:7; Exodus 29:40). The Hebrew verb which is related etymologically, shakar, means ‘to drink deeply’ rather than ‘to become drunk.’ as many lexicons imply (note especially Song of Solomon 5:1). The idea of drunkenness so often associated with both the noun and the verb is dependent upon the context (and the beverage that is imbibed), then, and is not an innate meaning of the word. The two words yayin and shekar together give the one idea in Deuteronomy 14:26 of ‘satisfying grape juice’ (a hendiadys).” -Dr. Robert P. Teachout, Wine, The Biblical Imperative: Total Abstinence; 1983. Teachout wrote his DTS doctoral dissertation on the use of wine in the Old Testament.
          David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            I’d just like to point out Ken Gentry’s reply to Stephen Reynolds on Reynolds translation of “lees” in Isaiah 25. Note that Reynolds even criticizes the NIV although he was one of the translators. The quotes below are from Gentry’s God Gave Wine.

            Of [Reynolds] own view he writes, “The improbable must be the correct answer. That is, the hypothesis that shemarim in Isaiah 25:6 does not mean lees at all. It is true that the lexicographers do not recognize any other meaning for shemer than dregs, lees or sediment, but we must face the improbable answer that they are incorrect in this particular verse” (p. 60).

            To affirm his [Reynolds] view, that “wine on the lees” does not actually mean “wine aged to full maturity,” he resorts to criticizing the New International Version (p. 62) and disagreeing with the 1985 Jewish translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (Tanakh), which he lauded as, “Accomplished by Jewish scholars judged by competent Jewish people to be extremely well qualified to bring the Hebrew Scriptures to the large and generally well-eduated world of English speaking adherents of Judaism” (p. 63).

            Regarding his interpretation of other references to lees (or “dregs,” as in Psalms 75:8), he admits, “I know of no previous writer who has suggested it” (p. 75). Elsewhere he confesses, “It is true that this translation may appear somewhat innovative” (p. 78).

            HT: (Bob)

          • says

            David, You have not shown me where alcohol is forbidden.

            Do you really believe that Israel did not drink alcohol?

            You’re misusing the Scriptures for your own opinion.

      • Greg Buchanan says

        If you are going to rebuke Jared his use of Dt 14 you should at least do so by putting your own proof texts in context.
        – Prv 20:1 – is clearly speaking about drunkeness (led astray by it) not merely consumption
        – Prv 23:29-35 – also clearly speaking about drunkeness, not merely consumption. As to v31 ( do not look on the wine) since wine was ALWAYS kept in sealed jars or skins (goat or some other animal) it was practically invisible to the common everyday passerby. Where wine WAS visible included parties, festivals to other deities (since Israel didn’t obey God in the book of Joshua), and by temple prostitutes as an initial temptation; sort of a B.C. version of GHB.
        – 1Th5:6-8 – this is a spiritual analogy; an admonition to be ready for the Lord in all things, at all times for His return. This is a passage about end times, not daily life.

        I agree with Jared in that there can be no biblical doctrine that states alcohol is evil and should never be consumed. Paul of all people would know this being the pharisee of pharisees and yet he advised Timothy to have some, even for medicinal use (1Tim 5:23). If there were a case against it in the OT, then he wouldn’t have so advised Timothy. Combined with this the fact there is no explicit instruction in the NT that “thou shalt not consume,” clearly there can be no implication towards a total ban as a doctrine.

        That being said, for those who do, do so according to scripture (not to drunkenness) for those who don’t, well then don’t. I think Rom 14:3 is most applicable – Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. (NKJ)

        • Chase says


          I agree that alcohol is permissible in moderation, but I think it should be noted that we can also make doctrine from the consequences of scripture. Scripture must not necessarily state something, e.g., “Thou shalt not consume,” for it to be forbidden; if such can be inferred or deduced from scripture, it is binding, as if it were clearly stated. Neither must it be forbidden in the New Testament, for if it forbidden in the Old, it is still as such, unless abrogated.

          Also, Romans 14 is referring to those who are weak in the faith (v. 1; cf. 1 Cor. 3:2), and is not license to drink or eat whatever we wish, or to celebrate holidays (v. 5), as some would use it. It regards causing our brethren to stumble by imposing too much of God’s law upon them at an early time (v. 13), rather than allowing them to grow into full submission to Christ.

        • Frank L. says

          It is always interesting to me how once we have determined what the Word, “should” say, we find that It does indeed say just what we thought it should :)

          prov 20:1 is not condemning drunkenness solely. It is describing the very nature of the substances. Wine mocks. Beer is a brawler.

          The passage does NOT say, “Much wine mocks and much beer is a brawler.” The issue is that starting down the road of beer and wine puts one in a dangerous (see verse 2) situation.

          If the issue was “drink in moderation” then the warning in verse 2 (Hebrew parallelism) would be a strange juxtaposition.

          One who plays with wine and beer risks the “wrath of the King.” I guess I’m just too afraid to risk displeasing my Lord for a few sips of something as dangerous as wine and beer.

          Remember: A Nazarite vow was not mandatory, but honorable. Daniel’s fast was not mandatory, but honorable. The Scripture does not mandate drinking in any passage I’m aware of.

          But, I doubt another thread on “drinking” is going to be anymore profitable than a former one. Plus, Debbie has already spoken.

          • says

            you left out “whoever is deceived by it.” I agree with Scripture that alcohol is a brawler, and that we shouldn’t be deceived by it. Those that are deceived by it are the ones that risk “the wrath of the king.”

            We must not be deceived by alcohol. So, those that drink must know that alcohol is a brawler and deceiver. They must be careful if they choose to partake.

            Are you willing to say that the millions of Israelites that drank watered-down alcoholic wine were at risk of displeasing the Lord moreso than us today?

            Also remember that legalism displeases the Lord as well. Make sure you don’t force your conscience on others… or that you think yourself more godly because you don’t partake of alcoholic beverages.

          • Chase says


            I think the descriptions of wine and strong drink in Pr. 20:1 only make sense if they refer to intoxication.

            John Gill: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging,…. Wine deceives a man; it not only overcomes him before he is aware, but it promises him a pleasure which it does not give; but, on the contrary, excessive drinking gives him pain, and so mocks him; yea, it exposes him to reproach and disgrace, and to the mockery and derision of others; as well as it sets him to scoff at his companions, and even to mock at religion, and all that is good and serious; see Hosea 7:5; and strong drink not only disturbs the brain, and puts the spirits in a ferment, so that a man rages within, but it sets him a raving and quarrelling with his company, and everybody he meets with; such generally get into broils and contentions, and get woe, sorrow, and wounds, Proverbs 23:29.”

            Matthew Henry: “Here is, 1. The mischief of drunkenness: Wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging. It is so to the sinner himself; it mocks him, makes a fool of him, promises him that satisfaction which it can never give him. It smiles upon him at first, but at the last it bites. In reflection upon it, it rages in his conscience. It is raging in the body, puts the humours into a ferment. When the wine is in the wit is out, and then the man, according as his natural temper is, either mocks like a fool or rages like a madman. Drunkenness, which pretends to be a sociable thing, renders men unfit for society, for it makes them abusive with their tongues and outrageous in their passions, ch. 23:29. 2. The folly of drunkards is easily inferred thence. He that is deceived thereby, that suffers himself to be drawn into this sin when he is so plainly warned of the consequences of it, is not wise; he shows that he has no right sense or consideration of things; and not only so, but he renders himself incapable of getting wisdom; for it is a sin that infatuates and besots men, and takes away their heart. A drunkard is a fool, and a fool he is likely to be.”

            Just something to consider.

          • Frank L. says

            “”Also remember that legalism displeases the Lord as well.””

            The height of Christian freedom is not to assert our rights but to freely surrender them for the benefit of another” (1Cor. 6:12).

            You do ere in calling my position “legalism.” I am not saying that someone one drinks watered down wine (I guess you mean grape juice) is any closer or any further from God.

            I only stated the obvious: if you drink, you must deal with the nature of the drink which is clearly described in unequivocal terms by the Word. If you do not drink–at all–you cannot be in danger of displeasing the Lord by using strong drink.

            That is not legalism–that’s Biblical common sense.

            I simply pointed out that the Bible does not REQUIRE one use wine for one’s pleasure. In fact, Paul points out that freely giving up this “one right or privilege of Christian freedom” could be of benefit to others.

            I’m sorry if you see using our Christian freedom to benefit someone other than ourself as being legalistic. I do not intend it to be that.

          • says

            Frank, you’re being legalistic if you think other brothers and sisters in Christ should abstain from alcohol use as well. I’m fine with you submitting to your conscience, you should. Legalism occurs when we expect everyone else to submit to our consciences.

            I also agree that we should limit our consciences for the good of our brothers and sisters; however, we have no reason to limit our consciences when they’re not around. When I’m around a brother or sister in Christ that believes Christians should not watch sports, I won’t watch sports; however, when I’m not around them, I’m free in Christ to submit to my own conscience.

          • Frank L. says


            I guess if you want to label my position legalistic regardless of what I say, then you certainly are free to do that.

            And, far be it for me to share my personal convictions with another for fear of being “legalistic.” Let’s just accept a totally private view of Christianity as you suggest to avoid any appearance of “legalism.”

            Most believers are perfectly fine keeping what they really believe to themselves so I think such an approach will be widely accepted by culture.

            I know that I’m being a little facitious with you, but I’ve had a hard morning :) We agree: there is no eleventh commandment: Thou shall not drink.

            If you feel your view is more helpful to society, then you keep on preaching it. I’ll stick with Diet Soda. I don’t really care much for the tast of alcohol, anyway.

            PS–For full disclosure of a condemned legalist, I don’t always stay at or under the speed limit.

      • Smuschany says

        David you are not translating “Shakar” correctly.

        This comes from the BDB lexicon.

        As a verb “Shakar” means to become drunk, or drunken. As a noun it is an intoxicating drink, or strong drink. As an adjective it means drunken.

        I am no language expert, but I can read a lexicon. And every single instance I can see here, gives “shakar” the meaning of “intoxicating”. There is absolutely NO way this can be “unfermented drink”, that is unless you are reading your own bias’ into the text and trying to make a word mean something that it clearly does not mean.

        • says

          The Bible is inerrant, lexicons and dictionaries are not. Often a lexicon basically quotes what previous lexicons have said, rather than going to and studying literary sources. Few lexical professors are aware of ancient ways to preserve fermented or unfermented beverages. A number of respected authorities are quoted above that point out that, like wine, shekar (made from fruit other than grapes) could be unfermented, fermented, or vinegar. Many more could be given.

          Numbers 6:3 even mentions vinegar of shekar. That in itself disproves your theory, for it mentions a form of shekar other than that which is fermented. Again, the three basic forms of wine or shekar: 1. Just pressed and unfermented, nonalcoholic. It could be preserved in this way more easily than in its alcoholic state. 2. Fermented. This took a lot of work and often went bad by picking up bad flavors or turning to vinegar. Often this stage was of very low alcohol content. It was mixed with large amounts of water. 3. The third stage is when fermented wine or shekar turned to acetic acid or vinegar. All three of these stages are at times referred to as wine in the ancient world.

          The verb form of shekar does not always mean drunk. Often it does, but not always. It is a word that simply means to be filled or satiated. Therefore, if you are filled with alcohol, you will be drunk. But you can be filled with unfermented wine, or Dr. Pepper®.
          David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            David, my problem is that you pick and choose which shekars should be translated alcoholic, and which should not. You base this on your preconceived biased against alcohol. Instead of context determining your interpretation, your bias against alcohol determines your interpretation; even though, you are terribly outnumbered as far as church history is concerned.

          • Smuschany says


            The BDB is THE most respected and used Hebrew lexicon TODAY. Go to ANY Hebrew professor in the SBC, ask them which lexicon to use for serious study, and they WILL tell you BDB. (Some might add Holiday as it is in a easier to read format.)

            My question to you is where did YOU get the idea that “shakar” can mean those different things? Clearly you seem to speak authoritatively on this subject, from where do you get your material? You already shot down the most respected Hebrew Lexicon in use today, so where do you get your translation that “shakar” can mean unfermented?

          • Smuschany says

            BTW…note on vinegar..

            I fail to see what your point is. “Shekar” is not vinegar. In Numbers 6 that you mention the word used for vinegar is “chomets”. Vinegar is made from the fermenting of alcohol (ethanol), and can be made from ANY alcoholic drink (wine, beer, ect). What is recorded in Numbers, is simply saying “Dont drink vinegar, no matter HOW it is made”. Which again, has to be made from something containing alcohol! Hense, “shakar” or “strong drink” was ALCOHOLIC! So you just disproved your own argument!

          • Smuschany says

            One more note on BDB…

            Some like Koehler and Baumgartner’s work “The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament”. But seeing as it can cost up to $600 for that set, it is beyond the reach of even some seminary profs…lol….Makes the Greek “Bauers” lexicon look like a cheep coffee table book.

          • says

            You said, “Where did YOU get the idea that “shakar” can mean those different things?”

            I gave that answer several comments above and offered a number of quotes from authorities about shekar. As I mentioned, more authorities could be cited.

            Jared and Smuschany,
            Do you believe wine is always alcoholic drink in the Bible? Do you believe wine is only to be interpreted one way? Do you believe there is only one kind of wine in Bible and ancient times?
            David R. Brumbelow

          • Smuschany says

            Yes….you quoted from “authorities” who are all completely and totally in the prohibition camp. Gee…That is unbiased. That’s like expecting a Yankee fan to be unbiased when it comes to talking about the Red Socks.

          • says

            You said, “you quoted from “authorities” who are all completely and totally in the prohibition camp.”

            That is a cute, convenient argument. You might as well say – anyone who agrees with your position is an invalid authority. It doesn’t matter how educated or authoritative they are. They don’t count.

            That is a great way to ignore a mountain of evidence.

            By the way, there are authoritative sources who would be drinkers, and would also affirm my position that both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks were referred to in the Bible and the ancient world as “wine.” But something tells me that would still not matter to you.
            David R. Brumbelow

    • Greg Buchanan says

      I agree with that also. The SBC is guilty of being Phariseical in this and other areas. At more (thankfully) former church, they would not allow a good Godly man to serve on committees or as a deacon because the franchise store he owned required he sell alcohol.

