four posts on alcohol

I’d like to recommend four posts on alcohol by Jeff Straub. Jeff and I tend to tangle online. We have widely different opinions in some areas. But I have to say these four articles are extremely well done and worth your time:

  1. The Christian and Alcohol: Does the Bible Permit Drinking in Moderation?
  2. Popping the Cork on a Can of Worms?
  3. Choosing to Abstain
  4. One Final Word on Alcohol

Regular readers will know that I don’t subscribe to the two-wine theory, but that I totally oppose the use of alcohol as a beverage for Christians at any time. I actually oppose the use of beverage alcohol for anyone, but my position is very unlikely to gain a hearing in the world at large. My hope is that Christians will get serious about alcohol and totally abstain. There is no good reason for any believer in Christ to ever participate in its use.

don_sig2

Comments

  1. Keith says:

    If you don’t subscribe to the two wine theory then on what basis do you advocate abstinence?

    Jesus said to drink, so unless he meant something other than wine (which you are correct, he did not), then why do you say not to?

  2. The Straub treatment reads like a strong preference, Don, with no scriptural authority, except that it is a liberty issue.

    • Kent, I think that it is more than a liberty issue and I think that Straub gives some good biblical arguments to show that this is so.

      Keith, for my part, check my categories on Alcohol. I have given extensive argumentation on this subject in previous posts.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      PS: I should say that I don’t agree with everything Jeff says in these articles, but the general arguments he makes against any Christian consuming it as a beverage are good arguments. I don’t agree, for instance, with the notion that this is not a point of fellowship or controversy. If pastors in my circle of fellowship taught a moderation position, I would raise the issue in the fellowship. It isn’t an acceptable position.

  3. Keith says:

    “If pastors in my circle of fellowship taught a moderation position, I would raise the issue in the fellowship. It isn’t an acceptable position.”

    You’ve got to be kidding.

    I’ll try to read your articles when I can get some time.

  4. Keith says:

    Found five blogs in your alcohol category. Not sure if I found them all.

    From what I could find, you don’t really have an argument for your position merely an assertion. You wrote, “The prohibition on drunkenness ought to be considered a command for abstinence by Bible believers.” This is nothing but a bold face assertion, but then you take it and argue from it — instead of arguing to it.

    A prohibition on drunkenness is a prohibition on drunkenness — nothing more, nothing less. And drunkenness, by any standard, is different than drinking — otherwise there wouldn’t be two words. If God wanted to prohibit any consumption, He could have and would have said so. He doesn’t hesitate to outright prohibit several other things.

    • Quite frankly, Keith, that is baloney.

      Does God prohibit flirtation in the workplace with another man’s wife? Where specifically does he do that?

      I would suggest that the prohibitions against adultery and fornication cover it as Jesus showed in the sermon on the mount.

      If you are drinking for the effect of the alcohol, that is drunkenness.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Keith says:

    Quite frankly Don THAT is worse than baloney.

    Flirtation with another man’s wife is unfaithfulness and unfaithfulness is clearly prohibited over and over again.

    You are trying to make an analog where one does not exist. You are saying: Drinking is to drunkenness what flirting is to adultery. Problem is, this is not what the Bible says. The Bible says, drunkenness — drinking too much — is wrong but any kind of unfaithfulness is wrong.

    For your scheme to work logically/linguistically, you’d have to say that a married man should never ever look at or talk to a woman that is not his wife: Drinking at all is the beginning of drunkenness and Male/Female interaction of any kind is the beginning of adultery. This is clearly not the Biblical teaching. The Bible never presents anything like this line of thought — it is completely foreignt to the text.

    The problem with flirting isn’t that it could lead to unfaithfulness. The problem is that it IS unfaithfulness. Drinking, on the other hand, could lead to drunkenness, but it is NOT itslef drunkenness.

    You seem to be remarkably close to blasephemy. Jesus made wine for the wedding at Cana. And, apparently many of these people he made wine for had already had at least one glass. So, either he made some non-alcoholic wine, or He did not think drinking equals drunkenness.

