Mohler on Booze

A transcript of Mohler’s comments yesterday on his call-in radio show:I’m committed to a total abstinence policy. I don’t drink alcohol. The institution I serve, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College, holds to a total abstinence policy–no alcohol whatsoever. The Southern Baptist Convention–our denomination–made a statement this summer committing itself also to a total abstinence policy. By the way there’s no news there. That’s not a new policy, just a reaffirmation. And yet I will tell you up front that I know there are believing, faithful Christians who enjoy a glass of wine or do drink some beverage alcohol. And I cannot say in all persons in all circumstances it is sin for them as Christians to do that. There’s no verse in the Bible that says ‘thou shalt not drink alcoholic beverage, period.’ So intellectual honesty … demands that we say there’s no proof text in the Bible that says thou shalt not ever drink an alcoholic beverage. So why would I hold to that position? Because No. 1, a couple of very important biblical and theological reasons. The Bible warns consistently against drunkenness. How much alcohol is necessary for drunkenness? For different people, different levels. But I don’t need anything altering my mind. I don’t need to be any more confused than I otherwise might be. I don’t need to bring that into my life. And by not drinking at all I never have to defend myself against the charge that I am drinking too much. That just never comes up. Drunkenness is an awful thing, and all you have to do is look around this country and you will see families, communities and others just wounded, grieving and destroyed by the misuse of alcohol. If you never take that first drink, you don’t have to worry about it. Another biblical issue here is just a clarification that in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, there is the drinking of wine referenced there, but as very credible scholars such as Robert Stein have demonstrated, that’s not wine in its highly fermented state, much less the kind of hard liquor or beer in its highly fermented state that is available today. This was wine that was allowed to ferment just enough to kill bacteria so that it was safe to drink. You could not drink the water during that day. I just have to say I believe the safest position for a Christian is total abstinence. Now there are those who are going to come back and say, ‘Now my Christian liberty means that I have the right to drink.’ Well if you’re part of a church that holds to that understanding, and you are very careful, monitored in mutual accountability, that you do not drink into drunkenness or into excess, then I’m not going to say that you’re not a Christian and you’re not faithful. I’m going to say I couldn’t be in that circumstance, and I belong to a church and denomination, and I serve as president of an institution that before God believes that the best position to hold is a total-abstinence position, in accountability to other Christians, and in accountability to the churches. Our own witness is very important in this, and our credibility, so that’s our position, and I hold it without feeling that I am constrained or repressed in any way.

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