Friday, November 16, 2007

The MBC—Southern Baptists’ Most Liberal State?

According to Baptist Press, messengers to this month’s Florida Baptist Convention “overwhelmingly” passed a by-law change requiring all trustee nominees to "agree to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and using any other recreational drugs." It passed “with few dissenting votes.”

Southern Baptists of Texas also changed their bylaws, replacing the word “drunkenness” with “the use of alcohol as a beverage” stipulating that drinking is unacceptable for paid staff members and all elected offices of their convention.

These events underscore the problem of alcohol within the Missouri Baptist Convention. At its annual meeting, a resolution was proposed (the exact one approved at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting) and was not even reported out of committee. A motion was made to by-pass the Resolution’s Committee unfortunate recommendation to squash the issue. When messengers finally voted on the Resolution, it barely passed 506-360 (58%/42%).

Florida and Texas can inscribe alcohol abstinence into their governing documents and Missouri can barely pass a resolution. Houston, Jeff City, we have a problem!

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Students Against Destructive Decisions
US Surgeon General's Plea
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
The Marin Institute

52 comments:

Micah Fries said...

or maybe it might be more accurate to say "Jacksonville and Grapevine, we have a problem"?

Anonymous said...

Geez Roger, I think some guys 2000 years ago posted the same thing on their blogs. They thought Jesus was a liberal, too (Mt. 11:19). Oh, Jerusalem, we have a problem.

Jim Shaver said...

The fact that only 1258 messengers showed up for the Florida Baptist Convention's annual meeting when the FBC is more than twice the size of the MBC is also a revealing statistic.

Large State Conventions are becoming more and more IRRELEVANT, nationwide.

Remember this is the same State Convention (FBC) that condones "Calvinism Bashing" at the highest staff level with even John Sullivan personally leading the charge.

IMO Jacksonsville has had a problem for a long time.

Anonymous said...

"Florida and Texas can inscribe alcohol abstinence into their governing documents and Missouri can barely pass a resolution. Houston, Jeff City, we have a problem!"

Could it be that the moderation camp have the Bible on thier side?

I recommend checking out,"Wine in the Bible and the Church" (PDF)
Does obedience to Jesus Christ require total abstinence from alcoholic beverages?

http://www.all-of-grace.org/williamson/Wine_Book.pdf

Scott Weldon said...

"Does obedience to Jesus Christ require total abstinence from alcoholic beverages?"

Yes it does, if you consider the repeated admonitions in Scripture not to cause a brother to stumble, to live as wise, not unwise, etc. You well know that the society we live in is filled with those struggling with alcohol. Our indulgent attitude toward it does nothing but put the rock in front of the brother to make him fall.
Read here for more:

http://scottweldon.blogspot.com/2007/05/argument-against-alcohol.html

Anonymous said...

few clarifications...

"Florida and Texas can inscribe alcohol abstinence into their governing documents and Missouri can barely pass a resolution. Houston, Jeff City, we have a problem!"

Could it be that the moderation (use not about abuse) camp have the Bible on their side?

I recommend checking out,"Wine in the Bible and the Church" (PDF)
Does obedience to Jesus Christ require total abstinence from alcoholic beverages?

http://www.all-of-grace.org/williamson/Wine_Book.pdf


I would like to get your thoughts on this discussion from
Greg Koukl at STR.org radio. The archive has a great discussion on the Romans 14 passage. It is
October 30, 2005 about 38 minutes into the show.

http://www.str.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Radio_Archives

Anonymous said...

Rodney –

I think you are on to something here. Missouri Baptists may well be the most liberal convention around. I know I have heard more than a few disappointing remarks come out of Jeff. in my time.

“I know that Paul said that women shouldn’t teach men, but I think that its OK for women to be pastors.”

“I know the Bible says that the earth was created in seven days, but I think that evolution is the best explanation for earth’s beginnings.”

“I know that there is no verse in the Bible that says ‘Thou shalt not drink,’ but I think the only Biblical position is complete abstinence.”

Yes, we have developed quite a knack for explaining away what the Bible says and replacing it with what we think is best.

Kevin P. Larson said...

Rod, my brother and friend,

Is it good to be more conservative than Jesus?

58% of our convention just doesn't hold to sola scriptura, apparently.

Jim Shaver said...

Wish these anonymous people would own up to their comments.

If you say something have the guts enough to put your name on it.

To anonymous who wrote - "Rodney, I think you may be on to something here."

You certainly can't be talking about the current MBC. If so then tell us what present day Missouri Baptist said those first two quotations you listed.

