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 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.