Tuesday, July 24, 2007


If I say I will post on Monday and end up posting on Tuesday because I forgot, am I considered a liar? Lesser still, did I lie? Actually, don't answer that. I have something more important for you guys to comment about. Those of you who are close to me may have read my article in the summer issue of RELEVANT Leader entitled, "Tastes Great or Less Filling? Today's young leaders are rethinking drinking." If you have not read it, you will probably see it on PastorsEdge.com come September 1st.

I guess I should play the short order cook and get this out there as fast as I can: I do not have a problem with drinking. Certainly, I have a problem with drunkeness because God has a problem with it, but drinking doesn't bother me. Now contrary to popular...dare I say, preaching... that is really not an issue that is plaguing the church. If this is an average month, only about 1 in 20 churched people will consume enough alcohol to become legally drunk (See Barna).

The issue that really impacts most of us is moderate drinking. Actually, most of you probably agree with me! Now, I know some of you think that is such an outrageous claim and you are probably screaming "You don't know me" right now. For your sake consider this: According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 57% of Protestants consume alcohol rather than abstain. "But, I am not just any old Protestant," you proudly say. "I am a Southern Baptist." I think that is wonderful, but it doesn't change anything. 55% of Southern Baptists consume alcohol rather than abstain (see study). The funny thing is that Southern Baptists have many more problem drinkers than imbibing groups like Jews and Catholics. (I have a theory on this that I will save for later.)

So, if you are a Christian and you have come to the conclusion that drinking is ok from a Biblical standpoint, I want you to consider Dr. Danny Akin's quote from my article: "Do I call it a sin? No. Do I think it is unwise? Yes."

I respect Dr. Akin very much and would like to explore his comment a little bit.

Do you drink? / Leaving the sin aspect out of it, do you believe drinking alcohol is more wise or more unwise for a Christian and why?

24 comments:

Josh said...

you better be careful talking about this. you'll have to start tearing up covenants and stuff. sarcasm implied. now if we could just get you guys to rethink homosexuality. again with the sarcasm.

have you followed any of the stuff going down with the missouri baptist convention?

Jonathan Merritt said...

Josh-

First off, I don't know what you mean by "you guys." I am a self-described, independent-thinking follower of Christ. I do not march in lockstep with any denomination or movement.

As far as conversation is concerned, I have no problem discussing and rethinking any issue, no matter how highly emotional the issue is (that includes drinking, homosexuality, gambling and abortion). In fact, Scripture is clear that it is highly beneficial to regularly engage in respectful dialogue with fellow believers regarding these issues (c.f. Proverbs 27:17 and Luke 10:1). We can gain perspective and strength from others as long as we understand that the ultimate foundation for ANY discussion is the Word of God. It is the most profitable tool when seeking instruction and reproof (II Tim. 3:16). That being said, people who plant their feet in theological mud and refuse to dialogue about such things are wrong-headed and irrelevant.

As far as the Missouri Baptist Convention is concerned, I try not to follow SBC issues too much unless they hit close to home (a tinge of sarcasm). I would assume that there is some dust being kicked up in Mizz. over The Journey and their more unconventional ministry approaches. If you want to fill me in on what is going on, I would love to discuss it.

Also, go back and respond to the specific questions I asked in the blog. I am interested to get feedback on that.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Blessings,

Jm

Josh said...

no worries. it would take forever to go over the mbc stuff. i know joe thorn and steve mccoy have done some previous write ups. just check their blogs. it'll probably be a lot more generous and cordial than i would be willing to be.

as far as your question. i certainly understand the issue in the context of the south. and your/akin's thought about being wise/unwise is certainly a good starting point to approaching it.

i personally drink. hell, i even make my own beer. but i've only been drunk once since i was a christian. and there's not a day that goes back that i don't regret that it ever got to that point. i've consequently learned my lesson and haven't been anywhere near that in over 3 years.