Anonymous said...

Jim -
I'm sorry I left off my tag line - but to soothe any worries, I will be more than happy to “own up to my words”, and will confess that I have not heard any of those statements in the past few years.

Statement one came from a lecture on women in the ministry presented to the state collegiate conference at Windermere in the fall of ’98. I do not recall the gentleman’s name, but I do remember that he was a full time staffer at the Baptist Building.

Statement two came from an Old Testament professor from William Jewell in ’99. I apologize, but again I do not recall his name – he was a guest lecturer for the Religious Studies department at Mizzou.

Now, let me ask you. Does it bother you that the arguments we hear today bear so much resemblance to the truly liberal arguments of the past? They have made me rethink my position, that much is for sure.

John Dearing
pastorjohndearing@hotmail.com

Jim Shaver said...

John,

I don't think the current argument we are hearing against abstinence is anywhere near the same.

If you will listen to what the vast majority are saying it is this - "I practice abstinence in my own life and believe it is the best way for a Christian to live - however I am not willing to state dogmatically that the Bible says abstinence is the only acceptable Biblical interpretation."

I think there are some in this state who would make this question a test of fellowship. I for one would hate to see that day come.

Anonymous said...

Jim -

As would I.

However, blog posts that argue that the MBC is the SBC's most liberal state because of 360 votes against said resolution makes me wonder if we are in fact traveling toward that day.

JD

Rod said...

"Few clarifications" Anonymous:

No, I don't think the "moderation" crowd have the Bible on their side. They are advancing an antinomininan position that has always been harmful to the gospel.

They come in all stripes, but generally most "moderationists" are in a very ironic position. They basically argue that we are free to drink because the Bible doesn't condemn it. Most dismiss the argument that there are Biblical principles that, when rightly applied, would forbid modern drinking even though the ancients were permitted to drink.

When you press them about other issues the Bible doesn't specifically condemn like smoking marijuana, playing the slots in Las Vegas, or abortions they begin squirming and falling back on the "principles" they so easily dismiss on the alcohol issue.

Some, understanding the illogic of saying principles aren't enough to forbid alcoholic consumption but they are enough to forbid, for instance, smoking pot, fall back into arguing another problematic position, that they can drink because Jesus drank; but they can't smoke weed because Jesus never smoked weed.

That presents many problems. The first of which is that they've just negated their original position about no explicit prohibition about abstinence and their high regard for scripture. Because scripture never teaches Jesus drank. We know he was accused of being a "winebibber"; we know he turned water to wine at a marriage feast in Cana; and we know at the Last Supper "He took the cup and blest it and gave it to His disciples..." But we do not know that Jesus drank.

Now I'm not arguing that Jesus never drank 1st century wine; I'm only highlighting the irony of a position that dismisses abstinence because of an absence of a direct scriptural teaching, but will point to the example of Jesus in the absence of a direct scriptural teaching.

Rod said...

PS

I haven't listened to Greg's comment yet; I appreciate his ministry so I'll listen in soon.

Rod said...

Kevin:

No, brother, it is not. We should aspire to be exactly like Jesus. No more or less "conservative" and no more or less "liberal".

Sola scriptura? So you are ready to condemn the drinking of beer and all other forms of modern alcohol and advance the Scripture solely (wine)?

I remember the Bible speaking only of WINE. Or are moderns permitted to expand the teaching of scripture regarding "wine" into a framework that permits drinking all alcoholic beverages?

Rod said...

JIM:

Wouldn't you grant, at least, that the MBC is very different from the rest of the SBC on the issue of alcohol? I used "liberal"; maybe you would use a more positive term.

And while I agree that this issue is not the same as the theological arguments of the past, I believe it is much more than just a conceptual argument like your statement implies.

I know you well enough to know you would not protect polygamy. Help me understand the difference if I replace one word you said above.

You stated most of the 'drink in moderation' crowd would say:
"I practice abstinence in my own life and believe it is the best way for a Christian to live - however I am not willing to state dogmatically that the Bible says abstinence is the only acceptable Biblical interpretation."

Why wouln't you be open to:
"I practice monogamy in my own life and believe it is the best way for a Christian to live - however I am not willing to state dogmatically that the Bible says monogamy is the only acceptable Biblical interpretation"?

Jim Shaver said...

Rod,

Of all the arguments presented for abstinence the "polygamy" argument is the weakest that can be used.

The Bible holds up monagamy from beginning to end as God's Standard for marriage.

We find it in Genesis.

God created one man and one helpmate, a woman.