    • On your last paragraph, I think you are quite mistaken. It would be quite unlikely for the wine at Cana to be drunk in a way inconsistent with 1st century practices which was dilution unless you were drinking for effect, in which case you drank it straight.

      I appreciate your challenging my assertions about drunkenness, however. I have had no one really make any attempt at dealing with the argument at all, so I need some feedback.

      I would say to what you are saying here that the Bible clearly does not prohibit all drinking. “Drink a little wine for thy stomach’s sake” Paul famously said. There are medicinal reasons for drinking that are acceptable, especially in ancient times when there was little in the way of medicine. There are basic hydration reasons that were acceptable in a society where there is no refrigeration and the practice is to drink the wine diluted.

      But I believe “drinking for the effect” is always wrong, and was wrong because it is a work of the flesh under the header drunkenness. It is indulging in a craving of the flesh for the effects the wine brings.

      So it doesn’t follow that a man should never talk to any other woman at all. But if he is one of these guys who likes to flirt and make suggestive comments (or vice versa), then that is the indulgence of the craving of the flesh condemned all over the Bible.

      Does that help clarify? Or still full of holes?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  6. Keith says:

    “It would be quite unlikely for the wine at Cana to be drunk in a way inconsistent with 1st century practices which was dilution unless you were drinking for effect, in which case you drank it straight.”

    I have no major argument with you here. Don’t know that I fully agree, but that doesn’t really matter — even if it was diluted, it was alcoholic, so drinking itself cannot be considered drunkenness.

    “I believe ‘drinking for the effect’ is always wrong, and was wrong because it is a work of the flesh under the header drunkenness.”

    Depends what “effect” you are talking about. If the effect is to lose self-control or to lose consciousness, then any effort to secure that effect is wrong — that’s what is called drunkenness. If the “effect” is to pat yourself on the back at your ability to purchase luxuries or your sophisticated pallete, then it’s wrong — that’s pride. However, if the effect is the enjoyment of the taste and/or the appreciation of creativity under God, and/or the medicinal value (digestive aid, proper relaxation, pain killer, etc.) then it’s not wrong — it’s a good gift of God.

    So, interaction with wine is, in this regard, the same as interaction with women — depending on one’s motivation, any interaction with wine or women can be wrong. However, what you aren’t allowing is that there are multiple non-sinful motivations for drinking wine, or that people drink wine all the time without a sinful motivation and without becoming drunk.

    We do so at church every Sunday.

    • Well, I don’t agree with using wine for communion for testimony’s sake. There are today suitable alternatives that preserve the image and avoid any stumbling blocks.

      Let me ask you this: is drunkenness only loss of self-control or consciousness? Is that what the police call it when you are above .08? (or whatever the standard is where you live) … when is a person drunk? My contention is that if your purpose in drinking is to gain the effect of the alcohol – a loosened tongue, relaxation, what have you – it is all the same as drinking to get plastered. You are drinking for the effect of the alcohol. You don’t have a legitimate reason for using it.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  7. Keith says:

    1. If something isn’t wrong then doing it isn’t a “testimony” problem. You are begging the question again. Jesus didn’t seem to have a “testimony” problem making wine. Why on earth are we looking for “suitable alternatives” to what Jesus ordained? Do you really think that communion is about “image”?

    2. The scientific decimal place the police use to establish driving ability is really irrelevant to this dicussion. God is the standard, not police science. I think it is legitimate for the police to say that when driving a vehicle that can kill others, we should require the driver’s reaction time to be unimpaired — that is not necessarily the same as what the Bible describes as “drunkenness.”

    3. Yes, drunkenness is characterized by loss of self and Spirit control: “Be not drunk with wine wherein is EXCESS but be filled with the spirit.” A loosened tongue would be a loss of self control.

