Alethes (Truthful) Baptist

All Things Southern Baptist Considered

Tired . . .

Posted by Alethes (Truthful) Baptist on July 25, 2006

Lately I’ve noticed how tired I am: tired because I seem to be working more than I should; tired because the city I live in has horrible traffic; tired because I’ve had to read some bad blogging these days. Mostly, I’m tired because of the energy expended in the SBC recently on alcohol. I noticed today on BP another article by an SBC entity president. I read Richard Land’s article on abstinence and, unlike Akin and Patterson’s attempts, he was smart enough to avoid making a Scriptural argument. Like I said earlier, I’m too tired to type out a reasoned critique of Land’s article. However, I do want to quote the concluding paragraph from his article and may a few comments.

Land writes: We often have been reminded of the potent question from Charles Sheldon’s “In His Steps”: “What Would Jesus Do?” Let us ponder that question. Can anyone really imagine Jesus weighing the decision, “My wine or my witness?” — and choosing the wine?

I am truly befuddled at this paragraph. My first thought was “Do Richard and I read the same gospels?” My second question was “Do Richard and I read the same gospels in the same way?” If the answer to the first is yes, then I’m sure the answer to the second must be no. How can it be otherwise? The picture of Jesus I get in reading the gospels is of a man who is thoroughly unconcerned about his ‘witness’, a synonym for his reputation. He is a man who ‘eats with tax collectors and sinners’ (Mark 2.16). He is a man who lets sexually promiscuous women touch him (Luke 7.39). He is a man who touches leapers (Mark 1.41) and the coffin of a widow’s only son (Luke 7.14). Jesus was certainly unconcerned about guarding his ‘witness’ among the religious leaders.

What does Land make of John 2? It would seem that Jesus is more interested in keeping the party going (or at least keeping the groom from embarrassment) than his witness. Unless, of course, Land takes the interpretation that Jesus turned water into water. Wow, what a miracle. I can even do that and I’m certainly not the God-man 🙂

Jesus was emphatically unconcerned about others’ perceptions of him. He cared only to do the will of His Father, which was to preach of the coming of the kingdom, the healing of the sick and ministering to the widows and orphans. If Southern Baptists would be more concerned about social ministry than the opinions of others, maybe the outside world would take notice of us.

One final thought and I’ll stop “riding this drunk horse.” I’ve been to post-Katrina New Orleans. I’ve served with a group who volunteered to gut out a person’s home. The homeowner wasn’t a Christian, though she had grown up attending the Catholic Church. We spent the week gutting her house. Each day she brought us drinks and made us sandwiches for lunch. It was no gourmet meal, but it was offered as a gift of appreciation for what we had done and we graciously accepted. The week while we worked, many from our group were intentional about sharing the transformational gospel with her. None of this ‘mamsy-pamsy’ crap about one day going to heaven after you die. I mean THE gospel: man’s rebellion against God, the need for reconciliation, counting the cost before you surrender to Christ (Luke 14.25-35), Lordship salvation, etc.

At the end of the week, after watching us demonstrate great love towards her, and demonstrating our commitment to be slaves of Jesus, she decided she wanted to have peace with God like we did. At the end of the week, we all celebrated by going out to eat at a great New Orleans restaurant. We invited the lady to join us. The fellowship was great and it was a perfect ending to our week. I wonder if she would have been offended had one of us ordered a beer or a glass of wine with dinner. Would a drink have negated a week’s worth of sacrificial service? Would she have said, “Oh, never mind; I recant of my decision to surrender to Jesus. I can’t trust these people. Despite the love they showed me this week, they can’t be Christians because Christians don’t drink!” Or, might she have thought, “Wow, these are great people. They gave up a week’s worth of vacation. They gutted out my entire house. They saved me $6000. They told me about Jesus. And, to top it off, they are real people who have the ability to enjoy alcohol responsibly.” Somehow, I think the dichotomy Land has set up—wine or witness—just doesn’t play out in the real world of ministry when we get our hands and lives dirty sharing Jesus with others.