i also understand that you should submit to the leadership around you. so while working for the church, it was required that you abstain. which i submitted to and went without for 5+ years. because in that context, it would indeed have been unwise.

but i think, if your statistics hold true, and 55% of sbc-ers do in fact drink . . . then i'm not sure how it becomes unwise. perhaps a culture of silence and concealment is just as unwise as flaunting your freedoms in someone's face.

i know in the north and in other contexts in the south, it's not an issue. so i do think that is very contextual. at which point the wise/unwise question becomes huge.

my only complaint is that i fear that we're adding extrabiblical rules and stipulations to something that god does not forbid when practiced rightly. the question then becomes who are we protecting or trying to keep from stumbling.

i know of no non-christian friends or family members of mine who would "stumble" because of my having a drink or two. but only the christians. which is the complete opposite of the famous pauline passage.

i think something also could be said of stealing my freedom in christ. while i'm more than ok laying down my freedom in christ for the sake of a brother . . . i also expect my brother to be realistic about it being a true stumbling block to his faith and not trying to rob me of my freedom in christ.

making any sense or is it just rambling?

Jonathan Merritt said...

Josh-

Some excellent points made here. i think one of the best spoken truths here was "perhaps a culture of silence and concealment is just as unwise as flaunting your freedoms in someone's face." I think both are unwise.

I personally enjoy an occasional glass of wine or something of that nature. However, I try to live under the high principle of "neighbor love" which is overtly taught in the scriptures. In other words, my relationships with others are much more important than the freedom I have in Christ.

Therefore, when I am around a family member who does not drink, I simply do not drink. When I am in questionable company, I abstain from drinking. When I am with a non-believer who may not understand Christianity, let alone theology, hermeneutics or Christian discipline, I will abstain. My love for my neighbor far outwieghs the license I have in Christ. It is NEVER right to flaunt a freedom in anyone's face, Christ follower or not.

Similarly, a culture of concealment exhibits a misunderstanding of the scriptures. We are never taught to live however we so choose in private and put on the happy face when the church elders are around. The strongest example for authenticity is not Brian McLaren or Mark Driscoll - it is Jesus Christ. His methods, relationships, and words were not always acceptable to the religious men of the day, and you cannot always expect to be a crowd-pleaser.

Somewhere in between the two-faced, crowd-pleasing Sunday Christian and the freedom-flaunting, line-pushing narcissist exists a Christian lifestyle that is pleasing to God. I believe there are opportunities in this culture for the expression of this freedom, but there are alot fewer than many of us think.

Jm

Josh said...

strangely and oddly enough, i couldn't agree with you more.

although i would probably disagree with your last sentence.

but 99% isn't bad.

Josh said...

i hope i didn't hijack the comments. i was looking forward to some other points of view.

Robert Angison said...

I believe Dr. Al Mohler has pointed out how we should approach many topics through a vantage point of "theological triage" in that we should understand what are foundational teachings, doctrinal beliefs, and personal preferences.

Issues like drinking, gambling, and going to the movies can all be gathered into the "preferences" category and easily understood. Biblical teaching does not take a direct stand and one must go in with a theological lens to capture what is said. (Granted in all three of the above points one would certainly see a valid point of Scripture prohibiting over-indulgence...well maybe not the movies...)

Yet as one approaches an issue such as homosexuality, pre-marital sex, gossip, gluttony, etc. there are clear Scriptural teachings against such practices. There is no grey area about the matter and we must understand that the testimony of the Scriptures is clear about the above subjects.

Even more foundational would be beliefs about the Trinity, Christ's divinity, and the exclusivity of salvation through Christ alone.

When we get our cultural carts before our hermeneutical horses we find a host of problems as we attempt to surmount the looming ideological crises presented by our culture.

I think too often in Christianity we allow the preferences to dictate all the rest, rather than the other way around.

Rather good post there, I agree with much of its thoughts.

