Dear Pastor Mike Dean of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas,
As you use the pulpit to work out salvation, please allow me to use a blog. (Phil. 2:12,13)
Your sermon last week alienates a wealth of people in your congregation that might now think something is wrong with them because they like wine. And it is a shame that a sermon on 1 Peter and God's grace moved into un-biblical rule making when there are plenty of valid "don't(s)" in the chapter already.
Many of my friends attend your church and are concerned, so I thought I'd drill down into the matter. Furthermore, I enjoy breaking bread with my friends from your church and we have enjoyed some fantastic vintage wines together. We will continue to do so.
I attend Wedgwood Baptist Church where Al Meredith has made it clear that forbidding the drinking of 'alcohol' is not biblical, he does not drink, but does not lay this burden on his congregation.
You may have not considered that there is a better educated generation that studies their Bibles and can discern that your call to abstinence is wrong. Such rule making was something that Christ spoke against to the religious leaders of his day.
I have reviewed your transcript and will refer to it so the reader can also discern Truth.
1 Peter 4:2 (NIV) - As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human
desires, but rather for the will of God.
You ask us to no longer follow human desires.
"1 Peter 4:3 (NIV) - For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do…In other words, You’ve spent enough time on that road with those kinds of companions. Get off of that road.”
We'll hope that you chose your words wrong and meant to say we should leave a pagan lifestyle, but we'll beg you did not mean: now leave our beloved pagan friends whose lives we can now impact with our change.
You tell us we should not "run" in the "flood of dissipation". For certain, but you should not be so bold as to tell us to remove these people from our lives. Does the Holy Spirit not give us the power to resist such things? Did Jesus not associate with such people?
You then remind us of their destiny, our pagan friends:
"God is watching. They think they’re getting away with something. But no one will escape this final judgment of the words and works of his earthly life. When Christ returns some will still be alive, others will have already died, but God will judge the living and the dead."
This is exactly why I do not want to leave them, out of my love for them and a desire to make Christ known.
You then define further from 1 Peter 4:3 the six fold description of a pagan lifestyle: Debauchery, Lust, Drunkenness, Orgies, Carousing and Detestable Idolatry.
No argument. But then you get silly.
You describe the scene of a bunch of men that just clinched a playoff position opening champagne bottles in a locker room a spraying it around in celebration. Maybe you've never played on a team with men before. You then site, Josh Hamilton as a "committed Christian", as if other men in the locker room may not have been, as going to a church service with the Oakland A's. Shall I go to a church service after every success in my business? Should I leave the very people I live life together with and separate myself? Is it not a win for us all?
You called it a "champagne bash". What a misguided representation of a celebration. Then this is your next sentence after describing the "champagne bash". "The picture here is of people who are drinking and getting drunk and the immoral sexual activity that goes with that...at the heart of drinking and drunkenness."
Shame on you Dr Dean for equating a celebration of a men's sports team, where I assure most of them had all but a swig of celebration champagne, and you make it out to be something demonic.
Please consider the words from Ecclesiastes 8:16:
So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
You then state, "I have to come to the conclusion that in this day in time and in our culture that the wisest course for a believer is simply to abstain from alcohol period."
You then said, "There are believers who argue that you can't make a biblical case for abstaining from the use of wine, beer and other kids of alcoholic beverages. I happen to believe you can make a biblical case for it."
It is clear that drunkenness is a sin Dr Dean, but not the consumption of wine or beer or a shot of whiskey. Our Lord drank wine and to think otherwise would be silly. He was called a glutton and drunkard not because he was one, but because of the company he kept.
John the Baptist did not drink wine (oinos in the Greek) or any other form of alcohol because it was prophesied that he wouldn’t (Luke 1:15). However, Jesus Christ did drink oinos (wine) (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). Jesus did not preach against the use of wine; instead he did like most other Jews of his day. He drank wine in moderation. In ancient times it was normally diluted with water for drinking, and was one of the principal beverages in Palestine at that time—as it is today.
Jesus’ first miracle was to change water into wine (oinos). Some people who preach total abstinence claim that this miracle was to turn water into grape juice. Nonsense! Imagine if you can an elaborate Jewish wedding banquet where everyone drank only grape juice! (The ancients did not have refrigeration or any other method of preventing grape juice from fermenting.)
On this occasion Christ turned six jars of 20 or 30 gallons each into wine (oinos). This was no small miracle. This wine was of the finest quality—“You have kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). At such wedding feasts, after people had drunk the better wine, the hosts brought out lesser-quality wines.
Jesus gave a parable involving the fermenting process of oinos in Matt. 9:17. At that time, instead of having metal or glass bottles to enclose wine, the skins of animals were used. The fermentation of the wine would break an old inelastic skin, but it would not break a new stretchable skin.
