A “Paige” out of the Pharisee’s book…more SBC Jedi Mind Tricks

18 07 2006


Last week I wrote an article entitled “Could Jesus be Jesus and a Southern Baptist?” to the recent resolution by the Southern Baptist Convention that encouraged all of its members to advocate complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages based upon the ‘damaging’ effects of such a ‘drug’.

Well right on the heels of that posting, Paige Patterson, the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, wrote an article promoting the total abstention from anything alcoholic. Whereas Akin was more emotional Patterson comes out with some Jedi mind tricks and voodoo hermeneutics to arrive at his conclusion that it is sinful for the Christian to drink.

I am definitely not on an alcohol crusade over here, but I am firmly committed to following what the Bible says and trying to make sure that I do my best to ensure that people are not lied to about what the Bible says. Paige Patterson is a leader in the largest evangelical denomination in the world and he is twisting the truth like a clown making balloon dogs at a toddler’s birthday party. It is just out of line.

Why is it alcohol that the SBC is going after? Why not gluttony? I’m not picking on the denomination here but there are two things I have experienced in every Southern Baptist Church that I’ve been to, 1) a hug from a male (not very comfortable with this, but try to be all things to all men), 2) a potluck. These people love to eat, and many of the pastors at these churches were not exactly in shape either. Something is out of line about a guy who’s suit jacket won’t stay buttoned telling me that I cannot drink alcohol because it is sinful.

I am not the only one upset. Even Southern Baptists are voicing their frustration. For a thoughtful response to Patterson’s article see this Southern Baptist.

patterson.jpgPatterson says that “Strong drink is prohibited for those in leadership.” Well I guess Jesus didn’t get this memo since he drank alcohol! Or does Jesus not count? How about the Apostles did they refuse to drink the wine at the Last Supper? Can you imagine the Lord’s reaction if Andrew (we always pick on Peter, let’s try someone else) would have said, “uhh, Jesus, is that grape juice fermented? ‘Cause, you know, we want to make sure that we don’t give the wrong impression…you know how those Pharisees are. I’ll just hold off. I actually have some water left from lunch, I’ll have that.”

Concerning the miracle in John 2 (the first public miracle noted by John by the way) in which Jesus shows his winemaking skills, Patterson says, “The text nowhere indicates that Jesus participated.” Are you kidding!?! He made the wine!! How much more participation do you need? How about this, if Jesus had not participated there would have been no more wine!

Further Patterson says concerning John 2:

“From a standpoint of logic, the “oinos” that Jesus produced was more likely pure, rather than fermented, grape juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure. Also, there was no time for fermentation to take place subsequent to the miracle.”

No time for the fermentation? I think that is the point, this is a miracle. Jesus doesn’t need fermentation time, just like he didn’t need time to plant the seedlings to grow the grapes, or go and pick the grapes, or smash the grapes into juice with his feet, or pour the concoction into the washing pots…it was a miracle!!

Patterson also contends that the wine used by those in Bible times was so watered down that it would not be even close to what we have today. This argument gets tossed around quite liberally. If this is true one must wonder why there was ever so much abuse of wine in Bible times.

We see passages where wine is mixed with spices (SoS 8.2) and with other wine (Is. 65.8), but the Scripture does not make a distinction between watered down and regular wine (or cut vs. uncut wine). The one and only passage that refers to wine being diluted with water is Isaiah 1.22: Your silver has become dross, Your drink diluted with water.

The nation of Israel had become the “harlot” who was abominable to the Lord. They were “murderers” (v.21) who were guilty of increasing or inflating the cost of products while decreasing their value. So just as they added dross to the silver (fraudulently increasing its weight) they also “diluted” their wine with water thereby increasing the amount of wine they could produce while decreasing the value of it (kind of like American Lite beer 8^B…). So as Kenneth Gentry observes, “Ironically then, the only biblical reference to water-diluted wine appears in a context of rebuke!”

Patterson also says that “wine has one, unqualified, good use in Scripture and that is as a metaphor for the wrath of God.”

As previously stated Ps. 104 sees wine as a blessing from God to make our “hearts glad.”

  • It must have also been seen as a good thing in the view of Melchizedek as he brought it out to Abram as part of his blessing and honor to him (Gen. 14.18-19).
  • In Deuteronomy we see wine associated with the blessings of God (7.13, 11.14, 12.17, 14.23) and then the removal of wine as the act of God’s cursing of the nation (Duet. 28.51).
  • Wine is enjoyed within the context of biblical romance (SoS 5.1; 8.2).
  • Jesus used wine for the Last Supper (Luke 22.20).
  • Jesus promises that in the Kingdom we’ll drink wine with him (Matt. 26.29).