Why is it that only the Christians around me care if I drink, when my completely unchurched friends don't really care...seems Christians are the only ones keeping score on those matters.

Ah, more for another day I suppose.

You are the Church!
Robert Angison

Jonathan Merritt said...

Robert-

Great contribution. Very apropos.

I totally agree with you on making sure that the hermeneutical horse is pulling the cart of culture (or behavior). Well said and well taken.

Additionally, I would point out another egregious mistake. Many of us tie too many preferential feedbags to our hermeneutical horses! Though we may disagree on a number of preferential issues, we cannot elevate preferences any more than scripture allows.

I would also love to know what you think about Dr. Akin's words specifically.

Blessings,

Jm

Josh Merritt said...

hey bro! loved this article and really like you're page too. just wanted to add a thought or two in there...

I found the stats on "religious drinking" very interesting. As you know I myself do not have a problem with drinking as long as you are not falling into the sin of drunkeness or becoming a stumbling block in someone's life.

Like Dr. Akin, I have found it in cases unwise for me to drink in certain occasions due to the skewed understanding of what social drinking really is.

Often I have found myself going to dinner or to a party with friends who are church goers to have what I like to call a social drink. I think the problem with a lot of Christians and drinking these days (at least in my own experiences) is that it always starts with one drink, followed by their slurring words of "Can I get a ride?".

Later in the week I'm finding myself back in church meeting new people, and a stranger comes up to me and says, "Hey, aren't you that guy from the bar the other night?" Suddenly because I was seen with someone who was being an irresponsible drinker I have people calling me a hypocritical Christian. I don't see how this is fair, but that's the way it seems to work.

Even though I really like the taste of some types of alcohol I find myself wondering if settling for a Coke or sweet tea would be the better option. Reguardless of my desire to want to have a certain drink if my character would be put in question I would prefer to abstain. Not too sure what side of the percentage I fall under, but just thought I'd throw my thoughts in.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Joshua,

VERY insightful. You certainly didn't slur your words on this one.

Blessings,

Brudder

Kim said...

OK, Jonathan (and Josh) here's the big question: why do you want to drink? Aside from the obvious health benefits, the feeling of being "one of the gang", the enhancement of your driving skills and the great taste, what would possess you to want to drink?

No doubt you've studied all the scriptures and have found that nothing in the Bible prohibits taking a drink.

No, there aren't any Biblical prohibitions. So what's the problem? It's your Christian witness - exactly what Paul was talking about in the whole "I won't eat meat" passage in Romans 14. Your own selfish desires can never trump your responsibility to represent Christ in the best possible light.

In Acts 24 we find Paul on trial in front of Felix, the judge. He explains to Felix that he attempts to prevent anyone from being distracted from the cause of Christ by his own behavior. He says, “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” In other words, he wasn’t giving anyone a reason to reject Christ because they saw him doing something questionable.

I think Josh’s comments make my point very well – “i personally drink. hell, i even make my own beer. but i've only been drunk once since i was a christian.” What?!? The use of an expletive, making his own beer, drunk (expressly forbidden in scripture) after becoming a Christian? Yeah, those are the traits of someone who has been saved from hell and is grateful to God for it.

You really have to ask yourself, 'does drinking ever help my Christian witness?' I like what one preacher said: "You can't drink a Budweiser to the glory of God. You just can't do it."

So, the question remains, why do you want to drink?

Jonathan Merritt said...

Kim-

Thank you for commenting. I was really hoping we would have some abstainers respond. That is good for diversity and discussion.

You kind of asked a loaded question when you said, "Why do you want to drink?" Luckily, you answer it for me. Chiefly, because I find it enjoyable. Let me ask you a question: "Why do you go to the movie theatre?" I know plenty of Christians who feel that we should not support a blatantly rank and non-Christian industry like that. Furthermore, they make a very convincing case that you could be doing better things with your time than filling your mind with meaningless garbage. If they saw you entering a movie theatre, they would definitely think less of you.