Charis humin,

Alethes (Truthful) Baptist

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11 Responses to “Tired . . .”

  1. dead meat said

    I’m really not sure how on earth the energy expended by the SBC on the alcohol issue has made you personally tired. That’s quite a feat of empathy.

    Or perhaps you personally are part of the SBC and you personally have been expending a lot of energy on the alcohol issue.

    I’m glad we have one among us now with the intelligence to sort out the more intelligent SBC leaders from the less: Land gets your vote as being smarter than Akin and Patterson. And because he does reference scripture in support of his argument.

    If the issue is so tiring, you could always quit blogging about it.

    You’ve probably never had a drink in your life. It sounds like you just want to sound exegetically superior to the current leadership. And that without disclosing whom you might be.

  2. dead meat said

    But, by the way, I’ve heard some good things about the SB response in New Orleans. That’s cool that you went down with a mission group. What group did you go down with?–maybe it’s with some folks I know!?

    meat

  3. dead meat said

    And do you really think that someone with a Catholic background would assume that those who drink really aren’t Christians? This is really on the cusp of a strawman argument.

    What about a former “Baptist”–non-regenerate–who grew up in a home where drinking was considered an un-Christian thing to do? That would be a more appropriate test case, all things considered.

    Obviously, Catholics don’t really have a problem with responsible drinking. Why adduce a former Catholic–formerly non-regenerate–as some sort of test case for the illegitimacy of the current SBC position about drinking? That’s just evidence of poor argumentation. Your example is not in the least apropros.

    Try a test case closer to home and you might be on to something. But not with this.

    Try again.

    meat

  4. dead meat said

    “Grace to me?”

    What about grace to Akin and Patterson? And Land?

  5. dead meat said

    “tired because I’ve had to read some bad blogging these days.”

    No one forces anyone to read “bad blogging.” This is a call for references. Please indicate the particular “bad” blog entries you’ve “had” to read that have made you so tired.

    meat

  6. dead meat said

    Here’s another question for you: what about the NT dictum that we are to give deference to the weaker brother’s convictions? What if that weaker brother believes imbibing alcohol is sinful? Should we tell him confidently that the NT does not make any such prohibition? Should we tell him that, while you may think it’s sinful, the Bible doesn’t affirm this? So, nuts to you?

    And how much more should we defer to the consciences of non-believers? I work in a place where I’ve heard at least one person suggest (as a reason for not going to church): “I think, if you drink, you shouldn’t go to church.” Her point was that she drank on occasion, she considered it irreconcilable with church attendance, and therefore, she didn’t attend church.

    Should we tell this person, “Oh, it’s okay. You can drink AND go to church. Not a big deal. The bible doesn’t forbid it?”

    What would be your response to her?

    meat

  7. Meat,

    I’m not sure if I should be honored with your profound interest in my blog or give little concern to your barrage of questions/comments. I suspect for most of your “concerns” I will choose the former and, with a few of your “comments”, take the latter.

    I have not attacked anyone (as best I can determine) with my articles. I would appreciate it if you would return the favor. I never claimed to be “with the intelligence to sort out the more intelligent SBC leaders from the less”. For you to assert that is just silly (and not appreciated). I do, however, believe their writings are open to critique. Where I found them to be correct, I noted it; where I felt they were wrong, I believe I was charitable (well, maybe not with Land; I can admit that).

    I’ve never claimed to be ‘exegetically superior’, but I do believe the premises of abstainers forces their interpretation of the Biblical witness. I choose, against my own desires, to be anonymous for reasons you will not be privy to. (And for calling me out for blogging anonymously, I can only say: “Hey pot, I’m kettle.”)