These are just a few example of where wine is seen as favorable.

In a bizarre point Patterson says that the first reference to wine is bad (Noah’s drunkenness). Does this mean that wine is bad? Noah sinned and abused a good gift of God. Noah was not attacked by a foaming cup of wine and forced down into submission until he was drunk. No, he abused wine and was drunk. The subtle reference here to wine as bad portrays an unbiblical worldview, somehow imputing sinful characteristics to things that God has created. This wrong-headedness serves to deflate our view of God’s providence and inflate our view of ourselves. It is germane to the same seeds of thought that plagued the Colossian church (cf. Col. 2.16-23) and what Paul warned Timothy to stand against (1 Tim. 4.1-3).

Finally, Patterson urges Christians to avoid alcohol because of alcoholic industry’s negative contributions to society. I wonder if Patterson is serious and consistent about his convictions. Would he also be willing to never shop at Wal-Mart, wear Levi’s, wear Nike’s or use Bank of America, eat Pillsbury dough or eat a Girl Scout cookie?

All of the above named corporations are on the Boycott List for Life Decisions International (LDI) due to their financial contributions to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion advocacy group in the world. If Patterson is consistent he’ll be in a Montana cave herding goats and making his own pants and biscuits.

I do not know what the motives are for these men. However, I know that they are telling you and me to avoid something the Bible does not tell us to avoid, they are telling us that something is bad when the Bible says that it is good and they are challenging those who enjoy alcohol to the glory of God as being sinful. This is legalistic. Adding to the Bible only takes away from the Bible. I’ll take the Bible at face value, apply what it says and try to obey it. There is enough in it for me to worry about without having to have the SBC add an appendix for me.




10 responses

19 07 2006

I knew it would come to this based on Tony L’s sermon a few years ago. In his mind, and the in the minds it seems of the SBC leadership, they are taking the high road. I was indeed glad to be a part of the Romans 14 message by Pat a few months ago. I now understand the context of the chapter in regard to the difference in strong and week believers. What Tony and the SBC do not regard are the other common consumable and pleasurable items such as sex and food as they too can be sinful in their abuse.
By the way, I was amused by the hugging comment. I can’t remember a time that it ever bothered me. Must be a southern thing. Don’t they hug in New England?

19 07 2006

Hmmm…. amazing how one’s opinions can blind one to biblical truth. To actually put such nonsense in print is amazing. He made more errors than A-Rod has this season. And that is saying something 🙂

Technically the SBC is not a denomination. I’m not sure what that actually makes it. I guess an association of churches. I never understood it when I was Southern Baptist, and still don’t.

20 07 2006

Barry, there actually is a lot of male hugging in New England, however, I and many of the other members of the heterosexual movement were quick to distance ourselves from such affection… 8-0

Pat’s Wine or Welch’s series was awesome. I’ll be putting that up here in a few days or so…just a fair treatment without the legalistic or licentious bias.

20 07 2006

I think that would make the SBC…a cult.

20 07 2006

Mike, I’m not ready to go there…BUT, i do have some serious concerns over both the supporting and subsequent thinking that this is for sanctification. There are churches who forbid that ladies cut their hair or wear pants or that guys don’t wear ties…these are legalistic churches who demonstrate cultish characteristics. The most alarming thing for me is the worldview and hermenutic that leads you to these conclusions and then the lack of biblical basis to require others to agree! Does this not sound like the Catholic Church with a southern accent?

20 07 2006

Well, they don’t have a Pope.

All groups will struggle with legalism. It is part of the warp and woof of fallen humanity. Luther wrote that there is a little religious fanatic in each of us that seeks to earn righteousness so we can boast before God. It is not particular to the SBC. It can even manifest itself in non-biblical tolerance (PC-USA) where they boast of being more loving than those who want to maintain the standards ordination etc.

We should hate it. But neither can we escape it. For there is no “pure” church. For even regenerate people have the remnant of indwelling sin.

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.” Pretty much describes what we are like if we are honest.

25 07 2006
Bishop Joe

I am not really sure where to begin. The brutality and lack of character that this post represents is outstanding. I have my doubts whether or not the author of this blog has come within 100 miles of Dr. Patterson, much less actually met the man. I can tell that the author of this work does not come within a million miles of Dr. Patterson’s commitment to uplifting the church and his fellow Christians. I am not sure which is more childish, the gross generalization of Southern Baptists, or the attack on Dr. Patterson’s reputation and motives. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to disagree with Dr. Patterson’s hermeneutical conclusions. What is not acceptable is turning your opposing view into an attack on a person’s character. I happen to disagree with Dr. Patterson’s biblical grounds for a prohibition on drinking. I do not drink for witness/accountability purposes rather than from a strictly biblical purpose (see my blog for further discussion of this). But it would never occur to me to reach the level of venom that the author of this blog has reached. Many may think I am some Patterson flunky since I attend SWBTS. I respect and admire the man for all that he has done for our convention, and Christianity as a whole. I do not agree with him on every issue. And on those issues that we do disagree I know that I can have a frank but civilized discussion with him, not an attack on my character. This is what separates Dr. Patterson from the author of this blog. My message is simply this; make your argument stand on its own merits and not on cheap shots at another’s expense.

