Growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition of the Christian faith I was always taught that consuming alcohol was sinful and I myself thought the same for years. It was only upon maturing in Christ and careful study of the Bible that I came to a different conclusion. I myself fall into the category of the third emerging group that I described in part one of this post. I agree with Mark Driscoll who says, “I personally long for the return to the glory days of Christian pubs when God’s men gather to drink beer and talk theology.”
Although I only used four Scriptures, there are numerous more that could be cited in regards to alcohol consumption. And not to allow any confusion, I am in agreement that the Bible does set up clear instances when it would be sinful to drink and to abstain for the moment is the right choice, which are often Scripture references cited against those who hold to my view. I also recognize the Bible talks of the sin of drunkenness and the many problems it leads to, which I am again in full agreement.
Deuteronomy 14:26 is a time when the Bible refers to happiness as an occasion to drink alcohol in moderation. In Psalm 104:14-15 it is God who allows the wine to come forth to gladden the heart of man. John 2:1-11, the most popular quoted passage when the subject of alcohol comes up between Christians, which is why I hesitated using it; but when looking at one of the first recorded miracles you cannot take that away. This passage even refers to the people being able to drink freely and that the wine Jesus made was better than the “good wine” that had been served at the beginning. I believe this miracle has probably been abused on both sides of the argument, but the scripture is clear when it says that the water had now been turned to wine. It does not say grape juice or something resembling the color of wine, but wine and good wine at that not the kind of stuff that comes in a cardboard box.1 Corinthians 10:31 is perhaps the key passage for those in the third group of moderation. I want to make sure whatever I am doing or consuming can be done to the glory of God.
As Martin Luther pointed out there are many things or objects in life that men abuse, but that does not necessarily mean they should be abolished. Many men use the computer to look at pornography, but I doubt I could find many Christians who would be willing to throw away their computers. John Calvin is right that alcohol is a precious gift from God and should be treated in a precious manner, therefore it is sad to see the abuses of it and how it destroys people’s lives.
I believe there will always be the two extremes mentioned in the American context. It encourages me to see this third emerging group that holds to moderation within a biblical context to glorify God. My prayer is that this position will not be abused as the other two have been for years, but that it is one that will be embraced by those who do hold to one of the other views through a careful study of the scriptures instead of basing their view on what their particular tradition has always taught them.