Another proof that oinos is fermented wine is the fact that the apostle Paul said, “Be not drunk with wine [oinos]” (Eph. 5:18). Paul did not mean to avoid getting drunk on grape juice! Paul instructed Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine [oinos] for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23). He said to use only a little wine, not a whole lot. The purpose of this wine was Timothy’s frequent stomach ailments; small amounts of wine can help some stomach problems.
Some of the Corinthians Christians were getting drunk at the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:21). They were using fermented wine, probably following the example that Paul had set for them. Paul did not tell them that they were using the wrong kind of wine. He simply told them to eat and drink at home, and to participate in the Lord's Supper in a respectful way. In Romans 14:21, Paul says that it is good not to drink wine or eat meat if it offends a weak brother. He is referring to fermented wine; grape juice wouldn't offend anyone. The implication is that there's nothing wrong with the wine in itself, only if it offends a weak brother. Is everyone in your church offended? Of course not.
Another use of wine that has been recognized for millennia is the antiseptic qualities of wine. The germ-killing qualities of wine are greater than the same proportion of alcohol in water – and a good natural wine is not as damaging to the flesh as some strong antiseptics are.
Jesus showed he knew the benefits of wine as an antiseptic when he gave the parable of the good Samaritan. In this case a man had been injured and had a severe wound. The good Samaritan “bound up his wounds, pouring in [olive] oil and wine [oinos]” (Luke 10:34). The oil mollified or softened the flesh; the wine helped kill bacteria.
Wine has been shown to help with preventing heart issues and help circulation. A small glass of red wine is recommended daily by my doctor to improve my health. I cite a source (The Mayo Clinic): http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089
But then you don't make a case for your Biblical stance except the references to drunkenness in 1 Peter. You then again state your opinions. "I" is relative in your next statements.
"I think it's foolish to support the liquor industry which is directly responsible for tens of 1000s of deaths and ruined lives every year. I think it’s foolish to gamble that I won’t become addicted to it. They tell us that a significant number of people become addicted after the first drink. So why take the first drink? I think it’s foolish to put a stumbling block before a weaker brother who thinks because I do it, it’s OK for them to do it. I think it’s foolish to bring my Christian witness into question where a person seeing me having what may only be an occasional beer, when they don’t know but that it’s an everyday habit for me. I think it’s foolish to send the message to a child or a teenager that drinking alcohol, even in moderation, is OK."
You used "I" and now so will "I".
You sound like a democrat Dr Dean. Blame and industry for the ills of man?
Shall we blame Smith and Wesson for the deaths of millions because they make guns?
Shall we blame pigs for the thousands that have died because they ate bacon and had a heart attack?
Shall we blame car makers for all auto accidents?
I think foolish that you would blame an industry for the deaths of tens of 1000s. Individuals chose to drink and drive. individuals chose to drink until they have alcohol poisoning. Individuals Dr Dean, not the liquor industry.
I went to the liquor store today to buy some champagne. I had the opportunity to bless the woman behind the counter. Not sure how many people might see the liquor store as a field of ministry, but it is, and unless you’re buying wine or beer it's hard to go there.
You say "they tell us a significant number of people become addicted after one drink". Who is they? Why the generics? If you want to cite something in the pulpit be accurate and provide support.
You hold the Rangers baseball team at fault for not helping a weaker brother. The Rangers is not a Christian organization. Why would we expect them to understand such Christian teachings? And, if we are not amongst them, how can we encourage them to do something different? To be something different?
You worried that if someone sees you drinking a beer that they might think you have a drinking problem? Well you worried about all the wrong things.
I should not teach my child moderation when it comes to wine? I guess I should forbid it so I can help increase its allure. No sir. I teach my children that anything in excess is bad. Wine, cookies, TV, leisure, work. A Christian life is a life of moderation in all things.
Dr Dean you have a pulpit and I have a blog. I hope people will consider both presentations and that the Holy Spirit will guide them to Truth.
You are wrong to forbid alcohol. This is a very Pharisaical approach. You should be teaching moderation and control, not abstinence and retreat.
There are many men I have known that would never come into a church building to hear about God, but they would sit down and have a beer with me and talk about God. Some of those men now go to a local church today, where before, they never would. It all started with a beer and a conversation.
Do not encourage your followers to make rules that don't exist. Encourage them to lead a controlled life and to be amongst the pagans like Jesus was. And may they, like him, get the reputation of a drunkard and glutton by association just as our Lord did.
Tell them to follow the Bible and "not be given to much wine" 1 Tim 3:8
The transcript to Dr Michael Dean's sermon: http://travis.isphere.com/faith-factor/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/100310.pdf
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