Matthew 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

26 07 2006

Bishop Joe,

I’m guessing that the bulk of your issue centers on me referencing food and Southern Baptists since you link to my post and label it “Pharisees and hypocritical fat baptists”. Just to be clear my only reference to food or gluttony is quoted below:

“Why is it alcohol that the SBC is going after? Why not gluttony? I’m not picking on the denomination here but there are two things I have experienced in every Southern Baptist Church that I’ve been to, 1) a hug from a male (not very comfortable with this, but try to be all things to all men), 2) a potluck. These people love to eat, and many of the pastors at these churches were not exactly in shape either. Something is out of line about a guy who’s suit jacket won’t stay buttoned telling me that I cannot drink alcohol because it is sinful.”

Let me be perfectly clear: I was not calling Paige Patterson fat. I was just making a general observation that people who are overweight really look kind of funny telling me about the problem with “overdoing” something. Patterson does look a little thick in the gills but I assure you my statements were not addressed at him in particular but the ample number of Southern Baptists preachers who I have heard ranting about abusing alcohol while they are clearly abusing Twinkies. This is hypocritical and troubling.

Just for the record, I do not see a singular character attack in my posting. I think I interacted with Patterson fairly based upon what he wrote. I do think he is hermeneutically inconsistent and legalistic; thus the post.

As a general rule of thumb Joe you probably want to avoid attacking people’s character as you rail them about attacking someone’s character. It really serves to undermine your argument and make you look rather silly.

You call me venomous, brutal, lacking character, childish, cheap and also state that my arguments can only stand on this type of activity. And further that my article “does not come within a million miles of Dr. Patterson’s commitment to uplifting the church and his fellow Christians.”

Listen you are obviously offended that I took issue with one of your heroes. I understand that. But the very thing you are upset with (and unjustly so I might add) is exactly what you are doing to me. I was careful to interact with Patterson’s comments, quoting him in context. All I did was connect the dots. I don’ think I have to “come within 100 miles of Dr. Patterson, much less actually met [meet] the man.” He wrote it and I reacted in writing.  (By the way, I happen to find Patterson’s soteriology far more offensive than his views on wine)

While you are on the line, I’m curios about your position regarding alcohol. You say,

“I do not drink for witness/accountability purposes rather than from a strictly biblical purpose…”

What witness are you talking about? A witness to a lost world. Just to let you know, the majority of Americans that you will encounter in evangelism already think you are a hypocrite because you go to church (no doubt this is their convenient and unfounded excuse for not attending due to conscience, but nevertheless…)…so when the unbeliever sees you (or other SBC’rs) saying you should not drink for witness purposes they quickly will connect the dots and see that you are holding yourself and others to a higher standard then Jesus set and requires. Jesus drank alcohol. Jesus made alcohol. And Jesus drank with sinners. So any half-thinking unbeliever is going to ask you why you abstain. Are you going to tell them because of the associations that are connected to alcohol? This didn’t seem to bug Jesus. Are you going to say it is for evangelism? This didn’t seem to inhibit Jesus’ ministry. And by the way, when you do something for spiritual gain (sanctification) that is not required from the Bible and then advocate others to do so this is called legalism…hence the Pharisee reference Joe.


16 08 2006
Jason Goodman

Just an FYI: One of the elders at Omaha bible church told me a few years ago that all elders took a vow that they would not ever drink alcohol. They say that it is to “set an example” I understand their point of view, but if I were an elder, I would not take that vow. I am not an alcoholic by any means, but I like to have a glass of nice wine or a beer once in a while, or at gettogethers, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, and if refusing to take that vow would keep me from being an elder, than they are no different from the Southern Baptist Denomination, which is a denomination, one of the 30,000 sects out there.

16 08 2006

The position of the elders at Omaha Bible Church is that drunkeness is sin and drinking is not. Your representation of the ‘former’ position is true. Last summer Pat preached through the issue (Alcohol Resource). We also use regular wine for communion. This change shows the elders’ willingness to continually subject themselves to the Word of God as the ultimate authority as well as a committment to continually be santified in the truth. 1 Tim. 4 also tells us that forbidding stuff like food or marriage is the doctrine of demons and we do not want to be in that boat.

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