Let me go a step further. Why do you wear shorts? After all, many denominations like primitive baptists (and Congregational Holiness churches like my grandparents attend) would be appalled if they saw you wearing something immodest like a pair of shorts. Is it not fair to answer that you find it enjoyable? Certainly.

Now if you were to go and visit my grandparents, for example, you may want to surrender that freedom out of love for them, but you would not say that it is wrong.

Another thing that I am sick and tired of is hearing the "It's your Christian witness" card being played. Too many of us are so over-churched and engulfed in th Christian sub-culture that we fail to understand that the only one's who get offended are modern day Pharisaical Christians. I would encourage you to get out among the unchurched and see that they could really care less what you are drinking. (Statistics show this to be true.) Furthermore, among Protestants alone, roughly 60% already consume alcohol and of the one's that don't not everyone abstains due to a conviction. Keep thee stats in the front of your mind.

I did enjoy how you quoted Paul's words regarding meat. Check out Colossians 2:16-17 where we read, "Do not let anyone judge you because of what you eat or drink..." Kim, this is what we call a paradox. Don't pigeon hole your view of scripture by looking at one passage. What the bible teaches is this: There are many things out there that you are free to do because you have been redeemed. However, it is not always a good thing to exercise those freedoms at the expense of another person. So, if you are in an "iffy" situation, just don't do it.

He says a word to those who want to make this an issue in Colossians: Oh, and btw, don't get up on your high horse like all the other religious legalists. Understand that there are more important things than what we eat or drink (what else could he have been referring to?).

BTW, it is not Christlike in any way to remark about what Josh openly admits was a mistake. That manifests a gross misunderstanding of the sanctification. I would suggest a book on the process of sanctification or holiness if you feel this way.

I think CS Lewis could have speaking to alot of us when he wrote the following words in Mere Christianity on this very issue:
"One of the marks of a very bad man is giving up something himself and then expecting others do so as well." (Chapter on the Cardinal Virtues. You would benefit from reading this.)

Ad far as what that preacher said, he is wrong. I would direct you to great men like Dr. Mark Leiderbach and RC Sproull who will explain to you where he has gone very, very wrong.

Though I don't agree with either your tone or your logic, I appreciate you being willing to converse. Please let me know where you disagree.

Blessings,

Jm

Kim Robertson said...

Jonathan,
Thanks for reading and responding to my post. You made some good points which would be fun to debate, but I don’t want to get sidetracked from my real point.

First, let me say first, that my intent was not to crucify Josh for past mistakes – sorry to Josh and you that it appeared that way. As I read his comments, he used the present tense – “i personally drink. hell, i even make my own beer. but i've only been drunk once since i was a christian.” “I drink” and “I make” are present tense verbs which apparently means he still does both of those things.

Again, here’s my point: he’s making my point – what would a non-Christian see that was different in his life? I’m not judging whether Josh is a Christian or not. As pointed out earlier, taking a drink is not prohibited by scripture. Sure he’s free to take a drink, but once you become a Christian, your life should change. Yes, you are sanctified, but does that mean God approves of you continuing to live the same old life? If a person’s life doesn’t noticeably change after salvation what does that tell his non-Christian buddies? To them, he drinks and so is no different than everyone else who does. They are the ones judging his Christianity.

You may be sick and tired of hearing the “Christian witness” thing, but that doesn’t make it any less important in helping people find Christ. I’ll stipulate that “Christian witness” is a church phrase. Maybe we should call it something less offensive. For the sake of this discussion, why don’t we just call it holiness because that is really what this discussion is all about.

I’m not talking about being “holier than thou”, Pharisaical or sanctimonious. That kind of attitude is full of pride and offensive to God and to man as well. It’s also why people don’t like Christians. I’m talking about living a life that is so different from everyone else that people look at a Christian and say, “What’s different about her? – I like it and I want it.” You don’t have to preach to live that life. You have to be different from the inside out. You have to live differently.

