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Wine or Welch's? Let's do this one more time
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Post Re: But you do...... spartanfan
[/quote]Can we interpret your epic moving of the goalpost here as an inability on your part to "prove it was grape juice" and "[end] the discussion" having done so?[/quote]

You can interpret it any way you want but I wouldn't count on me not being able to prover it was grape juice any more than you being able to prove it was. Since the Bible doesn't say if it was or not, every opinion is just that and nobody can say for sure. Therefore, since the Bible is silent, all we have are our bylaws (that we all agreed to abide by). So then in regard to our conduct in this matter, all that is relevant is our bylaws. But you are welcome to go through the proceedure necessary to change them if you feel they are incorrect. Otherwise, let's all just go with what we have and be happy about it. Since there is no benefit at all to drinking alcohol, there is no need to do it.
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12/14/18 4:34 pm


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Post Link
Quiet Wyatt wrote:
In my view, those who argue over whether this miracle involved fermented wine or fresh blood of the grape entirely miss the point of the passage. The passage is meant to teach that Jesus gives the new wine of the Spirit, just as He is the bread from Heaven, gives living water, is the door to the sheep, and so forth.


But those who view wine as an evil substance can get stuck on that point.
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Last edited by Link on 12/15/18 5:09 pm; edited 2 times in total
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12/14/18 4:36 pm


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Post Link
The governor of the feast said they usually bring out the cheap wine after the men are wasted. Look it up.
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12/14/18 4:38 pm


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Post Question for Spartan FG Minister
You say it cannot be proven whether it was alcoholic or not. Then help me understand why deacons can have some grape juice but elders are not to have any grape juice? Acts-celerater
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12/14/18 4:53 pm


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Post Re: But you do...... Dave Dorsey
spartanfan wrote:
You can interpret it any way you want but I wouldn't count on me not being able to prover it was grape juice any more than you being able to prove it was. Since the Bible doesn't say if it was or not, every opinion is just that and nobody can say for sure. Therefore, since the Bible is silent, all we have are our bylaws (that we all agreed to abide by). So then in regard to our conduct in this matter, all that is relevant is our bylaws. But you are welcome to go through the proceedure necessary to change them if you feel they are incorrect. Otherwise, let's all just go with what we have and be happy about it. Since there is no benefit at all to drinking alcohol, there is no need to do it.

I personally think you make a pretty strong argument regarding agreement to abide by the bylaws. I'm just pointing out that it's a far cry from what ya promised in the other thread. Smile

I agree with your revised statement that the Bible does not prescribe prohibition, or in any way indicate that Jesus made non-alcoholic wine at the wedding feast of Cana.
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12/14/18 6:27 pm


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Post Your time machine.... spartanfan
Since we don't have a time machine (I guess it's an assumption on my part that you don't have one), I think that my ability to "prove" that the wine Jesus produced at the wedding in Cana contained no alcohol is equal to your ability to "prove" that it did.

That's really the end of that conversation. To say Jesus couldn't miraculously produce a great tasting beverage that was alcohol free and the governor of the feast would brag on is limiting the Son of God. You don't want to do that (again, I'm assuming).

Ministry and membership in the Church of God requires a commitment that includes abiding by the Minutes of the General Assembly. The minutes (under Behavioral Temperance in the Practical Commitments) state clearly that Church of God members should: "...abstain from all alcoholic beverages ...".

That's the end of that conversation unless one is endeavoring to amend the minutes of the General Assembly through a proper channel (Actscelerate is not generally accepted as a proper channel).

Since we are talking "Practical Commitments" here, let's be practical.
1)Alcohol has ZERO health benefits. Any claimed health benefit comes from other ingredients in the wine or beer it is mixed with.
2)Drinking won’t work. Most people drink to relax or socialize, or both. They drink for enjoyment also and just to "feel better" but alcohol is a depressant so it can’t relax you or make you feel any better. It will briefly slow down your thinking but not truly relax you. Once the alcohol wears off the stress returns, often stronger than before.
3)Relying on alcohol to relax can create a dependency. There are many other ways to relax and unwind without any downsides.
4)Alcohol is an addictive depressant drug, it just doesn’t say it on the tin. This is why there is rarely such a thing as ‘just this one’. Any one of us can become addicted, dependent or reliant on alcohol at any stage in our lives to a greater or lesser degree. Habits can vary from monthly to weekly to daily. Addiction is the feeling of not being able to live without something -the feeling of being enslaved. Everyone can break free of the shackles of addiction with the help of the Lord. Also the right support and care is helpful.
5)Alcohol can increase your risk of cancer. Alcohol can cause up to 7 types of cancers, especially in parts of the body that come into contact with alcohol like the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver.
6)Alcohol is associated with increasing self-harm and suicide among both men and women. There is no denying that.
7)Drinking is, after all, a great loser. Alcohol induces a very temporary euphoria but then a depression after the euphoria inevitably wears off. It’s a "feel good for a little while but then feel bad in the end" kind of deal- much like a sex addiction or an adulterous affair. Once one steps off the roller coaster of trading the future for momentary pleasure, their innate natural sense of well-being will return.