      This is extra biblical, period. There is no room for adding to scripture rules to judge others by, that and hypocrisy were two attributes of the pharisees against which Jesus preached. Yet, in His Name, many in the SBC will add these extra unbiblical rules as requirements or limitations on who may serve and how. They do not honor God with these rules, but themselves.

  7. Christiane says

    “start looking at gluttony, a pandemic problem in the SBC, instead of passing resolutions against alcohol”

    The same brain chemical thought to increase our desire to overeat also appears to increase alcoholic tendencies (neuropeptide galanin)
    Could it be that ‘over-eating’ is an ‘acceptable’ replacement for other sources of addiction? A food addict should seek medical supervision if possible, for health reasons alone.

    I would leave the moral condemnation of over-eating to those who don’t recognize food addiction as a outward sign that the addict may be suffering from other problems that need attention. The whole idea of the moral condemnation of outward forms of addiction, without consideration of what else is going on in a person’s life, seems shallow to me. People need to get real help if they are in trouble.

    The superior moral judgment by those who aren’t afflicted ? Does it really help anyone?
    In some cases, unless the addict is getting proper help, that moral judging simply becomes another added burden, driving the addict to escape further into his addiction.

  8. Debbie Kaufman says

    I do have a drink at times. Beer, wine, and an occasional mixed drink. I have not abstained even with several alcoholics in my family. The difference is that being a born again Christian, I know nor do I have the desire to get drunk. My health according to my doctor is now excellent since my surgery last year. If you want to get Baptists fighting bring up alcohol, with both sides using scripture. The bottom line is that I see the Bible as condemning drunkenness, not alcohol. We have been over this subject many times in the five years I was blogging and like women in ministry, this topic is something maybe we need to agree to disagree on. If you have the conviction to drink, don’t. If you don’t have the conviction by all means drink moderately but every time this subject comes up I want to bang my head on my desk. This subject has nothing to do with spiritual growth, salvation. One is not more spiritual than the other. Good grief, quit trying to control either way. Life is too short and the battle continues to wage on. It’s true, Southern Baptists love to fight. Just read Peter Lumpkin’s blog and one will see that. Our goal is missions, cooperation, yet in five years I have yet to see it. Save someone then conform them to some’s SB image, not God’s. It’s ridiculous and so far from scripture.

    • says


      I am only going to make this statement and will back out afterwards. The reason is that I do not want to be accused of a “drive-by”. So here goes.

      You said; “an occasional mixed drink.” You may be able to argue that wine and beer are not that high in alcohol content. But, the “mixed drink” is clearly the alcohol that is spoken of in the scripture as something we are not even to look upon.


      • Jake Barker says

        What is the alcohol content of a “mixed drink” do you even know?
        Let me confuse you with facts:
        Most mixed drinks have an alcohol of appx 12% abv which is similiar to wine. The average mixed drink at one time had appx 1 1/2 ounces of 80 proof liquor in it, 80 proof is 40% alcohol. That diluted by 6 to 8 ounces of NON_ALCOHOLIC mixer amounted to a less than 15% abv “mixed drink”. Currently most bartenders are using only 1 ounce of 80 proof, 40% abv liquor mixed with NON ALCOHOLIC mixer….result….a 12%abv or less drink. Testing drinkers using scientific means for delayed reactions vs breath analysis for alcohol means that a 180 pound person can consume 2 drinks per hour and not breach the stautory limit for intoxication.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Tim: I would disagree with you here. I have a mixed drink once in awhile. I do have them. Their alcoholic content is no more than beer or wine. That is why they are mixed. They are classified as spirits. Spirits are added to some wines such as sherry or port to create fortified wines. The alcohol content is about the same.

  9. John Fariss says

    Oh boy! Are we going to start another free-for-all over whether the Bible calls any consumption of alcohol a sin, or whether it is just drunkenness that is? (BTW, I agree with Jared and Greg and Dan on this one.)

    You all know what the difference in Baptists and Catholics are, don’t you? Baptists don’t recognize the authority of bishops or popes, or each other in a liquor store.

    David Brumbelow said, “Most senior pastor would have stronger convictions about a number of things than the average church member; stronger convictions about theology, morality, and practical Christian living.” This is a possible explanation. The other possibility is that members, living in the real world, understand that the trivialities many pastors preach and argue about just don’t make any eternal difference, so they ignore them. Praise God for the priesthood of the believer!


  10. Chief Katie says


    On this we completely agree. I come from a family full of alcoholics and drug addicts. I believe there is a genetic component and most addiction professionals agree. I rarely have an alcoholic drink. But it’s not because I think scripture forbids it. It’s because I’m not willing to tempt my DNA. And yes, we waste far too much time with this topic.

    As to Baptists fightin’ over this stuff, Peter Lumpkins’ blog is a perfect example of the worst in pettiness, misrepresentation and offensive Christian behavior.

    There is a world of hurting people out in the world who need to meet the living Savior and I’m not going to cast them out over alcohol.

  11. anon says

    What doesn’t surprise me is that these stats and the completely predictable discussion show Southern Baptist still can’t figure out what is important and worth spending time and effort on. And- I am not suggesting that it is an easy thing to decide. But the fact remains: until the SBC can figure out what is truly valuable- what is worth a fight, what is worth money, what is worth effort- we will die.

  12. says

    We recently changed our church covenant, and the new one does not contain the “abstain from the use or sale of intoxicating beverages” clause that so many Baptist churches do. For two reasons:

    1) As a pastor I refuse to bind someone’s conscious with something the Bible does not say.

    and 2) Practically and given beliefs behind #1 (in other words if I thought the Bible condemned all drinking then I would instead strongly urge these people to change their habits), if we actually enforced the tenants of our covenant, which we are supposed to do, we’d have to excommunicate about half of our most active and faithful members.

    I’ve seen some comments already about what the words for “wine” actually meant…but let’s just go pure context… In 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, Paul chastizes some of the Corinthians for getting drunk off the Lord’s Supper wine and tell them they have their own houses to drink in, instead. And in 1 Timothy 3:3&8, and Titus 1:7 the admonitions are to not be a drunkard or not be addicted to/consuming much wine.

    If the wine was basically unfermented grape juice then how were they getting drunk or in danger of getting drunk?

    In our culture, drinking might not be the wisest thing to do as a Christian, but as long as your not becoming drunk or addicted to it, then nowhere does the Bible say its a sin, so what right do we have to say so?

    • says


      I am considering leading our congregation to take out the same statement from our Church Covenant. I’ve already spoken with our deacons and all of them are in agreement that the statement needs to go. Glad to know that a fellow pastor did this without getting fired over it.

      • says

        It wasn’t that big of deal for a couple of reasons:

        1. We didn’t focus on reminding people what the old statement said, and most of them had no idea anyway.

        2. We wrote our own statement that had 7 promises from the church to the member and 7 from the member to the church, each backed up with Scripture and positively presented it.

        When it came to possibly “sinful” behaviors, the promise simply reads: “To represent Jesus and the church well in the world by striving to live just and righteous lives separated from sin” (Romans 6:1-14).

        Granted some will undoubtedly read drinking into that, just as some will read attending R-rated movies into that, but if they choose to go with their convictions and confront a person who does not believe drinking is a sin, they’re going to have to do it with the Bible and wisdom and not a phrase from the covenant with no scripture quotations or references.

      • says

        D.R., I lead my previous church to do this as well. My church had not emphasized the covenant; and thus, roughly half of our active membership were not teetotalers. What most churches are running into is that since they have not encouraged their new members to affirm the covenant before joining, you have many Southern Baptist congregations that are made up of 30% (at least) of non-teetotalers. Your only choices are 1) ignore the church covenant. Might as well burn it then. 2) change the church covenant to reflect the overall congregation’s convictions; or, 3) force all the church to reaffirm the present church covenant, and lose a third of your congregation.

      • Frank L. says

        Mike and D.R.,

        An honest question: are you supposing that taking out a long-held standard of abstinance is going to improve the character of your congregation.

        Mike admitted that over half of his congregation did not have any problem disregarding the covenant they had made.

        While I don’t see anything wrong with making a church covenant more in line with the Biblical text, I do think that there is a danger of giving the appearance of moral progress when such does not exist.

        This could be a sword that cuts two ways.

        • says

          It’s not about moral progress or the lack thereof, it is about clearly defining the standards by which we expect members to abide based solely upon Scripture (or as close as our fallen natures can get to basing something solely upon Scripture).

          I do believe that if we’re going to use a covenant to actually define a standard of membership, it is far better to remove provisions that have no firm biblical basis than leave them in and attempt to bind our member’s consciouses to them no matter how long-held such a standard might be.

          It’s not about bucking tradition so we can have keggers in the fellowship hall, it is about honoring the commitment to use the Bible as our sole guide and authority to faith and practice.

          • Frank L. says


            I commend your desire to follow the Word. I really do. Yet, you stated, perhaps too casually, that half your members did not adhere to the old covenant. If a covenant is not intended to produce some moral progress, then we are only arguing about words, not substance.

            My point is: people who have advocated abstinence have been accused (more than once) of being “legalists.” Yet, it seems one definition of legalism is to have rules (covenants) that have no connection to moral progress.

            In other words, it seems no improvement to me to substitute on covenant that is being ignored for another covenant to be ignored. That sounds like mere sloganeering–something we SB’s seem to have mastered.

            Every person I know, or have known, that espoused abstinence has been the opposite of legalistic. Each tea-totaler I have know has been someone “fiercely devoted” to the Word of God and God of the Word.

            For me, abstinence is a decision, not a condition.

          • says

            And our church does have the problem that so many others have: the covenant is just words on a piece of paper; it’s not just that 1/2 our active members broke it b/c they had a drink now and then, over 3/4 of our total members broke it b/c they don’t come to the church anymore yet continue on the rolls.

            I’ve only been at the church for 8 months. So past stuff is stuff that I hear, but from what I hear the covenant wasn’t followed, large part because it wasn’t known… members who have been going there for years didn’t know what it said. And there was no strategy in place to teach it or enforce it across any of its provisions.

            Now we’re in the process of changing all of that. Part of that step was to re-write the covenant. Another part of that step is the new by-laws committee we’ve formed to revise the entire constitution. Their first act is to be address membership and attempt to do so in light of biblical teaching.

            In regards to the covenant, this is so it does mean something now.

            But if we want it to honestly mean something biblically, then we have to first do our best to purge it of the traditions of men.

          • says

            The Church Covenant has been used by many Baptist churches since the 1850s. It has been slightly revised and is available from LifeWay or Broadman Church Supplies. It is available in a post card size that can be placed in the church bulletin or in a tract rack. They also have one with adhesive to place in hymnals or pew Bibles.

            It says that we engage, “to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs and intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography.”

            I believe that is a great, important statement that is needed today. If a church says nothing about drinking, many youth and adults take that as license to drink. The Church Covenant warns them of the danger of drinking, drugs, and pornography. Few are pointing out these dangers today.

            Some feel the entire church has to comply to use it. It can be used with strict discipline, but doesn’t have to be. It can be used by a church to simply point the people in the right direction. Even those who disagree will at least be told what Southern Baptists believe.

            For more information on the Church Covenant:
            David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            It says that we engage, “to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs and intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography.”

            I believe that is a great, important statement that is needed today. If a church says nothing about drinking, many youth and adults take that as license to drink. The Church Covenant warns them of the danger of drinking, drugs, and pornography. Few are pointing out these dangers today.

            Here’s the thing though… having a covenant plastered to the inside of a hymnal, put in the bulletin, or set on a tract rack isn’t going to stop people or kids from drinking and looking at porn. And it’s not going to make the adults talk to the youth or to each other about it.

            We don’t use that covenant any more and we don’t have it posted in different places, but what we do is encourage accountability and talking about these issues to each other, and as a pastor I model it.

            In fact this past Sunday night we separated the young men and women in our youth and had a “purity” talk where one of the main things was the issue of porn.

            I’ve had various conversations with youth and adults about alcohol. We state and defend our beliefs: 1) If you’re not 21 it is a sin to drink b/c the Bible says to obey your government and the law makes under 21 drinking illegal. 2) If you’re 21 or older it’s going to be up to your conscious what you do with the following in mind: drunkenness is a sin, period; and you must be cautious of how your use of liberty affects your Christian brother, the person struggling with alcoholism, and your witness, so think long and hard about the wisdom of the act before you take a drink.

            We don’t need the old baptist covenant in that sense b/c we actually talk the issues. And part of our new covenant is that we actually talk about the issues.

            Like I said, our new covenant has seven promises from the church to the member and seven from the member to the church. There’s a bit more to it, but here’s the seven promises in each direction:

            The Promises of the Church to the Member
            1.To protect and declare the gospel of Jesus before the eyes of the saved and the lost (Matthew 16:13-20, 28:16-20).
            2.To provide leadership who love the church, live as examples, and meet the biblical qualifications (Acts 6:1-6, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 1 Peter 5:1-4).
            3.To give oversight and provide avenues of growth for living a life faithful to Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-16, Hebrews 13:17).
            4.To affirm the faithful member’s gospel profession of Jesus through baptism, fellowship, and the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 28:16-20, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).
            5.To supply accountability so members do not drift into the deceitfulness of sin (Matthew 18:15-20, Hebrews 3:12-13).
            6.To protect the integrity of the church by disciplining those who by unrepentant sin disqualify their membership (Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
            7.To be a good steward of the resources given to the church (Matthew 25:14-30)

            The Promises of the Member to the Church
            1.To represent Jesus and the church well in the world by striving to live just and righteous lives separated from sin (Romans 6:1-14).
            2.To join regularly with my church family for worship, encouragement, accountability, and prayer (Hebrews 10:19-25).
            3.To submit my life to oversight and care from my fellow members (Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, Ephesians 5:21).
            4.To humbly accept rebuke and correction when I err in sin (Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
            5.To give generously and cheerfully to the work of the church and the needs of fellow members (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15).
            6.To provide godly counsel and wisdom for my fellow members and to accept the same from them (Romans 15:14, Galatians 6:1-5).
            7.To seek to live in peace and harmony with my fellow church members, addressing issues privately in love and not in gossip or spite (Matthew 5:23-24, Romans 12:9-21).