Genesis 2:24 says "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

The meaning of Adultery in the OT is very clear. David as King had the power to take Bathsheba and make her one of his wives but what he did was a sin. It was adultery.

What Abraham did with Sarah's handmaiden was sin. It was adultery.

Solomon, the wisest man in the world was still a sinner and guilty of violating God's principle for marriage.

Jesus when asked a question about divorce answers with a direct quote from Genesis 2:24.

The apostle Paul teaches about the sanctity of monagamus marriage - 1Co 7:2 "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."

The picture of mutual submission in Ephesians 5 is clearly One Man, One Woman - A monagamus marriage.

So NO, I wouldn't be open to the conclusion you draw because it is very clear from scripture that God's design for marriage has always been one man and one woman.

Jim Shaver said...

Rod,

If all that classifies our State Convention as being "Liberal" is the resistance to the "alcohol resolution" that was passed at Tan Tar A then the answer to your question is NO - that is not enough evidence to conclude that Missouri is more "liberal" than the rest of the SBC.

There was much more at play during that vote and this convention than simply an up or down vote on abstinence.

I would have thought that was crystal clear to all who were present.

It is not the issue of alcohol that threatens to divide us. It is the hyperbolic language that is employed in the call for holiness and righteousness and the willingness to categorize all opposition as "unholy" , "unrighteous", and "liberal" without reasonable debate and discussion.

Scott Weldon said...

Rod:
Glad to see you haven't lost your touch to stir things up! But let's face it. Those who wish to promote alcohol consumption are merely wishing to exercise their own liberty above their concern for others and simple wisdom. We are never going to change that, because they are right: the Bible doesn't prohibit drinking. And as long as they fall back on that mantra, to the neglect of every other teaching in Scripture regarding wise use of our liberty, then they will never be convinced. They will keep on telling folks that Jesus certainly would have gone to the neighborhood bar and shared a few brews with the boys, so why shouldn't we? Never mind holiness. Never mind "come out from among them." Never mind "live as wise, not as unwise." Never mind the common sense to see that our culture of alcohol consumption is something completely differnt than Jewish use of wine. None of that matters. I am free in Christ!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone listed to the show yet?
Romans 14 is talked about...

I would like to get your thoughts on this discussion from
Greg Koukl at STR.org radio. The archive has a great discussion on the Romans 14 passage. It is
October 30, 2005 about 38 minutes into the show.

http://www.str.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Radio_Archives

Scott Weldon said...

Anonymous:
Yes, I listened to the show and responded to the post you left on my blog. My response is at:
http://scottweldon.blogspot.com/2007/05/argument-against-alcohol.html#c1109488321109179314

Rod said...

Jim:

I agree polygamy isn't the strongest argument...but even that argument got the following statements from you (my emphasis):

"The Bible holds up monagamy from beginning to end as God's STANDARD for marriage."

"God's PRINCIPLE for marriage"

"The PICTURE of mutual submission in Ephesians 5 is clearly One Man, One Woman"

You did mention 1 Cor 7:2, but used it as a complement to, not the basis of your argument.

Of course, I completely concur. But that's my point. To advance monogamy, you spoke of principles, standards and pictures that are to be applied to marriage.

Why can I do that with monogamy, but not with alcohol?

Why is one a Biblicist when speaking of God's standard of marriage in Genesis 2, but a legalist when speaking of God's standard of absention in Proverbs 20?

Rod said...

Jim:

Also, for the record, notice the the question mark after "liberal" in my post title. I'm not sure I gave thoughtful reflection to the title and was having just a little fun (I guess you didn't catch my link on "few dissenting votes"?)

Anyway, I think you reflect most "active" Missouri Baptists who see guys like me as the problem.

I do fail to see how 100+ years of historical opposition to the consumption of alcohol have been detrimental to the theology, Biblical interpretation, or Christian behaviorial application of Missouri Baptists.

I also fail to see how the foundation that supports "drinking in moderation" will not also support other "vices" that Baptists have historically clearly seen as being antithetical to holy Christian living.

Jim Shaver said...

Rod,

A simple answer to your last question.

Because of the many occurrences of the Greek word oinos in the NT describing an everyday reality in the fabric of first century Christianity.

Rod said...

Scott:

You beat me to it.

Rod said...

Jim:

Did the "everyday reality in the fabric of first century Christianity" contain brewer's yeast?

And can a 21st century Christian expand 'oinos' to include 'highballs'?

Jim Shaver said...

Rod,

I did miss the link. Good ol' Teddy!

Don't be so defensive :-) you're not the problem. I'm the problem, remember?