You’ve ably pointed out in the statistics in this blog that there is increasingly little difference between Christians and the rest of the world when it comes to drinking. There are plenty of similar stats about Christians and their sexual attitudes, divorce rates and a host of other spiritual and cultural issues. What these numbers tell you is that none of us lives in a vacuum. Individual choices do matter and each wrong choice further removes the difference between Christians and everyone else. The cumulative effect of these individual decisions is that we’re slowly and steadily killing the effectiveness of the church because non-Christians see us as being no different than anyone else and thus see no reason to seek change for their own lives.

So, as you suggest, let’s not limit the discussion to just one scripture or another for the justification of our points. I’ll add several to my holiness argument. What about the numerous references in scripture to being holy? How about Colossians 1:22, 2 Timothy 1:9, Hebrews 7:26, 1 Peter 1:15-16 and 2 Peter 3:10-12 that all make some form of admonition for us to be holy - to be set apart from the world? It’s a recurring theme throughout the Bible and is always the way that God’s people are differentiated from everyone else.

How about a hypothetical? If Jesus were sitting beside you at a baseball game, would you say to him, “hey bud can I buy you a Bud?” Hopefully not. But as far at the lost guy that’s sitting beside you at that game is concerned, if you are a Christian, you are supposed to be just like Jesus. In effect, Jesus is sitting next to him. There are two main ways that people know what we are - that we love others and that we act differently – we act holy.

Are you still sure that the preacher was very, very wrong?

lgarrett said...

I am finding myself in line with Kim. I have been following this and reading all of the comments. You can find scripture and interpret it to slant to your thinking your way.It works like that for just about any topic. It is all left up to the reader and "interpretation". BUT what about those who are watching and coming behind you who have not heard or seen and emulate you as you emulate Christ and does Christ "make his own beer"?
Be different and be set apart.
We live in the world, we are not to act like the world. What we win lost people with is how we keep them. If they are won with a bar atmosphere? well... would we have to keep up the bar atmosphere?!

Jonathan Merritt said...

Lgarrett-

I could not disagree with you more. What we win the lost with is NOT what we keep them with. I am not sure how many Christ-followers today are maintained with Vacation Bible School. Furthermore, that exhibits a gross misunderstanding of the doctrine of perseverence. We do not maintain the converted: GOD DOES.

Certainly you can find scripture and add a slant to it. I am not doing that here. Let's break it down. What does scripture say regarding alcohol consumption, directly? Well, not much more than do not be drunk. What does scripture not say? Scripture does not say that alcohol can never or should never be consumed. Let me ask you and kim this question: On what authority do you make absolute statements that the scriptures do not make?

As far as Kim's comment regarding Christian witness is concerned, I agree. If your freedom to drink is ever expressed in a way that will harm your witness in front of a non-believer, DO NOT DO IT. Your witness is more important. However, to think that every drop that is consumed hurts a Christian witness is mistaken. Most Christian who make huge, sweeping claims about how drinking is perceived by lost people don't relationally know enough lost people to make statements like that to begin with.

The statements about being holy and set apart are misguided. In fact, we are to be holy as God is holy. Remember, that when God was among us on earth, he drank. If consuming alcohol makes one unholy, what does that insenuate about our Lord?

I believe that the word of God is SUFFICIENT for all me in all ages, regardless of culture. I refuse to make leaping statements that scripture does not make. You should not either. The bonds of the family of God are stronger than convictions or preferences.

Blessings,

Jm

Kim Robertson said...

Jonathan,

Wow, it’s been a while since the last post on this topic! Sorry I let it drop.

Anyway, it looks like we’ve sort of reached an impasse in our discussion. I seriously doubt that either of us will change our minds on the finer points of this issue. But, I’m very glad to know that both of us believe that we should avoid anything that we have the liberty to do if it could cause non-believers to have a problem with Christ.

