Baptists and Alcohol

Bible and AlcoholLet’s be clear about one thing: Scripture does not forbid the use of alcohol.  Rather, it forbids the exessive use of alcohol to the point of drunkenness (Gal. 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:3).

So where did teetotalism come from amoung Baptists?

Well, readers would be surprised to learn that at one point Baptists use to consume alcohol, wine, and so on.

Total abstinence is as recent as the 1800s.  There’s nothing in church history to disprove this.

Baptists who insist on teetotalism cannot escape the fact that Jesus turned water into wine, and that Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to stop drinking water alone, but to use wine to help his stomach ailments.

Neither am I trying to promote the use of alcohol consumption here.  But to force Scripture to say something that it doesn’t is wrong.

So when Baptist leaders says that “there’s no place for use of alcohol for followers of Christ,” it’s because they’re intoxicated (pun intended) with their own zeal and tradition, not Scripture.

Now while Scripture doesn’t call for teetotalism, the follower of Christ must employ wisdom and sound judgment, in this matter.

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6 Responses to Baptists and Alcohol

  1. Colin says:

    Exactly. Some may be teetotal for good medical reasons, including recovery from alcohol addiction. But otherwise abstinence must be a life choice, something you come to in your own walk with God. . We can surely affirm and respect each other’s calling. I said as much last Sunday when preaching from Romans 14

    My younger brother, a Baptist minister (BUGB) for some years came to make that personal choice over 30 years ago. He does seems to have relaxed it slightly in recent years. But his son’s wedding in July was “dry” as had his own been in 1985. I emphasise BUGB because we do have the Grace Baptist group which is much more strictly Calvinistic and separatist. I have no idea if they have a denominational stand.

    One of my wife’s cousins ins married to a Methodist minister. He has commented that Alcohol is not allowed on any Methodist church premises in the UK (does not usually apply in Local Ecumenical shared buildings). And at one time it was forbidden in the ministers’ manses.

  2. Jon Hughes says:

    I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, etc. Obviously, each individual believer has to make a decision for themselves. Excessive alcohol consumption is not one of my many weaknesses. For others, teetotalism is the right option. But there’s a broader theological issue here. Is God’s creation good? Have these things been provided for our enjoyment? Or is life now, as well as on the new earth, to be characterised by priggish, restrictive behaviour? Personally, I’m looking forward to having a beer with Martin Luther.

  3. TC Robinson says:

    Colin, you and Jon have made some of the same pionts here. I appreciate what you guys have to say. But it’s these “absolutes” among some Baptist leaders over here that is troubling. Yes, 100% agree that there are those who do not need to consume alcohol at all. They should run from it.

    Jon, that makes two of us. But you said what I was thinking. 😉

  4. Lon Hetrick says:

    Well said, TC. Those who make rules like this and manipulate Scripture to support it could learn a thing or two about the freedom of conscience described in the New Testament, and warnings against binding the conscience captured in the Westminster Confession, chapter 20:

    “2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.”

    As a former Pentecostal holiness-type, I am glad for my freedom in Christ to decide when/if to consume alcohol. I still don’t drink much at all, but it’s a matter of personal taste, not holiness.

    • TC Robinson says:

      Lon, thanks for this well-stated and informed comment. I pray that some of my own denominational leaders would come to this same recognition as these Westminster divines. Thanks.

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