Alcohol, Acts 29 & the Gospel

 Recently, people visited this blog from the Alcohol, Acts 29 and the Missouri Baptist Convention “Straw Man”? article, which lists me by name. It is a detailed report showcasing the continual reference of alcohol at Acts 29 events. Alcohol continues to be a hot topic but how we handle it communicates volumes to the world around us.  It is critical for us to consider our stance as many people already see Christians as more about what they are against than what they are for.  As I talk to the x/y generations this is often their view of Christians and churches.  Therefore churches that functionally disallow alcohol, dancing, etc. are the churches these non-believers and/or people raised in churches are trying to avoid. 

I find that this is an issue that separates church leaders with a modern mindset vs a generational postmodern (identifying with people that  believe modernism isn't going to save us, not meaning a true pomo worldview).  Why is this important?  People with a modern mentality are able to separate out alcohol from their beliefs, while gen pomo people see things less compartmentalized and seek holistic views and thus alcohol becomes a significant gospel issue.  This means it is more than just drinking beer, it becomes gospel-motivated.  Most Christians hold one of 3 common views of alcohol (see: Jesus Christ-King of the Brews):

a. Prohibitionist: The Bible teaches that alcohol consumption is totally forbidden by scripture.
b. Abstentionist: Although the Bible does not expressly forbid the drinking of alcoholic beverages, the consumption of alcohol in our society is reckless and should not be condoned.
c. Moderationist: Alcohol is permitted for Christians as long as consumed in moderation and in a careful manner.

All three of these positions begin in defeat.  Are we willing to say anything is beyond redemption?

"The church, the bride, is a redemptive community.  We live not only the experience of redemption (I'm redeemed/being redeemed) but also the works of redemption (I'm redeeming).  That's why our mission is both words and works, speaking and doing redemption. And if we are working out our salvation through being redeemed and redeeming, then our response to cultural abuses is not to abstain but to redeem. That not only pushes us to maturity by teaching us how to eat, drink, and have sex to the glory of God (though it won't come easy), but it is also a witness to the world that God redeems.

  • The pervert throws away the pornography (abuse) and learns to love sex with his wife (redemption). 
  • The glutton hittin’ up the all-you-can eat buffet 6-7 times (abuse) and learns to order a salad with light dressing instead (redemption). 
  • The alcohol abuser stops drinking until drunk (abuse) and learns to stop enjoy a beer or two as from God’s bounty (redemption).

As long as we make the issue "abstaining," or retracting from culture, we will miss expressing and embodying redemption.  And I'm afraid the message we will send is that good things can be perverted beyond redemption."  (Taken from Celebration According to the Gospel)

All of this most be done with serious consideration knowing that alcohol is and can often be abused.  (side note: Having attended numerous Acts 29 events, I haven't seen alcohol abused.)  But we are finding if people are living life in our community there is a transparency that allows us to speak into their life if they begin to abuse alcohol rather than prohibiting alcohol so they end up drinking in secret.  To move from a place of being a redemptive community to one governed by our own laws (not God's) produces a much more hidden and prevalent sin of self-righteousness and legalism.  And sadly legalism is far more rampant in the church than alcoholism. 

Suggested Reading: Hello, I am a recovering Legalist