          • says

            Some would also consider Scripture to be just words on paper. Much depends on what and how we preach and teach.

            “to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs and intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography”
            is going to do a lot more than not saying or teaching it. Not all will take it seriously, but some will.
            David R. Brumbelow

    • Lydia says

      “If the wine was basically unfermented grape juice then how were they getting drunk or in danger of getting drunk?”

      And Jesus created the “best grape juice” when they ran out of the other grape juice. :o)

      • Frank L. says

        Lydia, I know you are being a little sarcastic, but where in the koine Greek does the word “better” necessarily mean “higher alcoholic content.”

        It may mean that. It may not. You seem to make a leap of faith that is not substantiated by the text.

        I have not been a drinker for some time (after I left the Navy), but I do remember that the stuff without the highest alcohol content were not necessarily the best tasting. The Word may have been referring to the taste and nothing else.

    • Bill Mac says

      We removed the alcohol clause from our covenant as well. Even some of our most ardent teetotalers (including me) admitted that there wasn’t a biblical leg to stand on for that one.

  13. Greg Buchanan says

    41% strongly agree (compared to 46% of SP), and 17% somewhat agree (compared to 29% of SP) with this statement: “When a Christian does not drink alcohol, this makes non-believers who see this more interested in Jesus Christ.

    In all seriousness, who on earth would would really believe that not drinking makes non-believers MORE interested in Jesus? What part of abstention has anything to do with the Gospel? Have we made the Gospel more about the behavior of Christians than the biblical record of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Does the Gospel only cover non-drinkers or does it only appeal to alcoholics who want to quit? Is that what Jesus is about… is the Gospel now a 12 step program?

    I understand Christian behavior can turn off non-believers or rather it solidifies their lack of desire to know God in the first place. I understand who poor behavior from drunkenness to rage to hypocrisy to persecution can reflect God’s image poorly and be used as an excuse by the world to mar His Name.

    But we need to differentiate between differences in Christian behavior and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    • Frank L. says

      Greg, non-believers overwhelmingly have indicated to me in conversation–and I have spoken individually to many, many non-believers–that real Christians don’t smoke or drink.

      You may think that smoking and drinking have no impact on non-believers, but that has not been my experience.

      I’m not arguing whether it “should or should not,” only that in my experience, non-believers respect Christians who don’t drink, smoke, chew or go with girls that do.

      • Smuschany says

        And many non-Christians I speak with, think that all conservative Christians are just like the folks at Westboro Baptist Church. What’s your point? We should not base our faith off of what non-believers THINK our faith should be.

        • Frank L. says


          My point if you would have read the post I was replying to you was to counter the assumption that our behavior in regard to drinking and such was of no concern to non-believers.

          I think before you come out attacking you should at least read a post in context so as to not look foolish.

          The Bible tells us a great deal about how we should guard the world’s perception of us. As far as your reference that non-believers perceive all conservative Christians as like Westboro is and exaggeration.

          I’ll stand by my assertion that many non-believers consider smoking, social-drinking, and the like are behaviors that true believers do not engage in.

          Now, with preachers like Drischoll and some other “fad preachers” this perception may change and non-believers will think of Christians as “one of us.”

          I hope that helps clarify my position. You are welcome to disagree, but at least give the courtesy of reading a post in context first.

          I am not saying anything like we ought to get our ethics from non-believers. That is a straw man you created out of whole cloth.

          • Smuschany says

            So because only in the past 2-3 hundred years people have been FALSELY lead to believe Christians say “no drinking” because of the loud and unbiblical teachings of the temperance movement, that means we today must act in a way the world “thinks” we should act? Simply put, complete and total prohibition from alcohol has ALWAYS been the extreme minority view in Christian history up until the mid 1800’s.

          • says


            Can you at least spell the man’s name right? It’s Driscoll. Once is a typo. Twice is lazy. Three times is ignorance. If you’re going to criticize him, at least learn how the name is spelled.

            No “non-believers” I know share your opinion that Christians do not smoke or drink. Maybe I’m hanging around the wrong pagans.

            I think it’s funny that you label Driscoll (note the spelling) as a “fad preacher.” Pastor Mark is a lot of things but he’s not into “fads” or being “popular.” He simply preaches what the Bible says and doesn’t add to it. That’s how you arrive at a moderationist position.

            The nice thing about holding that position is you don’t have to do all the textual gymnastics and textual violence that you and DBR and other militant abstentionists have to do in order to justify your position. You simply read the word, keep it in context, and go on about lining up your life with what the Bible says.

            No where in the Bible are you commanded to drink alcohol. You are not sinning by not drinking. You are sinning by binding another’s conscience to your own personal conviction. That is legalism at best and adding to scripture at worst.

            Saddest of all almost every discussion that breaks out on this topic in the SBC blogosphere always at some point harkens back to SBC tradition. Traditions are not always good, right, or biblical. You would think that a convention that values the inerrant word of God AND a history of repenting from its poor traditional, historical choices (pro-slavery, anti-Civil Rights movement) would learn to view tradition with measured suspicion when it contradicts the plain written word of God.

            I think we still have a lot to learn…

          • Frank L. says


            If you are going to set Mark up as the preeminent preacher you should at least quote me correctly when doing so. I never said that non-believers don’t think or believe Christians smoke. Since I did not say that, I feel no need to defend it.

            Let’s see, he’s just a Bible preacher and not into fads, as in “cussing to be cool.” Sure, he may have “apologized” for that indescretion, but has he just moved on to new one on his “coarse joking” about sex which the Bible clearly, without any question denounces (Ephesians 5).

            I didn’t say this either: “”You are sinning by binding another’s conscience to your own personal conviction.”” In fact, I believe just as you do in regard to personal conscience. So, I guess I don’t have to defend saying what I did not saying or arguing with you about something we apparently agree on.

            “”always at some point harkens back to SBC tradition.”” Since my beliefs on social drinking predate my involvement in the SBC, I guess I don’t have to defend this accusation either.

            You pick one set of Scriptures to defend what-his-name as an example of a “bible preacher,” and conveniently avoid the Scriptures that talk about “coarse joking” which he does often in the couple of sermons I’ve watched him preach.

            We disagree as to his strengths and weakenesses as a gospel preacher. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I don’t like his approach no matter how you spell his name. But, I’m not the one who inserted him into the thread.

            So, in future feel free to challenge me, criticize me, condemn me, or correct my spelling. But, at least challenge, criticize, or condemn me for what I say or believe and not what you imagine I must say or believe.

          • Frank L. says

            “”has ALWAYS been the extreme minority view in Christian history””

            Save your bark for the right tree. Just for the record, I don’t share that view.

          • Smuschany says

            Well your view is wrong then Frank. Even the ones whom many in the SBC belove, the Anabaptists, were not against partaking of alcohol! I am sorry, but it is a historical FACT that the position of total prohibition of partaking alcohol prior to the 1800’s and rise of the temperance movement, has ALWAYS been a extreme minority view. I aside from the anabaptists; Lutherans, Presbyterians, Puritans, even early Methodists all had no problem with the moderate consumption of alcohol. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, ect all had no problem with alcohol. However short of naming every single human being prior to the 1800’s and their stance on alcohol, there is nothing I can say to you that would “prove” in your eyes that you are wrong on this point of the historical acceptance of moderate alcohol consumption among Christians.

            Thus I ask YOU to show me evidence that a position of prohibition on alcohol was anything more than an extreme minor view in Christian history. I know you can not, but I would love for you to try. BTW, I have a degree in history, I have multiple volumes in and on Christian History, so please, give me a group of any substantial weight that held this view. Anything that supports your assumption that prohibition on alcohol was anything other than a extreme minority view.

          • says

            How about Solomon when he described alcoholic wine, as opposed to nonalcoholic wine, and then forbid people from even looking at the kind that is alcoholic (Proverbs 23:29-35).

            How about when Solomon said wine itself (the alcoholic kind) is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1).

            How about when the Apostle Paul commanded us to be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8).

            How about when the Apostle Peter commanded us to be sober (1 Peter 5:8).

            How about Pastor Timothy who was such a teetotaler he would not even drink unfermented wine (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul told him to drink a “little” wine for medicinal purposes. And it can be legitimately debated whether Paul was recommending fermented or unfermented wine to Timothy for medicinal purposes. Both were called wine so you can interpret it either way. By the way, those who believe in abstinence have most always accepted the use of alcohol for strictly medicinal purposes.

            The Roman Catholic church at times argued that fermented wine should be used in worship. Why would that argue that if no one was doing so? And those disagreeing in those days with the Roman Catholic Church – their writings are not likely to have been preserved; only what their “in power” opponents chose to say about them.

            The pope even criticized some who were dipping cloth in unfermented wine, then later soaking it in water for use in communion. It should also be remembered there were multiple ways ancients preserved unfermented wine.
            I think it was Clement who said he admired those who did not drink wine. Why would he say that if no one abstained?

            Some early Christians spoke of squeezing grapes directly into the cup for the Lord’s Supper.

            I agree abstinence was often a minority position in the history of the Christian church. So was opposition to slavery. So was believers baptism by immersion. Scripture is our rule of faith and practice; not history and tradition. Sounds like you may be the one arguing for tradition.
            David R. Brumbelow

  14. Bill Mac says

    I have often raised this argument, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it answered. Were the Israelites at teetotaler race? Were the Israelites commanded to be a teetotaler race by God? Now perhaps someone might argue that the standard for Christians is different than the standard for the Jews, but let’s at least start there. Does the OT prohibit the Israelites from drinking alcoholic beverages?

    My answer: Of course it does not. Nazirites were forbidden, during the time of their vow. Priest were forbidden, before they went to minister at the temple. Otherwise, no restriction. They had vinegar folks. You don’t get vinegar without alcohol. Do you think they drank the fresh juice, put it aside when it started to ferment, and then picked it up again when it was fully fermented? Does anyone really believe that? I fully accept that the word wine could mean unfermented juice. But unfermented juice ferments. It is a continuum, not a discrete process. They drank it when it was a day old, ten days, 100 days, and 1000 days, if it lasted that long.

    • Frank L. says

      Smush. #94. I just said, I don’t Agree with the extreme minority view and you say I am wrong. Now you are arguing with yourself. Have you been drinking?

      • Smuschany says

        I use the term “extreme minority view” simply because I am uncomfortable saying “No one prior to 1800 held a position of total prohibition on alcohol”. I recognize that there might have been individuals, or maybe small groups over the course of 1800 years that did hold to such a position. However, i know of NO group(s) prior to what would become the temperance movement, that held to such a position. You say I am wrong on this, yet are unwilling to support such a position with even ONE group. What is more, rather than either A) providing such evidence or B) just leaving it alone and saying nothing; you instead launch a ad-hominem attack on me, joke or not, accusing me of drinking. That, more than anything, shows your entire argument is a house of cards, and when you run out of cards to play, you hope you can belittle your opponent to try and win the argument. I truly pity you if that is what you have to offer.

  15. says

    Proverbs 20:1, as Frank L. has pointed out, condemns alcoholic wine itself. “Wine IS a mocker.” Not the misuse or overuse, but wine itself. Unfermented wine and shekar are not mockers, but fermented wine and shekar sure are. Scripture here zeros in on alcoholic wine and shekar and condemns them.

    Proverbs 23:29-35 gives a detailed description of fermented, not unfermented wine. In the midst of this detailed description of alcoholic wine, it says not to even look at it. That is a direct condemnation of alcoholic drink. Don’t look at it when it is fermented.

    1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 commands us to be sober, as preachers are commanded in 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8. The first drink ends your sobriety. As Jerry Vines says, “To drink moderately is to be moderately intoxicated.”
    1 Peter 5:8 and elsewhere we are commanded to be sober.

    So, the Bible does command us to not drink. It teaches this both directly and indirectly. That is why the huge majority of Southern Baptists have wisely opposed drinking for well over 100 years.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • Chase says


      The language of Pr. 20:21 is not literal, but anthropomorphic. Wine cannot mock and strong drink cannot rage. These, though, are certainly actions that are effected in those who consume much alcohol. I see no reason for the passage to conclude that wine per se is the problem.

      Verses 29-35 are clearly condemning drunkenness, as the answer to the questions posed in verse 29 is “they that tarry long at the wine.” Of verse 31, Gill writes, “not that it is unlawful to look upon the colour of wine, and thereby judge of its goodness; but it should not be looked upon with a greedy eye, so as vehemently to desire it, which will lead to an intemperate use of it; just as looking upon a woman, so as to lust after her, is forbidden, Matthew 5:28.”

      You said, “The first drink ends your sobriety.”

      Why is that? Pr. 23:29-35 gives a good definition of drunkenness, and I fail to see how somehow drinking in moderation would fall into those categories.

      • says

        You quoted Gill. I’ll quote Rogers.

        “These Scriptures (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-32) tell us, I believe plainly and clearly, that the Christian position so far as beverage alcohol is concerned is total abstinence. The Bible says we are not to look upon it, we are not to desire it when it is fermented. Beverage alcohol is America’s most dangerous drug.” -Adrian Rogers, The Battle of the Bottle – part 2, 2003;
        Adrian P. Rogers (1931-2005) was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a leader in the SBC Conservative Resurgence.
        David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            Could have been worse than that. He could have been quoting Peter.

            For the gambling Baptists..what’s the over-under on how long it takes for a Lumpkins disciple or Peter himself to link to Peter’s “book” on alcohol…or at least to reference it as a justification of a point?


        • Chase says


          I don’t buy it. It makes more sense that the command against looking upon wine regards lust and greed, rather than normal drinking, otherwise the explanation from the preceding verses would not make sense: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.” The command in verse 31 proceeds from this context.

      • Bill Mac says

        If all Israelites were forbidden to drink alcohol, why are there prohibitions for Nazarites and Priests during temple service? The Mosaic Law governs Israelite life right down to the finest detail. Why is there nothing in the law forbidding alcohol?

