Of Cavalier Attitudes

I was recently left a very cavalier comment by a pastor.  You may read it here.  I will leave the comment for now although I don’t really want to clutter that particular page with such exchange.  So I will reproduce the comment here with some interaction.  I will try not to trade insult for insult though my wife was none to happy about the comment.

I do not like the cavalier way you approach the Bible and Christian issues.
I am Dawson Morrison Pastor of Mountain Home Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
People like you run around collecting up unholy dust and muses of the devil; you will find a host of friends as you continue down that path of relevance, but you will find no consolation from heavenly host.

I don’t like the cavalier way you come here accusing me.  You don’t know me, but you certainly can learn a whole lot more about me than I can about you by simply reading this site.  Notice there are no examples to support this charge of being cavalier.  Also, if we keep this charge of being cavalier in mind the whole post wreaks of irony.

What is “unholy dust” anyways?  Muses of the devil?  Again, no examples.  I have found a host of friends amongst whom many are pastors.  The path of relevance?  Hardly!  Just have a look around.  I’m not even close to being a emergent nor post-modern thinker.

Here is an article I want to share with you on my feelings for alcohol. I will plainly state that Jesus NEVER drank fermented wine. I believe in total abstinence. I am certain the Bible teaches total abstinence.

Once the “Jesus never drank fermented wine” argument comes up it’s very hard to find a common starting point.  It’s actually almost fruitless (no pun intended) to dialogue.  I’m certain the Bible doesn’t teach total abstinence and even God told those in the Old Testament to buy wine or strong drink if they so desired.

The crowds supporting casual or social drink do so because of their personal desire for alcohol and their interest in compromise.

This certainly goes to questioning ones motives without actually “listening” to the reasons given for moderation.  I guess those folks who believe in moderation are lying in their reasons?  Can our commenter judge that too?  What about the folks like Al Mohler or John Piper who believe the Bible doesn’t teach abstinence, yet personally abstain?  What are their motives?

Or how about people like me who came out of a cult?  A cult believing Joseph Smith to be a prophet and one teaching that a drop of alcohol would send one to hell?  Have you ever thought how freeing the grace of Christ is in these situations?

There are so many little wimp laymen, who have not been called by the Holy Spirit to shepherd churches, yet they are expert theologians.

I can’t tell if you are speaking about me here or not since “laymen” is plural and the charge general.  My wife really didn’t like this comment.  She was upset and laughing at the same time that you might infer that I’m a wimp.  I found it amusing.  I would say that there just might be pastors who fall into this “wimp” category.  Yet we have a graceful Savior who is a far greater Savior than we all are sinners.

The other thing though is I don’t shepherd a church, but I certainly do share in ministering to folks.  I’ve been complemented about my blog, personal teaching and relationship as well as about my kid.  I say that not to boast, but to give you some facts.  I’ve not met any laymen nor pastors who claim to be expert theologians.

I have 42 years on the job as a SBC Pastor; it irks me when I cross the path of such pathetic and futile exercise.

I’m sorry you’ve formed an opinion as such.  Although, I don’t know where that came from.  That is, if I assume you’re referring to me.  Again, you don’t know me and your comments and approach here would not be considered very pastoral from my non-expert point of view.

Please go study William Patton’s book, “Bible Wines”.

Perhaps Mr. Patton should have read the Rev. John McLean’s articles in the 1841 Princeton Review for the months of  April and October.  Please study those articles and read Ken Gentry’s God Gave Wine: What the Bible Says About Alcohol. Readers may also find this debate between Ken Gentry vs. Stephen Reynolds under Issues and Interchange On a Biblical understanding of beverage alcohol use.

OPEN LETTER ON ALCOHOL USE
Compiled and written by: Dawson Morrison, Pastor
Mountain Home Baptist Church

This should be more fairly titled “Abuse” rather than “Use.”

“Reassert our truceless and uncompromising hostility to the manufacture, sale, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages” SBC (1896).

We can trade historical baptist moments, but the Bible is what’s important.

