Saturday, November 28, 2009

Riders of Fauxhan

My bro-in-law and I made some music this weekend. We call ourselves the "Riders of Fauxhan." Check it out and download it if you like...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blogging Sabbatical

I am sending myself on blogging sabbatical. This week has been about papers and homework so far, tomorrow we are heading to Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving with Rebekah's family, and then we have finals week.

I had hoped to finish my "Christians and Alcohol" series, but recently I have found myself discouraged by the endeavor for various reasons. If it works out, I will draw some conclusions in a couple of weeks.

See you soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Abstinence Is Not Righteousness

So far we have looked briefly at our context concerning alcohol, what is and what is not sin concerning alcohol, and the fact that Christians must consider their brothers and sisters higher than their right to drink alcohol.

In "Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin" I mentioned that there is an instance where Mark Drisoll's scenario would be valid. To remind you of the situation, he was "studying the Scriptures for a sermon about Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine, as reported in John's gospel, a miracle that Jesus performed when he was about my age. My Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol. So in repentance I drank a hard cider over lunch with our worship pastor."

Alright, we already showed that not drinking alcohol at face-value is definitely not a sin. That notion is totally unfounded. But there is another dimension to consider: the dimension of self-righteousness.

[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

There are some among us who abstain from alcohol and consider themselves righteous because of it. This is silly. And I do not want this to be a point you gloss over. If you exalt yourself, even in your own heart, because you abstain from alcohol, you are in sin.

Now, the proper response is not to go and drink a hard cider like Driscoll; that will absolve you of approximately nothing. Rather, the proper response would be to repent; ask God to lay your heart bare and uproot the self-righteousess that you may have concerning alcohol. If having a drink of alcohol will help remove this self-righteousness, so be it (just make sure to consider those around you as we have already talked about). But again, the act does not justify you; your heart before God is what is important here.

This is not a secondary issue when discussing alcohol. I think this is just as rampant as not considering a fellow believer before imbibing alcohol. Consider your heart. Like I asserted in "Reacting and Relating," "are you seeking to follow Christ at every turn or, like the rich young ruler, are you not quite willing to give up some things?" For some of us, the thing we might not be willing to give up may be our "right" to drink alcohol in certain circumstances; for others of us, it may be our self-righteousness in abstaining from it.

Earlier in this series:
Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin
Christians and Alcohol: Reacting and Relating
Christians and Alcohol: The Corinthian Matrix

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Allotment of Grace

Today I was reflecting on the life of Charles Spurgeon and I asked myself if I have the capacity to fight battles on multiple fronts in the way that he did.

The answer is no.

But the question and the response are irrelevant. My capacity--and Spurgeon's for that matter--to do anything comes from God and an allotment of his grace, not my striving. So, if it would please God, I someday will have the capacity; but for right now I will bathe in his gospel of grace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

T Pain and the President

Auto-tuning stuff is sweet.

Christians and Alcohol: Sources So Far

I will get back to the discussion of Christians and alcohol this weekend, but some people have inquired about my sources. I was going to compile them all at the end, but I will give you what I have used thus far.

I have cited all of my Scripture from the ESV.

"In Context"
Alcohol stats:
"Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin"
Driscoll quote:
Water to wine ratio:
"The Corinthian Matrix"

Earlier in this series:
Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin
Christians and Alcohol: Reacting and Relating
Christians and Alcohol: The Corinthian Matrix

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: The Corinthian Matrix

In light of yesterday's post I would like to offer this as a helpful tool.

Daniel Akin has produced an excellent resource for determining a proper response in any ethical situation within the Christian context. He calls it the Corinthian Matrix. It is based on texts between 1 Corinthians 6:12-13:13 and it consists of ten simple questions.
  1. Will this action be helpful to me?
    “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. -1 Cor 6:12

    “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. -1 Cor 10:23

  2. Will this action potentially enslave me?
    “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. -1 Cor 6:12

  3. Will this action encourage my brother or sister in Christ?
    Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. - 1 Cor 8:13

    Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
    -1 Cor 10:24
    Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God. -1 Cor 10:32

  4. Will this action help or hinder my gospel witness?
    If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. -1 Cor 9:12

    Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
    -1 Cor 10:32-33

  5. Is this action consistent with my new life in Christ?
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. -1 Cor 6:9-11