    • says

      David, You’re reading “no alcohol” into 1 Thess. 5:6-8, 1 Tim. 3:2, and Titus 1:8.

      Also, your quote “To drink moderately is to be moderately intoxicated,” is a legalistic statement (IMO). There’s no denying that Israel drank alcoholic wine. Would you argue that all of Israel was moderately drunk, violating God’s commands on a daily basis… including every positive example we have in the Old Testament (prophets, kings, etc.)? I’m curious as well if “to eat moderately is to be a moderate glutton?”

      Also, concerning your remark about Southern Baptists, I’ll go ahead and point to orthodox Christianity. The Bible does not condemn drinking alcohol, this is why the Christian church has wisely allowed its consumption without drunkenness for over 2000 years.

      Finally, what we’re seeing is a change in Southern Baptist life. I pastored a church in Soddy Daisy, TN and about half of that congregation were not teetotalers, even though I was. We’ve handed our people an inerrant Bible and we’ve told them to believe it. It’s difficult to be a teetotaler by conviction when you believe all that the Bible says.

    • says

      I really don’t have a dog in this particular pony show, but your misconstruing the meaning of “sober” in the context of the verses you just cited. The word that is used for “sober” in most of the verse that you just cited is also translated as “watch in 1 Peter 4:7 where another word is translated as “sober” instead. That other word appears in Mark 5 to describe the now unpossessed demoniac as “in his right mind.”

      I would suggest that a little more careful use is demanded of the text. Sober has other connotations besides drunkenness.

      • says

        I’m not saying sober only refers to drinking, but I think it is incredible that some would say that it can never refer to drinking.

        The first thing drinking does is take away a person’s good judgment. How can these verses, among other things, not “include” abstaining from the recreational use of a mind altering drug? In 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 it even contrasts it with drunkenness. AA will tell anyone your sobriety ends with a drink.
        David R. Brumbelow

        • says

          David, because a few drinks do not alter the mind. (BTW: I hate even having to defend this… I absolutely hate alcohol!)

          Also… so, you’re quoting AA as proof?

          I’m not sure what else to say?

          • says

            “a few drinks do NOT alter the mind.”
            That is absolutely false. That is scientifically false.

            Unless you are talking about unfermented wine.
            David R. Brumbelow

          • says

            David, if you’re talking about some microscopic level, then I can agree; however, a few drinks do not make someone drunk. To argue that every time the Bible condemns drunkenness that it also condemns one drink of alcohol is misusing Scripture.

            Also, are you against caffeine consumption as well?

        • says

          But David wouldn’t you say, in your view, that taking a drink is poor judgment? The influence to take the first drink then would not be the fault of alcohol. So what, in your view, should one abstain from in order to not make that first non-alcohol induced, poor decision to drink alcohol?

          BTW, it has also been said the the internet alters the mind.

          • says

            Next time you are driving and get stopped by police, tell them you’ve had a few drinks but your mind is not altered. Let me know how it goes over. You see that on “Cops” all the time.

            I would say the poor judgment to take the first drink then leads to more poor judgment.

            Good preaching and biblical convictions can help folks to have better judgment.
            David R. Brumbelow

        • says

          I presume you are talking of someone else since I didn’t use the word never either. I don’t think a single drink is going to turn most people into a complete fool (although it might do that to some people). Just for candor’s sake, I don’t drink alcohol now and have never drank it before in my life either.

          I would say that the directives about alcohol fall into the category of “fences” if they are properly used as such rather than being elevated to the level of commandments. There is not a command in Scripture that states alcohol may not be consumed. There are commands against drunkenness.

          An instruction not to drink alcohol will provide a “safe fence” for those that might otherwise be vulnerable to drunkenness. It is similar to when I tell my kids they can’t play beyond the sidewalk as a way to keep them out of the street. If we understand the SBC approach in this light, then I think we can talk about this in a sane manner. The SBC expects leaders to adhere to this standard and that is their prerogative. We should to be willing to acknowledge however, that this is a “fence” that we are setting up to protect integrity and character and not a biblical commandment.

          To take the analogy a little further, if my kids were teenagers though, I wouldn’t bother with the instruction to stop at the sidewalk (unless they were prone to tripping over their own two feet perhaps), because they have learned to stay out of the street by that time. I would expect them to abide by the sidewalk rule though, if there were impressionable younger kids around because they set examples for those younger ones by their actions.

          Does that make sense?

    • Jake Barker says

      And what did they do before the 100 years? Drank like fishes… of the best and oldest bourbons available was created by a baptist preacher. Get real David.

  16. says

    Why does this matter so much? If someone smokes, should they be kicked out? How about greasy food? If coffee was an issue, then half of my church would be gone (and caffeine is a drug). Hey, let’s throw in tattoos, and piercing and someone quote something out of context about our bodies being a temple. Know what’s worse than an unbeliever seeing you drink? An unbeliever seeing you act like a jerk, and guess what folks, that’s how they see us. They don’t say “he’s so close to Jesus”. They say “he’s a self righteous jerk”.

  17. John Fariss says

    The sylogilism is simply, folks.

    (1) The consumption of beverage alcohol, or perhaps getting drunk from the consumption of beverage alcohol is condemned in the Bible; (2) the over-consumption of beverage alcohol became a significant social problem (alcoholism and its effects on individuals, families, and society) in western culture starting during the industrial revolution (with the advent of cheap high-proof liquors such as gin; earlier high-proof beverages were either prohibitively expensive, of limited range, or both, such as Scotch and Irish whiskey); (3) Baptists pride themselves on making decisions based on what the Bible says, not on culture or society; (4) therefore in order to address this cultural issue (alcoholism), Baptists had no choice but to look to the Bible for justification; (5) in order to make the issue unequivocal–we Baptists like that, and eschew options as though they are heresy–passages which call into question an absolute prohibition must be minimized theologically; and (6) since Baptists almost never admit being wrong theologically, it is necessary to find justification for theologically minimumizing certain words or passages in the writings of scholars of an earlier age as though they had absolutely no axe to grind themselves, and are functionally if not formally elevated to the authority of Scripture. Simple.


    • Dave Miller says

      “The sylogilism is simply, folks.”

      Dangerous statement, John, when the subject is alcohol consumption.

      • John Fariss says

        “The sylogilism is simply, folks.” Must have been that last drink I had. Let’s see: my son is 29, a month from being 30, and my last drink was at my boss’s Christmas party when he was just over one and a half. I guess that stuff has long-lasting effects too! Maybe someone will give us a study proving that not only does a few sips of watered down bourbon make one drunk, but it keeps you drunk for 27 or 28 years, and is the unforgivable sin. Maybe I’m finally over it now so I can correct myself and say, “The syllogism is simple, folks. . . .”


  18. says

    Yout said, “David, you’re killing me! You have NOT shown me where alcohol is forbidden.”
    Yes, I have. Read my comments again. Of course, you are free to continue to dismiss them.

    You said, “Do you really believe that Israel did NOT drink alcohol?”
    I believe they were like Southern Baptists today. Some did and some did not. But like us today, they had a choice of either one.
    David R. Brumbelow

      • says

        Dave Miller,
        You said, “David, please do not call Jared a Yout.”

        You got me. I apologize. I let my emotions run away with me. Dave, please forgive me. Jared, please forgive me. I will do my best not to call you names in the future. Please do not ban me into oblivion.

        I hate typos!
        David R. Brumbelow

    • Bill Mac says

      David: Agreed, I’m sure there were partakers and abstainers among the Israelites. But that isn’t really the issue. Where the Israelites commanded by God (through Moses) to abstain?

  19. says

    New poll suggestion: When a Christian does not sin, this makes non-believers who see this more interested in Jesus Christ.

    strongly agree, agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, disagree, strongly disagree

    • says

      Mark, when a Christian does not sin, there are not going to be any unbelievers around to see it!

      (Since Christians will not sin only in heaven, y’know.)



  20. bill says

    No, this does not surprise me in the least.

    I firmly believe that alcohol is something that can be enjoyed in moderation. However, I’ve come to realize that though I may can enjoy this in my life in moderation, there may be others who struggle with this like some people struggle with their weight, some struggle with addictions to shopping, and others struggle with internet pornography. Therefore, though I may enjoy it, it does not harm me at all to curtail my own personal consumption of alcohol if that will prohibit my actions from causing another to stumble.

    I have come to adopt a personal stance that I do not drink in public nor will I have a drink in my own house if I’m in the presence of someone other than my wife, who also shares this stance with me.

    It does not harm me to curtail my own consumption of alcohol for the sake of my brother. It costs me nothing to have a glass of water instead of a glass of wine while out in public. It does not affect me to have a glass of tea in my home while I’m entertaining guests into my home.

    And to give you an idea how just how much I drink, I have a bottle of scotch that was gifted to me for the birth of my twin daughters almost three years ago. It’s now 3/4s full. I think some of the used portion went into a bourbon glaze for my wife’s bread pudding.

    It’s just not a big deal to me.

  21. bill says

    And I’m want to add this:

    I’m hardly a fan of Peter Lumpkins (though surprisingly I’m finding myself in agreement with some recent stuff…), but he sat down and wrote out his convictions based on information and beliefs that he holds dear to him.

    I respect his position and his desire to express his beliefs so others can read them and profit from his time and research.

    He has not come here and attacked anyone today.

    We have sparred in the past on other topics and we are definitely on opposite sides on this one, but this does not give anyone license to attack him.

    He has his beliefs and he stand by them. I respect that.

    Now, if he comes in here attacking….


    • says


      if you are referring to my comment, it was offered in jest not attack. Peter always seems to make his way into these frays at some point in time either personally or by proxy. I find it amusing.

      now were you in on the over or the under?


  22. says

    “And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man…”

    The issue before us Gentlemen, and which clearly divides the SBC into the Pre-CR and Post-CR camps, is not Alcohol but Inerrancy. Those where grew up in Post-CR churches were taught that they could trust what the Scriptures say with 100% confidence.

    It is exactly because of this fierce devotion to the Inerrancy of the Scriptures that many in the younger generation simply cannot bring themselves to defend the Abstinence doctrine of their Fathers.

    You may craft the most eloquent and convincing argument for abstinence (and I have read many)… But in the finial analyse of many Baptist in this younger generation today it is not the wisdom of man, but the Holy Scriptures that remain “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.” (BFM2000)

    Grace for the Journey,

    • says

      amen and amen…

      too bad they taught us to trust our Bibles…it’s coming back to bite them in the butt in all kinds of areas…alcohol, elders, women’s roles in the church, reformed theology…

      i love the irony as revealed in comment threads like these as otherwise conservatives do violence to scripture in the name of “southern baptist tradition.” inerrancy apparently only works when it supports the status quo…

      sola scriptura!

    • Frank L. says


      “”in this younger generation.””

      So, am I to take this as indicating that the “younger generation” I keep hearing about is setting the world on fire–revival fire that is.

      So, is this “younger generation” I keep hearing about pouring massive amounts of money into building the most effective mission sending agency in modern history, like that “old ineffective out-dated, prudish, stick-in-the-mud” generation?

      Where’s the statistics that prove all that is happening because of this hip, inerrancy-believing generation. I’ll gladly step aside and let this generation do some of the heavy lifting of missions.

      The fact is: I’m not sure the “younger generation” of believers have made a marked improvement in how things are getting done.

      And, if we are going to use a stict “inerrant” approach to all things ethical, then it’s pretty hard to find a word supporting Jack Daniels at lunch.

      Also, end-of-life issues are going to be hard to navigate using a such a strict and narrow understanding of inerrancy because I don’t know the Greek or Hebrew for “should we turn the machine off now?”

      The above posts uses the “inerrancy” argument as if “inerrancy only relates to grammar.” There’s much more to living a Christian ethic than understanding the grammar of the Bible.

      I for one believe abstinence is a biblically accepted response to the out-of-control drinking problem in America today. Again, I believe in inerrancy and I don’t take my freedom “to” drink to mean it is a requirement. I believe that giving up what is “lawful” to be “more effective” is something very supportable from an inerrant view of Scripture (1Cor. 6:12).

      But, then again, I just may be too old for God to use me in his ministry. But, right now, I don’t have enough 20 Somethings excited about ministry (yet, we are workiing on it) to pay for our ministry to 20 Somethings–let alone the light bill, so I guess I’ll have to let the old stick-in-the-muds keep giving and serving.

      • says


        Take a breath… All I am saying is that the disagreement withing the SBC over abstinence can largely be attributed to our strong teaching on the doctrine of inerrancy over the last 30 years.

        Like it or not, what I see guiding the Younger Generation of Southern Baptist Pastors and Aspiring Theologians is a fierce devotion to the Inerrancy and Sufficiency of the Scriptures. That long held Southern Baptist Traditions are being examined anew by the light of Scriptures should not be a surprise to those who taught this generation of Baptist to do just that.

        Grace for the Journey,

        • Dave Miller says

          I have pretty much stayed out of this discussion. But I think you make a strong point there, Greg. The emphasis on inerrancy has caused us to examine Baptist tradition according to scripture. Yep.

        • Frank L. says

          Greg, the only problem with your suggesting that your belief is more biblical because it is supported by inerrancy is: 1) I never said anywhere that the Bible forbids the use of any wine at all–as in as a food source not a recreational drug; 2) I used the inerrant Word to support my belief that abstinence is a biblically supported lifestyle.

          So, take a breath and give me some of those statistics that say the “younger generation” practices the faith taught in the inerrant Word anymore than us Old Folks (I’m 54 years old).

          The term “fierce devotion” should–it seems to me–be associated with some identifiable practices. Being devoted to “inerrancy” is not that same as being devoted to Christ (Jn. 5:38-40).

          • says


            It was never my intent to get under your skin on this issue…

            I was only attempting to explain where this divide in the SBC over this issue is coming from.

          • Frank L. says

            Greg, I’ll admit everytime I see the words, “Younger Generation of preachers” or anything to that affect, it does get under my skin.