Jim Shaver said...

Rod,

The every day reality in the fabric of first century Christianity contained fermented wine which classifies it as an alcoholic beverage.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible, "The Version we Control" contains the word Beer.

And what Missouri Baptist is expanding "oinos" to include highballs? I have not heard of any!

But just in case never forget old Elijah Craig, one of our Kentucky Baptist Pastors, contemporary of Jeremiah Vardemann and other early Missouri Baptist Preachers. You did know he invented bourbon, right?
:-)

David Krueger said...

I wish that somehow we could have conducted an ‘exit poll' after the vote on the Alcohol Resolution that was passed at the annual meeting of the MBC. Rodney, you lament that the vote somehow reveals a problem in Missouri Baptist life – that too many of us are ‘soft' on the alcohol issue. I don't believe that for a moment.

Why did 360 Missouri Baptists votes against the resolution? If I could hazzard a guess, I would suggest a number of reasons:

1) A significant number of Baptists “trust the system." The resolutions committee decided not to bring the resolution to the body. For a lot of Baptists that, in itself, was a good enough reason to vote against the resolution. Many Baptists assume that when resolutions are given to the resolutions committee, that the committee thoroughly looks them over, and decides which issues need to have the attention of the messengers and which ones don't. When pressed for an explination, the committee chairman gave valid reasons for not reporting out the resolution. Some of the votes were, no doubt, an attempt sustain the committee.

2) A significant number of Baptists are particular about Baptist polity and parliamentary procedure. I love Mike Green. I would have liked to see him elected to a second term as MBC president. However, with all due respect to our past president, the handling of the resolution was a parliamentary fiasco. There should have been a motion and subsequent vote by the messengers to bring the resolution to the floor. That motion was never made, and the vote never taken. Had it been, I believe the messenger would have supported the resolution committee’s decision not to report out the resolution. The proper procedure should have been to rule the subsequent debate out of order. Instead we continued discussing the merits of the resolution itself, and the president simply ruled that we could continue. Some of the votes were, no doubt, an act of defiance against bad parliamentary procedure.

3) A significant number of Baptists voted against the motion (or at least parts of it) on principle. This was, more than likely, the Calvinists in the audience. Baptists of the Soteriologically reformed persuasion have a very high view of Scripture, more so than the typical Baptist. Not only are they ardent inerrantists, but they also believe that the Scriptures are totally sufficient for faith and practice. The practical conclusion of that theological position is that many Calvinists believe that you cannot, and should not, use exegetical gymnastics to make the Scriptures teach something that they do not teach – such as total abstinence from all types of alcoholic beverage.

The conservative resurgence in firmly in place in the MBC, and even though conservatives are in control, still we have some disagreements among us. That's because we're Baptists and thoroughly committed to being guided by the authority of the Scriptures. The problem, as we all know, is that on some issues we can have honest differences of interpretation. This is one of the burdens that come with fellowship among Baptists. We each have the tendency to believe that our position on a matter is the only proper position to take, and we don't understand why the other guy can't see it our way. The question is: "Will we, as theological conservatives, allow these issues to hinder our fellowship and cooperation to the point of disunity and separation, or will we agree to disagree on some issues and cooperate for the sake of Kingdom growth?" Nowhere is this question more obvious than on the issue of abstinence form beverage alcohol.

It was clear that the majority of the messengers and all the speakers who addressed the issue believe that the Scriptures mandate a position on this issue that not all of us believe that the Scriptures mandate. Some of us believe that to take such a position strikes at the heart of the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Scriptures themselves. We have here, a clear difference of interpretation. The question is not, "Should we abstain?" I am of the opinion that we should. It's the wisest choice. It's the mature choice. It's the Christian-brother-honoring choice. It's even the God-glorifying choice. But I say again: The question is not "Should we abstain?" The question is, "Is it Scriptural to maintain that the occasional consumption of a low-alcoholic-content drink such as wine or beer or a wine cooler always has been, is, and always will be sinful?" There are those brothers among us, such as myself, who believe that it is not always necessarily sinful to do so, even though we would never, ever choose to do so. This is a matter of interpretation that puts me squarely at odds with the resolution that was passed (or at least several statements contained therein), and with some men – like you Rodney – whom I deeply respect and consider close brothers in Christ.

My opposition to the resolution, however, does not mean that I am “soft” – or to use your words “liberal” – on the alcohol issue.

Anonymous said...

David -

Very well said.

JD

Anonymous said...

