Monday Morning Insights

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    Southern Baptists and Beer

    Southern Baptists and Beer

    Catch these words from Peter Lumpkins, a SBC pastor who recently wrote the book:  Alcohol Today:  Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence:

    “One would be hard-pressed to locate a belief — outside believers’ baptism by immersion itself — which reflects more unity among Southern Baptists than abstinence from intoxicating beverages for pleasurable purposes…

    According to a report from Associated Baptist press, Lumpkins says that younger Southern Baptist leaders do not appreciate that history and instead view teetotalism as extra-biblical and nothing more than “Pharisaical legalism.”  He says that ‘relaxed attitudes’ about social drinking is the biggest controversy to hit Southern Baptists since the big showdown in the 80s over conservative vs. liberals in the SBC.

    He continues…

    “Make no mistake: the popular, trendy appeal for Bible studies in bars; pastors leading men’s groups at cigar shops to puff, preach and partake; conference speakers who openly drink alcohol nevertheless are invited to college campuses as they carve out yet more influence into the youngest generation of Southern Baptists — all this makes an impending moral crisis among Southern Baptists predictably certain.”

    This paragraph in the article stood out to me:

    Without the abstinence standard, he argues the church either consciously or unconsciously helps promote a message in the larger culture that drinking is “cool.”

    What do YOU think?

    Is social drinking wrong?  If you’re a Southern Baptist… what’s your personal view on social drinking?

    And finally… where will the SBC finally come down on this?  What will the stance of the SBC be on social drinking be, in say, 10 years, in 2021?  What’s your guess?

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    1. Kenneth on Mon, February 07, 2011

      A follow up to my previous comment:  There should be absolutely no question in the sincere heart of a born again Southern Baptist about the drinking of beer as well.

    2. Dennis on Mon, February 07, 2011

      I have heard this sermon preached countless times by baptist preachers wearing 52” X 30” pants and they never see the irony.

      I’m with Peter on this one.  If you don’t like the baptist stance on social drinking, leave.  There are plenty of denomination who have no problem with having a few beers now and then…  I have a feeling if all the baptists who drank socially or even in private were to quietly mosey over to the Presbo’s church, the Baptist denomination would either have a new found revelation about drinking or be mighty empty.

    3. Corbett on Mon, February 07, 2011

      Kenneth, are you saying that the Bible calls drinking alcohol a sin?  Is that what you mean when you refer to those who “twist the scripture to justify sinful behavior.”?

      You reference the Catholic Church and suggest some would find it a better destination.  The Catholic Church has been criticized for elevating the “words of man” to the level of the commands of God.  Does that seem a little ironic, maybe?

    4. Shane Moffitt on Mon, February 07, 2011

      well…. my college prof always said, “What God’s Word holds tight ~ hold tight and what God’s Word holds loose ~ hold loose”. 
      my only point is, God’s Word says a lot more about gluttony than it does social drinking. 
      and since I have some pounds to dump before I start throwing stones…. perhaps I shouldn’t be typing this from the McDonald’s drive-through….

    5. Peter Hamm on Mon, February 07, 2011

      Many of you engaging in this debate are bringing up very good points. I admit, good points on EITHER side of the issue.

      But… it’s not an issue. Here’s why. (Pardon me if I’m kinda repeating myself.)

      If you join or belong to a denomination, if you are not in a position of denominational leadership, then determining this kind of thing is not your issue. At all.

      Your issue is following… or not… Can you have this discussion with your pastor? Sure. But there’s a right way and wrong way.

      Right: “Pastor, our church believes thus-and-such, can you explain why?” And then decide what to do about it.

      Wrong: “Pastor, our church believes thus-and-such. It is wrong and must change and I intend to publicly complain about this forever until it does.”

      Sorry, but if you’re SBC and must, must, must have make this an issue, you need to not be an SBC.

