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Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37704
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 MacArthur on Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.

Of course, beer is by no means the only token of cultural savvy frequently associated with young-and-restless religion. All kinds of activities deemed vices by mothers everywhere have been adopted as badges of Calvinist identity and thus "redeemed": tobacco, tattoos, gambling, mixed martial arts, profane language, and lots of explicit talk about sex.

It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants—especially in church-sponsored activities. The ravages of alcoholism and drug abuse in our culture are too well known, and no symbol of sin’s bondage is more seductive or more oppressive than booze. I have ministered to hundreds of ...

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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/8/14 20:19Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA

 Re: MacArthur on Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

" symbol of sin’s bondage is more seductive or more oppressive than booze."

Encouraging "the recreational use of intoxicants", in "church-sponsored activities" could hardly be called childish.

It is a mature evil.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2011/8/14 20:43Profile

Joined: 2011/8/14
Posts: 1

 Re: MacArthur on Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

Well, dear friends, you know that some men can do to the glory of God what to other men would be sin. And notwithstanding what brother Pentecost has said, I intend to smoke a good cigar to the glory of God before I go to bed to-night.

If anybody can show me in the Bible the command, 'Thou shalt not smoke,' I am ready to keep it; but I haven't found it yet. I find ten commandments, and it's as much as I can do to keep them; and I've no desire to make them into eleven or twelve.

The fact is, I have been speaking to you about real sins, not about listening to mere quibbles and scruples. At the same time, I know that what a man believes to be sin becomes a sin to him, and he must give it up. 'Whatsoever is not of faith is sin' [Rom. 14:23], and that is the real point of what my brother Pentecost has been saying.

Why, a man may think it a sin to have his boots blacked. Well, then, let him give it up, and have them whitewashed. I wish to say that I'm not ashamed of anything whatever that I do, and I don't feel that smoking makes me ashamed, and therefore I mean to smoke to the glory of God.

-- C H Spurgeon

 2011/8/14 21:25Profile

Joined: 2005/5/7
Posts: 175

 Re: MacArthur on Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants—especially in church-sponsored activities...

And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, Deuteronomy 14:24-26

I agree with the general gist of the article regarding the attempt to win the world be imitating it, but it seems the article is taking a stance on alcohol that exceeds the Bible.

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! Luke 7:33-34

Jesus wasn't labelled a "gluttonous man" and "winebibber" for eating oatmeal with water.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. ... Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. Colossians 2:16-17,23

We should be known for the presence and fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Man instituted ordinances will dry a man's spiritual life as quickly as an excess of alcohol (or food, electronic entertainment, etc)


* Edited: Corrected Typo.

 2011/8/14 22:47Profile

Joined: 2009/2/20
Posts: 494
Celina, Texas


Indeed we should always be looking to the welfare of others when it comes to our liberties and we should recognize and not neglect the problems of substance abuse around us. I should think the Spirit would lead us in that sensitivity.

We should also realize the enormous danger of a counterfeit righteousness. Being that which comes by way of the flesh promoting a law that is man made.

It would prove a great deception to deny the Lord's supper due to the contents of the cup that we should all drink together.

 2011/8/15 3:03Profile

Joined: 2010/8/24
Posts: 1033


I think a quick look at the reasons for wine making in ancient cultures can be beneficial in understanding why God did not prohibit wine drinking and why today it should be considered a sin to drink.

Wine making in ancient times was for the use of preserving the juice. Just as the grapes and figs were preserved by drying them and making raisin and fig cakes, and meet was preserved by salting it, so also the juice was preserved by making it into wine ( the process of fermentation ). It was a principle of home economy rather than a way of indulgence. However with wine, since excessive drinking lead to loss of soberness God forbade drinking in excess.

With today’s life style it is hard for us to understand the limited options the ancients had with regard to preserving the juice which lead to wine making. Today we have freezers and refrigerators, and through trade we have access to fruits and vegetables year round. But that was not the case with them. Wine had to be made not only for the preservation of the juice but also for preserving of other fruits and vegetables in pickling processes. Their very life was dependant on wine making. Just as salt was so necessary to preserve fish and meat, fermentation and wine making was for preserving the juice and other fruits and vegetables.
If they did not, they would starve.
Furthermore, wine in this case was more important then salt because while they had a year long access to catles and fish and did not really need to preserve them , they did Not have the same access to fruits and vegetables year round due to their climate.
Also water was not always available and wine was a substitute for some of the lack of water.

