November 25, 2020

Riffs: 7:17:06

riffs.jpgDavid Wayne keeps writing like this, I can just link my “Christian Humanism” category right to him. It’s interesting to me that He is reacting to Piper-esque language a bit, just as I did in my original posts on that topic. I think the incarnation is long overdue to be given generous consideration as the center of Christian theology. The light that shines from the incarnation illuminates God, humanity and every aspect of life. We are human only in reference to God, and the incarnation means we only understand God in reference to our humanity. Read this post and let’s hope David has more in line.

True to my prediction, one of the Reformed Baptist watchbloggers is now hard after that well-known threat to the Gospel…..Luther. It’s about time. Will the LCMS watchblogs refight the reformation with this challenger? Stay tuned.

Paige Patterson’s Baptist Press column on the Bible’s teaching on alcohol probably won’t get the response that it deserves because most of the younger SBC bloggers are weary from this topic. It’s amazing that so many of the SBC establishment want this to be a hill to die on. Of course, it was a huge part of my life, and I was so steeped in the approach Patterson takes in this blog that I was far more offended by my friend’s dad drinking a beer after mowing the lawn than I was any sin I ever committed.

Patterson has the whole issue concluded, and then takes the inevitable turn down the cultural no-no cul-de-sac.

In strict fairness, one must acknowledge that the ancients, however noble, imbibed without reluctance. Evidently the prophets and the apostles did not view this as wrong, so long as it was a small glass of wine (see varieties Nos. 1, 2 or 4 mentioned above) taken with the noon or evening meal. These wines, of course, were locally produced.

At this point, however, a significant difference exists between what is permissible and what is best for the child of God….

Then, when dealing with the key text of Jesus miracle of turning water into wine, Patterson shows me why the Battle for the Bible is apparently still being fought. (Bold mine)

In Jesus’ miracle at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), one can neither affirm with certainty that Jesus turned the water into a non-intoxicating wine nor that He drank no wine Himself. But the following evidences cannot be easily bypassed:

— The text nowhere indicates that Jesus participated. Either way the argument is from silence.

— The governor of the feast obviously was able to identify “good wine” by tasting it, indicating that there was no intoxication on his part. On the other hand, by the governor’s own testimony, by the last stages of such a feast participants generally had their senses sufficiently dulled so that they could not differentiate between good and bad wine. Was this feast different? Is this why Jesus agreed to attend?

From a standpoint of logic, the “oinos” that Jesus produced was more likely pure, rather than fermented, grape juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure. Also, there was no time for fermentation to take place subsequent to the miracle. Furthermore, the ancients always acknowledged that the best “oinos” was the unfermented “oinos,” i.e., that which came from the initial mixing of the grapes.

— The accusation that Jesus, in contrast to John, was a socialite, a glutton, and a winebibber is manifestly void of foundation (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). Because Jesus enjoyed social contacts and openly mingled with the people, some assumed that He had a propensity for food and drink. If Jesus had been a winebibber, He must have also been guilty of gluttony, which is clearly identified as a sin. In fact, Jesus was neither, and again there is no evidence that He drank “oinos” or anything other than the fresh, natural fruit of the vine.

How did we wind up talking about whether Jesus was intoxicated? And “from a standpoint of logic”?

John Piper could teach our SBC wise men something on this issue: 1) The Bible does not condemn moderate use. 2) The warnings convince Piper to be a teetotaler on principles other than statements about wine itself. 3) He fears legalism more than having a few people drinking a glass of wine.

Someone raise a glass- of Welch’s- to that.


  1. …since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure.

    My response to this idea that it could not have been fermented is simply to remind people that when Jesus fed the 5,000, he created fish that were…….already dead and cooked!

    This idea that God can only create new, pure things ignores the need of the moment in which the miracle takes place.

    steve 🙂

  2. I’ve been convinced that moderation was the biblical way ever since I was a young Christian. I therefore grew up in my faith with no hang-ups at all about this issue.

