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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, July 14, 2006
Pie-In-The-Sky Optimism...
(Drinking In Moderation)
Augustine has said (with a most excellent brevity and accuracy) what others have spent entire books trying to articulate:
"Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation."

Surely, most of you reading are by now well aware of the recent SBC resolutions regarding abstinence. This sort of "Denominational Prohibition" doesn't sit well because, well let's face it - it is more than a little legalistic.

I abstain from drinking alcohol myself, and precisely for the reason articulated by Augustine - not that I am prudish. Being saved as an adult, it is my unfortunate testimony to admit that I am no stranger to drunkenness and debauchery. After I came to Christ, I stopped drinking. I wasn't an alcoholic, I just saw nothing edifying in spending the money God provided for my life on alcohol - even if it was only to drink "moderately."

That fact is, I understood that while scripture condemned drunkenness it didn't do so by way of commanding abstinence. But alas - I was hanging with some a rather legalistic crowd at the time - at least legalistic when it came to alcohol - and frankly, if I had been seen sipping a wine - well, what a kerfluffle that would have been! So I reasoned that it was easier for me to simply abstain that to put a stumbling block before my weaker (legalistic) brethren.

I truly would have no real trouble drinking a beer or sipping wine if absolutely nothing else were available, and I were so entirely dehydrated that I needed to get some liquid in me right then and there. But living in North America - there has never been a time or place where I have had to make such a choice, and I expect it will never happen. I suppose I am saying that I can't imagine a real scenario wherein drinking alcohol would be something necessary or beneficial.

That is, I don't imagine for a moment that drinking alcohol is something I will ever need to do, or something that cannot be avoided - but in the same breath, I wouldn't insist that having a beer is sinful.

Now, having said that, some people may drink a glass of wine with a good meal - you know, sipping it over the course of an hour or so - while they eat. They don't have a second glass, and they don't drink wine except when they are having a big meal (It does help the digestion you know) - and really, I have no problem with that. It is often a cultural thing, (though sometimes it is entirely an ego thing "look at me, I am so cultured! - Teehee!") - but really, this sort of "drinking" isn't really drinking - it is just "fancy eating."

But there are some - typically younger people who grew up in legalism, and having fled legalism - they began to rebel against boundaries in general - such that they use their liberty as an excuse to excess. Postmodernism plays right into this particular trend. Let me tell you, moderation is amorphous enough without being fortified by the postmodernism mindset that denies objectivity, such that "what is moderate for you, may not be moderate for me."

So it is that I find Augustine's thoughts on the matter so relevant today - into this postmodern culture his words could never have been more true - in a culture where truth is no longer considered an absolute, and moderation can be argued to mean whatever you want it to mean - it most certainly is easier to abstain than to moderate.

One parting thought: Our liberty was never intended to fuel our indulgence. I am disgusted (and I am sure most of you are too) by some who set out to champion "Christian Drinking" - not out of a desire for a clear understanding and application of scripture - but because they love the world and the things in the world, and they desire to live in the world without being hassled by "the man."
posted by Daniel @ 8:40 AM  
23 Comments:
  • At 10:53 AM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Ditto.

    This (drinking) has to be small enough to be able to give it up for others' sake, and I wonder about those who would try and justify this issue rather than another issue of liberty that would make more sense. Why do they single out this one so vehemently..is it because they enjoy drinking so much that they just can't give it up? I know I can't judge motivation, but surely it isn't because this issue of libery will cause the whole house to fall down.

    Why is this particular issue so precious?

    I wonder.....

    I do feel, however, that when weighing the balance between charity and truth in this matter, John Calvin would have "thrown a kegger" in the lawn at the SBC convention, just to prove a point.

     
  • At 12:50 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, good post. I am frankly surprised there is so much tolerance for drinking amongst christians.

    I'm sure Luther would have thrown a keg out there too.

    God bless,
    Jim

     
  • At 1:05 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    To answer Even So, no, I don't enjoy drinking so much that I can't give it up, I enjoy it so much that I won't give it up. How's that for a provocative answer? Why is this particular issue so precious? because it's an attack on the truth of Scripture.

