Dogmatic Assertions

Enough with the pointless posts; I need a little substance now.

This post is in reference to a recent discussion that Bryan Gotcher had with a couple of gentlemen on his blog. The topic was alcohol and Christians. I know that this is a touchy issue, especially in this time and among this generation. I don’t want to discuss alcohol’s place in the Christian community, but I would like to talk about something that I believe needs to be acknowledged by people on both sides of the fence…as well as those who have saddled up the fence. It might be helpful to stop and read the rather lenghty discussion on Gotch’s blog before continuing.

This is my humble opinion (as you might have gotten a taste of if you finished reading the conversation). I respect both sides. I understand that Scripture does not undisputedly speak out about drinking alcohol socially(although drunkenness is addressed), and I also concede that there are some issues that can be successfully argued about the taiting of our spirtuality in the eyes of others. I see that Jesus drank wine, yet Paul wouldn’t eat meat. I grasp the daring approach to legalism, and I also understand the risky attitude we can develop regarding our freedom in Christ. What I don’t grasp…is the solution to the problem. I don’t have a firm stance on the issue at hand, because I don’t believe there is firm ground to stand on. We can argue until the cows come home…and probably the swine as well. It’s very similar to the Pro/Anit-Calvinism debates; their are people arguing both sides, yet it doesn’t determine their level of spirituality…and it shouldn’t. So understanding that the fight will never be won, we must choice to extract something else from the situation that can draw us closer to the Lord.

This is what I personally drew from their convo. I think it is risky to be dogmatic over an issue like that. Don’t get me wrong, there are many doctrines and convictions that Scripture is rock-solid about. But I feel that this is not one of them, nor should it be treated as one. It might be a tad-bit arrogant to claim that you are absolutely correct on that issue. Reason being: You really aren’t 100% sure of what your arguing. As reasonably conservative evangelicals, we see that both arguments are supported via Scripture, and if the answer was in there…somebody wouldn’t have found it. So, I believe that it might be dangerous to propose a dogmatic stance on the issue of alcohol and dye on that hill in battle. Scripture says that we know “in part.” I think we need to start acting like we know “in part”(especially me) . The problem is that our attitudes can get in way of our relationships with fellow believers. I am not implying that that is what happen with Gotch, because they all were respectful to each other in their dealings. I just know that I have sorely offended friends in the past because of my bull-headed assertions on particular issues. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we shouldn’t treat opinionated convictions as doctrine, because we can do exactly what Paul warned us about…being a stumbling block.

I once heard it put like this and I absolutely love it: There is a line that every opinion falls on. Your stance on Calvinism, baptism, alcohol, abortion, inspiration of scripture, etc. falls on this line. You may be on the far right…you may be smack dab in the middle, but rest assured, we’re on that line. It was said that Jesus didn’t call us to pick a point on that line. He calls us to transcend the line and rest our understanding of life above where the world spends their time and hashes out their opinions. Like Jesus, when confronted by the religious leaders regarding taxes, told them to render to Caeser what is Caeser’s and to God what is God’s. By saying this, Jesus was transceding the line. Or when the women at the well asked Jesus where she should worship; He did not give her a clear answer, rather he said, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Jesus transcends the line that the women was stuck on. So maybe all those references to alcohol in Scripture were not mean’t for us to read them and then devolp or opinions of “when and where.” To be honest, I don’t really know how to transcend the alcohol line…or the smoking line…or the Reformed line…or whatever else you can think of. What I do know is this, I have ticked off people, even close friends, because of fruitless, ignorant, dogmatic assertions. I don’t like to admit that I “know in part,” but it’s true.

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10 Responses

  1. Great Post, and I think it is very true. I would say that God has obviously called Christians to discern what is true and what is false. I do not know of an epistle in the NT that does not talk about correcting the false teachers. With the alcohol issue, I do not think that thoseon either side are false teachers in the biblical sense, but some stupid arguments are made for both cases. WE should fight legalism but we should also be wary of those whom our lifestyles might impact.
    Great post Smitty, flex the guns and give Bebop and ROcksteady a kiss for me!!

  2. thanks buddy

  3. I think you might like to check out Steve McCoy’s post on the issue that Gotch referenced… he got like dozens of responses from people in all walks of the faith.

    Our pastor down here talked about it some last week. Talking about how Lutherans or Episcopalians probably have a glass of wine with their meal and never felt bad about it…until they met a Baptist. He talked about growing up Methodist, and how Baptists told him he was going to hell for certain things(like dancing). He just talked about how preachers in our denom. tend to guilt people to feel one way or the other. He was preaching on Romans 8:1, and talked about how guilt sermons don’t work on Christians for that reason, and the difference between Holy Spirit conviction and guilt. (we’re no longer guilty, but we can still be convicted on things… think about the difference).

    Anyway, I feel I’ve come a long way on the issue from judging everyone who drinks at all as being backslid. I think I’d feel convicted if I drank, because I just don’t think it’s best for me and since I’ve struggled with drinking. This is a Romans 14 thing. But, I no longer hold believers who drink in moderation (glass of wine with their meal, or whatever) under judgement, and I think I could probably take alcohol and not feel guilty. (I’ve done it in communion services overseas, Baptists over there interestingly don’t have problem with drinking in that context).

    Dunno if anyone will understand that comment, but that’s part of my 2 cents.

  4. i believe you must have your own convictions that you hold to without wavering, while at the same time not imposing them on others.

  5. how about a bibliographic reference on your last paragraph smitty??? 🙂 ALso you can come get that book back, i read all but the last chapter.

  6. anybody wanna go to pazzo’s later and have a beer

  7. tapp…thanks for your comment. I am in the same exact boat as you are. We grew up the same way…hearing the sames things. So it took me a little while to stop blowing people’s spirituality off when I heard about them drinking or smoking. don’t get me wrong, I still think there are issues that each person must deal with personally before partaking in such things…but like you, I have come a long way as well.

    Hope everything is well with you and your new spouse

  8. Let’s go to louie’s, smitty city is in the works… i’m pretty backed up these days. And as far as your post goes, move to ireland, they don’t care about anything…

  9. louie’s is a great place, and i think would get along fine in europe

  10. This is by far the best advice on the subject thus far. I think you are completely right, there may not be a clearly defined answer. However, I have my convictions and I believe that each believer must discover for himself what his or her conviction are. I have posted a something helpful from Dr. Akin’s theology class about the Gray Areas of Life at my blog.

    By the way, I would read Steve’s posts and comments, but would not comment because you will get no where arguing with him or his commentors. They seem to be cut from the same cloth, one that cares more about being right on these issues than preserving the spirit of Christians fellowship in these discussions.

    Anyway, You rock, thanks for linking me up and weighing in on the issues. You are a sage, wise beyond your years, I really mean that.

    Much Love
    Gotch

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