    4. I thought you admitted a medicinal use for alcohol? But relaxation is not medicinal?

    5. Why is alcohol the only thing for which every physical effect is deemed wrong by you? Do you worry when a turkey dinner makes you feel relaxed?

    • Thank you for your questions, brother. I don’t mind them at all.

      1. I think that in our world, there is a testimony question. first, there are weak brothers who shouldn’t be tempted to stumble, and second, we shouldn’t even cause them to question the sincerity of our testimony. We don’t need the wine to picture the death of Christ, Welch’s is a perfectly good substitute. I wouldn’t go so far as to allow Coca Cola, however.

      2. Well, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. The “Impaired Driving” or “DWI” offence is commonly called “Driving Drunk”. I maintain that drunkenness is achieved much sooner than people want to admit.

      3. Ok, true, good point. But how much drinking does it take to loosen the tongue? I have had unsaved friends tell me that at secular office parties, everyone is on edge until they get a drink into them to loosen their tongues. It is their mode of “ice-breaker”. So… is that a legitimate use of alcohol?

      4. I do admit a medicinal use of alcohol. Nyquil is ok.

      5. No one ever killed anybody while under the influence of a turkey.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Keith says:

    Thanks for the replies. Here’s a few more thoughts:

    1. You wrote: “We shouldn’t even cause them to question the sincerity of our testimony.”

    Wine at communion absolutely does not have that effect on anyone other than fundamentalists.

    Furthermore, even if it did — Jesus was accused of quite a few bad testimony things, but he didn’t stop doing those things. The early church was accused of bad testimony kinds of things — when these things were good, the church endured the shame. In the early 20th century, Bible believing Christians were accused of believing a violent, bloody superstitious religion (kind of a bad testimony thing to the world), but they knew that without a bloody death and resurection, there is no hope. What the world thinks isn’t the deciding factor.

    I agree that we don’t NEED wine — wine is not magic. Of course, that’s like saying we don’t NEED a real roasted turkey for Christmas dinner — processed, sliced turkey on wonderbread will keep you alive just as well.

    2. The point here is that the Bible means something by drunkenness and what it means is not measured by blood tests. It’s interesting how fundamentalists think that science is irrelevant when it comes to the age of the earth and stuff like that and that the government is wrong about most things, but when it comes to things like “blood alcohol levels”, all of a sudden science and the government are they appeal to.

    3. I don’t know about your friends’ parties. I know that the Bible does not oppose joyous celebrations. And, I know that the Bible’s descriptions of drunkenness has to do with EXCESS and a debauched lifestyle.

    4. If Nyquil is Ok, then why not a 1/4 glass of cabernet? Again, it looks like if it’s “scientific” and industrial it’s ok, but if it’s natural and cultural it’s bad — only when it comes to alcohol.

    5. No one ever killed anybody because of one glass of wine.

    • Thanks for your latest.

      1. I think you might be mistaken about the effect wine at communion has in your testimony to the world, but I am primarily concerned about the testimony to the man delivered from alcoholism.

      2. I don’t agree with your interpretation of the Biblical view of drunkenness. But I want to challenge you on your assertion that fundamentalists think science is irrelevant. The findings of science are useful tools, it is the conclusions of science that often are dubious because they are based in an anti-God world view that is unable to interpret its own findings correctly with respect to origins and many other areas. Fundamentalists don’t think government is wrong about most things, most fundamentalists are pro-government. They wish government would actually govern a bit more. What we are against is anti-God and anti-Christian bigotry pushing leftist agendas in government.

      So are you saying that a guy who can’t walk a straight line on the road is not drunk according to the Bible? Are you saying a guy with a blood alcohol reading of 1.1 isn’t drunk according to the Bible? On what would you base that conclusion, if so?

      3. If you need alcohol to be happy, something is wrong.

      4. First, I don’t exactly know what cabernet is. Second, I would say that testimony is an issue to some extent – I wouldn’t want to be seen purchasing alcohol, I wouldn’t want to keep it on hand in my home “just for medicinal purposes” when perfectly acceptable substances like Nyquil are readily available. Again, it is primarily testimony to the weaker brother that I am concerned about.