    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own. -1 Cor 6:19

  6. Will this action violate my conscience?
    Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? -1 Cor 10:25-29

  7. Will this action follow the pattern of the life of Jesus?
    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. -1 Cor 11:1

  8. Will this action show love to others?
    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. -1 Cor 13:1-3

  9. Will this action honor my body, which belongs to God?
    Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. -1 Cor 6:19-20

  10. Will this action glorify God?
    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Cor 10:31
Earlier in this series:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Reacting and Relating

I had every intention of getting this post up on Friday; I even started writing. But I didn't finish. Thanks again for your patience.

Alright. So far we have looked at how our context views alcohol and the personal sin that is associated with consuming or abstaining from alcohol.

In light of our previous discussion, let's talk about how Christians should react to alcohol and relate to other Christians if they themselves are drinking alcohol or they see other Christians drinking alcohol.

Many Christians weigh their experience concerning alcohol prior to their acknowledging of Scripture. This can be detrimental. There is no reason why, as Christians, we should ever appeal to experience prior to Scripture. So, often times there will be a Christian who says, "Well, I've never abused alcohol" as a justification for drinking and another Christian who says, "If you had the experiences that I have had, you wouldn't drink alcohol either." Neither of these statements should carry weight for the Christian in reacting to alcohol.

As we saw in our last discussion, drinking alcohol is not a sin, but drunkenness is. This is the objective truth concerning alcohol for the believer based on Scripture. Experience does not govern these thing.

But there is an aspect of the alcohol conversation that we must consider which is based on experience; not the experience of the individual consuming alcohol, but the experience of those who might see that individual consuming alcohol. There are Christians around us who have been deeply affected by alcohol; alcohol may have torn their family apart or even their own life. It is absolutely imperative that we, as Christians, seek the needs of others over our needs. What we can and cannot do concerning alcohol and what constitutes sin for the individual does not trump the consideration we must have for our brothers and sisters. These fellow believers may or may not understand the objective truth concerning alcohol expressed in Scripture, but the understanding of objective truth does not remove the fact that there may be deep emotions tied to the subject of alcohol. We are commanded to be like Christ and therefore must emulate his servant attitude in this. Paul writes,

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
  1. It is not sin for the Christian to drink alcohol.
  2. It is sin for the Christian to drink to the point of drunkenness.
  3. (1) and (2) are objective truth, based on Scripture.
  4. It is wrong not to consider those around us when engaging in what may be a very sensitive issue because by not considering those around us we may be causing them to sin. Let us resolve like Paul "if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble" (1 Cor 8:13).
If you are willing to die on a hill for your right to drink alcohol, it is time to evaluate yourself and your motives. Are you seeking to follow Christ at every turn or, like the rich young ruler, are you not quite willing to give up some things? I pray it's the former.

In conclusion, we are inclined to say that our reaction to alcohol must be based on objective biblical truth. We also must say that our relation to others must exceed any right that we may think we have concerning alcohol. We cannot drill our brothers and sisters in Christ saying, "Drinking alcohol isn't a sin;" this would not be putting their needs higher than our own. Sure, consuming alcohol is not prohibited in Scripture; this does not give Christians warrant to forget the second great commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22:39). Unfortunately many do.

In the next post I will give a tool that I have found to be helpful in practically living out some of the themes expressed here. Also, in the near future we will discuss further the idea of abstinence from alcohol as sin.

Earlier in this series:
Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin

Friday, November 13, 2009


This is the 300th post in the life of this blog; maybe not a major milestone, but a milestone nonetheless.

Thanks for reading!

Twenty-Nine Years Ago...

...this was pretty sweet.

But now we have this:

Oh, and P.S.: The same guy who plays Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films is Hades in this remake. Outstanding.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Interlude

If you have been following my "Christians and Alcohol" series, I am sure you are checking your feed-reader every five minutes awaiting the next installment.

Unfortunately, this week has been very busy and I have not had a chance to do much thinking, let alone writing. I will resume the discussion in the very near future. Thank you for your patience.

If you haven't read any of the posts in the series yet, now is your time to catch up.

Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena
Christians and Alcohol: In Context
Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin
Look for the next installment on Friday.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Consuming, Drunkenness, and Abstinence as Sin

This post is almost unnecessary, but I don't want to take anything for granted in this discussion. So, before we press on we need to address what immediate individual sin is, or what implications drinking has on the Christian actually imbibing alcohol.

It has been said from time to time that simply consuming alcohol is a sin. This view is invalid according to Scripture as displayed by this syllogism:

  1. The Bible states that Jesus was sinless.
  2. Jesus drank alcohol.
  3. Drinking alcohol is not a sin.
Of course this logic presupposes that the Bible is true, but keep in mind this discussion series is titled "Christians and Alcohol" and if an individual does not believe that Christ is without sin it is hardly possible for that individual to be a Christian.

It is also clear in Scripture that drunkenness is a sin.
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, consuming alcohol is not a sin, but consuming too much is considered a fleshy pursuit. These are simple biblical truths.

But what about abstaining from alcohol?

According to Mark Driscoll, he was "studying the Scriptures for a sermon about Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine, as reported in John's gospel, a miracle that Jesus performed when he was about my age. My Bible study convicted me of my sin of abstinence from alcohol. So in repentance I drank a hard cider over lunch with our worship pastor."

There are situations where abstaining from alcohol is a sin (I will discuss this later; just hold on) and to be fair I do not know exactly how Driscoll means his abstinence was sinful. But at face-value, this statement is silly (I will discuss the deeper interpretation as well; just hold on). It is silly for this reason: wine was the primary drink in the ancient context in which Jesus lived.

(This is good to note before I go further: the wine in John's gospel and in the rest of the New Testament was approximately 3 parts water, 1 part wine. The average individual would have to consume 22 glasses of wine to get drunk. Bladders tend to fill up before you get to that 22nd glass. Hard cider contains a much larger amount of alcohol than ancient wine.)

Wine in the ancient context was the drink of choice for the whole of the population. It is clear that it was a cultural norm. Our observations from the previous post shows us that our culture does not view alcohol in the same way that Jesus' culture viewed it. This ancient wine, if you want to call the diluted mixture that, was as much a staple of culture as wearing sandals. But Driscoll doesn't think that walking around in biker-boots or barefoot is a sin. Abstinence from alcohol in this sense is definitely not a sin.

There are intangibles at work here. This discussion is only a small piece of the pie. Remember the reaction and relation I discussed at the end of the last post? That is where we are going next.

Earlier in this series:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: In Context

I think before going any further in the discussion about Christians and alcohol it would be good to take a look at some statistics concerning alcohol consumption in our country. I know that stats can be used to manipulate an audience, but I am not seeking out the most shocking stats to promote a bias; rather I am compiling some data to draw a conclusion about our current context which will prove important later in the discussion.

  • Last year 22,073 individual died alcohol-induced deaths, not including accidents or homicide.
  • 32% of motor vehicle fatalities are a result of a BAC of over .08.
  • 1 in 3 families suspect at least one family member to be abusing alcohol.
  • 40 million Americans admit to having an alcohol problem at one point in their life.
  • Abuse of alcohol costs the U.S. $100 billion each year in quantifiable costs.
  • 15% of adolescents (12-17) consume alcohol at least once a month.
  • 66% of underage drinkers (12-20) report a legal adult giving or buying them alcohol.
  • 1 in 5 high school seniors and college freshman "party" 6 or more hours per week which involves alcohol.
This is strictly a random sampling of statistics from and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course stats don't speak for the intangibles like psychological and emotional issues. I know some people who have been directly affected by alcohol abuse in their immediate families. Each person adjusts differently and it is therefore hard to make any statements in this area.

I think that it is safe to say this in regards to the U.S. alcohol scene: alcohol is popular and is, at times, abused. There are other assertions I can make, but absolute statements are unnecessary to the furtherance of our discussion.

I will point this out though. The view of alcohol in the U.S. is much different than other contexts. In our culture, a certain level of rebelliousness is associated with the imbibing of alcohol while in, say, Europe it's just what you drink with your meal. (I am not saying that it is not abused in Europe. That is not my point. My point is simply the view of alcohol.)

