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. Robby on Mon, February 07, 2011

      Friends, I wish to apologize for the typos in my previous post. The rough draft was posted rather than the corrected copy. However nothing of substance changed.

    2. JR on Mon, February 07, 2011

      As an SBC minister, I’ll also pile on here. Peter Hamm is incorrect when he says that we are clearly on record on this issue. Abstinence from alcohol is not part of our statment of faith. I can’t blame him for the confusion, since it is a requirement for employment by our denominational entities.

      All the same, churches within the denomination have differing viewpoints, and there is clearly a growing trend toward the moderation view. This rankles some like Peter Lumpkins to no end. Lumpkins is entitled to his opinions and his bombastic style, but he really only speaks for himself (as do I).

      I hold a moderation view, but don’t drink myself. I do actually miss the days when choosing abstinence was more popular, but don’t care to make an issue of it. I hope that we can grow away from the extremes on both ends of this issue.

    3. Tim Lett on Mon, February 07, 2011

      Here’s the problem.  While the arguments against “teetotaltarianism” are most always supported by Scripture in this thread, the arguments by the “teetotalers” are always supported by personal opinion or conviction.  I’d say that there is a healthy difference between your opinions and Scriptural foundations.

      Sure, the abuse or alcohol leads to destruction of all kinds, including the loss of life.  The same is true for the abuse of money.  The abuse of money leads to destruction of all kinds, including the loss of life.  But…I’ll bet my paycheck that I will NEVER see any of the teetotalers refusing their paycheck on Friday.  And I sure never heard any sermons advocating the refusal of one’s paycheck.  That pretty much would have killed the sermon series on tithing.  The abuse of vehicles leads to destruction of all kinds, including the loss of life.  But, I don’t see many folks walking to church, work, or school. 

      I mean…come on, folks!!!  The argument could be made that just about ANYTHING leads to destruction, if abused.  IF ABUSED!!!  Come to think of it, I’ve heard plenty of sermons on how SEX can lead to all kinds of destruction, even death…IF abused.  How many of you want to give up sex??? 

      Lord, hasten the day when Your Church makes judgments based SOLELY on the WORD, neither adding to, nor subtracting.  Forgive us for looking silly to the very ones You called us to reach.  Amen.

      If you doctrinal stance cannot begin with, “The BIBLE says…...”.....then, all you have is an opinion…not doctrine.

    4. Jan on Mon, February 07, 2011

      I’m SBC and do not agree with their stance on this issue. That said I do not flaunt my freedom or expect them to change their position.
      Am I a social drinker? No.

    5. Fred on Mon, February 07, 2011

      I think 3 beers (3.2) should be the limit, at the most 4 (weekend). And thou shalt not drive. lol! smile

      Anyone with maturity knows that it’s not pleasurable to get drunk. You can drink a small amount and feel relaxed, but after that the experience itself is sick.

    6. jd on Mon, February 07, 2011

      It’s interesting reading all the comments.

      Let me say that I don’t drink, but I feel that it’s up to each person’s conscious as to whether they do or not.

      One of the issues I find a bit strange is when I talk to my friends that do drink. I ask them why they like to drink (b/c I don’t really like the taste of alcohol). Their response is “I didn’t like alcohol at first, but I kept drinking until I developed a taste for it.”

      To me that sounds a bit sus. If you have to force yourself to do something to get used to it, then why do it?

    7. Larry on Tue, February 08, 2011

      Why are we even having this discussion? Because there are some that feel ‘cool’ if they drink. Part of the crowd. They want to be ‘in’ not out if you don’t drink.

      I have been a christian for 40 years. Since my decision to follow Jesus, I hjave NEVER had a desire to take a sip, drink or guzzle.

      Why would I want to lower myself and try to look cool and drink a little. Why don’t we look at drinking, even in moderation, at where it ends up? Why don’t we tell the world why we don’t drink and try to elevate them to our level instead of picking up the container of whatever and lowering ourselves to theirs?

      Our son has an allergy to eggs. Since he became an adult, he just ‘forgot’ to admit that he had this allergy. Granted it is a build up allergy, but depending on certain conditions, that level is not always the same. He did not want to stand out while dining with his friends. I asked him if he would perfer to stand out or lay out on a gurney being taken to the hospital from his favorite eatery because of a severe asthma attack from not paying attention to what his body was telling him. “Stop. Don’t go any further. I wont be able to help you.”

      I know. I have the same allergy. I can’t do it. Period.

      Moderation is a joke. One time, three drinks will take you to your limit. Next time maybe it will be one.

      My question is this: Why go there in the first time? If we are so fired up about looking cool, I read someplace, I was bought with a price. The shed blood of Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Lord.

      If Christ truly is your savior, you have no say if you look cool or not. Your life, isnot YOUR life. It belongs to Jesus, not you.

    8. toddh on Tue, February 08, 2011

      We should want to be cool because Jesus wanted to be cool.  He was the one eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners, and he was cool.  John the Baptist - that guy was not cool.  He was the original Southern Baptist.  He went all ascetic and stuff - eating locusts, wearing stupid clothes, and refusing to drink.  Be cool - like Jesus- and enjoy a drink every now and again.

    9. Billie on Tue, February 08, 2011

      I think that we have to be reasonable on this issue. My spiritual basis for not drinking is that I want to “come out from among them and be separate”. My kids see no problem with “social drinking” - as long as it is very controlled. But as was mentioned in other posts, no one plans to overuse alcohol. But when I watched the news last evening and heard about the “excellent mother” who had an auto accident that killed her 4 year old as a result of drinking, it just makes me wonder why it is worth the risk.

    10. peter lumpkins on Thu, February 10, 2011


      Thanks for pitching out the issue to your readership.  From the comment thread, it’s obvious to me there remains not a little confusion concerning not only imbibing itself from a decidedly biblical and ethical standpoint, but also the history of the church—most particularly from my book’s perspective, Southern Baptists.

      Nor is JR’s point hardly well taken. Historically, Southern Baptists have held in common beliefs not necessarily inscribed in a faith confession.  Indeed from 1845 to 1925, Southern Baptists had no confession of faith. In addition, since 1886, Southern Baptists have passed over 40 resolutions at the annual (in early years we did not meet every year, however) meeting.  No exception exists which affirms any other stance on imbibing intoxicating substances than abstinence.

      Thanks again for your putting this issue on the table.

      With that, I am…
      Peter Lumpkins, author,
      Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence
      Carrollton, Georgia

    11. DrifterPastor on Thu, February 10, 2011

      I disagree with those who say if you are in the SBC and you disagree, you should just leave.  I think it can be more complex than that.  If this is one of the few issues you disagree with the denomination on, and your primary wish is to see the denomination hold more closely to what is simply in scripture, then why shouldn’t you work for change in your denomination?  Whining and grumbling are wrong, but aren’t the doctrines arrived at by a process of people with different viewpoints coming together and working them out?  Also, maybe the churches are independent, but doesn’t the governing body have a say in those that have credentials with the SBC - if you drink you lose your credentials?  I don’t know how they do it, but that is how some other “fellowship of independent churches” do it.

    12. Donna Smith on Fri, February 11, 2011

      My husband and I have studied about what the Bible says about drinking alcohol.  Here’s an article he wrote about his findings 
      Please leave a comment…would love to hear your opinion about this.  Thank you.

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