      Is there a legitimate debate about whether the Bible condemns ALL alcoholic consumption? Perhaps. Is there a legitimate debate about how we all want the SBC to change what they believe about it? Only for those of us in leadership in the SBC. Not for the rest of us, SBC or other-wise.

      imho, ymmv, etc. etc.

    6. Nick on Mon, February 07, 2011

      I grew up in a SBC and always questioned the stance that they took on drinking. It was preached strongly that drinking altogether was a sin. Based on the scriptures that I read, I didn’t believe the teaching on this issue was accurate and it caused me to question a lot of the actual truths that were also being taught. I don’t understand why the SBC continues to try and preach a doctrine that is not scriptural in an effort to seemingly control people and keep them from the sin of drunkenness. I saw more sin at homecoming when most of the Deacons went back for seconds and thirds and made gluttons of themselves in view of the entire congregation. I also saw how many leaders in the SBC could take every pain killer known to man as long as they had a prescription for it, but wouldn’t dream of taking a drink of alcohol. As if there was a difference. Why don’t we just teach the truth and leave the results up to God? I know that there are many out there that abuse alcohol and do tremendous damage to themselves and others in the process. Many people engage in extra marital sexual acts that are damaging and abusive as well. However, the SBC doesn’t teach that ALL sex, even within marriage is a sin. Why do they teach that ALL drinking, even in moderation is a sin?
      I believe in responsible drinking, including not drinking around others that are alcoholics and not frequenting clubs and not being drunk, and not driving while drinking, as I would abstain from doing if I took any prescription drug. I believe in protecting the weaker bother, but most of the “weaker” brothers have not been taught the truth about alcohol in moderation.
      I believe that this will always be an issue in the SBC because they are not teaching what scripture says on the issue. That’s a larger issue than the drinking issue altogether and I believe that until the truth is told people will question the integrity of so many other doctrines being taught as well.

    7. Jim on Mon, February 07, 2011

      This issue has been a struggle in our denomination also. Both sides have biblical and experiential evidence to justify their side.
      I know we are about “grace & love” but when I compare our convictions and behaviors to other mainline cults or Muslims, I’m ashamed at our lack of courage to be different then our culture. Could it be people are looking for a faith that has the guts not to blend in with with the rest of the culture?

    8. CS on Mon, February 07, 2011


      “That said, the SBC is clearly on record on this issue. Perhaps we should stop trying to force them to change a belief. Perhaps if folks disagree with this issue who are within the SBC they an go start their own denomination or something.”

      Stop making sense, please.  Most of us would rather fight against things that won’t change. 



    9. Mark Robinson on Mon, February 07, 2011

      My tribe is dealing with this issue too. One of the things I want to explore is what the Bible says about impairment or being under the influence. My experience is that most pastors seem to restrict their study to drunkenness. I am concerned about how alcohol impairment affects decision-making. I have trouble getting my brain around the idea that soldiers (we are in a spiritual war, right?) should ever be impaired.

    10. Dennis on Mon, February 07, 2011

      @Jim… There are plenty of people who don’t know Christ who would have the same convictions about drinking.  I am not sure NOT drinking is proof that we have guts and conviction any more than not eating pork products would show the world that Islam is correct.  If this is how we are “showing the world” what following Christ is all about, we really are “different” but not the kind of different I believe Jesus is looking for… IMHO…

    11. Pastor Perry on Mon, February 07, 2011

      The entire issue of drinking wine, beer, etc., should be a non-issue for any person who is a Believer and patterns his life after Scripture. The Bible is very clear - don’t get drunk. That statement by itself, says yes, you may drink, but don’t drink so much that you get drunk. Why is this so difficult to understand? It’s because we’re all legalists at heart, and we still believe there is something we can do to merit God’s favor. In this case, the SBC has to correct God, so, in their view, I guess He stands corrected! I left the SBC nearly 40 years ago over issues similar to this, and today consider it the largest protestant cult is the world, primarily because of their refusal to recognize anyone as christian who doesn’t belong to their church - evidenced in that they don’t allow communion with them unless you belong to their sect.