    You are correct that my story about the unregenerate Catholic lady is less ‘controversial’ than had it been an unregenerate Baptist. However, you assume that Baptists only/primarily come in contact with other Baptists. What about Lutherans, Methodists, or Anglicans who are perfectly comfortable with drinking? An unregenerate Baptist may struggle in seeing Christians drink, but to claim my story is “on the cusp of a strawman argument” is anything but legitimate. And to claim my argument is anything but apropos is equally unjustified. Are there only Baptists in your world?

    Finally, your question regarding the weaker brother is a legitimate concern. I find myself wanting to captitulate to total abstinance because of the deference to love you mention. However, I don’t think it is necessary to cease all action for fear I might offend someone. Concerning your illustration of your co-worker, what is your opinion on when it is and is not acceptable to reprove/correct someone for faulty thinking? What if she would have said “I don’t think it’s ok for divorced people to attend church.”? At what point do you (or anyone) give a biblical position on union with Christ? (As it’s not fair for me to only answer your question with my own, I will answer your last question in expectation that you will also answer mine).

    I would ask your co-worker why she believed God and alcohol didn’t mix? If she felt her behavior disqualified her from God’s acceptance, I would help her understand Jesus’ model of ministering to the ‘dirtiest’ of people. If she felt that alcohol was sinful, I would ask her for Biblical justification for her position. I would not be judgmental towards her, nor would I be flippant in my answer (as you suppose).

    Charis humin,
    Alethes (Truthful) Baptist

  8. John Fariss said

    AB:
    Well said.

    Meat:
    Boy, you’re angry, aren’t you? BTW: in case you haven’t noticed, stress causes fatigue as surely as hard physical labor, and I suspect that’s what has made AB tired.

  9. John,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I suspect Meat is not so much angry as he is confrontational, beligerant, or just wanting to ‘stir the pot’.

    Charis humin,
    Alethes (Truthful) Baptist

  10. Alethes,

    I found your blog via SBC Outpost and I find your articles to be well-written and well thought out. Mr. Dead Meat sounds like he just has a bone to pick and so I wouldn’t worry about him too much. He’s probably some 22 year-old Mid-America or Liberty student who after taking one philosophy or theology class, he think he knows it all (throwing around words like apropos doesn’t make your points more valid).

    Anyway, I second your post here. I have written about a need to end this whole sordid affair over at my blog. Check it out and let me know what you think. As for Richard’s (I love how you call him by his first name — I wonder if you actually know him or not), article, I think he misses the fact that before the Temperance Movement (which first called for Moderation and later for abstinence), Baptists believed that God had given alcohol (particularly wine and beer) for Christians to enjoy properly. Now, I am a teetoler myself (alcoholism in the family and all), but it seems that if men like Charles Spurgeon, John Dragg, and others were able to partake without ruining their “witness”, then current Southern Baptists, informed by what alcohol can do when not taken in moderation, could be even more responsible with God’s gift. But maybe I am just too old school for Dr. Land.

    BTW, I was a student at NOBTS just a few years ago. Glad to hear you went to help clean up after Katrina. What church or ministry did you partner with? I know several folks down there you might have met. And did you get to enjoy some of that good Cajun food while you were there? I think that is what I miss the most.

  11. cherigrace said

    This is a very interesting and well written blog. I am a (hmm) 40 something nurse with a long heritage of Southern Baptist (my father was James C. Hefley- some of you SBC oldsters may have heard of him) beliefs and an interest in bringing truth and compassion to a hurting world. I also am tired of “bad blogging”; in my definition, it’s the horror that hits you when you skip to random blogs. It is just about the saddest thing I’ve witnessed to see the anger, hopelessness, and bitterness that is out there. People need hope and help but it is hard to connect when there is such a gulf between our belief systems.
    I am always interested in reading Christians’ beliefs and yes, the dead meat fella was way out of line. Christians always disagree politely and in love to each other; there is no need for personal attack at all.
    Good job on the blog, and I will keep reading!
    cherigrace

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