    Scripture absolutely does not teach, explicitely or implicitely, that wine is acceptable but abstinence is better. It says that God gave it as a gift. We might as well say that sex is good, but abstinence is better. After all, look at all the damage that has been done through the misuse of sex.

    With all due respect to both you and Daniel, your comments display ignorance. That's not an insult, just an observation. The best thing I can do in response to that ignorance is recommend reading this.

    Daniel, this may be the first time I've ever disagreed with you. Repent!

     
  • At 2:22 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    David...

    First off, there is no way I am offended, I like the comments you leave at the blogs, and I have been over at your place, albeit in a silent fashion...

    I am against the SBC resolution, especially in light of the fact that they didn't take Tom Ascol's more important one to the floor...

    No, unfortunately I am stupid, insane, or just plain dirty rotten sinful, because I have read up on this issue. I have read other's thoughts, and guess what, I have an occasional drink, although not for over a year or so...

    Not necessarily in yours or in all cases, but for the most part, I don't think this is standing up for scripture, but standing up for "rights"...

    It isn't about what is allowed, it is about what is best, and yes, we are in disagreement, I believe abstinence is better than moderation, in this case.

    That being said, what is easier is not always what is better, so I don't think Augustine today would make that statement without qualifying it somewhat.

    To apply it to sexual activity is improper, after all it depends on the case...abstinence is better when not married...laughing can be a sin, almost anything can be perverted, and so it depends...

    Now, here is the issue...get ready, one and all, come on, pray first, no this is not triumphalism, but here it comes...

    What good does it serve to the casual drinker, and those around him?

    Balanced against the (even if wrongly) offense it may cause, is this charity?

    Now let me be absolutely clear. It is wrong for a group of people to be at a restaurant, and when asked if you want to order a drink, you then say "we don't drink, we are Christians"; that is putrid to me, and I believe, to God. I won't say anything like that, and I would probably order a Scotch (Lagavulin, single malt, single barrel) and correct those that would. But the fact is that I just wouldn't order one at all..

    Is insisting on drinking being conformed to the character of Christ? You might try the sex thing again, but God wants us to have sex...does He want us to drink?

     
  • At 2:56 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    David, I think the saying "A man's morality dictates his theology" would apply here.

    You are trying to defend the indefensible. As Daniel and JD say, we are not advocating prohibition. But for the believer to espouse the consumption of liquor is to endorse the weakness of those under the power of intoxicating beverages.

    I fail to see a positive use of alcohol for the christian. Rather, the problem today is with christian young people being absorbed with alcoholism and promiscous living.

    Where is the holiness, where is the sanctification?

    God bless,
    Jim

     
  • At 3:48 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    "A man's morality dictates his theology"

    Wow... that is utterly backwards. Totally SBC.

    I'll be back later with more. Right now, I've got a very important ball game to attend.

     
  • At 5:34 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    David, I must confess near total ignorance of the various SBC ordinances.

    Nevertheless, it seems you are trying to make your theology ascribe to your morality. That is definitely backwards.

    p.s. Has your avatar always had a twitch? :)

    God bless,
    Jim

     
  • At 5:36 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I am staying suspiciously aloof for the time being ... hehehe...

     
  • At 5:39 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Bryan said…

    I'm with you on this one David.

    The question has been asked if God wants us to drink. I think it's a fair question, and I think scripture is clear in the affirmative:

    Psa 104:14-15 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart.

    I'd very interested in knowing the context of the Augustine quote. David brought up the question of applying it to sex, and I think thats a legimit question given Augustine's pre-conversion history with sex, and then his choice to abstain from it after conversion. Hopefully some context can clairify it. Luther was obviously thinking the same way as David on this issue when he said:


    "Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can do wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?"

    As for Daniel throwing the short at post-moderanism at the end of his post, was it nesscary? This issue was around before anyone knew what POMO was, and will be around long after. Thorwing it into the mix is jsut a red hearing.