      5. Very few people who drink one glass of wine ALWAYS drink just the one glass of wine and no more. Almost everyone who drinks at all on occasion (at least) drinks too much – and that is drunkenness.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Keith says:

    1. For the man who cannot control his control his appetite for wine, we offer grape juice. Like I said, wine is not magic.

    2. You, “don’t agree with [my] interpretation of the Biblical view of drunkenness.” That’s your perogative. I’m just saying that I’m looking to the text, you’re looking to police blood tests.

    The Bible never says anything about drunkenness being determined by a blood test, it talks a lot about drunkenness being determined by a life of excess and debauchery.

    I didn’t say that fundamentalists think all science is irrelevant. I said they treat it as irrelevant in some cases and as gospel truth in others — with no good reason for the distinction. Science can’t determine the age of the earth (something of a physics/fact kind of a question), but it can determine drunkenness (a morals, virtue, character question)? Seems odd.

    You write: “Fundamentalists don’t think government is wrong about most things, most fundamentalists are pro-government. They wish government would actually govern a bit more. What we are against is anti-God and anti-Christian bigotry pushing leftist agendas in government.” Well maybe in Canada. Apparently, you haven’t been in the USA lately. Most fundamentalists here seem to think that conservatism is the only option to leftist agendas and that conservatism means less government. They also seem to think that actual governments are wrong about most things — unless its spending on and deploying military force.

    You write: “So are you saying that a guy who can’t walk a straight line on the road is not drunk according to the Bible? Are you saying a guy with a blood alcohol reading of 1.1 isn’t drunk according to the Bible? On what would you base that conclusion, if so?”

    I have no idea what a blood alcohol reading of 1.1 is or means, and I don’t need to know. If I did, then nobody in the Bible would ever have known how to determine drunkenness — blood alcohol tests weren’t invented until long after the Bible was written. If a guy drinks so much he can’t see or walk straight, then I’d say he’s drunk — he’s lost control of himself. This doesn’t seem that confusing.

    3. If you need anything other than Jesus to be happy then something is wrong.

    4. You say: “I wouldn’t want to be seen purchasing alcohol.” But if alcohol is not wrong, then there’s no reason to not be seen purchasing it.

    You add: “I wouldn’t want to keep it on hand in my home “just for medicinal purposes” when perfectly acceptable substances like Nyquil are readily available.”

    Again, why is Nyquil perfectly acceptable but cabernet (a red wine) is not? If you’re looking to get drunk, either one will work. It’s just that one is science fiction green and tastes disgusting and one is a beautiful grapey red and can taste wonderful.

    5. You write: “Very few people who drink one glass of wine ALWAYS drink just the one glass of wine and no more. Almost everyone who drinks at all on occasion (at least) drinks too much”

    How do you know? Where’d you get your statistics? What scientific study revealed this truth?

    “and that is drunkenness.” Ahh, begging the question again.

    Don, I really don’t care at all that you don’t drink. I don’t even care that you wish others wouldn’t drink. Your argument about the defnition of drunkenness is, however, not from the Bible. If you were to say, by avoiding the use of wine, I’m guaranteed to avoid the abuse, so that’s what I do. I would say, peace be with you. However, what you are saying is that because something can be abused, any use of it is sin — and in this case a specific sin with a specific and clear Biblical meaning that is not “any use.” Your definition of “drunkenness” makes several texts of scripture nonsensical.

    • You know, Keith, in the end we will have to agree to disagree. You do know that, don’t you?