            It just smacks of haughty ingratitude to me. The fact is, we need every soldier that is willing to fight. Just the other day I saw an older gentlman. He was wearing a hat that said, “WW2, Korea, and Vietnam Veteran.”

            It made me stop to think just how much we owe the older generations. We should start treating our elderly like furniture and wine . . . they get better with age.

            I know you weren’t intentionally trying to get under my skin. I just don’t think this issue has anything at all to do with inerrancy, and only has a generational component because the present generations are further from a Christian world-view than any generation in our history.

            Also, I’ve been down the road of blogville in regard to alcoholism, abstinence, Drischoll, and drinking enough to know as a tea-totaler, I’m on the short end of the stick.

            Even at that, I absolutely agree that we must not say the Bible says something it does not say but we must also allow that we must take what it does say and make good decisions. Biblical ethics is not an easy line of study.

    • says

      “Those who believe in abstaining from beverage alcohol do not believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.” That is a strange argument. The leaders of the Conservative Resurgence all believed in inerrancy. And these leaders such as Paige Patterson, Paul Pressler, Jerry Vines, Jack Graham, and Adrian Rogers were all strongly in support of abstaining from beverage alcohol. By the way, I believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, and in abstinence. This is a weak, weak argument.

      About Judges 9:13. Two problems for social drinkers.

      First, the word for wine (tirosh) always or at least almost always referred to unfermented wine. Even the Jewish Encyclopedia says tirosh referred to that which is unfermented.

      Second, the vine said “my new wine.” A vine does not produce fermented, but unfermented wine. Men have to go to great work to produce drinkable fermented wine.
      David R. Brumbelow

      • says

        It’s only a weak argument for those not wanting to hear it. It’s really quite simple. Some of us believe the inerrant, infallible Scripture is sufficient for life and godliness. So we see no need to augment Scripture with human wisdom about slippery slopes about things the Bible calls a blessing as well as a danger. We don’t think God needs our help by forcing rules contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. We only go as far as the Bible, and by conscience cannot go farther, even if it’s for someone’s “own good.”

      • says

        David, You and I have had this discussion before…

        “Those who believe in abstaining from beverage alcohol do not believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.”

        I did not say that…

        • says

          I did not intend to say you said it; sorry it came out that way. I did not put your name to it, but since it was in reply to your comment, I see how it could be misleading. Everybody – I agree, Greg did not say this!

          My point was to just use that as a general statement of what many are saying about those who believe in abstaining from alcohol.
          David R. Brumbelow

      • Dave Miller says

        David, I can’t find anyone who made the quote you attributed up there. Can you give a reference?

        Greg’s point was that the belief in inerrancy caused people to examine traditions that may not have been based on scripture.

        He did not say that inerrancy demands abandoning abstentionism.

  23. says

    Another post asking a simple question is hijacked so that legalists can once again bash the evil antinomians. Wonderful.

    As to the actual question, these stats don’t surprise me at all. On the one hand, it is possible that the flock isn’t as godly as the shepherds. That’s no surprise. On the other hand, pastors are more likely to try to force godliness by rules rather than the simple gospel for their own convenience. No surprise there either.

    Additionally, it could be that the flock has nothing to lose politically from standing by their interpretations concerning alcohol. Pastors who don’t see the Bible condemning alcohol consumption will definitely feel the weight from the majority who do, including the stupid question concerning it on mission-funding forms.

  24. says

    Right on Greg. I’ve been saying this for years – the alcohol issue is an issue concerning the sufficiency and infallibility of Scripture. I’m usually rebuked as an idiot for seeing that connection.

  25. says

    “Also, are you against caffeine consumption as well?”

    Good question, Jared. But haven’t you figured out that this question is off limits in this discussion, as is comparing drunkenness and gluttony?

  26. Dave Miller says

    Alcohol sure is a reliable discussion starter on Baptist blogs, isn’t it?

    I might also point out that which there has been sharp disagreement, this has been a very good discussion.

    And a special word of commendation to David Brumbelow. He has been the prime advocator of what seems to be the minority position here. I’m probably more of a Danny Akin on this thing – the wisdom argument. But David has well-articulated the abstentionist position – with grace! Thanks, David.

    (I so badly wanted to say, “Next round is on me” but I am going to resist the urge.)

    Its been a good discussion – without rancor and all that nonsense. Thank you to all.

    • says

      I agree with you Dave. David Brumbelow is very good at advancing an argument without falling into the traps I almost always do.

      What I write intending to be playful or sarcastic often comes across as arrogant or rude. I applaud David as well as yourself for being a gracious moderator.

  27. says

    It’s amazing the number of people who weigh in on this. Franky, I see it as an opportunity for charity. I would once have been characterized as an alcoholic. God worked in my life and took away the desire for alcohol. (There are other sins where I continue to struggle, so that’s not necessarily an indicator of spiritual maturity, but in this one I’ll gladly give God the glory for removing it.) Reading the Bible, I don’t see a prohibition:

    Jesus drank wine that was probably fermented. (Matt 11:18,19)
    Jesus made fermented wine miraculously.
    Paul encouraged Timothy to take a little wine (may have been more vinegary) for his stomach.

    Paul also encouraged the Ephesians not to pursue drunkenness, but to desire the filling of the Holy Spirit instead.

    In this culture, since alcoholism has been such a cultural issue, it’s unwise to do ministry and exercise the liberty of drinking if only to demonstrate commitment to holiness as a matter of faith. If you see no qualms about drinking a glass of wine at a meal or as part of a romantic celebration with your spouse, or for taking a shot before bed if you are down with a debilitating cold or flu (sometimes it really works), for the sake of your brothers and sisters who don’t do so, don’t make it an issue of “legalism”. Paul seemed to distinguish between legalism, when he answered the Judaizers, and concern for those with weaker faith, in the case of meat offered to idols.

    Drinking alcohol is not the issue. Being a drunkard on the one hand or condemning people for the rare nip on the other, is the issue.

    • Christiane says

      Well, today alcoholism kills innocent people: automobile accidents.
      In the times of the first Christians, I don’t suppose a drunk on a donkey could do as much damage. We all know someone who has been affected by drunk-driving in some way. I had a friend going through a horrific divorce, a lady with three beautiful children, and she was so very upset that apparently one night, she had too much to drink and crashed her car into a highway overpass support. She was killed instantly. A young girl, a friend of my daughter, was killed at college, in a car driven by an intoxicated student. She was only eighteen.

      We all know someone who has been affected. We cannot view alcohol abuse in these modern times without seeing its impact on our own ‘fast-lane’ culture, I’m afraid.

      • says

        Cheeseburgers kill people. I understand you argument, but you have to realise it’s natural conclusion, should we get rid of everything that has potential consequences?

      • Christiane says

        Point being: mix alcohol with fast cars weighing tons, and you can get tragic consequences.

        It’s not the ‘one’ drink, but people in pain will seek comfort where they can find it: drugs, food, alcohol . . .

        the real problem is the pain which drives people to seek relief in any form of addiction, which then can compound their misery, with the added potential to affect those around them greatly

  28. says

    Here is the study I want to see: “Perceptions of Legalism and Conscience Binding: Protestant pastors and Laity.”

  29. Louis says


    I agree. I appreciate all the scholarship and thoughts shared in this post, but Baptists appear to be obsessed with this issue.

    I believe that there is often a lackadaisical attitude about the dangers and excesses of alcohol consumption that come from those who have the personal liberty to consume alcoholic beverages. I see that on a regular basis.

    But that does not, in my opinion, give us license to take positions with the scripture that are really not justified. There are some very clear prohibitions in scripture with respect to some conduct. Alcohol consumption is not one of those.

    Further complicating this matter is the general recognition that many people who come to Christ in their teen or adult years may have to deal with an alcohol problem. And often the best thing for them is simply to stop. Alcohol, for them, is symbolic of their prior rebellion against God. Getting drunk was part of their old lifestyle. It may be hard for them to reconcile what God may be calling them to do personally in the their own lives with the liberty of others. Thus, the few verses mentioning this issue in the NT are often interpreted or applied in extreme ways, and the issue is taken out of proportion.

    I can only imagine what is going to happen when pot is totally legalized (if that ever happens).

    • Frank L. says


      Please show me where my vow to not drink in order to remove any possible association with any evil that social drinking might cause is not a justifiable use of my freedom in Christ

      I’m not saying anybody else is scripturally bound to make the same vow.

      Also, show me in the Scriptures where a person “must” drink alcohol in order to avoid being legalistic. I don’t know of any such scripture.

      Part of the problem is that “pro-drinkers” lump all “tea-totallers” into the same stack and completely ignore the value of taking certain vows so that one may remove those possible distractions from one’s life and witness.

      There is a wealth of Scripture that shows the value of surrendering one’s freedoms in order to avoid any “possible” association with something that may “possibly” be associated with evil. Show me how that interpretation is a misuse of 1Thess. 5:22, or how that vow violates Paul’s instruction on eating meat sacrificed to idols.

      I see such a vow as a proper exercise of my freedom in Christ. While some argue long and hard for the “freedom TO drink,” I am saying it also gives one the “freedom NOT to drink.” I do not know of any Scripture I am misusing but am open to any insight you might provide.

      • Louis says


        I missed your post earlier. I see the point that you are making and agree that there can be some benefit to that. That is basically how I have lived. I may have 1 or 2 glasses of wine a year, but that’s it.

  30. Louis says

    By the way, I enjoy it when people link to medical and other studies performed by experts in their respective fields.

    It is generally not persuasive, in my opinion, when pastors or Christian laymen give medical or other technical advice.

  31. bill says


    For the pro-abstinence crowd, is the consumption of alcohol a deal breaker that will keep someone from heaven? Does the consumption of alcohol negate salvation found through Jesus Christ?

    For the pro-consumption crowd, does refraining from publicly having a drink at a restaurant or other venue where someone may justify their own personal actions by seeing you have a drink actually hurt you? Would it kill you to have a glass of water or tea rather than a glass of wine or a beer with your dinner?

    The problem is now we’re determined to have a winner and a loser in this debate. I firmly believe that, in truth, the real answer lies somewhere in between.

  32. Frank L. says

    Bill, I think you are probably being a little facitious or rhetorical in your question, but I’ll give “an” answer (as opposed to “the” answer).

    The fact is: a drinking, careless believer can keep someone from going to heaven, in my opinion. Maybe not oneself, but others who are caused to stumble and fall because of the careless behavior of a drinking believer.

    The winner in this debate should be the Lord, and we hope the loser is not someone who is caused to stumble because of behavior that a believer can completely control with no detriment to himself or herself.

    I think we agree on what outcome we both would like to see–glory to God an a strong, compassionate, self-deprecating witness to the non-believing world.

    • bill says

      The reason I’m phrasing the questions like I am is because I feel that we’re not really listening to each other. This is solely my opinion, but I feel we’re talking at each other rather than to each other.

      I personally do not believe that the consumption of alcohol as prescribed through what many point to as the biblical standard is moderation with obviously drunkenness being a sin. However, I have come to believe that someone may see me consuming an alcoholic beverage and use my consumption to justify their binge drinking and drunkenness. Though I may not ever know about it, my moderate drinking has become a stumbling block to a fellow brother or sister in Christ. That is why I have asked other people who believe that the consumption of alcohol is okay if refraining from the consumption of alcohol actually hurts them.

      My questions, though asked to two different groups, were meant to frame what I believe is the answer or something close to it. The moderate consumption of alcohol is not wrong in of itself, but it does not harm us to refrain from the consumption of alcohol so we don’t cause a brother or sister to stumble.

      So while I’m not an abstentionist, I do believe that we ought to be very cognizant that our actions are often used by others to justify their own actions which may be sinful. Though we may not be directly responsible or answerable for another person’s actions, we may still be a contributing factor nonetheless. This position applies to all facets of life and not just the consumption of alcohol.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Frank: Nothing keeps a person from heaven but the person themselves. Not moderate drinking anymore than moderately eating a candy bar keeps a person who is dieting or diabetic out of heaven. God is able.

        Bill: Using our liberty as Christians is a good thing. We use it with wisdom. But…..God gave us all good things to enjoy….even wine, beer. The Bible doesn’t tell us to give up all our liberties in order to bring a person to Christ. Sometimes our liberties are used to bring a person to Christ and believe it or not a large majority of people are not alcoholics.

        • Frank L. says


          Of course if you are a hyper-Calvinist, your statement would be true. But, if you accept the entire counsel of God’s Word I do not think you can make the argument that a believer’s behavior is inmaterial to another’s salvation.

          I know you are a Calvinist and any discussion of our responsibility to be the gospel to the nations is not going to be well received.

          Mat. 5:16 (among others) lacks any significance if you believe that man is not used of God to bring others to Himself. So your argument is really not about the virtues or evil of alcohol, but about whether God uses man as an instrument of bringing others to salvation.

          As a Calvinist you reject that idea. As a barely Calvinist I accept that God uses man and our witness does matter in the salvation of others.

          Believe me: I wish I did not have a responsibility to live in such a way as to bring others to a point of saving faith. I could definitely accept my short-comings better.

  33. Debbie Kaufman says

    People also need to know our freedoms in Christ, not don’t do this and don’t do that, especially where the Bible doesn’t go that far.

    • Frank L. says

      Debbie, could I ask you an honest question: is it your experience that most SBC’ers are too rigid in their ethical behavior: they pray too much, give too much, share their faith too much, live too exemplary lives in their families, etc.?

      My experience is that an antinomian spirit seems much more of a problem with how Christians spend their time, spend their money, or use their gifts and talents.

      I agree we should not err by going to the other extreme. But, do you really believe that if more Christians exercised their freedom to drink (if you agree the Bible gives such a freedom) our churches would be stronger.

      As a pastor, my problem is not with people who go a little too far in trying to live a separated, distinctively Christian life. My problem is that too many of my members are “too free” in their behavior.

      So, I don’t know why there is this accusation that my decision to completely “stay away from something associated with evil” (1Thess 5:22) is considered legalism and the major contributing factor to the lack of growth in our churches (as someone mentioned above).