    Bryan
    SDG

     
  • At 6:39 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Actually Bryan, the POMO thing is no red herring, but the very heart and point of the entire post.

    My beef isn't with the wine drinking moderate - it is with the beer guzzlin immoderate who poses as a wine drinking moderate by piggybacking his error upon upon their arguments as though he were one of them - and thereby convincing himself that he is justified in his immoderacy.

    This sort of self-deception was already common when men were able to objectively agree upon what "moderate" was. In the postmodern culture - we can't even do that anymore - which is what made Augustine's quote even more relevant for today.

     
  • At 10:06 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    I picked a bad time to jump into a conversation. We’re in the middle of my son’s baseball tournament, and I’m exhausted from being out in 100° heat all afternoon. My constitution doesn’t handle heat well, and we’ve got two more days of this, unless they loose tomorrow. It’s supposed to be just as hot tomorrow, and there’ll be no shade in the morning.

    I’m going to try to give short, direct, definitely incomplete answers to your objections right now. I promise I won’t bail out after that, but finish what I started. The suspiciously (and shrewdly) aloof Daniel can tell me to shut up any time he wants. I hope it’s OK if I have a cold one while I write this. I’m parched. I may, after this, respond in a blog post if I can scrounge up the energy.

    First of all, I’m not defending alcohol use. In light of the plain words of Scripture, I think the burden is on you to defend your positions. I’m enjoying the glad heart (not drunkenness – don’t even start) resulting from the grateful acceptance of a gift from God. You’re making rules about it.

    Jim, it’s not a twitch, it’s a wink. Daniel inspired me. I learned how to do it just to be like him, because he is one of my models.

    I thought your statement "A man's morality dictates his theology" was your opinion. Evidently you were describing me. Sorry for the confusion. It is true, at least in my experience, that those who defend alcohol use are usually libertines who are more interested in their own satisfaction than God's glory. That is a shame. For a long time, I kept silent for fear of being lumped in with that rabble. But how does it glorify god to keep silent in the face of attacks on his Word? I was putting myself first then, but not now. I can hear the knowing nods and rolling eyes at that claim. C’est la vie.

    I fail to see a positive use of alcohol for the christian. Rather, the problem today is with christian young people being absorbed with alcoholism and promiscous living.

    Are you kidding? Are drunkenness and promiscuity a modern innovation? Let me direct you to a fellow named Noah… Nothing has changed. People are today what people were then. In spite of that, Jesus’ first recorded miracle was making many gallons of wine.

    Where is the holiness, where is the sanctification?

    So, holiness and sanctification require living above Scriptural commands, as though that was possible? Hey Jesus, where’s the holiness? Here’s where I get irritable - sola Scriptura.

    To apply [the principles applying to alcohol use] to sexual activity is improper, after all it depends on the case...abstinence is better when not married...laughing can be a sin, almost anything can be perverted, and so it depends...

    You’re right. There is no restriction such as marriage on who should drink alcohol, so my point applies even better. In any case, as with anything else, it depends.

    What good does it serve to the casual drinker, and those around him?

    The term “casual drinker” implies something it shouldn’t. I’m not sure what it is, but I don’t like it. Attach it to any other nonlife-sustaining activity related noun (what’s that called?), and I think you’ll see what I mean. “Casual ice-cream eater”. “Casual card-player”. Oops, I forgot – card playing is a sin. Anyway, Scripture answers that question. Medical science answers a few more. Beyond that, you’ll never know if you abstain – which is no concern of mine, although I’m sorry you’re missing one of God's good gifts.

    Balanced against the (even if wrongly) offense it may cause, is this charity?

    Avoiding offense does not mean tailoring your life to the “standards” of legalists; and if you’re referring to “the weaker brother”, they ain’t them. That’s a whole different subject, which requires a situational approach that I won’t go into here. I will only say that affirming the misconceptions of a genuine weaker brother is not charity. Charity cannot be divorced from truth.

    You might try the sex thing again…

    I’ll second that recommendation! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Is insisting on drinking being conformed to the character of Christ? You might try the sex thing again, but God wants us to have sex...does He want us to drink?