      1. I think we’ve finished discussing that one unless you have more to add.

      2. You do know that science is the observation of facts or repeatable events, right? It is conclusions based on the known facts that are in dispute, and the conclusions vary depending on presuppositions. When it comes to drunkenness, you can measure the blood alcohol content and observe behaviour at various levels. I actually misstated it at 1.1 (that would be 110 %, I think) – you would be running straight alcohol in your veins, plus 10 %… if you could ever achieve that you’d be dead. What I meant was .11. In our area, .08 is considered impaired driving. Some areas it is .10. In any case, someone with that blood alcohol level, when given the ‘walk the line’ test usually can’t do it. Almost always can’t do it, is my understanding. Some people might have a higher tolerance, which is why I don’t say this is true of all people.

      The point is, when it comes to drunkenness, once you get the blood alcohol level to a certain point, you will be impaired, sufficiently so that it is illegal to drive. Now, would you call that level of impairment drunkenness or not? My understanding is that it doesn’t take much drinking to get to those levels. Two drinks within an hour are probably enough in most cases, again from what I understand. Is that acceptable for a Christian?

      3. I think we have discussed this one enough also.

      4. I would say here that even if you are right in arguing that alcohol is not wrong, I wouldn’t want my weaker brothers who have been delivered from alcoholism to see me purchasing booze. I wouldn’t want to cause them to stumble. That is my point.

      5. Keith, this is life experience. I have known a lot of people who drink. I have never known anyone who NEVER drank too much on occasion at least, if they drink at all. I think it is completely disingenuous to attempt to argue that this isn’t the case. Everyone I have known who drinks at all will admit to getting ‘a little tipsy’ at some point.

      You can say I just don’t know enough people. Fine. I am quite happy with my position and where I am with this. I preach total abstinence and I am not ashamed of doing so. I guarantee you that anyone who follows my preaching on this will never maim or kill somebody in a car accident under the influence. They will never beat up their wives while drunk or embarrass themselves in some way at an office party. They will have a testimony of clean living for the sake of Christ.

      I am not saying that Christians who drink can’t have a generally good testimony, but they will inevitably harm their testimony in some way. I can’t imagine the Lord being pleased with that.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  10. Keith says:

    Well, I and others I know have actually changed our minds about this and other topics as a result of discussion. If no discussion could produce any change, then why discuss at all?

    So, final replies:

    *If someone can’t walk straight because of their drinking, then they are drunk. My point is that I don’t need a blood test to determine that. What the Bible calls drunkenness is not determined by a specific blood alcohol level — so that the areas who allow .1 are allowing drunkenness but the areas that allow .08 aren’t. The Bible’s definition of drunkenness deals with motivations and results.

    *Do you want your weaker brothers who have been delivered from fornication, but are unmarried, to see you demonstrating physical affection for your wife (holding hands, hello kiss, arm around shoulder, etc.)? Do you want your weaker sisters who have been delivered from reading trashy novels to see you reading a book? Do you want your weaker brother who has been delivered from greed to see you spending money?

    *It is absolutely not true that everyone who drinks will inevitably harm their testimony as a result of drinking. I know many, many who drink who have never harmed their testimony as a result of their drinking. On the other hand, until Christ returns, everyone will harm their testimony in some way at some time with something. Might be money, might be sex, might be laziness, might be something else. We going to abstain from money, women, and work as a result?

    Peace.

    • You are making category errors in these statements. For example demonstrating physical affection for one’s wife is in no way considered remotely under the category of fornication. The definition of fornication is illicit (unmarried) sex. So one’s affection for one’s wife doesn’t fall into that category. But if I am a guy who hugs up all the ladies in the church… that’s another story.

      I think your conclusions generally err in this way.

      And I will continue to preach and teach total abstinence from alcohol.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  11. Keith says:

    I know that I said final reply before, but I must reply to your charge of category errors. I have made no category error at all. Absolutely not.

    The reason I have not made a category error is that the mere act of drinking wine is not considered, by Scripture, under the category of drunkenness.

    Drinking does not equal drunkenness. It just does not, according to Scripture OR the blood tests you look to. Limited drinking of wine is not a part of the category drunkenness anymore than physical affection for one’s wife is under the category of fornication.

