Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Burleson on Wine-Drinking

Over at Wade Burleson's blog (Grace and Truth to You), he writes of the alleged motives of Resolution No. 5. Towards the end, he gives this story about drinking wine and being a Christian. What do you think of it?
The following story is a beautiful narrative of reconciliation, conversion, and ultimate redemption --- all initiated because of a glass of wine.

Years ago a man came into our services and sat through the preaching time weeping. He was a wealthy, high profile business man who had just gone through a heartwrenching divorce because of his own indiscretions.

After the service he introduced himself to me and set up an appointment to see me for some counseling. This began a six month pastoral relationship with this man that eventually led him to an understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ultimate experience of Divine forgiveness.

All that was now needed was reconciliation with his wife. He asked if I would counsel them. I said I would, but when he requested his wife to come with him to see me, she said, "No. He's a Baptist preacher. All he will do is condemn me."

The businessman was crushed. I asked him why his wife was so hostile about Baptist preachers. He told me she grew up Roman Catholic and the only time she ever attended a Baptist Church the preacher yelled and screamed about the sins of the people in the pews including drinking, going to movies, wearing short skirts and long hair, etc . . . and it turned her off from "the Baptist religion."

I suggested that rather than have her come to my office that the man might want to see if his ex-wife (a divorce had since occurred) would have my wife and I over for dinner, just to get acquainted. To his surprise, she agreed.

To our surprise she was a gourmet chef. We entered the lovely home with the smell of French bread wafting in the air, and sat at the table meticulously crafted for a true dining experience.

Unfortunately, though the introductions were cordial, I could tell the evening might be a long one because of the chill toward this "Baptist preacher."

As we sat down, I noticed the brilliant table settings, the scrumptiously prepared French gourmet meal, and the solemn expression on the woman's face.

I also noticed there was tea and water on the table.

So this Baptist pastor said, "You can't have a meal like this without wine. Where is the wine?"

I wish you could have seen her expression. She smiled and warmly said, "But I thought you were a Baptist preacher."

"I am," was my response, "And this Baptist preacher knows a great chef when he sees one, and no chef worth her salt would prepare a meal like this without wine."

She asked my wife and I to follow her as she took us down to the cellar. She was a wine collector and she proudly showed us her collection, passed down to her by her grandfather. She meticulously chose a bottle of wine for the occasion and we made our way back to the table.

I led us in prayer and we thanked God for the food and the drink and His provision for us. We ate a wonderful meal and I enjoyed a glass of wine. Nobody around the table had more than two glasses.

To make a long story short, the walls that had hindered the relationship came down. We enjoyed the evening with the couple and as a result five things happened:

  1. I was able to lead this woman to faith in Jesus Christ, showing her that Christ alone provided the righteousness she needed, and that she must forsake any trust in her own "self-righteousness." She trusted Him and was baptized shortly thereafter.
  2. It was my privilege to perform the private ceremony where wedding vows were exchanged again and this man and woman were reunited in marriage.
  3. The couple became very active in our church and have led out in our outreach of the lost in our community through Sunday School.
  4. They have personally given tens of thousands of dollars to the Lord's work through our church and Christian school, and have personally been able to lead several of their own family members to faith in Christ.
  5. They still have their wine collection, but have never been drunk since giving their lives to Christ as Lord.
Now, I ask this simple question to my Southern Baptist friends. What, if anything, is wrong with the events just described to you?

I am convinced that we Southern Baptists have for too long avoided teaching our children the principles of God's Word, and instead, substituted a system of religious morality that is often contradictory to the Bible, and therefore, when kids leave Southern Baptists homes they go off the deep end into addictions, rather than live their lives in the enjoyment of the things of God within the parameters established by God.