    It therefore has come as a surprise to discover in the last 6-9 months that the world’s largest evangelical organisation, the SBC, is still hung up on the issue of alcohol. As I have read post after post from various bloggers I have begun to discern a pattern of argument from those who believe in abstinence.

    What is almost always present is a failure to address those biblical passages that support the drinking of wine. As a believer who adheres to Sola Scriptura, I believe that, ultimately it is the bible that determines what we should believe and how we act, not fine sounding arguments.

    But by coming up with fine sounding arguments and failing to address the bible’s teaching, these advocates implicitly undermine the authority of scripture and elevate both the authority of the church leader and the denomination. This comes across in arguments like “John MacArthur thinks drinking alcohol is sinful” and “The SBC has taken a historic stand against the consumption of alcohol” – as though Macarthur and the SBC can never be wrong.

    So, in this regards, the SBC is essentially being Roman Catholic, relying upon the authority of the priest and the church rather than upon scripture.

    The use of exegetical and philosophical hula-hoops (such as that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure) aare classic examples of people desperately trying to fit the bible around a preconceived idea. It is not the result of inductive bible study but eisegesis, pure and simple.

    Moreover, these teachers also tend to rely upon the biblical ignorance of their supporters. The most biblically-based arguments on this issue come from those who are against enforced abstinence. I have occasionally read responses from “anonymous” blog lurkers who support enforced abstinence – and almost always they use emotional language as they attack their opponents and fail to use the bible properly, if at all. There’s also the “you must be really arrogant to think you know better than these godly and intelligent men that God has given to lead us” argument, which, as I have already pointed out, is simply a reversion to Roman Catholicism.

  3. Great point, Steve. And if “loaves” is an accurate translation for whatever bread went along with those dead and cooked fish, it seems likely that the yeast had done its lovely fermenting thing and caused the flour and water to rise INTO loaves before they were baked.

  4. I can think of a much more direct example than the loaves and fishes, not only touched by decay but the very thing toward which all decay tends: dirt. When God made the world in the first place, that creation included dirt, which we know because Adam was made from it and because plants had something to grow in.

  5. True to my prediction, one of the Reformed Baptist watchbloggers is now hard after that well-known threat to the Gospel…..Luther. It’s about time. Will the LCMS watchblogs refight the reformation with this challenger?

    Nah. It looks like Surphing is only going after “Lutherns”, not Lutherans. Lutherns are a bunch of heretics. They deserve everything they get. 😉

    Seriously though, Michael, Surphing’s attitude towards Luther’s teachings on Baptism (and indeed the “Sacrament of the Alter” (sic), of which “a treatment … is forthcoming, hopefully” – can’t wait!) does at least take the differences between the Lutheran and Baptist positions seriously. While she slightly misunderstands/misrepresents the Lutheran teaching, at least she recognises that Lutherans do actually believe this stuff about baptismal regeneration and the real presence, and that it’s pretty central to us. Some other evangelicals seem to regard it as a minor aberration, a marginal error that is to some degree compensated for by our belief in justification by faith.

  6. John:

    I’d always give the discernment watchblogs high marks for knowing the differences between themselves and other Christians. At least when you are being exiled from the body of Christ for not being a Reformed Baptist, you’re being appreciated for what you really believe.

    The problems with these people are many, but one of the largest is that they don’t believe in the church catholic. They believe in the smallest of small circles.

    I’d also wager that Surphing would say Luther denies Sola Fide.

  7. Jeff Lee says

    Good post, Michael. I read the entire column by Patterson and must say IMHO I thought it was pretty embarassing. And I’m a teetotaler. I won’t do a line by line rebuttal but, wow, that’s weak even by my standards.

    Hang in there.

  8. I’m stupified. Not stupid–exactly–but amazed. I swear I did not know that there were large groups of people–the SBC–of all people–that want to twist and turn the scriptures so that the Bible will say what they already believe. Tee-total for any number of reasons but not because Jesus did not make ‘real’ wine.