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        It’s not about works is it Frank? Faith in Christ. Isn’t that all it is about? We can’t take credit for even the good deeds we do, for it is the Holy Spirit that does it through us. It’s not a hyper-Calvinist who believes God is able. Non-Calvinists, Calvinists know this to be true as well. God works despite and God gave us freedoms to be exercised. If your conviction is to abstain, abstain. Mine is not and God can and does use the freedoms given to us as a truth to be used too. It’s scripture. The passages you mention are taken out of context as moderate drinking is not evil. This has been pointed out to you. Abstain, but a conviction is just that a personal conviction, and where you would be wrong is thinking everyone else should follow your conviction. Some will some won’t. The won’ts are not evil, and it does not give the appearance of evil. Freedoms given by God are never evil. You may not like the freedoms God gives, but they are gifts nonetheless.

        • Frank L. says


          Name one passage I took out of context to say that the Bible teaches one must abstain. Since I don’t hold that position, I find it odd I would misquote Scripture to support a view I don’t hold.

          Or, could it be you just don’t like the fact that I don’t share your Calvinist views?

          Interesting that you say our freedoms given to us can never be evil? Where does the Bible say that the exercise of Christianity liberty is absolute? Seems Paul’s teaching on food offered to idols teaches just the opposite of what you believe.

          I guess I’ll say it for the umpteen time: I agree that the Bible does not “mandate” total abstinence in a prescriptive text. I get that and I agree that is the case. I’ve never said otherwise.

          The fact that you never answer people’s questions directly, but always with a form of attack makes it very frustrating to even converse with you. When you twist people’s words to make them say what they never said, that just seems dishonest.


          I have also said, the Bible clearly teaches that complete abstinence is an equal option for a believer. In my opinion–my personal opinion–nothing necessitates that I drink any alcohol so I have personally chosen to remove that issue from any discussion I might have with a non-believer. Therefore, it is never a problem for me in any context. That is my personal belief and practice.

          I share my freedom to not drink with others and a surprising number of people adopt it as the personal practice of their lives.

          You prefer exercise your freedom regardless of how it might affect another. That is your personal choice. Our choices differ. You will have to answer for the choices you make and I will have to answer for the choices I make. That’s how it should be.

          What is interesting is that my exercise of my freedom to NOT drink is categorized by you as believing a doctrine of works. I find that a great leap in exegesis — and that’s putting it kindly.

          I also find it somewhat amusing that the kind of drinking you say you practice is “moderate” drinking. I guess if you have a moderate theology, you toast it with moderate drinking :)

        • says

          debbie, you write, “but a conviction is just that a personal conviction, and where you [Frank L] would be wrong is thinking everyone else should follow your [Frank L’s] conviction.”

          huh? “a conviction is just that a personal conviction”???

          so when the Holy Spirit convicts a person of his or her need of the Lord, then it would be wrong to think everyone should follow that conviction? deb, you seem to be stretching the word conviction like a rubberband here.

          And before you say I’m taking the conviction statement out of context, the context for the word conviction according to you is “personal”. And conviction to me is of God. I guess for some it is a personal preference sort of thing. okay, I agree to disagree on that one.

          What is righteous about the freedom to drink alchohol since it is not evil? Does God make it righteous? So drinking alcohol is a gift of God?

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Harriett: That is not what I am saying. Personal convictions that are not spoken of in scripture as the issue of abstinence, is just that, a personal conviction. The same would be said of having a Christmas tree or not having one. Participating in Halloween or not participating. The wrong would be to be convinced of abstinence of any of the above and expect others to follow that personal conviction or be accused of sinning. It just isn’t so.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            The facts are that the Bible does not condemn alcohol and in some instances speaks of it in a positive way. What God definitely commands is to not be drunk. Alcohol consumed moderately is neither addictive nor harmful. Those are the facts. Doctors recommend drinking a little wine for the heart. I was recommended beer by my OB doctor to relax me enough to breast feed when my children were babies. I took the advice and it worked like a charm. As I said I do drink moderately, even mixed drinks. I have for years. I have no conviction to not do so. I am Southern Baptist. 100%. I am a born again, Bible studying Christian, 100%.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            And yes Harriette, any freedoms given to us by God is a gift. You read me correctly.

  34. says

    Alcohol is keeping my grandmother out of heaven. My grandmother is still in a sect of Mormonism. When she mentions her physical ailments she often comments that she doesn’t understand why because she’s never used nor had any alcohol in her home. She believes she is a good person headed for heaven and avoiding alcohol is one of her very good and pleasing works toward God. If I could just get her beyond her hang-up with alcohol I could truly explain salvation by grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone to her.

    But you see, alcohol has a hold on her and it’s keeping her out of heaven.

    • Frank L. says

      I really doubt that you can make the argument biblically that a Mormon misses heaven because of alcohol. That sounds like a red herring to me.

      If that were true, then you would be making “alcoholism” the unpardonable sin. I find that a long stretch exegetically. Also, if we accept your argument we would make “drinking alcohol” the means of salvation. I definitely don’t think that works biblically.

      Try showing your grandmother that the Bible allows drinking (if you accept that argument) and see if that changes her mind about the Trinity, or the Deity of Christ, or inheriting a planet for men when they die. I doubt a good strong drink will cure her of her Mormon errors.

      It might be worth a try :)

      • says

        Maybe I just thought that when, for example, proposition like those below are presented:
        – “When a Christian does not drink alcohol, this makes non-believers who see this more interested in Jesus Christ.”

        – “…many, many non-believers–that real Christians don’t smoke or drink.”

        – “…a drinking, careless believer can keep someone from going to heaven, in my opinion.”

        Maybe I just thought that alcohol just might be deceiving my grandmother into thinking she is a Christian.

        I guess it’s just a one-way street with alcohol’s influence on Christianity. Oops… ;)

    • says

      O, Lord, our Most High God, please hear my prayer and answer. Please remove the scales which blind Mark’s grandmother to her lostness. Open her the eyes of her soul and let her know the grace that You alone give her as freely as You gave her Mark as a grandson. Soften her heart and show her the folly of her beliefs.

      I pray, dear Father above, that others here will join me in this prayer for Mark’s grandmother, that she may know You and be assured of seeing Mark again one day in Heaven above. In Jesus precious name, I pray. selahV

  35. says

    If it is asserted that publicly drinking in moderation (or serving) alcohol can “cause one to stumble” and it is further asserted that “causing one to stumble” is a sin, what does one do with the actions of Jesus? He did, afterall, turn water into “good” wine after the wedding guests had imbibed quite a bit of the regular stuff.

    Did “Jesus cause anyone to stumble”?

    I think phrases such as “causing one to stumble” need to be further explored. How does one “wound another’s conscience”? In my opinion much of what passes for “causing one to stumble” today is nothing more than doing something the other person doesn’t approve of. It’s often a case of the “weaker brother or sister” holding others in bondage because they disagree with a behavior. It’s simple legalism.

    I think we have an obligation to teach, from the Bible, our weaker brothers and sisters about our freedom in Christ, a freedom that they also can enjoy.

    I doubt that many of us will ever have a situation in which we are served meat or wine that was sacrificed to idols. Isn’t that the context of most of the “causing one to stumble”?

    • bill says

      I’ve come to define my actions that if someone struggling with alcoholism sees me drinking a beer with dinner and somehow they justify their own drunkenness with me having a beer, then I have caused that person to stumble, even if I had no clue that my actions were causing this sin in another man’s life.

      So I hold to very strict guidelines for myself when consuming alcohol. I don’t expect anyone else to follow my lead nor do I judge anyone else by my own personal convictions or decisions when it concerns alcohol.

      For my own life, this is where I’m at right now.

  36. says

    The question is: if southern baptists aren’t ethical after all the preaching of moralistic deism they’ve been subjected to, why don’t we try preaching the actual radical gospel and see where that leads?

  37. biglo says

    I’m a teetotaller by practice and I’ve never drunk. Drinking where I come from is seen as sinful and verses such as Proverbs 20:1 are preached as teaching total abstinence.

    Proverbs 20:1 Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (KJV)

    Yet isn’t it interesting that Solomon who wrote/compiled Proverbs also seems to be the man who penned:-

    Eccl. 9:7 Go [then], eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. (NASB)

    It is strange how I’ve never heard that verse referred to in all my years.

    Why does Eph 5:18 refer to excess rather than drinking per se?

    Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

  38. Jeremy Parks says

    This blog post and comment thread was brought to you by the makers of O’Doul’s Non-Alcoholic Beer.

    O’Doul’s…When You Just Don’t Know If It’s a Sin Or Not.

  39. Smuschany says

    Interesting food for thought for those who insist that “new wine” in the bible is “non-alcoholic”. I point you to Acts 2:13 and the use of the greek word gleucos (this is where we get the word glucose aka sugar from). The people watching what was happening at Pentecost thinking that the CHRISTIANS there were drunk, said they are full of “gleucos” aka “new sweet wine”. If new wine, sweet wine, was non-alcoholic in the ancient world, how could they be drunk?

    I do not suppose to know why Luke used “Gleucos” and all the other NT writers used “oinos”, but what I do know is the “new wine = grape juice” argument is just bad hermeneutics.

    • says

      Interesting that the Jewish Encyclopedia says new wine (Hebrew – tirosh) was not fermented.

      Interesting that the Bible has references to wine that could not possibly have been fermented (already mentioned).

      Interesting that English uses the Greek word gluekos (wine, new wine) to refer to that which is sweet and nutritious, rather than using it to refer to alcohol.

      Interesting that Aristotle, quite an authority, said that sweet wine (gluekos) did not intoxicate.

      Notice that Acts 2:13 says the enemies of the disciples were “mocking” them saying they were full of new wine (gluekos). Much like mocking someone today by saying they are full of kool-aide, cola, or fruit punch. Could that have even been an acknowledgment the disciples did not drink the hard stuff?
      David R. Brumbelow

      • says

        So in 2:15 when Peter replies, “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.”

        Either Peter doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or Luke made a mistake in word choice.

        That’s the thing with this argument… several on here, and now including me, who have expressed the argument that the Bible does allow for drinking alcohol and does not call it a sin don’t drink. This isn’t a personal agenda of ours (well at least not all of us).

        It’s about the context of scripture and what the Bible actually says over any tradition of man, and though gluekos might not have typically referred to alcoholic wine, I’m trusting the Holy Spirit inspired context over Aristotle, english uses, and Jewish encyclopedias that in Luke’s understanding it could and in this case did refer to alcoholic wine.

        Goes back to what I said earlier: if the wine was basically grape juice like so many argue, then why does the Bible refer to it as getting people drunk and warn not to get drunk on it. And since the warnings are “don’t get drunk” or “don’t consume much” instead of “do not drink” then why twist it around to say “do not drink?”

        I care more about what the Bible says than what Adrian Rogers, Martain Luther, Aristotle, John Calvin, Mark Driscoll, or Page Patterson say… and the Bible never says “do not drink” or “consuming alcoholic beverageas is a sin” or “we’re just kidding when we warn the wine can get you drunk b/c it’s really just grape juice or unfermented new wine.”

        It says they drank wine, on which people did get drunk or could get drunk, but you, Christian, don’t get drunk on it.

        • says

          It is very simple. “Wine” in the Bible can mean either one. Wine was definitely not always that which was alcoholic. It was used much like the word “drink” is used today.

          Other biblical words also have to be intereted according to the context, and can mean more than one thing. Words like Spirit/spirit; God/god; angel; faith; etc. Like these words, wine does not always mean the same thing; they had different kinds of wine.
          David R. Brumbelow

        • Bill Mac says

          Peter’s response makes no other interpretation feasible. The apostles were accused of being drunk, not being full of grape juice.

  40. Bill Mac says

    Abstentionism is a doctrine in search of a proof-text. I used to be a hard core abstentionist (I am still a non-drinker). I bought the whole line: Wine = grape juice when commended, wine = alcoholic hell brew when condemned. Jesus made grape juice. Strong drink means cider, etc. I just got to the point where I saw these arguments as specious. They just, in my opinion, don’t hold up to serious scrutiny, not, unless you want them to.

    • Bill Mac says

      And this, I think, explains the survey. It is a bit dangerous, don’t you think, to imply that pastors are Godlier than lay-people?

    • Bill Mac says


      The rule seems to be that any drug is permissable as long as you don’t enjoy it.

  41. Louis says

    I have enjoyed reading David’s arguments. I suspect that in general, he is, in part, correct. That the word used for wine can and sometimes does mean drink or unfermented juice.

    But context is important. It would have been silly for people observing the apostles and perhaps thinking that they may have been drunk if they were drinking something that could not have made them drunk anyway.

    And, also, for David’s argument to work, one has to conclude that in each and every instance in the Bible when wine is referenced as acceptable and when wine is referenced as unacceptable that the different words would have been used. I don’t find that to be the case.

    I don’t believe that the translators over generations have found that to be the case either, or else, they would have and could have easily translated things differently so that it would be very clear in the NT and the OT, as well, that godly people always drank unfermented wine, and the ungodly always drank fermented. I have never seen such a translation (but am not saying one does not exist). And, no, I am not counting notes in various study Bibles.

    In other words, if it were all that clear, it would be clear. There would be a clear prohibition.

    This argument seems to either be a subtle, hidden argument that only in super initiated and trained could grasp, or there is a huge conspiracy regarding translations, and that they would be better if those who abstain would have done the translation.

    This line of argument (and I mean no disrespect to David at all, who by my estimation is a fine and smart person) seems to me to be very much like the argument that the egalitarians use with so many passages. One reads them, and they have an apparent meaning. So much so that even non-Christians reading the passage come away thinking that the Bible is misogynic. But by the time the egalitarian is through, the passage means something completely different, that was hidden, not apparent, dependent on certain choices about the lack of articles, tenses etc.

    In addition to looking at specific words and sentences, that is, looking at the Bible through a microscope, it is helfpul to stand back and look at it in broad fashion. Consider history, context etc. as aids to interpretation.

    For example, I would like to know, is there any persuasive evidence that drinking alcohol was forbidden in first century Jewish life? How strong is that evidence. Seems to me if it were so, there would be all sorts of references.