I have heard the argument before that "Even if one person becomes a drunk then I will abstain from alcohol because of it." The power of the gospel is absolutely lost in that kind of thinking. The drunk is a drunk because of the sin in his soul. His soul is transformed by the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, not by observing cultural prohibitions of a Southern Baptist. Christians around the world drink beer and wine without getting drunk. It doesn't hurt their witness. It seems the only weaker brothers I keep running into are Southern Baptist pastors who "stumble" when they see a Christian drinking wine. We Southern Baptist pastors claim to believe the Bible, but I sometimes wonder what Bible it is we are reading.


Chuck said...

I don't have any problem with it. It's funny how some of our Southern Baptist brethren get all bent out of shape about alcohol and then dive neck deep in gossip and gluttony. Is there anywhere in the Bible that actually says that people shouldn't drink in moderation?

Jim Pemberton said...

Testimony time:

I was an alcoholic many years ago. There are many who say that one never stops being an alcoholic after having dried out. While this may be the case in the many instances where drying out is a result of outside influences, God dried me out from the inside by filling me with the Holy Spirit. He has not only removed the penalty of this sin from me, He has also removed the inclination toward this sin. As a result, I can enjoy a glass of wine with my wife over a romantic dinner without fear of regression. I can also enjoy a romantic dinner with my wife without a glass of wine. The wine is nothing. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is everything.

Anonymous said...

I stop at a bar near my job every now and then. Sometimes I run into the pastor of a church that's the same denomination as mine.

It's always amazing to me how he's never three sips into his beer before he's found someone who looks down-trodden and talks to them.

If you know anything at all about bar culture, you know no one trusts the guy who drinks only Pepsi. That Guinness in the preacher's hand is a big part of why he can do so much good.


Jeff A. Spry said...

How can we explain this verse:

Matt 11:19 and Luke 7:34 - The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners."

I don't think a tee-totaler runs the risk of this accusation.

Isn't it amazing that Jesus would not be allowed to serve as a trustee on any of our SBC boards?

David Honaker said...

Great post! I've heard people use the weaker brother arguement to abstain from alcohol because you'll never know if anyone around you would stumble. This effectively puts the "stronger" person in bondage, instead of freedom. If you take that logic and extend it, we can eat meat, own a TV or DVD player, etc etc.
Yes, we should be sensitive to others who may stumble, but we should focus on strengthening them so they're not weak. I'm not formally trained at all, but it seems to me the 'weak' brother is young in his walk and will grow out of weakness as he matures in Christ. The focus should be on how to help people mature in Christ. The legalistic man-made rules against alcohol aren't really for the weak, they're for the pharisee in the church.
my 2 cents...

David Honaker said...

sorry, typo in the last sentence of first should read "...we can't eat ...."

Mike Cline said...

I will preface my comment by saying that it probably formed from my upbringing, but my personal convictions would not allow me to partake of alcohol. I have always been a tee- totaler and will go to the grave as such.

impossibleape said...

I am a practicing T-Totaller but I can see no reason other than personal choice (or spirit leading, for what ever reason, God only knows)for doing so.

Psalms 104 lays out a number of reasons to praise God. One of them is the fruit of the vine that maketh the heart glad. Sure sounds like God is not making wine an issue.
Drunkenness is forbidden but
how does forbidding all alcohol become a Biblical injunction for those who proclaim that everything they do is biblical?
I am glad to hear the comments made so far. You seem to be consistent in your desire to be bibilical without adding cultural distortion in this case (to be totally fre of cutural distortion is impossible but I can appreciate that you are trying).

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian who drinks beer on occasion. I, like Mr. Pemberton, was once an alcholic and for many years did not drink any alcohol at all. For me, when I have a beer with a meal, it reminds me of God's tremendous power in my life. There was a time when I could not open a beer without ending the night passed out but God delivered me from that addiction. I now have the self control to enjoy a tasty beverage without any desire to become intoxicated. I am sensitive to those who may be offended by the consumption of alcohol and won't drink in the company of those or others who may not understand or who may be led astray by it. It is a sensitive issue but we are usually more concerned with the thoughts and opinions of others than on God's Word on the subject.