    Tell me this, please. When do these people get out and do real ministry? I’m not talking about going door to door to ask complete strangers whether or not iftheydiedtonightdotheyknowthattheywillgotoheaven. I’m not talking about going to non-american parts of the world to give impressive altarcalls to convert the heathern. I’m talking about ministry–snidely called good works in some circles–feeding the sick, clothing the prisoners, visiting the hungry. Well, you get the idea.

    Let me guess: before ministry counts, we have to be able to agree that whoever is doing the ministry is playing by the right rules? If somebody wants to have a glass of wine for dinner does that disqualify him from ministry? For centuries now women have been sent to the mission field when it was inconvenient for men to go. So, ministry for her was ok as long as she was not discerning her call to pastor. What about gays and lesbians who are answering their own call to minister to the sick, dying, imprisoned, hungry, naked, church-deprived–in the name of Jesus, the Son of God.

    I am obviously NOT SBC and this might should disqualify me from commenting but I’m guessing that other denominations are quibbling over how to cross their eyes to find Waldo in their own Bibles. That might be ok as a hobby. But, while church leaders are quibbling over grape stomping God is going to raise up ministers who aren’t afraid to smell like the lost.

  9. If the church would only spend as much time doing ministry as it does trying to keep others out of heaven (the blog post condeming Luther reeked of Landmarkerism) and inventing new sins with which to enslave people, what could we accomplish?

  10. Dolan McKnight says

    Let’s see,Jesus didn’t create fermented wine at Cana because it was not “pure.” And the governor of the feast was not drunk, so it must have been a teetotaling Baptist wedding. Then what is the meaning of the governor’s statement? “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” “Good wine” must be intoxicating, so that the guests cannot distinguish that the “worse wine” is of poorer quality.

    I also did not realize that Jesus refused the vinegar on the cross as a statement of abstinence, which certainly must have been on his mind at the time. It is just as likely that he was showing us he was a wine connoiseur!

  11. It still occasionally boggles my mind that people really honestly believe — heck, that *I* once really honestly believed — that the Christian faith sprung up as a completely and totally new thing with Jesus, with only the most tenuous of links to all that preceded it, that all of those first-century folks understood the new way of doing things with very little recorded instruction, and that it was all somehow lost shortly after the book of Acts only to be recovered most perfectly in the late-20th/early-21st century by US!

    Yeah, it sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet…

  12. Anyway, I’m completely unsurprised that baptist-types go after Luther and Lutherans. Calvin’s next. Heck, everybody between Paul and Spurgeon got it all wrong, if you look closely enough, and Spurgeon had an unfortunate smoking habit, and Paul drank — oops!

    The more interesting bit to me is the standard used for judgement. I see no recognition of a difference between what is explicitly stated in Scripture and what is reasoned from Scripture. As an Anglican, I recognize the profound problems that can lead to, but I guess if you’re not denying the Resurrection, it’s okay to assume and pre-decide and redefine in order to make a point, right?

    But hey, baptism is a “work” and negates dependence on God’s grace, and has for a thousand years. The speech we use to pray, on the other hand, is not a work. Somehow. The vocal chords vibrate themselves, or God vibrates them, in a way that somehow bypasses our brains. Of course, God doesn’t do that in a way that gets us wet.

    Wait a minute, how can baptism be considered a work when an infant is involved? The infant does nothing at all, not moving toward the water, nor speaking a prayer. Perhaps infant baptism is the most pure expression of salvation by grace alone there could be!

    And yes, I’m being sarcastic to make a point. It’s irony. If a random “Reformed” Baptist can speak where Scripture is silent, so can I, right?

  13. “I grew up in the Charismatic movement, but God delivered me out of it,and I thank Him for that. My heart is to show other believers the error of various movements(e.g. the Word Of Faith, Seeker Friendly, and Emergent Church movements) as well as warn people about false teachers”

    Wow! That profile sure beats the heck out of mine! (“married. no kids”. . . etc) As a Baptist who has married an LCMS girl, we seem to be doing quite fine on the Baptism. Then again, we are “married. No kids.”