    Is there any first century (or later) literature stating that Christians did not drink? Is it strong?

    Do the church fathers after the 12 (Polycarp, Tertullian etc.) claim that abstention is necessary. If so, why?

    Does the Didache address this? What does it say?

    It’s not that these things would be binding. But it would give us a view that might help us in interpretation.

    Seems to me that if one of the tenets of Christianity is to refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages that it would be all over the place and very clear.

    It would not be so shadowy and debatable.

    I am open to any information that someone may wish to reference.

    • says

      I just ran through Lightfoot’s translation of the Didache and didn’t find much mention of alcohol at all. The only direct reference I saw was about sharing firstfruits in 13:7:

      In like manner, when thou openest a jar of wine or of oil, take the firstfruit and give to the prophets;

      And that is coming from a document that advocates a stricter level of observance to those who can bear it when it comes to food (see part 6), so I would say there isn’t any apparent restrictions on drink from that source. I don’t have time to dig into the others, but I have studied the Didache some in the last couple of years so I thought I would answer that part.

    • Bill Mac says

      Louis: I have asked that question every time the alcohol debate comes up. I have, as far as I know, never received an answer. It would seem logical that if God’s people were not to imbibe alcohol, that Moses would have forbad it. He had no trouble forbidding shrimp, rabbits, mixed fabric, and the like.

  42. says


    Very good thoughts… and very tough questions for those who argue drinking alcohol in any amount is forbidden for Christians.

    Grace for the Journey,

  43. John Fariss says


    I get that you are convinced any positive use of the word “wine” in the Old or New Testaments referred to something non-alcoholic. Despite your references, I remain unconvinced, though I respect your opinion, and am sure you have good reasons for seeking out those references. But your entry about Acts 2:13 is more than a little over the top.

    Interesting that I’ve never had anyone tell me I was full of kool-aide. Other stuff, yes, usually unpleasant, sometimes downright crude or offensive, but never koolaide, cola, or fruit punch. Interesting I have never asked or been asked, “What have you been drinking” with the implication that it was something non-alcoholic. And interesting that back when I was a police officer and stopped someone doing some bad driving, the quickest way to compound my suspicions was when the driver said, “Honest officer, all I’ve had (hic!) was an R.C. Cola and a big moon pie!”


  44. says

    You (LORD) cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. (Psalms 104:14-15 ESV)

    Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1 ESV)

    Same Hebrew word is used for wine in both verses.

    Is God himself causing people to stumble?

    Could it be that wine can be used in ways that are not sinful?

    • Frank L. says


      Do you mean to say that if wine was used a beverage and symbol of gladness in the culture of Israel in the Old Testament that it mandates its use throughout the ages?

      So, are we supposed to put olive oil on our faces?

      I just wonder about using descriptive texts to prescribe Biblical principles. If that is the case, and I’ll grant it for discussions sake, it only refers to wine, and table wine seems to be the context. Therefore, all other alcoholic beverages are precluded from social use.

      So, do you advocate, then, a very narrow use of alcohol limited only to wine? That’s a very different argument than ones offered thus far.

      • says

        What?! Who said anything about the texts I quoted being prescriptive? I certainly didn’t.

        What do I advocate? Freedom in Christ. Given that Israel was told to spend the money (the tithe when it was too far to carry) for whatever you desire–oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household (Deuteronomy 14:26 ESV) I don’t think our freedom is limited to wine.

  45. says

    Been gone a while.
    Yes, I believe when God commends wine, it is the unfermented kind. When God condemns wine, it is the fermented, alcoholic kind; the kind that will cause you to do things you would never do in your right mind. As has been demonstrated, unfermented wine was common and could easily be preserved. Ancient writers gave wine recipes that could not have possibly been alcoholic.

    About Acts 2:13 – I believe the context and ancient use of the word gluekos, show they were mocking and accusing them of being drunk on unfermented wine. Several months ago on a blog someone jokingly referred to someone else as being “jacked up on Mountain Dew®.” Peter was just giving additional evidence they obviously were not drunk by saying most no one is drunk at nine in the morning. But assuming they were here referring to alcoholic wine makes no difference in whether a person should or should not drink. Either way, this was just an untrue, mocking accusation by the opponents of the Spirit-filled disciples.

    By the way, I also believe in the wisdom view of abstaining from alcohol.

    I’ll leave you with a couple more quotes.
    “Moderate drinking is not the cure for drunkenness, moderate drinking is the cause of drunkenness.” -Adrian Rogers

    “The upcoming generations need to know the havoc brought on our society and upon individuals by the use of alcohol. If we use it ourselves, we recommend its use to others. A Christian should not exercise his freedom to put himself and others at such a risk.” -Judge H. Paul Pressler, retired Justice for the 14th Court of Appeals, Houston, TX; leader in the SBC Conservative Resurgence.

    May you all have a good Lord’s Day tomorrow.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says


      Once again, if “drinking moderately is the cause of drunkenness,” then moderately eating is the cause of gluttony. It’s an inconsistent statement. You presuppose that Christians are unable to moderately drink without getting drunk… even though the church in her overall history proves you wrong; and millions of Christians today prove you wrong. Abuse of alcohol is the problem, not moderately drinking; just like abusing food is a huge problem in the sbc, not food itself. *Since overeating is a huge problem in the SBC, maybe we should force all SBC employees to sign a statement that they will never eat at a buffet, and maybe we should add this to our church covenants as well; because, if they eat moderately, and there’s more food to be had, they obviously cannot exercise the fruit of the Spirit: self-control. The argument would go “gluttony is not the problem; moderately eating is the problem, because it’s the cause of gluttony.”

      I personally hate alcohol, but I realize that I must not force my bias on Scripture. This is not a godly thing to do. Automatically assuming that when God sanctions alcohol in Scripture that it’s non-alcoholic is poor hermeneutics because context should determine your answer, not your personal bias. God could have easily prohibited alcohol. One verse would suffice; but, there aren’t any; there are none that explicitly forbid it.

      Do you think these quotes you write are legalistic? If not, then how do you apply the underlying principle in these quotes to every other area of your life.

      BTW: I appreciate your dialogue. You have been helpful; and encouraging in your writing, even though I disagree.

    • Lydia says

      David, If we are going to be precise in the NC, every day is the Lord’s day. In fact, it would not be a sin to “assemble” on Monday instead of Sunday.

      You wrote:

      “Yes, I believe when God commends wine, it is the unfermented kind. When God condemns wine, it is the fermented, alcoholic kind;”

      Wouldn’t there be another word to denote unfermented wine? Such as describing the wine created at Cana?

      • Christiane says

        St. Ignatius of Antioch (35 A.D. – 108 A.D)
        in his letter to the Magnesians, speaks of Christians as
        “no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also Our Life rose again”.

        Apparently, even the early Christian people chose to gather on the day Christ rose from the dead, and it has never changed from that early tradition.

      • says

        “Lord’s Day” is used in Revelation 1:10 and was used by early Christians, as well as modern ones to refer to the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the dead. But I have no problem making any day the Lord’s Day. He is over all.

        You asked, “Wouldn’t there be another word to denote unfermented wine? Such as describing the wine created at Cana?”

        The word used of the wine Jesus made in John 2 is “oinos.”

        Oinos could refer to fermented, or unfermented wine. Interestingly, the Jewish scholars of the Septuagint translated the Hebrew words for wine in Proverbs 3:10 and Isaiah 16:10 into the Greek word oinos; and in these passages the wine was obviously unfermented because it was just pressed out of the grapes. So these Jewish scholars in about 200 BC said “grape juice” could be oinos. Notice also even English translations use the same English word “wine” in Proverbs 3:10, Isaiah 16:10, and John 2.

        People in ancient times used general words for wine, much like we use “drink” today. A man doesn’t usually say “Lets stop at the store and get a cold, refreshing, nonalcoholic beverage.” Instead he often says, “Let’s stop at the store and get a drink,” even though he is planning to get a nonalcoholic drink. That is just the way people talk. Aristotle even said any mixed drink could be called oinos.

        On the other hand, highway signs say, “Don’t drink and drive.” We can easily tell the difference as to whether “drink” is referring to an alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage.

        So Jesus made oinos. We can “interpret” it as alcoholic wine, or nonalcoholic wine. I believe the biblical evidence shows He made nonalcoholic wine. But either view is an “interpretation.”
        David R. Brumbelow

        • Lydia says

          Thanks for the history lesson, Christiane. Unfortuantly, following tradition is not a big pull for me. And all believers are “saints”.

          David, That is a convenient interpretation. If scripture talks about drinking wine as a good thing, then it is unfermented. If it talks about getting drunk then it is talking about fermented wine and any minute amount can get one drunk. And we know the intended audience understood this fact.

          I am glad you admit either view is an “interpretation”. That seems like progress. :o)

          “So Jesus made oinos. We can “interpret” it as alcoholic wine, or nonalcoholic wine. I believe the biblical evidence shows He made nonalcoholic wine.”

          We also know from the narrative that it was unusual to save the best ‘oinos” for last at a celebration.

          “People in ancient times used general words for wine, much like we use “drink” today.”

          So, according to your understanding, onios could also denote water as in a “drink”?

  46. Debbie Kaufman says

    David: There is no such thing as unfermented wine. I would disagree with both Adrian Rogers and Judge Pressler on this, and with Judge Pressler on about 99% of anything to do with doctrine.

  47. says

    Now that respected Southern Baptist leaders (no, I’m not including myself here, although I’ve also been accused) have been accused of legalistic quotes, thought I’d speak to it. Charges of legalism and Pharisaism seem to be common today.

    Many, I’m sure not all, define legalism as something not directly stated in Scripture, that believers are against. So if it is not explicitly, word-for-word given as a command in Scripture, then it is completely permissible.

    Ever notice there is no explicit, word for word, command in Scripture against: abortion, gambling, slavery, porn on the internet or on DVDs (after all, the Bible never mentions the internet or DVDs!)?

    Some point out that it is permissible to have a quiet, personal conviction, as long as you don’t say others should follow that conviction. This is an interesting view.

    According to this view, I guess a person should say:
    “I personally would never own a slave, but you’ve got a right to own a slave if you want to.”
    “I’m personally against abortion, but I would never say it’s wrong for you. I would never attempt to pass a law against abortion and force my views on others.”

    Sometimes it seems people are looking for loopholes in Scripture. If the Bible doesn’t specifically, exactly, word-for-word, say something is wrong – then let’s go for it! Let’s see how close to the edge we can live. As Bart Barber sarcastically implied above, if we are going to err, we must always err on the side of our personal liberty.

    Several years ago charges of legalism and Pharisaism were everywhere on the internet. About the same time the movie about John Newton and William Wilberforce came out. These same anti-legalism guys were praising it to no end. I like the movie too. But, according to their own standards, they should have condemned it. Why? Because the movie speaks of how they opposed slavery in Great Britain. Since there is no explicit command against slavery in the Bible, Newton and Wilberforce were absolutely legalistic. Lest any misunderstand, I believe biblical principles condemn slavery, even though there is no explicit biblical command against it.

    The Bible speaks directly about many issues; it speaks indirectly to many other issues. Biblical principles are crucial in living wise lives in this world.

    I believe God’s inerrant Word speaks directly, multiple times, against using the drug beverage alcohol. But if you disagree, then biblical principles certainly condemn alcohol. Otherwise, you are saying God commends the use of a hard, mind-altering drug, for nothing more than recreational, pleasurable purposes. Drinking also makes a terrible personal testimony.

    How about arguing the case on the merits rather that trying to end the argument by calling the other person a legalist? I’m sure I could come up with some names to call those who differ with me; but I have not done so.
    See article on legalism at:

    As far as the statement that we should interpret Scripture according to the context, I agree. Why do some believe every time wine is spoken of in the Bible it is alcoholic wine? For example, why do pro drinkers use Judges 9:13 as commending alcoholic wine when a study of the verse and the word usage strongly indicate it is speaking of new, unfermented wine?

    Last, the quote by Adrian Rogers above was speaking to the point that every alcoholic began as a moderate drinker. Food is a necessity, a recreational drug is not.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      “Otherwise, you are saying God commends the use of a hard, mind-altering drug, for nothing more than recreational, pleasurable purposes.”

      So be it.

      “Food is a necessity, a recreational drug is not.”

      The food argument is a poor one, even if often used. Just because food is a necessity doesn’t mean the average southern baptist potluck is godly. There’s no overweight people in concentration camps. Overweight comes from one thing only – overconsumption – the same as drunkenness is an overconsumption of alcohol.

    • says

      David, my reply has nothing to do with “winning the argument.” My reply was to question why you kept posting legalistic quotes. And yes, it can be pharisaical to draw lines where Scripture does not, regardless how righteous your motives are. For example, shouldn’t we require sbc leaders and put it in our church covenants that Christians shouldn’t eat at buffets? I know that food is a requirement but eating at a buffet is not. Since we “should not get close” to the edge of gluttony, we shouldn’t put an unlimited supply of food in front of us to tempt us. My point is that you are picking and choosing where you want to “draw the line.” I’d almost guarantee you that most gluttons are buffet eaters. So, shouldn’t we draw a line where Scripture does not so that we “don’t get close to the edge” of gluttony? The fact that you’re not in favor of this should reveal your inconsistency.

      Concerning legalism, I believe in affirming and living in response to what both God has explicitly said and implicitly said. Your arguments in favor of total abstinence from alcohol are weak (IMO). There have been many objections brought up here; but, you don’t seem to care. I think it’s a good argument in favor of moderate drinking to look at the fact that Moses did not forbid it. Why didn’t he forbid it, if God was against it? That’s a question that begs an answer from you. If God is against alcohol as much as you are, why didn’t He explicitly forbid it?

      Concerning your charge about God allowing us to consume a “mind-altering” drug, I wonder if sugar effects the mind as well? You realize as well that everything we eat or drink effects the body, whether it effects the mind or not. Also, you have not answered if God permits the use of caffeine or not (unless I missed it). Also, what about the drug in turkey that makes you sleepy? When you say “mind-altering,” you obviously mean any tiny amount that alters the mind? Do you condemn everything else that microscopically alters the mind as well? Have you researched all these drugs out there, whether found naturally or not? If not, doesn’t this prove your biased towards alcohol? After all, if you’re so terribly concerned with all “drugs” that alter the mind the least tiny bit, then shouldn’t you know all of these by heart, and be against them, whether they’re found in certain foods, meats, etc.?