• It appears it does not take much alcohol to impact a person physiologically. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle determined among test subjects that even one “strong drink” can cause a “substantial perceptual deficit.” This “inattentional blindness” in those whose blood alcohol level was less than half the legal limit resulted in these individuals being more likely not to notice an object that appeared unexpectedly in their line of sight (Reuters, “One strong drink can make you ‘blind drunk’,” July 4, 2006).

While I believe abstinence has absolute biblical underpinning, sociological indicators persuade me that any use, social or other, is unwise.

An adolescent’s view of alcohol is positively associated with his or her parents’ drinking behavior and attitudes, I suppose in much the same way a child’s view of prayer and personal Bible study is impacted by his or her parents’ behavior.

A study done a few years ago found that in homes where the parents were total abstainers from alcohol, 16 percent of the teenagers in the home experimented with alcohol before adulthood. In homes were the parents were social drinkers, 66 percent of the children experimented with alcohol before adulthood.

And a child who drinks before age 15 is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports. Furthermore, recent studies have shown the alarming extent to which alcohol decimates an adolescent’s still-developing brain and nervous system – far more harshly than it does those of an adult.

In modern American society, the human toll taken by alcohol abuse is staggering. According to a recent USA Today/ 20 percent of Americans indicated they “had an immediate relative who at some point had been addicted to alcohol or drugs.” The article, “In Tim Ryan’s Family, He is the Addict,” in the July 20, 2006, issue of USA Today notes, “That translates into roughly 40 million American adults with a spouse, parent, sibling or child battling addiction.”

I think I have responded enough.  The first charge against me was “I do not like the cavalier way you approach the Bible and Christian issues.” Then we get a position supported by research rather than the Bible.  I don’t discredit that research, but a charge was made concerning the Bible.  There is good information in the above and some of it ambiguous.  This certainly doesn’t make the case that the Bible teaches abstinence.  It just shows what sinful people can do when they abuse, not just use, substances like alcohol.  I can tell you stories about abuses in people’s lives.  Things you wouldn’t believe from people who may just live around the corner.

At the end of the day we, as people, must understand our sinful state before God.  As Scripture tells us in Mark 7 it is not what goes into us that defiles us, but what comes out of our hearts.

For what it’s worth…

Mark

Let's connect!

in Church Issues,Culture,theology

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Les Puryear July 5, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I have met Mark in person and I can testify that he most definitely is not a wimp.

The comment from the preacher was one of the most ignorant comments I have ever read on a blog. If that is how he handles disagreements in his church, then I would not like to be at his church.

He sounds more independent Baptist than Southern Baptist to me. Maybe he came over with Jerry Falwell. 🙂

His elitist view that a pastor is responsible for theology and laypersons are not is not biblical. Also, I would like to see his biblical support for total abstinence. Sorry but it doesn’t exist.

I don’t drink and advise others not to. But I am not going to mishandle God’s Word like this fellow did to support my personal opinion. What a jerk.

Les

2 johnMark July 5, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Brother Les,

I really appreciate you stopping by. I very much appreciate your support. I know you wouldn’t say something just to say it.

It’s nice to hear from a pastor like yourself whom I didn’t know read my blog. 🙂

I hope we’ll get a chance to meet again and even fellowship this side of Heaven.

Mark

3 peter lumpkins July 6, 2008 at 9:09 am

JohnMark,

Greetings this fine Lord’s Day morning. Our brother in Alabama is unfortunately mistaken in his approach here on your site. Though, admittedly, our brother Les fairs no better–“What a jerk.” I should not be surprised. According to Les, I’m a jerk too.

The pastor would have done much better had he stuck with the biblical, historical, and ethical patterns of argument rather than concerning abstinence vs. advocacy of drugs for pleasurable purposes.

4 peter lumpkins July 6, 2008 at 9:25 am

JohnMark,

Forgive the disrupt sending of the last comment. I made a mistake in the final sentence I wrote and when I pushed “delete” for the sentence I highlighted, the comment posted. Strange!