"Practical Commitments" are just that - practical. Not doctrine - just common sense. At what point will abstaining from a behavior that causes a lot of pain, heartache, disease and death in our world, cease to be practical?

This is an argument you can never defeat because it is logical and practical. Unless you can produce proof from your "time machine."
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12/15/18 9:36 am


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Post Re: Question for Spartan Cojak
FG Minister wrote:
You say it cannot be proven whether it was alcoholic or not. Then help me understand why deacons can have some grape juice but elders are not to have any grape juice?


pretty good point here as well as Link's comment. simple logic.

But I do enjoy reading the tap dance about such a common drink back in the time of Christ, Ithink that is also history. Smile
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12/15/18 9:49 am


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Post I Do Have a Time Machine FG Minister
It's called the Holy Scripture. It tells me exactly what was going on in that day. Paul's letters to Timothy were written in about 60AD, and Paul clearly doesn't want elders drinking ANY grape juice, if you are correct. I just want to know why Paul doesn't want elders to have any grape juice but deacons can have some. It's just a simple, straightforward question. Please defend your position Biblically.

I'm not concerned in the least about what the COG says about alcohol consumption. What does the Bible say? I agree, however, if one has taken an oath to abstain from alcohol, one must honor that oath. But that is not the discussion here.

This discussion is about the complete prohibition of alcohol and I simply cannot find it in the Bible. (Personally, I don't drink and I believe it can lead to a myriad of problems. But again, that is not the discussion).

Let's say that I am hosting an event where we are serving pie. I say that all diabetics shall have NO PIE, but those who are not diabetics can have some pie. One must conclude there is a reason why pie is prohibited to one group and not the other. BUT if pie is benign, there should be no prohibition on either group. Correct?

If it is benign grape juice, then let deacons and elders drink it. For some reason, Paul does not see wine as benign. That's why I know it was alcoholic and not simple grape juice.
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12/15/18 10:10 am


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Post Dave Dorsey
The testimony of Scripture is all the proof any of us need. I'm sorry the Bible says something you don't like, spartanfan. It does that to all of us, though. Now 67% friendlier!
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12/15/18 10:55 am


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Post Funny spartanfan
Dave Dorsey wrote:
The testimony of Scripture is all the proof any of us need. I'm sorry the Bible says something you don't like, spartanfan. It does that to all of us, though.


And I am sorry the Bible doesn’ say something you presume it is saying. Can you say 100% for sure that there was alcohol in the wine that Jesus provided for those who were already well drunk? Can the Son of God create a great tasting beverage with no alcohol in it that the governor of the feast would compliment? Of course He can! Can you prove it had alcohol in it or are you assuming it did? I love how the tone of conversation changes when someone cannot win a debate. And if you could “care less” about what the Church of God says then you have covenant relationship issues (if you are a member thereby pledging to abide by its General Assembly Minutes). Since you cannot prove anything - your assumptions mean nothing. You are just blowing smoke to cover the fact that total abstinence is the most logical, practical, spiritual and mature position and those ministers and members promoting the consuming of alcoholic beverages are in violation of their word to abide by their church bylaws. Church membership (like marriage) is a choice. Live with it.
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12/15/18 11:55 am


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Post Re: Funny Dave Dorsey
spartanfan wrote:
(if you are a member thereby pledging to abide by its General Assembly Minutes)

I'm not.

Also, when did I say I could "care less" about them, exactly? The only comment I made on the subject of COG membership and the practical commitments was to say that I thought you made a strong argument on that front. Cool your jets, bud. Maybe a cold one would help you mellow out a little.
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12/15/18 12:06 pm


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Post Da Sheik
I can appreciate Sparty's zeal for the COG and the practical commitments. I don't think any of us here are advocating that Christians should drink. Having said that, he has (unknowingly) proved what I initially set out to demonstrate. Our biases often hinder our ability to properly exegete/interpret the scriptures.

First, we start with a presumption not aligned with scripture (i.e."the Old Testament forbids alcohol and commands total abstinence). The truth is that the OT didn't teach that, neither did the NT affirm that belief (as others have shown here by usage of the Greek "oinos" throughout the NT).

The bible does however teach sobriety. It warns of the dangers of alcohol abuse. We have all seen lives shipwrecked because of the abuses of alcohol. But it is a far cry to say there is no middle ground between abstinence and drunkenness. How many lives have been destroyed by adultery and fornication? Does scripture command abstinence? Of course not. Paul actually calls such teaching in I Tim 4:3 as a "doctrine of demons".