About your last post… I in no way suggested that drinking makes anyone unholy. It was noted early on in this discussion that the Bible makes no prohibition against drinking. So I agree with you that we shouldn’t find things in scripture that aren’t there. My point was that anything that could be perceived as unholy should be avoided.

Wouldn’t you agree that as we become more Christ-like – more holy -- we will automatically become less worldly? I doubt you’ll find anyone, Christian or not, that would take issue with labeling drinking as a worldly activity. Again, I say that for the church to be truly effective, we cannot keep dipping our toes in questionable streams and then expecting people to come running to God based on what they see in us. To help people find Christ, you and I must be different. We must pursue holiness.

You should know that I’m a little older than you, thus I have some life experiences that I can share as I wrap up my part of this discussion. As well read as you appear to be, I assume that you’ve read the Proverbs that exhort you to learn from those who have the wisdom that comes from living a few years so let me leave you with three things before we quit:

1. You’ve mentioned a couple of times that I need to get some non-Christian friends so that I’ll know how they think. Well, I do have non-Christian friends although as I’ve matured that percentage is less and less. A few years ago, I worked for a very liberal organization where Christians were outnumbered 80 to 1 – no joke. When I started working there, I was a Christian, though you couldn’t tell it. To try to fit in, I went out with the gang after work, drank what they drank, talked like they talked and generally did whatever I could do to make sure that I was one of them. To make a long story short, during a church service one day, God reminded me of whose I was and that I wasn’t living anywhere close to His standards.

You intimate that non-Christians don’t really care or notice what we drink. Well I can tell you for a fact – that just isn’t true. When I returned to the life that God wanted me to lead, there was a radical difference and believe me, my co-workers let me know that they noticed the change. Thankfully, they were generally supportive of my changed life and it gave me many opportunities to witness. In short: people do notice and care about what you say and what you do. In my experience, hanging out with your non-Christian friends but not participating in anything that is questionable makes a tremendously powerful non-verbal statement to them – a statement they cannot ignore.

2. From your bio I see that you feel that you are called to the ministry. I’m begging you to think carefully again about what you do, how you live and what you say. If God allows you to have a position of leadership in His church, you will be living under a magnifying glass. Let’s suppose you are out to dinner and have one glass of wine too many. Let’s further suppose that on your drive home you happen to drift out of your lane and a police officer pulls you over. You can fill in the rest. Unless your church happens to be extremely liberal, you could very well lose your position of ministry and any influence you have in the church. You might enjoy a drink or two, but at what price?

3. On a practical and even more personal note, my grandfather died from cirrhosis of the liver before I ever got to know him. In just the last few weeks a friend of mine has nearly died from alcoholism. Jonathan, alcohol is not something to be taken lightly. There is no way to tell if you are going to progress from casual drinking to addict. For me, there’s just no point in taking that chance for few minutes of fleeting enjoyment.

That’s it for me on this topic. I’ll keep watching your blog to see if we can have a discussion on other topics. I’ve really enjoyed the debate!

Jonathan Merritt said...

Kim-

I wish not to argue with your emotionalism or personal experience, but your logic, which is confusing, at it's very best.

For example, you open with this statement: "About your last post… I in no way suggested that drinking makes anyone unholy." Then, you make this statement: "Wouldn’t you agree that as we become more Christ-like – more holy -- we will automatically become less worldly? I doubt you’ll find anyone, Christian or not, that would take issue with labeling drinking as a worldly activity." In other words, even though you say that drinking doesn't make one unholy, you make the statment that as a Christian becomes more holy, he will cease drinking because that is wordly. Fuzzy math here. (Oh, and there are more than enough who would ravenously disagree with you that drinking is wordly. See Mark Driscoll, RC Sproull, and D. James Kennedy, among others.)