As I wanted to suggest, the pastor would have done much better had he stuck with the biblical, historical, and ethical patterns of argument concerning abstinence vs. advocacy of drugs for pleasurable purposes, rather than take cow pokes at you. My advice to him is stick with the issue and leave personality out of it (the same advice I’d offer to Les).

Finally, to correct the dubious charge that abstinence has no deeply biblical embeddedness, I think you are on the right track, JohnMark, by pointing others to not only Ken Gentry’s book, but also to Reynold’s as well. Peter Masters has a brilliant little volume too.

And no one has yet to critique Robert Teachout’s exhaustive dissertation on the use of wine in the OT. Ken Gentry is aware of Teachout as can be shown in his volume. Yet not once did Gentry engage Teachout in his book on wine, as I recall. Interesting.

Hoping you have a great day.

With that, I am…

Peter

5 Lane Chaplin July 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Dawson said:

“I believe in total abstinence.”

Paul the Apostle said:

“Drink no longer water only, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent illnesses.” (1Ti 5:23)

This case is closed if one wishes to solve it Biblically and not according to one’s tradition.

6 Les Puryear July 7, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Mark,

Of course I read your blog. You have a lot of insight. Although I’m wondering about the caliber of your readership with a fundy Preacher and Lumpy to boot. Lumpy even wants to run your blog for you. Well, that’s our Lumpy. Lovable as ever.

Les

7 Red & Black Redneck July 10, 2008 at 9:12 am

I have a hard enough time mortifying sins in my life that are actually called sin by scripture. I certainly don’t have time to go try and mortify activities that are NOT sins – i.e. moderate consumption of alcohol. As for our Alabama pastor’s assertion that Christ didn’t drink alcohol, we know he made it and, if you accept that Melchizidek is a christophany, he gave it to Abram and in return, Abram tithed a tenth to the King of Salem. See Gen. 14:18-20. That must have been some kind of wine! And bread!

How does one deal with Psalm 104:14-16 where God makes the wine that gladdens the hearts of men? I deal with it by recognizing that life is hard and that God, in his mercy, has given us a special gift, wine and other alcoholic drinks, that help take the edge off and makes my heart glad. And thankful.

Seems like our Alabama brother is the one who is rather cavalier with the whole counsel of Scripture. Probably thinks smoking and dancing are sins and that Auburn has a good football team.

8 ABClay July 10, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Who said that Brother Les wasn’t a funny guy?

Lane,

C’mon, we all know that the wine Paul was talking about wasn’t fermented.

Mark,

I appreciate the way that you showed restraint in your well put response.

ABClay

9 Steve McCoy July 25, 2008 at 8:28 pm

LOL. He copy and pasted me the same exact letter. Well, he actually elaborated more on it. Foolish is as foolish does. And sometimes the Bible isn’t enough for people.

10 johnMark July 26, 2008 at 7:23 am

Steve,

LOL is right. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know about the letter you got too.

Mark

11 pedanticdan August 15, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I know I’m a bit late, but I’m responding to the statement “And no one has yet to critique Robert Teachout’s exhaustive dissertation on the use of wine in the OT. ”

I recently obtained access to Teachout’s dissertation and hope to post a critique on my blog before too much longer.

Here’s a brief critique of the foundational point in Teachout’s dissertation:

Teachout examined a Ugaritic cognate of yayin and found that some extant texts used the word without mentioning drunkenness. Based solely on this, he leaps wildly to the conclusion that the Ugaritic cognate sometimes referred to grape juice. From there he concludes that yayin, too, must sometimes mean grape juice. Based only this preposterous logic, he then translates all occurrences of yayin as grape juice unless the context clearly indicates an alcoholic beverage.

12 Dawson Morrison August 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

The ref. by Paul is not fermented wine.
The healing is in the grape not the fermentation

Dawson

13 abclay August 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Mr. Morrison,

I would wandering if you could enlighten us on how you came about this conclusion.

abclay

14 abclay August 6, 2009 at 12:29 am

I was like to formulate a proper sentence.

Please forgive me of my bad sentence structure.

.

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