    I’m not insisting on drinking, any more than I insisted on going to the ball game today, as though I was defying Scriptural authority. I’m just enjoying life as God gave it. I am doing what Jesus did, although he made more wine than I have – so far. Yes, I think he does want us to drink. I’m too lazy to look up passages right now, but there’s the Psalms passage I’ve already referred to and Bryan quoted, and In Deuteronomy you’ll find instructions for using the tithe under certain circumstances to feast before the Lord with wine or strong drink.

    Daniel, I don’t think we ever could determine what is moderate. There are too many variables involved. The sanctified man will know.

    That’s all for me right now. If I’ve missed answering something, well, I told you so. If I’ve seemed pugnacious, please overlook it. I don’t mean to be.

    Good night.

     
  • At 10:20 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    By the way, I hate the way the comments are centered on your item page. and something's wrong so you can't read smart quotes. I'm not sure, but I think you need this:

    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

    instead of this:

    <:!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

    at the top of your template.

    Cheers!

     
  • At 11:18 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I see why you were staying aloof on this one. :)

    It's too bad we don't see the same passion when defending something that has more value.

    David, I see now why you picked "thirsty David". :)

    I don't think any of us is saying you are "not allowed" to drink, but rather those who justify their abuse of alcohol by a verse or two are really just making excuses for their fleshly lusts.

    The alcoholic is bound to the drink and obeys it like a god, yet the self righteous christian flaunts his liberty from sin thinking it a means to fleshly indulgence rather than godliness.

    If our conscience condemn us not, we have peace before God. That is the ultimate test of any activity.

     
  • At 11:54 PM, July 14, 2006, Blogger jazzycat said…

    Daniel,
    The Augustine quote is absolutely true and the way to defeat anything that is causing a person a problem. It is much easier for me to abstain from sweets for a while than to eat them in moderation. Wow, the alcohol debate has been interesting especially the comment about God wanting us to drink alcohol.

    I have a worldly friend that told me he figured gambling was fine because he thought God wanted us to have a good time. Now he is ripe to become a Zane Hodges convert if I have ever seen one.

    Jazzycat

     
  • At 9:57 AM, July 15, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    David - <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> wasn't the problem.

    There was some centering happening on one of the classes that was controlling the permalink comment entries - I still would like to change the font to make it bigger, and put the name of the person making the comment up front (rather than at the bottom) - but it is like css spaghetti in there. In time, brother, in time.

    For now though the centering thing is fixed.

     
  • At 12:31 AM, July 16, 2006, Blogger pilgrim said…

    My response to some of the argumentation I've seen here is to say that banning something-such as the SBC has done/proposes/etc.-just becuase it is abused doesn't make sense.
    What is left?
    Everything has been abused.

    Moderation is key overall.
    If you feel for whatever reason it would be beter to abstain--then abstain--but do examine your motives & reasons.

    Personally I abstain, but then I don't enjoy the taste of alcohol.
    So for me, that's easy.

     
  • At 9:06 AM, July 16, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Daniel,

    I see that my initial comment addressed the other commenters more than the thesis of your post. Let me try again.

    On your statement, "complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation," that may be true, depending on the person. My concern, as I'm sure yours is, is not what is easiest, but what is right; and I definitely don't believe it's right.

    First, moderation is no virtue if, in your heart, you are immoderate - and that is the confession of one who says he abstains because it's easier than moderation. He imagines he is a drunk at heart, and responds, not in repentance and faith, but by taking a supposed "better way". You see, the drunk's problem is not alcohol, but his sinful desire. If he abstains, he saves himself and possibly others from the consequences of his drunkenness, but not from his guilt. Wanting to sin, and choosing not to, only appears innocent; but the guilt remains. So the one who abstains because he has no Galatians 5 self-control is no less guilty than the one who drinks with abandon. In fact he may be worse off because he believes he has conquered his sin, when in fact, he has only suppressed it. He may be worse off because he believes he has conquered it by his own will-power.

