Monday, September 26, 2016

What About Deuteronomy 14:26?

In a response to a Daily Visit with God I wrote based out of Proverbs 20:1 and the subject of wine, a man commented back to me, “But what about Deuteronomy 14:26?” The verse reads, Deuteronomy 14:26 (KJV)
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,

My first thought would be, “What about the preponderance of passages that tell us of the evils of drinking?”
What about, Genesis 9:20-21 (KJV)?
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

What about Numbers 6:3 (KJV)?
He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.

What about Judges 13:4 (KJV)?
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

What about Proverbs 20:1 (KJV)?
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

What about Proverbs 23:31-32 (KJV)?
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

What about Isaiah 5:11 (KJV)?
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

What about Isaiah 28:7 (KJV)?
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

What about Habakkuk 2:15 (KJV)?
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

There are so many passages that give a clear and compelling argument against the drinking of alcohol that reason says every passage that seems to approve of it should be reconsidered. Even if we are not able to give a definitive understanding of those passages, good sense says they are not condoning and approving of drinking any sort of alcoholic drink.

I am reminded of the question the Pharisees asked the Lord, Matthew 19:7 (KJV)
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

The Pharisees were looking for a (Biblical) way to approve of divorce. Jesus gave them no such leave. His answer to them was that, though Moses recognized divorce as a reality in his world, God did not approve it and it was still sin. Though the souls of men may “lust” after wine and strong drink along with their meals, it is not approved and it is still sin.

  • ·       Given that the Bible speaks clearly of the evil of drunkenness
  • ·       Given that the habit of drinking alcohol so easily slips into drunkenness and
  • ·       Given that the Bible tells us to be filled with the Holy Ghost instead of being drunk with wine

It is foolish to argue in favor of any view of the Bible that approves of the use of alcoholic drink, including wine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Drinking A Little or A Lot

I recently read of the removal of Pastor Perry Noble from the pastorate of South Carolina mega church known as NewSpring Church. Right off the bat I want to say that I have no reason to attack Noble. He is not in my circles, his church, in my estimation has never been Biblical and other than seeing his name appear from time to time in articles I only glance at, he has been a non-issue to me. What is an issue is the lesson that is learned from his fall.
In an article I found in Christianity Today[1], Noble declares that he believes it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to consume alcohol so long as they do not abuse alcohol. His problem, by his own admission, is that he "slipped" from socially consuming to personally abusing alcohol.

I am reminded of a podcast[2] I recently heard where James White and Jeff Durbin defended themselves from certain attacks made by fellow Calvinist, JD Hall[3]. Hall had gotten wind of two separate but actual events that had taken place in connection with some fundraising for a new church Durbin's church is planting in Hawaii. Whether Hall's accusations are accurate or not is not the point of this piece. What is the point is the defense White and Durbin make against those accusations.
Apparently Durbin's congregation is primarily composed of alcohol and drug abusers who have been rescued through this ministry. Durbin, Who works to help addicts recover, preaches a message very similar Perry Noble's, "social drinking is acceptable but abusive drinking is sin" line.
Durbin cited Scripture after Scripture that he believes speak of drinking wine in a positive, even exalted light. One reference was Jesus' turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. On more than one occasion Durbin used the word, conviction, claiming that it was his conviction that the Bible did not condemn wine.

Here's my take. First, wine, in the Bible, is not always alcoholic. Men like White, who boast of their skills in accurately interpreting the Bible, should see this. Too many people they know and claim to respect have published by too much information on the subject for them to not be aware of this. I would expect that this is a conscious choice to deny a valid understanding of the word, wine. For Durbin to insist on serving strong drink, i.e. alcoholic wine, at his communion services is, in my estimation, just plain irresponsible.

Secondly I want to challenge Durbin’s use of the word, conviction. When Durbin says it is his "conviction" that it is biblical to drink alcoholic wine, does this mean that the social drinking of alcoholic beverages is actually a Christian practice Durbin would suffer persecution to defend? I expect it is more of a preference.