    12. Michael Cooper on Mon, February 07, 2011

      Peter,  SBC is not a denomination with leadership system that determines what we will and will not do.  Rather we are convention made up of independent cooperating churches.  There is little that separates us from networks of non-denominational churches that work together for missions and church planting. 

      As an SBC pastor I am disappointed by the way so many individuals speak for our convention when churches should be and need to be speaking for themselves.  Personally I feel social drinking receives way too much time being discussed as it should be a non-issue in the convention.  If churches want to take a stance on it fine but it should not be a defining point of the SBC.

    13. rbud on Mon, February 07, 2011

      The comments here are about what I would expect from this well-rounded group. For myself, I don’t drink alcohol socially at all. I might occassionally have beer or wine with a meal IF it fits the menu, but that is rare. All the same, I don’t encourage anyone to drink, don’t serve it in my home to others, but I don’t throw anyone out who brings their own at a picnic.

      The issue of alcohol is, as several have pointed out, not a Biblical one, but one of social and civil responsibility, and history. Intoxication is a problem, alcoholism a bigger problem, so while I don’t condemn moderate drinking, I go out of my way to not encourage it.

      The greater puzzle to me is this. Maybe alcohol is the 2nd greatest unifying force for Baptists. Maybe alcohol is the biggest controversy among Baptists. But WHY should it be? Certainly, in my view, there are many more issues of greater importance, like violent behavior, spousal abuse, drugs, cultism, etc.

      Not to downplay the importance alcoholism’s destruction, which I have seen first hand, but is this damage greater than the man was shot and killed yesterday over a SuperBowl argument? It is worse than the woman who was beaten nearly to death, or those killed, in spousal abuse? Worse that those people who eat themselves to death through indulgence? Those who maim and murder by poor driving habits? How about the indescribable destruction of illegal drugs, which in my experience is far more prevelant and destructive than alcoholism, although they sometimes go together? There’s more, but you can get the idea.

      Lumpkin is seriously outdated. The days when social drinking was “cool” are gone. Today, it is more a matter of lifestyle and habit and social acceptability.

      As far as historical significance goes, studies do not support the Baptist et al stance that wine of Biblical days was weaker or watered down. Fact is, it would have necessarily needed a certain alcohol content to be safe to drink, which is why it was the daily drink of families who could afford it.

      I was raised SB, went to a SB undergrad school where alcohol, dancing and holding hands were outlawed. (Now, I denounce all denominationalism.) As Jerry said, it gets silly, and I would add, that it gets silly to the point of incredibility. If you want to outlaw alcohol in your church, you should, but don’t point to Biblical statements to support it, just do it because you want to. There are churches that outlaw musical instruments and books, based upon what they think is a Scriptural mandate. How “cool” is that?

      In my view, Lumpkin should have gone green and saved the paper and ink.

    14. J. on Mon, February 07, 2011

      I too feel like the issue with the SBC is one thing and for anyone on this post to think that anything here is going to change that might need to reconsider.

      But often these posts get off topic and go in a good direction and as I was reading I too wonder why someone would equate drinking to ‘not being different enough from the world’ as if drinking is the one thing the world looks at to see who is a part of it.  I don’t drink, I don’t really like the taste of alcohol but of course according to what we’ve seen in scripture it isn’t wrong.  But the idea that ‘if we drink we are just like the world’ is as silly as me saying, “if you go out for dinner, wear clothes, use roads, (etc…) you aren’t different enough from the world because the world does all of those things and as a result they are glutton’s who put too much materialistic emphasis on fashion and get in car accidents on those roads…”.  It’s just avoiding the real issue…

    15. Robby on Mon, February 07, 2011

      Friends, as a SBC pastor I feel I should set the record straight on at least issue which may help settle this issue to some degree. The SBC cannot tell any SBC church, which are totally autonomous, the SBC exerts no authority over the churches of the SBC. This is not my opinion but the very definition of the SBC. so the SBC is therefore not telling anyone what they must do and only expressing the individual’s opinion.

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