Sunday, November 04, 2007

MO Southern Baptists: Towards an Unbiblical Position


The annual Missouri Baptist Convention just wrapped up. Tim Townsend of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that there was talk and debate about the topic of, what else, alcohol. Now I don't know if alcohol was taking over the Missouri Baptists, but apparently, Rodney Albert of Hallsville Baptist Church has a great quote that made the article.
"2007 was the year Missouri Baptists became soft on alcohol abstention," he thundered to loud applause. "We must fight the alcohol fight and keep it out of the convention."

Boy, that'll preach! It sounds good and probably got the emotions flowing, but is that a biblical position for which to fight?

Interim executive director David Tolliver commented on the issue.
"I understand that the Bible does not say, never says, 'Thou shalt not drink,'" said Tolliver. "It is also true to say that the Bible does not specifically refer to drinking as a sin"

Now I can say Amen to that as it is an admission to what the Bible says. That's not the end of the quote though.
However, … the only Christian position in this 21st century Show-Me state environment that we live in is total abstinence!"

Do I read this statement correctly? We have a biblical position vs. a Christian position? I'm not really sure how that works. Maybe there is more to his words missing from the quote to clarify. Do we know better than the Bible?

Let's take a look at the Preamble to the Baptist Faith and Message.
(4) That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience.

So Scripture and not a confession is admitted to have no authority over the conscience. Mr. Tolliver admits what Scripture says about alcohol and that, according to the Preamble, is what binds the conscience. How can he then vie for total abstinence which is, admittedly, against Scripture?

The Baptist Faith and Message also says under Religious Liberty.
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.

Again we have this part of the confession vs. the total abstinence position which is not the Biblical position as admitted by Tolliver and other SBC leaders. Is this a subtle admission that some people have more wisdom than the Bible?

What I found very interesting is a debate challenge that I'd like to hear.
...the Rev. Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey, approached Moran and challenged him to a public debate about the emerging church, moderated by Tolliver, that could be broadcast on the Internet. Moran did not immediately agree to the debate but later said that he and Patrick will meet privately to iron out the details.

This would certainly be an interesting debate and I hope it happens. There are other issues the SBC need to be concerned about including missing members and a topic I have blogged about at least a couple of times. Yes, it's a global issue too.

If the SBC wants to continue to bind the consciences' of men then they need to do it biblically. Many don't seem to care about that, rather, they want to do what seems right in their own eyes. There is obviously a problem with alcohol abuse today as there was in biblical times. This, like all sins, stem from the depravity of man not from the substance itself that is abused. Many times in this debate it's as if people blame the alcohol for problems that stem from its abuse.

Why isn't this done with the many other sins many find themselves in? If someone has a tendency to abuse food why not blame the accessibility of certain foods and ban them too? Look at the opposite sex lustfully then like some Muslim sects should we ban being able to look directly at the opposite sex? You get the point, I hope.

A good article I always think of on this subject which is worth a read if you haven't is The Bible Doctrine of the Separated Life by Johannes G. Vos.




Albert said...

Here in my country, the Philippines, Evangelicals in general accept total abstinence as Biblical. In fact, drinking alcohol is associated with worldliness. One pastor told me that this was also the position of the American missionaries who started Christian churches here in my country. However, many Filipino Evangelicals now believe that this position is not supported by the Bible. To prevent offending other Christian who believe in total abstinence, they do not let anyone know that they drink alcohol.

anon said...

How could they be moving toward a more unbiblical position when they are sola scriptura believers? What happened to scripture being self-explaining? Isn't the Word of God clear on this?

Matt said...

Being a Southern Baptist myself, I have noticed this in various occasions and settings. It seems to me that pragmatism has infected the minds of many in our denomination. It is much easier to proscribe certain substances, which are not bad in and of themselves, than to deal with the root cause of the problems which some have with those substances. It is much easier to say "stay away from X" or "X is categorically bad" instead of teaching those who struggle with X to rely upon God's grace in their particular weakness. However, God is glorified when He works in us to overcome our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). Thus, by proscribing substances that are not immoral in themselves, those who do such defame the glory of God by 1) hindering those who struggle with those substances from experiencing the grace of God in overcoming their weaknesses, and 2) by declaring things to be evil in and of themselves which God has created good. The MO SBC leaders definitely need to rethink their position.

anon said...

Is it wrong to smoke tobacco?