  14. BTW as I am rather new to this site, I dig the Thelonious Monk poster thing on the sidebar.

  15. Patterson did miss that one pesky section from Psalm 104:
    “You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.”

  16. Phil Walker says

    Michael: Your wager needs adjudication. I can’t decide whether this is a claim of denial or denial of a claim.

    And remember this, both Rome and Luther claim salvation by grace alone through faith alone. However, they add works to that grace. Therefore such a claim is empty.

    Beats me, maybe she didn’t read the bit about faith latching onto the promises of God in baptism? She quoted it herself.

    tmscot01: you may want to read the comment thread to Surphing’s post. Just reeking of Landmarkism isn’t enough, she goes on to claim that

    There were true believers outside of Rome and prior to the Reformation … that DID get it right

    and argues that the Reformation failed because Rome didn’t reform.

    I’m off to get her to answer to her insinuation that holding baptism in contempt isn’t sin. Still an’ all, I want to see her do Calvin. I need a laugh.

  17. A Quick Thought says

    Phil (and anyone else tempted to have a rational discussion with our Reformed Baptist friend),

    Good luck getting an answer out of Denise at Surphing. I asked her to make an effort — any effort — to understand Luther’s definitions of terms and pressed her to get the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church so that she could at least start to understand sacramental theology by looking up definitions (apart from my very basic attempts at explanation).

    In response I was called a “High Faluten”[sic], which is evidently anyone who demands any kind of precision, logic, or clarity in their theological conversation. Now, I’m a decently-read layman and nothing more, so I don’t know how I fit into her special ‘evil seminarian’ category, but evidently I do.

    In the end she deleted several of my posts and banned me from the comments. All for asking basic, honest, clear questions and suggesting that she just might not understand what Luther had in mind when he penned the words she was attacking. Guess she don’t want no one with no edjeekayshun ‘splainin’ nuttin’ ’bout that thar hereetic Luther. 🙂

    Thankfully, she left up her reponses to me–the ones where she opens up wide and inserts her foot all the way back to her tonsils. Yes, they are mostly non sequiturs in relation to what I had posted, but they still reveal that she is clueless. Funny stuff indeed.

    In hindsight, it probably did make her mad when I added a P.S. to a post that said: “Herr Doktor Luther called. He said he wants his Solas back, especially Sola Scriptura. He says you’re abusing them horribly!” But by that point I already realized I was getting nowhere with her.

    Best of luck,

  18. Robert Webber writes in his book, The Younger Evangelical:

    “The fundamentalist school where I was educated did not have a philosophy department because ‘all you need is the Bible.’ They offered one course in philosophy to meet state requirements for students in the educational department. . . The opening lecture of the course always dealt with Paul’s statement in Col. 2:8 ‘see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which dependson human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.’ No attempt was made to put this verse in the context of Hellenistic philosophical thought or in relationship to the growing threat of first-century Gnostism. It was treated as a blanket statement against the study of all philosophy, a stance that would be taken in that course to teach how the study of philosophy was a waste of time”

  19. A Quick Thought says

    Well, that was a good discussion. Not.

    Denise at SurphSide has now completely closed the comments on her silly little tirades (Part I and Part II) against Luther as of this evening–probably because people actually made good points, were supporting Luther’s words with Scripture and basic theological reasoning, and were asking the right (hard) questions. They were also beginning to show her that she was implicating Calvin by extension of her own anti-sacramental arguments.

    Why on earth was she reading Luther in the first place?! That’s what I can’t figure out. After all, his writings are clearly not a part of the Bible. Why would she have any interest at all? He was most definitely a “High Faluten” [sic] with university training and everything. He was even a professor (gasp!). Oh the horror! 🙂

    In all seriousness: Keep up the good work, iMonk. You’re spot-on so often, it’s truly amazing.