Taking on a "Bad Christian Argument"

December 07, 2005

Here's an interesting piece from Ethics Daily about a recent speech by Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Welcome to Ethics Daily.com! Mohler told students that the Bible does not teach that all drinking of alcohol is wrong—though he did warn them that it could get them expelled or destroy their ministry.

What I really appreciate is not so much his take on the subject but rather his willingness to critically examine poor arguments generally accepted by many Christians. He recalled a story he read in the fundamentalist newspaper Sword of the Lord (again, must we be so violent?!) that claimed Jesus turned water into non-fermented grape juice and not wine. Mohler said he was "troubled" by the article "because it just appeared to me to be an example of a really, really bad Christian argument."

Mohler wisely reminds us that even if we believe a behavior is wrong, we must make sure we support our belief with strong arguments. In particular we must be careful not to twist and misuse the Bible to support our opinion (what is really ironic here is that the same newspaper that made this absurd argument has also accused other Christians of not really believing the Bible—hello pot, my name is kettle). As Mohler explained, "I believe it is exegetically unsustainable. ... You simply cannot make the argument that the Bible binds the Christian conscience and all Christians of all times everywhere for a total abstinence position."

Mohler also pointed out that it is important for Christians to talk about these issues. He acknowledged that "There will be a lot of people who will be offended that we are even having (the conversation)." But he said that since it is causing some controversy in the church, then it must be addressed. He is absolutely correct.

Hopefully the students were paying attention so that the next generation of preachers will work hard to build strong arguments for what they believe, and be willing to talk about important issues that many would rather avoid and hope it goes away.