Instead of wasting another post in debate, let me remind you of your own statment and again ask a question that you seemed to ignore earlier. You said: "My point was that anything that could be perceived as unholy should be avoided." Kim, will you covenant in this forum to never see a movie again? Many, many Christians see this as supporting an industry of sex and atheism - they perceive it as unholy. Kim, will you covenant in this forum to never wear anything other than a dress in public? That way any community associated with Primitive Baptists or the Congregational Holiness church will never see you engaging in anything unholy. Kim, will you swear in this forum to never find yourself overfull at the dinner table whether at Thanksgiving lunch or otherwise?

You see, Kim, Christians are never intended to live in such a way. To do so is blatantly Pharisaical, not to mention impractical.

There is one thing you got spot on: we have reached an impasse. We should move on to something more productive. I appreciate your comments and insight. I would love your comments on other things. Thank you for your zeal to live in a way that honors Christ.

Let us all refuse to elevate personal preferences and convictions to the level of personal holiness as we pursue unity with other believers.

Blessings,

Jm

Jonathan Merritt said...

Kim-

As I continue to ponder your last post, I feel compelled to point out one other glaring irregularity in your logic.

You talk about your friends at work noticing that you did not drink and it being a matter of witness that you were set apart. While, I think this is a wonderful expression of your witness, your application is far-reaching.

Imagine with me that I have a group of lost friends who do not go to church. We go on vacation together and when Sunday morning rolls around, I get out of bed and attend church. This is done out of conviction and as an expression of my devotion to God in appreciation of salvation. This would be a wonderful expression of my witness.

However, if I were to then break out into an extra-biblical tirade against others who do not go to church while on vacation (and many, if not most, Christians do not) my application would be too far-reaching. The words of CS Lewis resound: "One of the marks of a very bad man is someone who chooses to give up something himself, but then expects others to do likewise."

It is acceptable and even required that we give up certain freedoms at certain times or in certain situations in the name of the Gospel. However, to take an experience with a particular group of friends and apply it to an issue generally is wholly fallacious.


Blessings,

Jm

Kim Robertson said...

Jonathan,

Bless your heart, why do you want to keep characterizing me as some kind of uptight, holier than thou person? I’ve agreed with you over and over that there is nothing in the Bible that prohibits a Christian from drinking.

Your original question was “do you believe drinking alcohol is more wise or more unwise for a Christian and why?” I’ll try to be succinct: for all the reasons that we’ve discussed and some we haven’t – the risk of getting drunk, the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk, the risk of killing yourself or someone else while driving drunk, the risk of addiction, the risk of serious health problems and yes, the risk of damaging the cause of Christ - it’s just not wise to drink.

Let’s talk about the challenge that you’ve thrown down. You’ve taken the arguments I’ve made in favor of abstaining from alcohol and elevated them to an absurd extreme. Will I covenant to refrain from going to movies, from wearing anything other than modest clothing, overeating, etc. because some view those things as questionable activities for a Christian? You could have also added shopping in grocery stores (they sell alcohol), buying gas from any convenience store (they sell beer), driving on city streets (because prostitutes hang out on them), on and on. In other words, I should just withdraw from life because almost everything I do could be considered by some to be unholy or un-Christlike.

I'm not ignoring your challenge and will answer with an equally absurd challenge of my own: covenant with me that you will ask your church to install an open bar so that you can share a drink with your Christian and non-Christian friends before the preaching begins. Since there is nothing in scripture that prevents drinking, it will be perfectly alright to hang out and drink with them. As an added bonus, they’ll feel more comfortable being at church by having something familiar to drink.

Now think about it. Why wouldn’t that be acceptable? If you can do it in your regular life, Monday through Saturday, then it would be consistent for you to do it at church on Sunday.

Of course, this is a ridiculous idea. It’s just as ridiculous as the idea that we should totally withdraw from everyday life. You’ve really missed the whole point of my part of this discussion. By living in the world but not of the world we are stacking the odds in our favor as we try to bring people to Christ. That’s it.