So back to the matter at hand. When we come to the text with a bias, then we are unable to accept the plain teaching of scripture because it violates our traditions (Mark 7:13 comes to mind). So now we are forced to cite extra-biblical literature from antiquity, construct a miracle that the bible didn't say Jesus performed, ignore the clear meaning of oinos throughout the NT, and finally (and most egregiously) feel the need to "defend" Jesus for something we cannot accept that He did.
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12/15/18 3:11 pm


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Post Re: Your time machine.... Link
spartanfan wrote:
Since we don't have a time machine (I guess it's an assumption on my part that you don't have one), I think that my ability to "prove" that the wine Jesus produced at the wedding in Cana contained no alcohol is equal to your ability to "prove" that it did.

That's really the end of that conversation. To say Jesus couldn't miraculously produce a great tasting beverage that was alcohol free and the governor of the feast would brag on is limiting the Son of God. You don't want to do that (again, I'm assuming).

Ministry and membership in the Church of God requires a commitment that includes abiding by the Minutes of the General Assembly. The minutes (under Behavioral Temperance in the Practical Commitments) state clearly that Church of God members should: "...abstain from all alcoholic beverages ...".

That's the end of that conversation unless one is endeavoring to amend the minutes of the General Assembly through a proper channel (Actscelerate is not generally accepted as a proper channel).

Since we are talking "Practical Commitments" here, let's be practical.
1)Alcohol has ZERO health benefits. Any claimed health benefit comes from other ingredients in the wine or beer it is mixed with.
2)Drinking won’t work. Most people drink to relax or socialize, or both. They drink for enjoyment also and just to "feel better" but alcohol is a depressant so it can’t relax you or make you feel any better. It will briefly slow down your thinking but not truly relax you. Once the alcohol wears off the stress returns, often stronger than before.
3)Relying on alcohol to relax can create a dependency. There are many other ways to relax and unwind without any downsides.
4)Alcohol is an addictive depressant drug, it just doesn’t say it on the tin. This is why there is rarely such a thing as ‘just this one’. Any one of us can become addicted, dependent or reliant on alcohol at any stage in our lives to a greater or lesser degree. Habits can vary from monthly to weekly to daily. Addiction is the feeling of not being able to live without something -the feeling of being enslaved. Everyone can break free of the shackles of addiction with the help of the Lord. Also the right support and care is helpful.
5)Alcohol can increase your risk of cancer. Alcohol can cause up to 7 types of cancers, especially in parts of the body that come into contact with alcohol like the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver.
6)Alcohol is associated with increasing self-harm and suicide among both men and women. There is no denying that.
7)Drinking is, after all, a great loser. Alcohol induces a very temporary euphoria but then a depression after the euphoria inevitably wears off. It’s a "feel good for a little while but then feel bad in the end" kind of deal- much like a sex addiction or an adulterous affair. Once one steps off the roller coaster of trading the future for momentary pleasure, their innate natural sense of well-being will return.

"Practical Commitments" are just that - practical. Not doctrine - just common sense. At what point will abstaining from a behavior that causes a lot of pain, heartache, disease and death in our world, cease to be practical?

This is an argument you can never defeat because it is logical and practical. Unless you can produce proof from your "time machine."


If alcohol is like sex addition, we need to realize it is okay to have sex in the right context. Addiction to alcohol is a bad thing.

The Bible says God gave wine to make man's heart merry. Jesus turned water into wine. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake. Is it Biblical to say there is no benefit to drinking wine?
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12/15/18 5:09 pm


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Post Cojak
Da Sheik wrote:
I can appreciate Sparty's zeal for the COG and the practical commitments. I don't think any of us here are advocating that Christians should drink. Having said that, he has (unknowingly) proved what I initially set out to demonstrate. Our biases often hinder our ability to properly exegete/interpret the scriptures.

First, we start with a presumption not aligned with scripture (i.e."the Old Testament forbids alcohol and commands total abstinence). The truth is that the OT didn't teach that, neither did the NT affirm that belief (as others have shown here by usage of the Greek "oinos" throughout the NT).

The bible does however teach sobriety. It warns of the dangers of alcohol abuse. We have all seen lives shipwrecked because of the abuses of alcohol. But it is a far cry to say there is no middle ground between abstinence and drunkenness. How many lives have been destroyed by adultery and fornication? Does scripture command abstinence? Of course not. Paul actually calls such teaching in I Tim 4:3 as a "doctrine of demons".

So back to the matter at hand. When we come to the text with a bias, then we are unable to accept the plain teaching of scripture because it violates our traditions (Mark 7:13 comes to mind). So now we are forced to cite extra-biblical literature from antiquity, construct a miracle that the bible didn't say Jesus performed, ignore the clear meaning of oinos throughout the NT, and finally (and most egregiously) feel the need to "defend" Jesus for something we cannot accept that He did.


Amen to this. Logical and Biblical. Idea
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12/15/18 9:50 pm


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Post Re: Your time machine.... Cojak
Link wrote:
...
If alcohol is like sex addition, we need to realize it is okay to have sex in the right context. Addiction to alcohol is a bad thing.