    Drinking too much wine is drunkenness just as physical affection with a woman not your wife is fornication or adultery. Drunkennes, by clear Biblical teaching, is the abuse of wine or strong drink, just as fornication is the abuse of human sexuality.

    God looked at all he made and said, “It is good.” There is no thing on earth that is sinful. Sin is the absence or abuse of good things — sin is parasitical.

    So, the categories are “good things used properly” and “good things used improperly.”

    • I don’t think there was any wine in existence when the Lord saw all he made and said, “it is good.”

      Drunkenness (however you define it) follows in a straight line from drinking one drink to the tipping point.

      Fornication never follows from showing physical affection towards one’s wife. They are not the same category.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  12. Keith says:

    When God said “it is good” grapes were in existence, grapes which, by God’s good natural processes, ferment and become wine. For now (to avoid hearing speculation about fermentation not occurring until after the flood or something similar), let me just ask this: Did Jesus think the wine he made was good? Or, did the second person of the Trinity make something bad?

    Drunkenness follows in a straight line from one drink to too many drinks — no doubt about it. Just like fornication follows in a straight line from desire for physical affection to engaging in it outside of marriage.

    You either did not read my post #18 carefully or else you did not read it fairly. I never said that a little bit of affection for your wife is ok but too much is fornication. I said that public displays of affection with your wife could be a stumbling block to a single person desiring such affection.

    You had said that you didn’t want someone who struggled with drunkenness to see you buy wine. I was asking if you minded a single person who struggled with fornication seeing you share physical affection with your wife. You don’t want the drunk to see you with wine, do you want the fornicator to see you with a woman?

    If you think that upon seeing two people publicly display affection — even if they are married — a single person cannot be reminded of pleasures denied him (physical affection and others) and be tempted by this reminder, you are not being realistic.

    The categories are fine. I am beginning to think that you don’t even want to understand what I am writing.

    Good night.

    • I think that is just pure baloney, Keith. Especially the way you described it:

      (holding hands, hello kiss, arm around shoulder, etc.)

      I think that married couples could possibly be too demonstrative in their public embraces, but you certainly weren’t describing that. You described very minor and normal public expressions of affection.

      It is impossible for you to equate that with a stumbling block for an alcoholic if he saw his pastor going in to the liquor store to buy wine or what have you. That is just pure baloney and that is a category error if ever I saw one.

      I’d invite someone else to chime in and offer their comments on this particular question, but it appears it is only you and me that are interested in this!

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  13. Paul says:

    Don,
    I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll begin by thanking Keith for making excellent, logical points.

    Don, the intention of anything I write here is not change your mind (b/c that clearly is never going to happen), but to simply give a different perspective.

    (1) While God didn’t create wine at the beginning of the world, he also didn’t create bread. He did create fermentation and your body uses it regularly (if you physically exert yourself). Normally your muscles use cellular respiration, but after about a minute of heavy exertion, you’ll run out of ATP. At that point, the muscles start lactic acid fermentation. Once our muscles form lactic acid, they can’t do anything else with it, so until it is gradually washed away by the blood stream and carried to the liver (which is able to get rid of it), our over-exerted muscles feel stiff and sore even if they haven’t been physically injured.

    Bread is made using a similar process and the wonderful smell we enjoy is a result CO2 and ethanol evaporating.

    I think it’s safe to say God intended for us to use the things he created to make both bread and wine (His own son created wine at the wedding feast).

    (2) You assertion that one drink inevitably leads one to drunkeness is too broad and baseless of a statement. I have a significantly large group of friends who drink regularly (mostly in our own homes) and all make a consciencous effort to protect our testimonies as well as keeping people from stumbling. None of the people I know have ever crossed the line of drinking to excess. Rather, we give thanks to God for His wonderful creation and the blessings he allows us to enjoy.