Jonathan, you can try to justify it any way you want, but I think you know that you have an issue with alcohol that is incongruent with your Christianity.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Kim,

You are more difficult to nail down than a hurricane-bent house shutter. Your logic is convenient and you speak out of both sides of your mouth.

Your challenge to me is not only absurd, it is illogical. The challenge was based on your logic and a statement you made. You said, and I quote, "My point was that anything that could be perceived as unholy should be avoided." I never made the statement that drinking should be done at all times and in all settings, which makes yourt counter-challenge not only a blantant side-stepping, but wholly irrational.

You constantly contradict yourself - you admit that drinking does not make one unholy, for example, but turn right around to say that if one becomes more holy, one must stop drinking. This makes no sense to even the youngest of orators and is only one of a long list of illogical contradictions.

Rather than face the fact that your illogical words are not tenable with your beliefs, you can only put words in my mouth: "Jonathan, you can try to justify it any way you want, but I think you know that you have an issue with alcohol that is incongruent with your Christianity."

I don't feel that I am trying to justify myself at all, rather instead of reading into scripture because of past influences, I read out of the text what it says, and REFUSE to go any further that scripture goes. IT would be equally fair to say that you are just emotionally influenced by your alcohol-addicted Uncle and are trying to justify your feelings with scripture. Neither charge is fair. It is without doubt that you are much, much more passionate about abstaining than the Holy Spirit-inspired writers of either Testament. Quite frankly, that should concern you more than it does me.

Even still, the greatest disconnect between us in this discussion is poor logic. If you weren't as slippery as a wet balloon, we could undoubtedly continue this debate, but at this point - I think we both agree - that we should discuss other things. I will have a new post tomorrow; hope to see your comments.

Blessings,

Jm

ko webber said...

Jonathan, a friend pointed me to your blog last week. I must say there have been some great points raised. Unfortunately for you, they are mostly from other posters, not from you. You are a great example of why I long ago lost interest in the church. Why do I need a church? I'm beginning to understand that you're just like the host of other "modern" "religionists" -- you have your view of how things ought to be, and anyone who suggests anything different from that opens themselves up for personal attack. Not a response to the substance of their message, mind you, but childish barbs at their ability to communicate or reason. As if you are God's gift to the world when it comes to reason and holiness. I've known a lot of reasonable and holy people in my days, and trust me... you're not one. You conveniently dismiss those who dare disagree with your rather profound view of what it means to be a Christian by saying they are "illogical", "contradictory", and "slippery as a wet balloon".
It's hard for me to believe that God needs an army of Christians like you to take care of his world. Why don't you just stick to writing magazine articles to be read by others who think like you do? You can enjoy your writings over beers with them later.So, just how do you earn a living anyway? Is somebody PAYING you for this dribble?

ko webber said...

BTW, where do you get off signing your postings with "Blessings" after attacking and ripping people down the way you do? Perhaps you should sign them "Curses" instead. Just a thought.

Love, ko

Jonathan Merritt said...

Ko-

I can see why you would be outraged at keeping people logically accountable, as you manifest hypocrisy is your very post. You are upset because you claim that I am not discussing material but attacking people. Correct me if I am wrong but I couldn't find material in your comment. What I did find was a string of ad hominem arguments coated with enough venom to kill a Clidesdale.

Ko, I have made no attack against anyone's personal character. I have not generalized that anyone is the reson for the church's struggles- that was you. I have not made judgments about the holiness of another believer, either explicitly (like you) or implicitly (like Kim). What I have done, as you rightly point out, is break down poor logic in comments posted on this site.

I have a feeling that your animosity and anger are coming from more than this website, and I am sorry if I contributed to it in any way.

Though you exhibit no love in your scolding, I assure you that my last word comes with genuine wishes for you...

Blessings,

Jm

KO Webber said...

Jon, I have to apologize for my earlier comments.. I had been drinking.



But I think I may have been right. Don't you agree that sometimes a little alcahol sharpens our judgement and helps us to see things in other people we might otherwise miss?

Luv always,
KO