The Bible says God gave wine to make man's heart merry. Jesus turned water into wine. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake. Is it Biblical to say there is no benefit to drinking wine?

I like that Link Smile
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12/15/18 9:51 pm


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Post No amount is safe... spartanfan
from theguardian.com :

"Even the occasional drink is harmful to health, according to the largest and most detailed research carried out on the effects of alcohol, which suggests governments should think of advising people to abstain completely.

The uncompromising message comes from the authors of the Global Burden of Diseases study, a rolling project based at the University of Washington, in Seattle, which produces the most comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death in the world.

Alcohol, says their report published in the Lancet medical journal, led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability in the 15 to 49 age group, accounting for 20% of deaths.

Current alcohol drinking habits pose “dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today”, says the paper. “Alcohol use contributes to health loss from many causes and exacts its toll across the lifespan, particularly among men.”

Most national guidelines suggest there are health benefits to one or two glasses of wine or beer a day, they say. “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”

The study was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), who investigated levels of alcohol consumption and health effects in 195 countries between 1990 to 2016. They used data from 694 studies to work out how common drinking was and from 592 studies including 28 million people worldwide to work out the health risks.

Moderate drinking has been condoned for years on the assumption that there are some health benefits. A glass of red wine a day has long been said to be good for the heart. But although the researchers did find low levels of drinking offered some protection from heart disease, and possibly from diabetes and stroke, the benefits were far outweighed by alcohol’s harmful effects, they said.

Drinking alcohol was a big cause of cancer in the over-50s, particularly in women. Previous research has shown that one in 13 breast cancers in the UK were alcohol-related. The study found that globally, 27.1% of cancer deaths in women and 18.9% in men over 50 were linked to their drinking habits.

In younger people globally the biggest causes of death linked to alcohol were tuberculosis (1.4% of deaths), road injuries (1.2%), and self-harm (1.1%).

In the UK, the chief medical officer Sally Davies has said there is no safe level of drinking, but the guidance suggests that drinkers consume no more than 14 units a week to keep the risks low. Half a pint of average-strength lager contains one unit and a 125ml glass of wine contains around 1.5 units.

While the study shows that the increased risk of alcohol-related harm in younger people who have one drink a day is small (0.5%), it goes up incrementally with heavier drinking: to 7% among those who have two drinks a day (in line with UK guidance) and 37% for those who have five."

And..... people in the church are going apostate over the issue and calling wrong right and right wrong. Some preachers are like the blind leading the blind and falling into the ditch Total abstinence is not only the Church of God position but it is also the most practical, logical, spiritual and mature stance. We don't need it. It has zero benefits to offer. There are other beverages to drink that aren't associated with death, disease, divorce, child neglect and crime. I'm just saying......
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12/15/18 11:09 pm


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Post Cojak
This is the oddest thing, I have been reading posts and comments on ACTS a good while now. And I cannot remember a COG preacher advise anyone to drink alcohol. I have never read (as far as I remember) where a COG pastor suggested that members should drink or that they themselves drank alcohol. BUT I have read most say it is not good to drink, and that drink causes a multitude of problems.
What I have heard them say is that the scripture does not 'order' nor require total abstinence. I have read where they way that the wine WAS alcoholic.
For heaven's sake that is NOT advising ANYONE to drink.

I remember one minister saying he was enjoying a glass of Merlot while reading Acts, but he was not a COG pastor.

But as promised, we have some discussion on the subject again. And again we stated our position:" It ain't good to drink alcohol, but it ain't unlawful!"
OR "It was not REALLY WINE" Or "It was only good grape juice!"

Once and for all proving what the OP said...... Smile Smile Smile
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12/15/18 11:35 pm


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Post Re: No amount is safe... Dave Dorsey
spartanfan wrote:
And..... people in the church are going apostate over the issue and calling wrong right and right wrong. Some preachers are like the blind leading the blind and falling into the ditch Total abstinence is not only the Church of God position but it is also the most practical, logical, spiritual and mature stance. We don't need it. It has zero benefits to offer. There are other beverages to drink that aren't associated with death, disease, divorce, child neglect and crime. I'm just saying......

Holy cow dude. Just to be clear before I respond, are you saying that people who believe that the Bible permits consumption of alcohol in moderation are "going apostate" and "calling wrong right and right wrong"? Are you saying that teachers who say such are the blind leading the blind? I hope I'm misunderstanding here. Assuming I am, could you clarify what you mean here?
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12/16/18 1:06 am


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Post No responses to the text of my posts... spartanfan
The debate has been won when there are no responses to the rebuttal. The substance of the last couple of posts I've made (rather lengthy posts) has been ignored and instead the responses are to me and not the facts I pointed out. Nobody wants to talk about total abstinence being the most practical, logical, spiritual and mature choice concerning the issue. Instead they ignore the facts as presented and try to make me the issue. However, I will respond to your questions:


"Apostate concerning this issue" means (dictionary: adjective) "1.
abandoning a religious or political belief or principle."
I am not just implying but I am saying that some of those who once preached concerning the wise choice of total abstinence have abandoned this religious belief and principle. Yes, they are "apostate concerning this issue."