    (3) Not only did Jesus create and consume alcoholic wine, but we will all enjoy it at the feast prophesied in Isaiah 25:6. “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”

    Lees refers to deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate, or are carried by the action of “fining”, to the bottom of a vat of wine after fermentation and aging. The yeast deposits in beer brewing are known as trub. However, yeast deposits from secondary fermentation of beer are referred to as lees.

    Normally the wine is transferred to another container (racking), leaving this sediment behind. Some wines, (notably Muscadet), are sometimes aged for a time on the lees (a process known as sur lie), leading to a distinctive yeasty aroma and taste. The lees may be stirred (batonnage in French) in order to promote uptake of the lees flavor.

    The lees are an important component in the making of Ripasso where the left-over lees from Amarone are used to impart more flavor and color to partially-aged Valpolicella.

    That’s all from me. I agree with all of Keith’s excellent comments.

    • Paul, we do not know whether all conditions in the world today are exactly the same as Garden of Eden conditions. We do know that the creation groans waiting for the redemption. The implication of Romans 8 is that the physical world is broken and will one day be fixed.

      As such then, I find your points 1 and 3 irrelevant.

      On point 2, I did not say that one drink will inevitably lead to drunkenness. I was speaking of a category. There is no change in category between buying the stuff to drinking the stuff to drunkenness. It is all one and the same category. Keith was trying to make the spurious argument that putting one’s arm around one’s own wife is the same category as fornication and would tempt the fornicator to his sin. I say baloney. In fact, I say balognim (that’s the plural of balogna and his statement is worth at least two of them).

      You say none of the people you know have ever crossed the line of drinking to excess. That one would be another balognim. 1) You are not with these people 100% of the time and can’t possibly make that statement with authority. 2) You can’t tell me that no one you include in this description has ever had “too much”. How would you define “too much”? Could it possibly be called drunkenness?

      Finally, I am amazed at the insanity of people who are so bound by their lust for alcohol that they would use a substance they have to “make a conscious effort” to control their use. Amazing. I make a conscious effort too. I don’t touch the vile stuff and I urge everyone to adopt the same clear God-honouring testimony.

      It is amazing that so-called Christian people have this one thing they must have liberty for when it is such a dangerous substance and causes so much death and destruction every day.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. Paul says:

    Don,

    I fail to see how your comments on Rom 8 negate either my first of third point.

    I should have clarified my second point. None of my friends have ever become drunk in my presence. The point was that plenty of moderate drinkers have no problem controlling their use of the substance.

    I’m not so consumed with lust for alcohol that I have to make a concerted effort not to become drunk. Rather, with the understanding that people might accuse me of drunkeness (like they did Jesus), I am careful to guard my testimony. I consider my eating habits in the same manner; I don’t want my non-believing friends to think I’m a glutton.

    To your point about alcohol’s danger (which I’m not discounting), I would argue that the leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, which is usually caused by poor eating habits and obesity. I think it is easier to ruin your testimony with a fat gut than it is by drinking moderatly.

    Your implication that moderate drinkers aren’t true Christians is simply ridiculous!

  15. Anvil says:

    Don,

    I think one must be careful with a statement like your last sentence/paragraph. It is certainly true that misuse of alcohol can kill. I’ve read several different sets of statistics on this. I’ve seen numbers of deaths from ~20,000/year to ~85,000/year from alcohol (the latter number also contained car crash deaths where alcohol was involved). That seems like a lot, and of course could certainly be avoided by abstinence (assuming those people would not have died another way that year). However, deaths from poor diet and lack of exercise per year are more in the ~350,000 range, or more than 4x as many.

    To use your logic, I don’t see how churches can continue to have “pot-luck suppers” when they include so many dangerous substances. Maybe we all ought to abstain from really good tasting food and stick with “pulse,” as it was called in Daniel, since sugar, fat, etc. can be so dangerous. In addition, maybe not exercising regularly should be considered as sinful abuse of the body, just as smoking is.

    I understand there are good reasons to abstain, but considering any alcohol use to lead *inevitably* (your word) to loss of testimony is simply speculation — something you can’t know with authority, and not, it seems, in line with scripture.