    • Dave Miller says

      I’m 150 pounds overweight, Darby, but its not my fault. I have a thyroid condition.


      • says

        I just threw up all over my keyboard Dave. Thanks for that. :) Seriously, I had a girlfriend long ago in my pre-Christian days who had a thyroid problem and rather than excusing herself on that basis, she fought hard to keep in great shape and was finer than fine. Last I know, she still is. So it really scorns the efforts of people like her for others to act as though they get a free pass because of that condition.

  48. says

    You said, “If God is against alcohol as much as you are, why didn’t He explicitly forbid it?” He did. Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; 1 Peter 5:8. And there are a host of biblical principles against it as well.

    Would you make the same above statement about abortion, slavery, gambling?

    I think it is ridiculous to equate alcohol with caffeine or sugar or turkey. Try that on those who have lost loved ones to alcoholism or drunk driving. Ask police officers which gives them the most trouble: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, turkey, eating too much. Alcohol not only destroys the lives of those who drink, but also destroys the lives of innocent victims. Alcohol coarsens everything it touches.

    I’m for moderation in food, abstinence from beverage alcohol and other dangerous unnecessary drugs.

    Following biblical commands and principles (and common sense) is not legalism.

    “More precisely, legalism is the false belief that keeping certain laws – whether biblical or not – can be used as a condition for meriting God’s grace, whether for justification or sanctification (see Galatians 3:3). But one can legislate wise laws about human behavior without being legalistic in the biblical sense of the concept. Otherwise, laws against drunk driving and illegal immigration – and a host of other things beneficial to society – would be legalistic and, thereby, wrong.” -Dr. Norman L. Geisler

    We had a great Worship Service this morning, hope you all did too.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.”

      “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”

      Clearly the issue is alcohol here. On the one hand, man is not to accept the judgment of others concerning it. And man is not to cause others to stumble in his use of it. Both are in the Bible.

      • says

        You quoted:
        So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths. -Colossians 2:16

        Those who argue this verse endorses drinking (or at least is saying don’t speak against drinking) are taking this passage way out of context. If it says what they contend it says, it also condemns anyone who warns against cocaine, tobacco, harmful mushrooms, or arsenic. After all, how dare anyone tell us any food or drink is unwise or unsafe! How dare anyone infringe on our liberty!

        In context, Colossians is condemning those who insist on following the ceremonial aspects of the law. We do not have to observe the Old Testament laws to be Christians or to be justified.

        “Paul is here referring to any system which makes salvation dependent on the observance of certain food taboos or rigid adherence to the observance of certain days as sacred.” -Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary: Revised, Eerdmans.
        David R. Brumbelow

    • says

      My friends who are cops would like me to pass this along: They have problems with people ABUSING alcohol- being drunk- not people who drink in moderation. Same goes for all those who have lost a friend or loved one to alcoholism- the abuse of alcohol.

      Now tell me David, how many people do you know who have lost loved ones to diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes brought on by abusing food? Probably as many as I know. A ton.

      “Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshipped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? … See how much He has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.”- Martin Luther

      I appreciate your passion for this subject, but truly believe and am convinced having followed your comments, that you are allowing your own personal opinions and convictions to color your exegesis of the Bible. Which in your mind would be worse, to take a drink of alcohol or to do violence to Scripture in the name of your opinion and preference?

      My vote would be the latter.

      I appreciate your passion, but I think you need to revisit your position with fresh eyes armed with some of the issues pointed out in this thread. I would also suggest a book written by a convictional abstentionist who deals with the same issues and verses you deal with, but comes down in a radically different place- God Gave Wine by Kenneth Gentry.

    • says

      David, First off, you didn’t answer my questions at all. Instead of answering my charge that you are inconsistent, you move onto some other argument. Please at least try to answer my argument. You keep pointing to alcohol as “mind-altering” and I’ve charged that there are many drugs that are mind-altering that you’re not against. Why don’t you answer my question, or at least admit that you are biased towards alcohol?

      I cannot believe you’re comparing alcohol use to slavery, abortion, etc. Israel did not struggle with abortion (although check out Exodus 21:22-23); and slavery was permitted somehow due to Israel representing God’s holiness in being a theocracy. With all the food laws, God didn’t condemn alcohol one time. This should be a huge problem for your theology since Israel was directly representing God’s holiness on earth. Their prohibitions as a result were so detailed; and yet, alcohol is not condemned, although drunkenness is condemned throughout Scripture.

      Here are my responses to the verses you quote:

      Proverbs 20:1 – Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (ESV). –

      I agree that wine is a mocker, and strong drink is a brawler, and that we should not be “led astray” by it. But, how is someone that never gets drunk ever led astray by alcohol? If drinking alcohol means that you’re automatically lead astray, then even those that use alcohol for medical reasons (Timothy), are lead astray as well. You must then argue that God is ok with us being “lead astray” by alcohol if it’s for medical purposes.

      Proverbs 23:29-35 – Pro 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
      Pro 23:30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine.
      Pro 23:31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.
      Pro 23:32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.
      Pro 23:33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.
      Pro 23:34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.
      Pro 23:35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.” –

      I too am against “tarying long at the wine.” This too points to drunkenness. The fact is that one drink does not cause you to “see strange things or your heart to utter perverse things (v.33).” You know this; so, how can you say that this passage teaches total abstinence? The only way you can argue this is that if you can prove that one drink makes a person this way (drunk). I think you’re reading your bais into the text.

      1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 – 1Th 5:6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
      1Th 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.
      1Th 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

      Where is total abstinence at in this passage of Scripture? You are reading in your opinion. You’re misusing Scripture. It’d be like me saying that God is against buffets in passages that he condemns gluttony.

      1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

      Where is total abstinence at in this verse? Where does “sober” = total abstinence?

      You also write, “I think it is ridiculous to equate alcohol with caffeine or sugar or turkey. Try that on those who have lost loved ones to alcoholism or drunk driving. Ask police officers which gives them the most trouble: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, turkey, eating too much. Alcohol not only destroys the lives of those who drink, but also destroys the lives of innocent victims. Alcohol coarsens everything it touches.”

      Let me be clear: I’m not comparing alcohol with these other drugs. I’m merely saying that you coming against moderate drinking is legalisism. You point to alcohol as mind-altering in small doses; my point is that other drugs are mind-altering as well, and you’re not against them. Furthermore, There are literally millions of Christians throughout the church’s history that were able to drink alcohol without getting drunk. So, how can you say that “alcohol coarsens everything it touches”? It’s simply not true.

      For the record, overeating has effected my family more than alcohol has, and heart disease is the number one killer in America; and diabetes is #4. Alcoholism isn’t even in the top 10. Based on your statement above concerning how alcohol effects families; shouldn’t you be against buffets, and using large plates when we eat, since gluttony effects far more families than alcoholism?

      I’ll leave you with a quote from John Piper, who is a teetotaler, but yet argued against his church’s desire to require teetotalism for church membership:
      “I want to hate what God hates and love what God loves.

      And this I know beyond the shadow of a doubt: God hates legalism as much as he hates alcoholism.

      If any of you still wonders why I go on supporting this amendment after hearing all the tragic stories about lives ruined through alcohol, the reason is that when I go home at night and close my eyes and let eternity rise in my mind, I see ten million more people in hell because of legalism than because of alcoholism. And I think that is a literal understatement. Satan is so sly. “He disguises himself as an angel of light,” the apostle says in 2 Corinthians 11:14. He keeps his deadliest diseases most sanitary. He clothes his captains in religious garments and houses his weapons in temples. O don’t you want to see his plots uncovered? . . .

      Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn’t look like one.

      Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world.

      Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one.

      Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength.

      Alcoholics don’t feel welcome in church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church.

      Therefore, what we need in this church is not front-end regulations to try to keep ourselves pure. We need to preach and pray and believe that “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither teetotalism nor social drinking, neither legalism nor alcoholism is of any avail with God, but only a new creation (a new heart)” (Galatians 6:15; 5:6).

      The enemy is sending against us every day the Sherman tank of the flesh with its cannons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. If we try to defend ourselves or our church with peashooter regulations, we will be defeated, even in our apparent success. The only defense is to “be rooted and built up in Christ and established in faith” (Colossians 2:6); “Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:11); “holding fast to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together, . . . grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). From God! From God! And not from ourselves.”


      • says

        Am I to understand that Proverbs is being used to partially create a doctrine of alcohol abstinence? Are there any other doctrines that the Proverbs are used to create?

      • Bill Mac says

        With the understanding that Proverbs is a inspired as Exodus and Leviticus, Solomon did not have the authority alter the Law. Therefore if the Law does not forbid alcohol, neither did Solomon.

  49. says

    I suppose we could rephrase the question:
    Ask police officers which gives them the most trouble: the abuse of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, turkey, eating too much.
    I think the answer would be the same.
    Yes, the abuse of food can be tragic, but it does not affect, and kill others the way alcohol does.

    Would you affirm the use, in moderation, of other recreational drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, if they were legal? They are in some places of the world today. That is essentially what the moderate drinker is doing.

    I have, have read, and have considered the book you mention. I am unimpressed with it. I guess you can call him an abstentionist, but it would be like saying someone is against abortion when they say they are personally opposed to it, but they think anyone has a right to abortion that wants one.

    I would suggest books such as: Alcohol Today by Peter Lumpkins; The Biblical Approach to Alcohol by Stephen M. Reynolds; Wine in the Bible by Samuele Bacchiocche; and Wine by Robert Teachout.

    I believe I am seriously, honestly considering the Scripture. While Southern Baptists may not agree with every detail of my view, they certainly would agree with my conclusion against alcohol, and have for well over 100 years.
    See the overwhelmingly passed 2006 SBC Resolution on Alcohol. See also dozens more previous SBC resolutions on alcohol. They can be found at
    David R. Brumbelow

  50. bill says

    So we talk about the number of drunk driving deaths in America and how it’s a great national tragedy. Well, it is a tragedy but over the last twenty years, the average number of deaths is around 40,000.

    Obviously these are preventable.

    Compare these to the average 600,000 heart disease deaths per year on average over the past twenty years and the 67,000 diabetes related deaths per year over the same time. By looking at the published papers from scientists with no axe to grind theologically, it’s easy to surmise that an overwhelming majority of these deaths can and should have been easily preventable with a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.

    So, alcohol kills around 40,000 a year while the gluttony that we’re not allowed to argue about kills several hundred thousand a year.

    Think about that the next time you have a potluck fellowship…

    • bill says

      Oh, and all my numbers are from the CDC, American Heart Association, MADD, and some published papers appearing in various journals over the past decade or so.

    • Frank L. says

      Let’s see if I get this, food can be abused so drinking is ok. Somehow that seems like a strange way to argue the point.

      • says

        Frank, no, it’s that if alcohol is okay for recreational use then cocaine or marijuana should also be okay. Or is it not a strange way to argue the point also? ;)

        Since the argument against alcohol is often done from a consequentialist ethic, all Bill is doing is arguing for the same, but only using food instead. This seems valid since the abuse of food along with that of alcohol can be seen together in Scripture.

        We may be doing our brethren a larger disservice by ignoring the silent killer that is heart disease.

      • says

        I’d love for someone to offer a definition of gluttony.

        With both of these issues, there is a definition problem. At what point does a person cross-over from the “moderate use” of alcohol to some state that is not permissible (being drunk).

        • Frank L. says

          BDW, You make a good point, and it is the basis, in large part for my personal option, informed by my Christian principles, to not drink at all.

          Arguments for abstinence can certainly lead down a slippery slope to legalism. Arguments for moderate drinking can certainly lead down a path toward abuse and all kinds of evils (1Thess 5:22).

          I reject legalism as I’ve stated many times. I have yet seen any argument against my view than because of the very nebulous situation that clouds this issue, that my stance to freely exercise my right not to drink is not a good solution to the problem.

          I avoid both the problem of legalism and the problem of being in any way associated with any evil, or appearance thereof. I would argue that my position is the “higher ethic” and avoids all problems with no detriment to myself or anyone else.

          I believe my particular view of abstinence honors the Word, honors the Lord, and avoids any entanglements, including trying to nail the word “moderate” as with drinking to the wall like a square of jello.

    • Frank L. says

      Dave, I’ve noticed that threads on the CR and alcohol are the most productive (in the sense of volume).

      I think that indicates a high level of personal agendas. There seems to be little desire in either of these cases to “learn” anything, but mores, to win at all costs.

      Actually, I must change the score above to “Changed Minds: 1.” I have greatly refined my view (at least how I articulate it) of abstinence. So, I actually learned something.

      I have also softened my view on that “other thing.” I’m not sure I will be as gung ho in the next round as I was in the first. I will be much more sensitive to collateral damage than I was the first time around.

  51. Lydia says

    “Sometimes, I just hope and pray for a comment thread to die.”

    I can help you with that. :o) I wish as much attention was paid to sexual perversion in the SBC as to the subject of whether wine was wine. :o)

    • Frank L. says

      Start your own blog and my suspicion would be you will get a very hardy response to your views.

      One difference will be that you won’t have near as many people advocating a “moderate” approach to sexual perversion. Then again, who knows.

  52. bill says

    I wanted to point out that every discussion concerning alcohol invariably has someone pointing out that X number of people die each year in alcohol related deaths.

    I’m pointing out that obesity and the excess consumption of food combined with a lethargic lifestyle kills more people by an overwhelming majority.

    So to me, to point out the argument that we should not consume alcohol because it kills people falls flat when you point out the activities that we all partake in that contributes to obesity which leads more often than not to diabetes, heart disease, or any number of other conditions which are increasingly preventable.

    The problem is in the excess consumption of alcohol just as the problem lies in the excess consumption of food or the excess usage of the sofa.

    It’s called moderation and self control which is found throughout scripture.