Am I saying they are like the blind leading the blind? Yes, they are deliberately blind concerning the "better choice" of total abstinence and are leading others in that way.


I hope this clears up my position in the matter for you. Now maybe you can refute my last couple of long posts and explain why you think it's more wise to advocate the consumption of alcoholic beverages (but I doubt seriously that you think that drinking is the wisest choice - you are probably just thrown back a bit by my strong language for those who once preached total abstinence but have "left their post" on this issue and caved to the permissive culture).
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12/16/18 7:42 am


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Post From the Assemblies of God - beliefs-topics - position spartanfan
I'm skipping down to the "New Testament" since we use it as our guide for proper Christian living.....

New Testament
As noted above, wine is mentioned much less frequently in the New Testament than in the Old. In the Gospels, the word oinos is found twenty-one times but concentrated in only thirteen verses, most being parallel sayings in two, sometimes three, of the Gospels. These passages reflect the viticulture and wine consumption of first-century societies which had little change since Old Testament times. Typically, they describe such actions as John the Baptist’s abstinence from wine (Luke 1:15; 7:33), Jesus’ refusal from the cross of wine mixed with gall/myrrh (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23), the antiseptic use mentioned in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:34), and Jesus’ apparently oft-repeated saying about new wine bursting old wineskins (Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37–3Cool, undoubtedly a truism of wine production and storage at the time. The overall impression is that of a largely agrarian society utilizing the products of the vineyard that played such a key role in life and commerce. And, as often documented in the writings of that era, the wine as usually consumed was commonly diluted by several parts.

Almost a third of the occurrences of oinos are concentrated in the record of the miracle at Cana where Jesus turned the water into wine (six times in John 2:3, 9, 10; 4:46). This miracle, the first “sign” in John’s Gospel, lay in that Jesus instantaneously turned demonstrably potable water into large quantities of what was judged by the unknowing master of the wedding feast to be the “best” (kalos) wine. The text is silent on the meaning of oinos in the John 2 passage. We believe the larger contextual interpretation is that Jesus would not have made a product that would be detrimental to the wedding guests.

The Last Supper narratives (Matthew 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–38; John 13) are also considered to be important texts in the study of wine use in the Gospels. Like other observant Jews, Jesus participated in drinking from the cup passed at those traditional Passover celebrations. Note Mark’s description of the event, “Then he [Jesus] took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it” (Mark 14:23). After this Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine [tou genēmatos tēs ampelou] until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). In this instance, rather than the usual term for wine (oinos), the phrase “fruit of the vine” is consistent with the prohibition against yeast or fermentation during the Passover week (Exodus 12:15,19–20; 13:7).

All the Gospel references to wine are historical accounts of events or sayings the writers were inspired to include in their writings. While the Gospels reflect practices of the period, there are no commands from Jesus that teach His followers to drink wine (unless His instructions to repeat the Last Supper are taken as such [Luke 22:17–20; 1 Corinthians 11:25–26]).

Surprisingly, there are very few references to wine in the New Testament epistles. Oinos is found only five times in the Pauline and General Epistles (Romans 14:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:8; 5:23; Titus 2:3), to be followed by eight occurrences in Revelation (6:6; 14:8,10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3,13; 19:15). Only one of these thirteen references affirms the use of wine, Paul’s directive to Timothy to “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23). In this case oinos is urged only for medicinal use since Timothy clearly has been abstaining from oinos and drinking only water (probably impure). All other references in the Epistles are cautionary, as in Paul’s imperative to the Ephesians, “Do not get drunk [methuskomai] on wine, which leads to debauchery” (5:18a). What is startling in the Revelation is that, other than two neutral references to wine as vintage (6:6) or cargo (18:13), wine is used metaphorically for either human sin or God’s final eschatological wrath.

What is also striking is the semantic range of the terms used throughout the New Testament to express the risks and abuse of wine. There are eight different words having to do with “drunkenness” found a total of twenty times in the New Testament,13 sometimes immediately joined with oinos as its correlate (as in Ephesians 5:18) but often standing separately to denote the shameful behavioral condition attributable to abuse of wine. Thus Jesus warned, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness [methē] and the anxieties of life” (Luke 21:34). Paul cautioned that neither “thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards [methusos] nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10). Peter dramatically expressed his concern in the General Epistles, “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness [oinophlygia], orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry (1 Peter 4:3). Certainly, neither Jesus nor the apostles assumed that all people fell into these categories but then, as now, alcohol abuse was a scourge that Christians must avoid and seek to alleviate.

Acts and the New Testament Epistles offer little insight into the use of wine in the early churches but do express a great deal of reserve about its potential for abuse. Paul severely chastised some of the Corinthian believers who were getting drunk at their love feasts where the Lord’s Supper was observed (1 Corinthians 11:20–21). In the Ephesians letter, he also pointedly charged, “Do not get drunk on wine [oinos], which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (5:1Cool.