    Understand that I am not arguing for alcohol use here, but I don’t believe that all of your arguments hold water.

    • Anvil,

      I am sure that not all of my arguments hold water! I am not immune from my biases.

      As for this example, I think the statistics regarding cause of death are pretty misleading when it comes to, for example, poor diet and exercise. I would venture to guess that many of these deaths are related to advancing age as well, whereas deaths directly related to alcohol are often much more sudden and tragically young.

      I don’t think that we get anywhere making arguments from statistics. My dad says figures don’t lie but liars can figure. Rather, however, I think it is undeniable that the use of alcohol causes much harm in human lives. It isn’t necessary to sustain life and because of its dangers (and other reasons) should not be used. On the other hand, food must be taken in order to sustain life. You can’t live long without it. Granted, you shouldn’t abuse it either, but it isn’t a matter of it being addicting or causing you to lose your senses. I think again, this is another category altogether and is often merely a smoke screen by the proto-drunkards to justify their misbehaviour.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  16. One more comment for all in general. I am now on the road for the rest of the day and will not be dealing with any more posts until late in the day.

    There are several in the queue. I am debating whether to delete them or post them. This issue is one that stirs the passions and posts descend to a level of snarkiness that probably is unbecoming for all, me included.

    I may decide simply to delete all remaining comments and close the thread. I think that there comes a point when discussion is pretty well useless and both sides have made their points.

    Keith, I did delete one post of yours from earlier today. I may delete the one remaining in the queue.

    My reasons are entirely subjective.

    And since it is [ahem] my blog… I retain the right to be entirely subjective as I see fit.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  17. Anvil says:

    In all fairness, I was planning to stay out of this since, as you stated, this can be a hot topic with much heat and little light. It was your post #23 asking for others to comment that caused me to chime in here.

    If you were asking specifically to the question of being a stumblingblock simply by purchasing alcohol, then I apologize for misreading. If you are planning to close this thread, I’ll just leave this alone.

    I do agree that food is necessary, where alcohol isn’t. My point was that the rich, tasty foods we all enjoy aren’t strictly necessary either — “pulse” would be sufficient, yet with all the health issues we see from fatty, sugary foods, I see no call to avoid those for spiritual reasons, even though nutrition issues may in fact cause many more deaths than alcohol. (And yes, I agree that statistics are not always all that useful. However, if the statistics about nutrition are not reliable, that probably also applies to the stats about alcohol deaths as well, when the numbers come from the same source.) I do think people become at least psychologically addicted to food, though I would agree with you that unless you are eating something with narcotic properties, it won’t generally cause you to lose your senses. The dangers of misuse of food are different, but they are still there.

    If this doesn’t get published because you close the thread, that’s certainly fine. This is more for you than for your other readers anyway.

    • Anvil,

      Just further to the statistics question: It is not that statistics on nutrition are unreliable, but I think that most of the “cause of death” statistics are somewhat relative. You can objectively measure deaths caused by drinking and driving, or someone in a drunken rage killing someone else. Such as these would comprise some, but not all, of the deaths caused by alcohol. Some might die of heart disease or cirrhosis or some other ailment brought on by alcohol, but many of these deaths will occur much later in life when death will occur anyway. The same, I would suggest, is true of deaths attributed to over-eating.

      Obviously, we all could eat much healthier than we do, but no one will escape Adam’s curse by it. But, yes, one of my points is that purchasing alcohol is a stumbling block and I can’t believe those who refuse to acknowledge it.

      ~~~

      Now to all… I am still on the road today, so no more posts till this evening at the earliest. I have approved one of the three in the queue and deleted the other two.

      I am afraid we are just getting into the mode of saying the same things over and over again and not getting anywhere. Is there any point to that?

      I am also getting angry and flailing away with the oxgoad, rather than making rationale arguments. I do apologize for that. Let’s see if I can be more productive later.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3