To try to make an argument for drinking from the Old Testament or even the New Testament that was written 2000 years ago and is considered ancient world still would be similar to try to make an argument for incest or polygamy from the Old Testament. It was a necessity and God who does not burden man with more than what he can bear had allow it for a season.

Here are some valid points to someone who is considering a drink.

Unlike in the ancient time when wine was made in homes, today most wine is made by big corporations . Drinking in this case is supporting an industry that caused the destruction of many families.

Drinking today is costly, while the reason for making wine in the past was built on the principle of good home economy and stewardship.

Most addicts only wanted one drink, but sadly one lead to the other.

Wines and alcoholic beverages today are most likely to lead to addiction due to the high alcohol content they use today as oppose to what people used in ancient times.

Today we know of many other ways of preserving the juice besides fermentation.

Finally ask yourself why you want to drink. If drinking is risky, costly, not necessary, and may offend your brother, could it be that you are under bondage to the desires of the flesh.


 2011/8/15 15:48Profile

Joined: 2010/4/19
Posts: 447

 Re: MacArthur on Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

I was listening to Dr. Brown the other day and he made the same statement that I noticed on my own. Nowhere in the Bible is their a call for abstinence regarding alcoholic drink.

There is a clear call to avoid 'strong drink' i.e. rum, vodka, gin etc. though.

As someone who had a major drinking problem I certainly don't advocate drinking if you have had a problem with it but overall there isn't a clear cut prohibition to alcohol.

Additionally, to claim that it was a cultural thing due to the lack of preservation is simply not true either. Look at Jesus' first miracle. The chief of ceremonies told him that usually the best wine was brought out first but this wine was better than the first stuff. People would bring out good wine and then bring out the cheap stuff after the people had already been drinking because people who had already been drinking could care less how good the wine was. Additionally, note that Jesus created more than 300 liters of it.

 2011/8/15 17:35Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA


"Nowhere in the Bible is their a call for abstinence regarding alcoholic drink.

There is a clear call to avoid 'strong drink' i.e. rum, vodka, gin etc. though."

Although Ephesians 5:18 says do not be drunk with wine.

According to the greek dictionary, the word 'drunk' means 'to intoxicate'. Everything from beer to hard liqours are called intoxicants, because drinking them does exactly that, it intoxicates.

And the warnings that I remember hearing about drinking and driving say 'impairment' that is, intoxication, begins at the first drink.

This may be incorrect, so someone correct me if it is, but I also remember hearing that wine was consumed in place of clean drinking water also, that is as a substitute.

If that is the case, it would not make sense to tell people to avoid it altogether. However, for a person in the modern World, there is no normal nescessity to drink alchol of any kind, except by choice.

And the example of the Lord Jesus providing wine at a wedding is just that, God providing wine at a wedding. The peculiar and obvious occasion for providing wine(at a wedding) says nothing else about drinking it for recreation or for Christians in general.

At issue here is not whether anyone is at liberty to drink alchol in all its forms on any particular occasion, or as a matter of discreet and private liberty.

At issue here is whether this is somehtihng that Christians aught to be taking as a right.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2011/8/15 18:19Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA


Christian liberty is the freedom to be holy.

It is the capacity to do what is right by God and for others, out of love. That is Christian Liberty. And anything that distorts liberty defined that way into something that means freedom of choice or prefrence is just that, a distortion. Christians are at liberty, to choose what is best for others, above themselves.

Paul's injunction to let no one judge you in meat or drink has nothing to do with consuming alchohol at public gatherings. The passage there is clearly about the dietary laws and restrictions of the Old Covenant and it is those things that the Christian is free from and to let no one stand in judgement over them about.

But would Paul let others judge him as regards other things that he was free in his own conscience about?


His rule, he said, was does it build up, and is it out of love.

Everything was lawfull to him. But not everything would build up himself and others.

And so, if what HE WAS EATING caused HIS BROTHER to STUMBLE...


You folks know better.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2011/8/15 18:30Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA


As for cigar smoking and appeal of famous preachers that smoked them:

Tobaco is a weed.

Weeds are from the curse.

If one famous man was free in his own mind to smoke weeds to the glory of God that was his buisness.

If he felt the need to defend the freedom he had in his own mind publicly, it was no longer a liberty, he was fighting for his percieved right.

Liberties(I mean the word as it used by others, that is, personal prefrence or choice) that are contended for in public disputes are no longer liberties, they are heresies.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2011/8/15 18:35Profile

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