Monday, November 30, 2009

James MacDonald - Wise Up About Alcohol - Part 1

James MacDonald is the Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois. He is a very gifted communicator and has a ministry that reaches thousands through his preaching and various forms of media. I have personally benefited from his blog and find myself agreeing with much of what he has posted.

Recently Pastor MacDonald preached a sermon from his series on the Proverbs called "Wise Up About Alcohol". You can listen to the two parts here and here.

In the next few days I want to interact with what Pastor MacDonald presents here. I care little about resurrecting a tired debate about alcohol and Christians, but I think there are deeper issues in this message that I would like to address.

In his message he gives six reasons why he believes that total abstinence from alcohol should be the norm for all Christians. His six reasons are:
1. Because drunkenness is a sin and not a disease.
2. Because alcohol impairs wisdom.
3. Because alcohol is an unnecessary drug.
4. Because alcohol is destructive.
5. Because alcohol is addictive.
6. Because wisdom calls me to set it aside.
I want to start today by looking at point #1.

1. Because drunkenness is a sin and not a disease.

Agreed. I greatly appreciated Pastor McDonald’s thoughts there. The Bible always presents drunkenness as a sin issue and not a disease. What about genetic predisposition? There are conflicting studies about this and the subject is far from settled.

I would add that even if alcoholism was found to be a genetic disposition it wouldn't matter in the least. Christian theology has a category for this. In light of the Fall, Romans 8 speaks of the creation being subjected to frustration or futility. That means that on this side of The New Heavens and The New Earth, things don't work right. We are broken from the DNA on up. If alcoholism can be shown to be a "disease", this does not absolve anyone of the responsibility to address this as sin. I know that straight from the womb I have a disposition towards certain sin issues. I am still called to "put to death" these misdeeds (Col. 3:5).

Tomorrow I'll address his second point, that alcohol impairs wisdom.


amy Romero said...

very interesting.

Matthew Westerholm said...

This sermon is from about 10 years ago, btw. Probably recently broadcast, but James has been going verse by verse through Revelation almost all this year.

Anonymous said...

I think wisdom dictates that Christians leave alcohol alone. The advocating of alcohol use as the norm among Christians I think is just another area where the church is conforming to the world. Perhaps instead of asking "should Christian's use alcohol?" Maybe we should be asking, "why would a Christian want to use alcohol?"

I find it amusing that many who are promoting a softer view of alcohol use often rant about gambling... arguing that it violates stewardship principles ect... Personally I thing Christians should stay away from gambling too, but honestly the Bible is fairly clear about alcohol and essentially silent about gambling. I also find most justifications of alcohol use implies that we are comparing apples to apples when discussing the "wine" of the Bible and the "wine" of our culture... when it is not the same. Many say the Bible just condemns drunkeness so that should be the standard. I have never used alcohol so I don't know how much it would take for me to "cross the line" but I figured if 3 drinks would make me drunk then, 1 drink made me 1/3 drunk... so I'll sip on ice water or a soda. How many who advocate that drunkeness is the only line we need to worry about, would argue that it would be okay for an unmarried couple to pet as long as they don't cross the line of fornication (intercourse)? Just things I have wondered about.

Anonymous said...

But Anonymous, who in their right mind would argue that drunkenness is the only line that a Christian need worry about crossing? Crossing the line is an issue that Christians have to worry about with all sins of excess- drunkenness, gluttony, pride, etc.- even if those lines are not always clear and vary for different people.

I rarely (if ever) hear fellow Christians argue that Christians should abstain from eating ANY amount of junk food. In fact, I believe most would contend that junk food, at least when consumed in moderation, is a Gift from God; much like those who believe that the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is. And yet (under your reasoning at least) eating one slice of pie is 1/3 of the way to gluttony....

Anonymous said...

"Men go wrong with women and wine. Shall we abolition women also?"
Martin Luther

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