I'm reposting some comments I left over at Justin Taylor's blog.
steve hays May 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm
Kevin Boling May 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm
“I think this is horrible. The last thing that we need in the church today is for professing Christians to embrace beer and the companies that produce it. Doing right by your employees while destroying people’s lives via the product you produce and promote is not a virtue the church should be looking to emulate.”
If you think that’s horrible, it gets even worse: John 2:1-11. The last thing we need in church today is a Messiah like that.
steve hays May 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm
The problem is when you and others presume to be more Christian than Christ.
steve hays May 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm
Kevin Boling May 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm
“Did not mean to imply that at all. I just don’t think that text has anything to do with giving the church a license to drink.”
And how do you arrive at that conclusion? Jesus made intoxicants for the wedding guests to drink.
Clearly, then, he didn’t regard think it was intrinsically evil or even imprudent to produce and consume alcoholic beverages. Once again, why do you think you know better than Jesus?
Oh, and this isn’t without precedent. According to Ps 104:15, God gave “wine to gladden the heart of man.” So who are you to forbid what God permits? Cf. 1 Tim 4:3.
steve hays May 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm
Haven’t there always been “weaker brethren”? Weren’t there weaker brethren in OT times? Yet Yahweh doesn’t advocate teetatolism. Weren’t there weaker brethren at the time Jesus changed the water into wine? Yet that didn’t stop Jesus.
What about communion wine? Wine was used at the Last Supper. Wine was used in NT churches to celebrate the Eucharist. Weren’t there weaker brethren in some of those churches?
This is a red herring.
steve hays May 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm
Another meme I see making the rounds of the combox goes something like this:
Christians who support drinking in moderation grew up in repressive, legalistic, fundy churches. Having now seen the light, they overreact by “flaunting” their “new-found” freedom.
No doubt there are some individuals who fit this profile. However, it’s clearly an overstatement:
i) Not every Christian who supports drinking in moderation drinks regularly. He may support it merely as a point of principles. We shouldn’t forbid what the Bible permits.
ii) Not every Christian who supports drinking in moderation grew up in repressive, legalistic, fundy churches. Don’t assume that represents a reaction, much less overreaction, to his religious background. Don’t assume that this represents a “new-found” freedom. That’s a very provincial assumption.
Some Christians have been drinking in moderation since they were old enough to drink. This isn’t a “new-found freedom.”
iii) Not every Christian who supports drinking in moderation even grew up in the church.
Indeed, some individuals have gone in the opposite direction. They used to be unbelievers who were hard drinkers or binge drinkers. After they became Christian, they now drink in moderation.
steve hays May 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm
I also wonder what presumptive scenarios the weaker-brethren objection has reference to.
For example, if my wife and I have some wine with dinner, how is that harming the weaker brethren? Or if my friends and I have some beer together, how is that harming the weaker brethren?
If we were to consume alcohol in front of an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic, that would be tactless. And, of course, that would be tactless regardless of whether the alcoholic/recovering alcoholic was a believer or unbeliever.
But under what situations is that a realistic objection to the moderate consumption of alcohol?
And even if there were such situations, wouldn’t that justify a case-by-case policy rather than a blanket policy? Don’t Christians need to exercise rational discrimination rather than have a mechanical approach to issues like this, regardless of the specific circumstances?
steve hays May 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm
I also don’t see the practical impact of teetotalism. Unless we return to Prohibition, teetotalism is a voluntary behavior. In the nature of the case, teetotalism is limited to teetotalers. It doesn’t inhibit barflies from blowing their play check at the local saloon, since they don’t subscribe to teetotalism. By definition, teetotalers aren’t barflies while barflies aren’t teetotalers. So as long as both behaviors are voluntary, how does teetotalism solve the problem it poses for itself?
steve hays May 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm
“Am I a legalist if I forbid pot-smokers and heroin users in my church or does the legality of something rest on the official pronouncement of the civil magistrate? In a society where pot smoking is legalized, would it then become acceptable to be a church member if one uses it recreationally?”
Mood-altering substances range along a continuum of risk-factors. You can’t rationally propound a blanket policy on any and all mood-altering substances.
To take a comparison, hospitals sometimes administer dangerous drugs. Potentially life-threatening medications. But that’s justified if the risk of not treating the patient outweighs the risk of treating him.
“It is a non sequitor to say that because Jesus drank wine (whatever that was in the 1st century), I am free to drink Guinness. Unless you can demonstrate that Jesus drank anything similar to modern, commercially produced alcoholic beverages, you have no argument. Only rhetoric.”
Except that teetotalers play both sides of the fence on this issue. When Scripture refers to alcoholic beverages in a negative context (i.e. inebriation), teetotalers assure us that the word denotes some type of intoxicant–but if the same word is used in a positive context, then it suddenly becomes root beer.
“I can neither point to a Scripture that prohibits slavery nor can you.”
i) To begin with, you equivocate. “Slavery” is a loaded word. Is indentured service “slavery”?
ii) Rev 18:13 (cf. Ezk 27:13) is an example where Scripture condemns chattel slavery. Eschatological judgment, no less.
“Jesus does not condemn alcohol but regulates it.”
Where did Jesus regulate alcohol intake in Jn 2?
“What I have is the tenor of the Holy Writ which I think argues against its use in the end.”
Gene Robinson uses the same logic to justify catamites in the priesthood.
“Would any form of slavery today be acceptable?”
What about indentured service, whereby thieves make financial restitution for property crimes?
“As I have argued elsewhere, the biblical use of alcohol hardly compares to the use of alcohol in today’s world.”
So teetotalers should stop quoting biblical prohibitions against inebriation. OT drunks were getting plastered on root beer.