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, 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 I recently heard where James White and Jeff Durbin defended themselves from certain attacks made by fellow Calvinist, JD Hall. 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?