Some have thought Paul’s previously noted admonition to Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine [oinos] because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23), to be approval of moderate drinking. However, Paul’s counsel was instead, as noted, a recommendation for medicinal use. Timothy was probably drinking only local water or other nonalcoholic liquids (likely impure). That he needed to be encouraged to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake certainly indicates that regular use of wine was not his lifestyle.

Some Basic Conclusions

The historic commitment of the Assemblies of God to abstinence is well founded, biblically and ethically. This paper has demonstrated the Scriptures overwhelming negative view of what the text clearly defines as a beverage with high alcohol content. The strongest drink possible in biblical times was not a modern fortified wine with 14–20 percent alcohol content, much less bourbon or tequila at 40–50 percent alcohol content, but naturally fermented wine or beer with a maximum possible alcohol content of 10–11 percent. A beverage with high alcohol content was identified by the Hebrew word shekar meaning strong drink. The Hebrew word for wine (yayin) could also be used to identify such a beverage when paired with shekar or when alcohol content is clearly in view (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29–33; 31:4–7). Scriptural warnings could be carefully observed through the common process of diluting fermented wine, which could produce a beverage that would have been categorized as subalcoholic by today’s standards. It is critical to note that the weakest wine or liquor available today has more alcohol content than the “strong drink” of biblical times; therefore, a strong biblical case can be made against even the moderate consumption of modern alcoholic beverages.

As all agree, drunkenness is always condemned in the Scriptures. Biblical stories of Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:20–27) and Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30–3Cool vividly show that intoxication often leads to tragic ends. God pronounces woe to those who run after their strong drink and are inflamed by wine (Isaiah 5:11,22). Drunkenness is listed by the apostle Paul among the “acts of the flesh,” and he declares that drunkenness will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10). He reminds the Corinthian believers that some of them were drunkards before they were washed and justified by Christ, implying that such behavior is to cease after salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11). The apostle Peter contrasts living the new life in Christ with running with former companions in drunken “wild living” (1 Peter 4:3–4). Drunkenness never has God’s approval and it is always a potential outcome of alcohol consumption.

There are specific dangers inherent in alcohol, against which the Bible gives clear warning. Alcohol tends to alter one’s judgment (Proverbs 31:4–5), frequently brings woe, sorrow, and strife (Proverbs 23:29), and can cause physical harm (Proverbs 23:29,35). It can lower one’s inhibitions, leading to shameful behavior, loose speech, promiscuity, and violence (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11; Romans 13:13). Alcohol is a mocker, a deceiver that leads people astray. “It goes down smoothly,” but “in the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31–32). So deceptive is it that one tends at first not to realize the harm it is doing (Proverbs 23:35).

While the Scriptures approvingly recount the stories of different individuals and groups who abstain from alcohol, they especially set a high standard for spiritual leaders (Judges 13; Jeremiah 35). The clear prohibition of Old Testament priests drinking wine while serving in the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 10:8–9), the vow of the Nazirite not to drink wine (Judges 13), the tradition of the Rekabites (Jeremiah 35), the examples of John the Baptist and Timothy—all have deep spiritual significance for today’s Christian leaders.

Abstinence is relevant to the whole priesthood of believers; those involved in the holy calling of ministry bear a special responsibility of example. In instructing his coworkers Timothy and Titus on the appointment of elders, Paul emphasized to both that Christian leaders are “not [to be] given to drunkenness” (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). The Greek noun Paul used is paroinos which denotes “one who is given to drinking too much wine,” hence “addicted to wine” or “drunkard.”14 Obviously, this is an area in which the Christian leader must exercise great discipline, setting a good example for all believers to follow and nonbelievers to respect.

Moderation: An Elusive Standard

Moderation is often recommended as an appropriate and desirable contemporary response to the biblical portrayal of wine consumption. However, the New Testament does not advocate moderate drinking. Nor does it explain how one is to know when moderation is being practiced. There is no universal definition of moderation and thus the term is highly subjective. What one person considers moderate, another may view as heavy drinking. To illustrate the uncertainty, one commonly accepted research definition of moderate drinking describes it as up to twelve to fourteen drinks per week for men (nine for women), and includes a blood alcohol concentration up to .055.15

Even with a well-intentioned and more disciplined practice of moderation, each user responds differently to alcohol. Though the legal limit for drunkenness is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08, various aspects of impairment may be present with a BAC as low as 0.02.16 Alcohol may be the socially acceptable drink of choice, but it is also the most addictive. The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center points out, “Alcoholism is not defined by what you drink, when you drink it, or even how much you drink. It’s the effects of your drinking that define a problem.”17 One person may use alcohol many times with seemingly no ill effects; another may overdose or become addicted after only a few drinks.