Check out:

A Sober Assessment of Reformational Drinking
Jim West

http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=481&var3=authorbio&var4=AutRes&var5=218

Anonymous said...

Another great treatment that I have read regarding Romans 14 is by John Murray (a conservative, Bible believer)
called, ""The Weak and the Strong" found here: http://www.the-highway.com/WeakandStrong.html

Rod said...

Anonymous:

Stop taking people away from my blog with your links*!@#!!*!!!

Seriously, still haven't had time to peruse your recommendations.

Rod said...

Jim:

Let's not talk of Elijah Craig.

BTW, oinos was fermented through natural yeast occuring on grapes. Modern wine is fermented with brewer's yeast.

Unless one has a home brew, moderns cannot drink the wine of the Bible.

And highballs aside, how does one with a pristine view of the sufficiency of Scripture argue on one hand he is free to imbibe because of no explicit prohibition, but then expand the clear Biblical references on WINE to now mean ALCOHOLIC DRINKS in general?

Rod said...

David:

Your 1&2 are basically the same and I'll grant that it was one of the most chaotic moments I've seen in a long while. But my memory is that Parliamentarian Whitehead stated since we were debating the merits of the resolution, the chair was ruling the resolution on the floor if there is no objection.

I'll grant the impropriety of the parliamentarian in that moment, but the fact is there was no objection. I was surprised by this.

So, I am hard pressed to believe people voted against the resolution on those grounds because technically, that matter was settled. The resolutions committee was overruled prior to the vote.

Anonymous said...

Rod, I will slow down on the links. But note when you look at them that they are Bible believing, God centered folks.

Rod said...

Anonymous:

I was just joking. Stand to Reason is one of my favorites, though I haven't been there in a while.

Scott Weldon said...

I keep hearing Romans 14 tossed about. What about verse 21:It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

What about 1Co 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

What about Phi 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The point is not can I do this? The point is Is it wise to do this. Paul says in 1 Cor 10:23 "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.

Drinking my be lawful, but not helpful and does not build up. Doesn't this make it a prohibition against drinking?

Jim Shaver said...

Rod,

You're going to have to ask some Baptist who drinks that question because it is a moot question for me.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone listened to the STR audio yet?

Jim Shaver said...

I couldn't find it.

Anonymous said...

Jim,

1. Go to STR.org radio.
2. You may have to log in.
3. Go to Resources and click on radio archives and look for
October 30, 2005
it is about 38 minutes into the show.

http://www.str.org

Jim Shaver said...

Got it.

Thanks.

Jim Shaver said...

I think the recent action of our Executive Board of the MBC has effectively proven the title of this blog to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Jim,

It is much like the Roman Catholicism that we cry so often that they put too much emphasis on tradition.... we have our tradition like I heard some top leaders say, "I thought Baptist settled this question a long time ago." There hasn't been any good debate on this issue. Power to shut something down without a healthy debate--well, that should tell you something.

Anonymous said...

Rod,

How will you feel if the Calvinist are the next target? No debate. Just sit up straw men and knock them down when you get the chance and maybe pass a resolution that could exclude them.

Anonymous said...

Jim, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned "tradition".
That is exactly what I thought when I heard Tolliver say, “Much to much debate about the right and wrong over issues that I thought Baptist settled years ago.”

My response: Real debate? Where and when?

And try to figure this out when he states, “I understand that the Bible does not say, ‘Thou shalt not drink. The Bible doesn’t say that. I get that. The Bible doesn’t say ‘Thou shalt not drink’ anytime, anywhere, for any reason. It’s not that explicit. I’m a little slow at it, but I can read, and I understand that the Bible does not say that. The Bible does not specifically call the drinking of alcohol a sin—not in so many words. But I want you to hear me very carefully this evening, and I will be clear to say that I believe the only biblical position for Christians in this 21st century Show Me State environment that we live in is total abstinence.”

Rod said...

Anonymous:

Come on. You surely understand the myriad of subjects that the Bible addresses without being "explicit".

Dr. Tolliver was applying the totality of scriptural wisdom when he made the statement you referred to.

"Abortion" is not condemned explictly in scripture, but by applying the Bible's teaching on the subject of life, the only possible course for sincere Christians is to oppose it.

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz,

The Bible never talks positively about abortion, either, like it does wine.

psychic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim Shaver said...

I may have been wrong in my first reaction to this blog.

A Baptist state paper that commends a bar owner is surely an indication that liberalism is still alive in the MBC. :-)

Rod said...

I was wondering how long it would take you to make that point.

Pujols, his restaurant and Jim Shaver are three images forever conjoined in my mind.