I end with this since a man, such as Noble, could slide into the abusive use of this substance that is so well known to be addictive, since it is not a matter critical to the Christian faith, and since abstinence from alcohol is a certain means of preventing such abuse, wouldn't it be wiser to entertain more thoroughly those interpretations of the Bible that teach complete abstinence?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

James White's Opposition to "KJV Onlyism"

James White is a hero to many modern Calvinists, including Reformed Baptists. White takes frequent hits at those, even among the Reformed crowd, who hold to the “King James Only” position on the Bible. I admit that the groups that hold to KJV Only are diverse and some of the positions held on the KJV go much too far. However, there are legitimate arguments for the exclusive use of the King James Version of the Bible. In this article I want to address White’s arguments against the exclusive use of the King James Version and offer a few answers.

His argument, as I understand it, against using the King James Version of the Bible exclusively:
A key passage, Psalms 12[1] is, according to him, misused.
This argument appeals to the academic but denies the spirit of God's Word. The Bible, and especially the Psalms, is filled with passages where the context appears to be one thing but there are obvious secondary lessons found in them. How would we have ever seen the allegory of Sarah and Hagar using strictly academic context? Yet we know the allegory is authoritative. So many of the Psalms jump from a Davidic context to prophesy clearly of the Saviour. There are too many passages that promise the first infallible preservation of God's Word to deny that this passage must also be included among them.

Interestingly, I have not heard White or anyone else for that matter, cite a passage suggesting that God would, as they claim He has done, preserve His infallible Word through a variety of corrupted but reliable enough manuscripts.

KJV onlyists must isolate the one KJV text that is the infallible one.
By insisting upon this, White demands of us what he claims is not necessary for himself: one perfect text. He claims to believe that we have the word of a God and that no Word of God has been lost. He just claims that it exists among thousands of manuscripts that don't agree. The scholar gets then the job of choosing for the masses what is the Word of God and what is not. He sets himself up in a place of perpetual awe before his inferiors who must wait upon him to declare for them what God has said.
My claim is that the KJV is the infallible word of God in fact. There may be editions with errors, but there is no error in the KJV as God illuminated the translators to record it.

KJV onlyists ignore historical fact to hold their traditional view of the Bible.
My claim is that White ignores the nature of God to hold his presumptive view that the Bible must contain errors that scholars may be employed to ferret out. I would rather side with God that He has preserved His Word perfectly than with historians who are inherently fallible and admittedly biased.

White dismisses the KJV only position as indefensible in the real world.
This of course is a matter of opinion. He claims he has taken his position into the world through debates with Muslims, atheists, Mormons and others. My observation, having listened now to numerous of his debates, has been that White claims himself to be the winner of these debates but that they are structured in such a way that both sides can make that claim if they choose.
White is the sort of man who, I doubt, ever sees himself as loosing.

White's position appears to me to be loosely based upon his understanding of the key texts and much more dependent upon his understanding of the history of the transmission of the Bible. He has a compelling motivation to forever keep the Bible in a state of incomplete perfection. It preserves his importance as a textual authority.

[1] White, who claims to dislike listening to people he believes yells too much, is himself very loud spoken and in very loud tones mockingly corrects those who would call the address Psalms 12 instead of Psalm 12. The fact is that many scholars past and present refer to a single address in the Psalms using the title of the book as a whole in the address. It is not an error to do so, it is rather one of White’s ways of belittling and marginalizing the person with whom he disagrees.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Consider To Whom You Are Praying.

Some prayers are designed to move the hearer rather than God. Sometimes when say we are praying for a thing what we're really asking/hoping is that those who read our "prayer letter" or hear our "testimony" are moved by it to meet the need for which we claim to pray. We are not really asking God to meet the need. We're wondering if, by saying we're asking for God to meet the need, there might be somebody who will do it for Him.

To pray and ask God to meet the need would be, as George Mueller suggested, to not tell people what the need is.

Those especially in "dependent" type ministries, such as itinerant ones, have been conditioned to see answers to prayer in the form of gifts and offerings from God's people, especially in the churches. A Prayer letter or report letter might then subconsciously become an appeal to people for needs rather than an actual expression of dependence upon the Lord.

Certainly the Bible teaches that God answers our prayers most often by moving His people. I am in no way suggesting that, to receive an answer to prayer through the gifts, offerings or actions of people, is to not receive an answer to prayer. My point is one of the heart.

  •       Do we not have to be careful that our hearts are more dependent upon the giving culture of Christianity rather than upon the Lord?
  •        Is it not true that we might easily convert our Christian faith into another one of the myriads of religions?

Christianity is not man centered but God centered. Let’s keep our prayers directed to Him.