One should also keep in mind the genetic propensity toward alcoholism that some seem to inherit. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) advises that while various factors come into play “genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism.”18 The moderate drinker is naïve not to recognize the peril of addiction for themselves or those they influence. No one sets out to be an alcoholic. But with no reliable definition of moderation in Scripture or elsewhere, or with uncertain knowledge of one’s tolerance for alcohol, one may easily move from being a moderate to excessive drinker. Reportedly, 51 percent of American adults drink regularly19 and more than thirtyeight million binge drink about four times a month20 (not counting the rapidly growing population of underage drinkers). Few if any set out to be problem drinkers but alcohol consumption can indeed be a slippery slope.

Christian Liberty and “Moderation”

Those who champion moderation often do so in the name of Christian liberty. However, the apostle Paul twice reminds us that though all things may be permissible to us, not everything is beneficial or constructive (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23). Our choice of an action is not to be based simply on its being allowed, but on whether it edifies (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Some Corinthian believers thought they were spiritual because of knowledge they claimed to have and thought all believers should have as the basis for Christian behavior. They thought such knowledge “builds up.” Instead Paul told them that sometimes knowledge “puffs up” and destroys others. Rather than being spiritual, it leads to sinful pride. The Christian ethic of love always “builds up”—seeks the advantage of another (1 Corinthians 8:1–11; Philippians 2:1–5). However, in doing so the one who loves is also built up. True Christian liberty knows the joy to “honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). Christian liberty is the freedom to do the good thing and demonstrate spiritual maturity.

Love for Family

Love undergirds and energizes family life. Christ’s self-sacrificing love sets the tone for Spirit-filled living as Paul counsels family heads on the application of that love to their extended families (Ephesians 5:18 to 6:9). In a later text, he added that believers are to “learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family” (1 Timothy 5:4).

Children, especially, who often experience peer pressure to experiment with alcohol beginning in their preteens, need the loving counterinfluence of parents, “the number one influence on their decisions about alcohol.”21 Reportedly, “In homes where the parents were social drinkers, 66 percent of the children experimented with alcohol before adulthood.”22 In families where parents are alcoholics, children are far more likely to suffer abuse and are themselves four times more likely to become alcoholics.23 Moreover, studies report that one in four children who began using any addictive substance, including alcohol, before age eighteen become addicted.24 Children are far more likely to follow our example than merely our advice about alcohol.

Love for Christian Brothers and Sisters

“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall” (Romans 14:21). In his letters to the Roman and Corinthian churches, the apostle Paul writes nearly three chapters to explain that even though believers may have a personal understanding of things permissible to God, they must not allow that understanding to cause other brothers or sisters to stumble and fall (Romans 14, 15; 1 Corinthians 8). The circumstances and issues of Paul’s day may differ somewhat from our own, but the principle of sacrificial loving concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ remains. There are many in our churches who are offended by moderate drinking, believing that drinking alcoholic beverages is a sin. Others may be endangered by following a respected believer’s example of moderation that unintentionally becomes harmful and destructive to them. Still others may be hurt because the practice of moderation may make their own struggle with alcohol more difficult. Love always trumps preference—for we are still our brother’s keeper.

Love for Church

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). From its beginning the Church placed a premium on unity (Acts 2). Some of the harshest words of Scripture are written concerning those who for their own desires stir up strife and cause divisions between believers (Romans 16:17–1Cool. The apostle Paul, dealing with a contentious issue in the Corinthian church, acknowledged different viewpoints but pointed to the established tradition of the church on that particular point as their guide (1 Corinthians 11:16). In that same context, he severely rebuked the Corinthians for a contemptuous abuse of food and alcohol that marred their Lord’s Supper observances and led to the neglect and deprivation of fellow members (11:21).

The Church is about eternal issues. We are part of a church fellowship that has a century-old tradition of abstinence from alcohol that has been gleaned from the Scriptures and practical experience. We easily forget that innumerable converts among us have been dramatically delivered from alcoholism and its dreadful consequences for themselves and their families. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification” rather than disrupting the work of God for the sake of a personal preference (Romans 14:19–20).

Love for Society

The second commandment flowing directly from the first, to love God, is, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Christ followers are to be “salt” and “light” in the world (Matthew 5:13–16). So God’s Word reminds us in many ways that we are also to work for a just and healthy society. Paul taught, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10). Peter added, “Live such good lives among the pagans [‘non-Christians,’ NET] that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12). As accountable citizen-believers and agents of health and healing, we are responsible to critically evaluate the impact of alcohol use (and other potentially harmful practices) on our society.