This data is relevant and irrelevant for the next portion of consideration. It is relevant in the way that many Christians react to alcohol and how many Christians relate to one another, and irrelevant in the way that Christians should react to alcohol and how Christians should relate to one another. But we will digest that further later.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Christians and Alcohol: Prolegomena

Christians talk about alcohol a lot. Unfortunately, most of the conversation is stupid and, at times, sinful. Hence, I am going to take the next few days and address the primary issues swirling around Christians and alcohol.

In the recent weeks I have done a significant amount of reading on what others think about this topic and have engaged in introspection and self-evaluation concerning the matter of alcohol in my own Christian life. Therefore, I desire to prompt introspection and self-evaluation, not evaluation of others.

With that in mind, there will be times where I will quote some individuals who I think are wrong about certain areas of the issue and will argue against them. There are a lot of people spouting off on the internet right now about this topic. But from what I see they mostly fall into one of two camps:

  1. The young alcohol consumer who is on the fringes of the emerging church looking to justify their imbibing of alcohol. They are skeptical of truth claims, but instead of throwing in as a true postmodern they seek to reason this topic to death with their modern counterparts (who are having none of it).
  2. The individual directly affected by alcoholism in some capacity. They usually are honest with the data but when it comes to drawing a conclusion they walk off the mountain of evidence they compiled and stand somewhere else on the continuum.
Again, these are just the groups of people making noise. There are other views and I will address them briefly as well.

I hope this will be beneficial. I had qualms about taking on alcohol in Christian culture, but there is so much at stake here, throwing in on the conversation seems nearly imperative.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Perspectives on the Prosperity Gospel

Here are two videos that help with an understanding of the prosperity gospel. This corruption of the true gospel is alive and well in our backyard and is exploiting people in poor contexts across the world. Awareness of this false gospel should profoundly impact the Christian's missiological perspective. Take a look.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tischendorf and Sinaiticus

In 1859 Constantin von Tischendorf visited, for the third time, St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. His first trip to the monastic community in 1844 was slightly successful while his second, in 1853, was fruitless.

Tischendorf was Indiana Jones one hundred years before the Indiana Jones trilogy was set. He was on a quest to discover ancient manuscripts of the Greek Bible in hopes of compiling them according to the discipline known as textual criticism, a process initiated by Erasmus three hundred years earlier.

When Tischendorf arrived at St. Catherine's for the first time in 1844 he made a disheartening discovery: a large amount of parchment, considered rubbish, was in a waste-basket in queue to start fires. The "rubbish" was actually an early manuscript of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Tischendorf attempted to save the parchment, but tipped his hand and the monks, understanding that Tischendorf viewed these ancient documents as valuable, only allowed him to take a one third of the "rubbish."

Tischendorf did not return to St. Catherine's until 1853, seeking to complete the set he had begun collecting nine years earlier. But his trip was insuccessful.

Then on January 31, 1859, Tischendorf made a final visit to the monastic community by request of the Czar of Russia, Alexander II. Tischendorf arrived and, like his 1853 experience, found nothing. Then, after he resolved to leave the monastery, he made an incredible discovery. Tischendorf recorded his finding on February 4, 1859:

"On the afternoon of this day I was taking a walk with the steward of the convent in the neighbourhood, and as we returned, towards sunset, he begged me to take some refreshment with him in his cell. Scarcely had he entered the room, when, resuming our former subject of conversation, he said: "And I, too, have read a Septuagint"—i.e. a copy of the Greek translation made by the Seventy. And so saying, he took down from the corner of the room a bulky kind of volume, wrapped up in a red cloth, and laid it before me. I unrolled the cover, and discovered, to my great surprise, not only those very fragments which, fifteen years before, I had taken out of the basket, but also other parts of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and, in addition, the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Shepherd of Hermas."

This was what would become known as Codex Sinaiticus, arguably the most important Greek manuscript of the New Testament (not to mention parts of the Septuagint and Apostolic Fathers) to this day.

Tischendorf spent all night reading it for he thought that he held in his hands a great treasure. And he had found a great treasure indeed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Storm Chaser

You know those jobs that when you were a kid you thought were sweet but never pursued because they just didn't seem viable?

Storm Chaser falls in that category for me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Google Chrome

I like Google Chrome. Among many other perks, it's not gray.

Click through and watch this video on YouTube for an extra-special experience.