Addicted to Alcohol

November 03, 2007

Many Baptists these days seem to be addicted to alcohol. Or perhaps more accurately, they seem to be addicted to condemning alcohol. As Tim Townsend of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes:

These days, if you're talking about the Missouri Baptist Convention, you're talking about booze.
That is a pretty sad statement about what the group is becoming known for. He recounts the controversy for the past year about a church in St. Louis that has been attacked by Roger Moran, Don Hinkle, and others because the church has some meetings in a bar. Yet, by going out to where the people are, the church is reaching lots of people with the love of Jesus.

At the recent MBC annual meeting, the messengers passed a resolution proposed by Moran that condemned alcohol use. It was apparently basically the same as a resolution that was passed by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006 (see post here). The resolution condemns all drinking, which is a position the Bible does not take. Townsend notes that during the meeting, MBC interim executive director David Tolliver stated:
I understand that the Bible does not say, never says, 'Thou shalt not drink.' ... It is also true to say that the Bible does not specifically refer to drinking as a sin. However, ... the only Christian position in this 21st century Show-Me state environment that we live in is total abstinence!
Wow! He is somehow able to define what the "Christian" position is even though it does not match the Bible. Personally, I do not drink alcohol. However, I do not believe it is Scriptural to demand that other Christians follow my personal decision since it cannot be justified from the Bible. This adding of rules to Scripture seems a lot like what Jesus accused the religious leaders of his day of doing.

The other problem with this strong focus on alcohol is that it likely takes attention away from issues that more Baptists actually struggle with. Why is it that we generally pass resolutions to condemn the problems of others but ignore our own (like gluttony). After being elected as the new MBC president, Gerald Davidson stated about himself and the other new officers:
You have four men who despise the use of alcohol, pornography, gambling, and you can throw in a few other sins along with that.
Why not despise all sins? And why only focus on a few hot-button ones instead of looking at the ones that Jesus spent more time on, such as greed and pride? Better yet, why even describe yourself by what you despise instead of what you love? It is time for us to get over our addiction to condemning. It is time for us to focus on loving others and reaching out to them regardless of what they may be drinking. And it is time for us to take a deep look at our own hearts to see what areas we really need to work on improving.

UPDATE [11-5-07]: Davidson talked more about the alcohol issue in an interview published by the Baptist Press today. Here is what he said:
One of the issues that [the Project 1000 leaders] raised this year was the alcohol issue. ... And truthfully, I know churches all over the state of Missouri but I don't know any churches that condone the use of alcohol.

... But that's sort of a straw man, I think, for the Project 1000 or Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association to try to rally people around. It was basically a straw man because that's not a problem in Missouri.
He is right about the issue being a illogical "straw man" attack, which is where one misreprents the position of one's opponent in order to attack that weaker position. Such arguments are illogical and should not be used by Christians.