    Second, when God has said "Here, take this gift, a token of my love for you, given for your benefit," I hardly think the right answer is, "No, thanks. It's easier to pass."

     
  • At 3:43 PM, July 16, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    David,

    I like a lot of what you say, but the high road is one we both are on or want to be on, I believe.

    complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation,"

    I also qualified this statement.

    I know I don't want to drag on too long on this, 'cause to me it is indeed a matter of conscience, and if yours does not bother you, it doesn't bother me either.

    First, moderation is no virtue if, in your heart, you are immoderate - and that is the confession of one who says he abstains because it's easier than moderation. He imagines he is a drunk at heart, and responds, not in repentance and faith, but by taking a supposed "better way". You see, the drunk's problem is not alcohol, but his sinful desire. If he abstains, he saves himself and possibly others from the consequences of his drunkenness, but not from his guilt. Wanting to sin, and choosing not to, only appears innocent; but the guilt remains. So the one who abstains because he has no Galatians 5 self-control is no less guilty than the one who drinks with abandon. In fact he may be worse off because he believes he has conquered his sin, when in fact, he has only suppressed it. He may be worse off because he believes he has conquered it by his own will-power.

    This is very similar to what Daniel has said in earlier posts, and I agree.

    That being said, your statements seem to suggest that we should drink.

    when God has said "Here, take this gift, a token of my love for you, given for your benefit," I hardly think the right answer is, "No, thanks. It's easier to pass."

    I do not see this as a token of God's love for me. As to the second part, what would be the correct answer, then?

    I love you, even not knowing you, because you confess Christ and display His character, even if all I see is the blogosphere. I will let this go, I might even have a drink, no joke, but I do feel that people mess this issue up on "your side" more than "mine"...

    The only "winners" are those who cling to Christ, alone...my thought is that you and most who visit here are doing exactly that, and I don't want to be a stumbling block...

    Even So, come Lord Jesus

     
  • At 4:17 PM, July 16, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    JD,

    You've said you want to let this go, but you did ask a question, so I'll answer it.

    I do not see this as a token of God's love for me.

    Then I ask you to consider Psalm 104, and consider the possibility that you are wrong.

    As to the second part, what would be the correct answer, then?

    "Thank you!" If it's not something you enjoy, leave it alone. I don't think God demands that everyone use everything he created for us. He made cranberries, and I don't like them. Nevertheless, I recognize them as a good gift from God, give thanks for them (somewhat unenthusiastically), and am happy for those who do enjoy them. Also, I oppose cranberry abuse as vehemently as alcohol abuse.

     
  • At 6:58 PM, July 16, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Then I ask you to consider Psalm 104, and consider the possibility that you are wrong.

    I will, will you?

    You cannot frame this as "I think it is a sin to drink", or even, "God calls it good, you call it bad". Like Peter, we cannot call unclean what God says is clean.

    But men have the inclination, even the regenerated, have tendencies, defined differently if you are one nature or two nature in your sanctification, but nevertheless, you still have remaining vestiges of the old man, and he finds ways...

    I most certainly judge no one regarding alcohol and their conscience, it is not a sin to drink....

    I of course have read Psalm 104:15, and most every popular commentary on it..it can be seen as a gift, yet, for me, with this matter, prefer not to make any provision for the flesh.

    IMHO, not by command (I do not teach abstinence to my congregation) for many, it would be better if they never drank in the first place; when should we teach our children this refined pleasure?

    Others, who are "stronger" may do so, but really now, that isn't the intent of the post so much as to point out what Daniel, you and I have been saying, people use liberty for license, and this is one of the top issues...

     
  • At 7:12 PM, July 16, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Will I read Psalm 104 and consider the possibility that God did not give "wine that maketh glad the heart of man?" I don't see how I can.

    Look for a blog post on this sometime soon, unless you're completely sick of it.

     
  • At 11:51 AM, July 17, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I liked saying "fancy eating" - I am a little disappointed that no one commented on that. ;-(

     
  • At 2:16 PM, July 18, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Sorry, Daniel, I wasn't impressed. I thought it was just "fancy writing."

     
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