Approximately seventeen million Americans have what the NIAA designates “an alcohol use disorder.”25 The annual cost to American society of alcohol misuse problems was estimated at $249 billion in 2010. Annually about eighty-eight thousand deaths are alcohol related.26 About thirty people die daily because of an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every forty-eight minutes.27 Alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of the three million violent crimes which occur each year.28

Alcohol is a pernicious danger to our children and a scourge on college and university campuses. Annually, it is estimated that 1,825 students ages eighteen to twenty-four die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including car crashes. Nearly seven hundred thousand students are assaulted by other students, including nearly one hundred thousand victims of alcohol-related sexual assault and date rape.29 Suicide is the tenthleading cause of death in the United States (third-leading cause for ages fifteen to twenty-four) and one-third tested positive for alcohol.30 Thirty-nine percent of high school students drink regularly and an estimated 1 in 10 high school seniors are extreme binge drinkers. Alcohol abuse in the teen years may impair healthy brain development.31 And, not least, alcohol is now considered to be the gateway drug to tobacco, marijuana, and other licit and illicit drugs.32

Love for Self

Jesus implicitly taught healthy self-regard when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19). Consciously rejecting self-indulgent narcissism, believers are to nurture their own physical and spiritual lives in keeping with the teachings of Scripture. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and instruments for doing God’s service (1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 6:13).

Therefore, it is important to ask, “What are the effects of alcohol usage (and other lifestyle indulgences) for the believer’s personal health and Christian service?” Consumption of alcoholic beverages is known to be associated with ailments including stroke, hypertension, heart disease, pancreatitis, liver disease, immune system disorders, and various cancers. Some optimistically believe that moderate drinkers will not experience adverse health effects from alcohol but cautions abound. For example, while recognizing limited benefits of moderate drinking, the Harvard School of Public Health also addresses the “dark side of alcohol” and states, “If you don’t drink, there’s no need to start. You can get similar benefits with exercise (beginning to exercise if you don’t already or boosting the intensity and duration of your activity) or healthier eating.”33 The Mayo Clinic, also noting there may be limited benefits of moderate drinking, is similarly cautious: “Certainly, you don't have to drink any alcohol, and if you currently don't drink, don't start drinking for the possible health benefits. In some cases, it's safest to avoid alcohol entirely—the possible benefits don’t outweigh the risks.”34

A more recent and unusually comprehensive international study of the effects of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular health co-led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania challenges even the limited benefits of moderate consumption. One of the lead researchers reports, “Contrary to what earlier reports have shown, it now appears that any exposure to alcohol has a negative impact upon heart health.” 35

To the physical risks are added mental and emotional concerns, especially depression. One who starts out drinking moderately never knows where alcohol may take them.

Abstinence and Spiritual Formation

There are specific, ethical principles of attitude and behavior throughout the Bible which should also guide our life choices, and which, we believe, should lead to abstinence. For Christians, the foundational ethical principle that pervades every step in our spiritual formation is love.

Given the wide-ranging implications of alcohol use and abuse today, there are few issues that loom larger in one’s spiritual formation. The believer’s commitment to either abstinence or moderation should not be based only upon the Scripture verses that deal with ancient wine use. Given the obvious and much publicized dangers of current alcohol consumption, as well as biblical cautions about the dangers of alcohol, Christian believers must carefully and prayerfully examine their own motives and attitudes. Does moderate drinking really contribute to the mature spirituality and engaging witness taught in the Scriptures? Does drinking enhance the believer’s personal and private life? Is it worth the publicly acknowledged risks? Given the price of alcoholic beverages, is the expense a wise application of Christian stewardship?

An Affirmation of Abstinence

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking” (Romans 12:2, The Message). To abstain means to voluntarily choose to avoid. It is a choice, not a commandment. The question we should ask ourselves is not “Can a Christian drink?” but “Should a Christian drink?”

Abstinence is the biblical choice. The Bible clearly warns of the perils of alcoholic beverages and negatively views the consumption of what the context clearly describes as a beverage with high alcohol content. Failure to take seriously those warnings has resulted in untold heartache, misery, and ruin. Unnecessary self-indulgence for a fleeting pleasure may eventuate in unacceptable costs to the individual, the family, and the society at large. Moderation may seem a harmless, private indulgence, but may become a very public detrimental influence.

Abstinence is the wise choice. The tragic results of alcoholism will never come to the one who never takes the first drink. Where alcohol is avoided, drunken abuse will not pull a family apart. A church that teaches and practices abstinence should compassionately rescue those bound by alcohol, but also faithfully warn others of its subtle dangers. Prevention is always better than cure.

Abstinence is a moral choice. It glorifies God, protects the individual, honors fellow believers, preserves families, unifies the church, and blesses society. Abstinence reflects both the direct and indirect moral principles of the Word of God. Abstinence is not moral legalism but Christian discipleship, which inherently involves self-denial in following Christ. “The underlying sensibility is taking care of your neighbor, taking care of your family, trying to be a good role model, and not being a stumbling block.”36 Abstinence is not grounded in legalism, but in the highest moral attribute of love.

Therefore the Assemblies of God reaffirms its position of abstinence from alcoholic beverages. This position should be proclaimed boldly and clearly throughout our Fellowship, yet humbly and lovingly in faithful ministry to all.
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12/16/18 8:00 am


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