Are We Trying To Christianise Our Society?

Are We Trying To Christianise Our Society?

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He’s considered to be one of the twenty greatest preachers of all time…

Are We Trying To Christianise Our Society?The claim is sometimes made that as Christians around the world are getting more involved in politics that they are plotting to christianise their societies. Even many Christian leaders have criticised this Christian political movement by saying that it is not right to enforce Christian standards (such as marriage) onto a secular society. One leader even defended his view that marriage need not be limited to a man and a woman, based on the assumption that it is wrong for Christians to expect non-christians to act like Christians. He cited Canada as an example of how non-christian standards had not caused the “sky to fall in” on their society.

 

SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE

This line of reasoning often includes the appeal to a “separation of Church and State” where this means that the Church should not expect non-christians to uphold Christian teaching (which is not what this expression was ever intended to mean). This expression has now been so pummeled into this new definition that even some Christians now unquestionably accept it. The concept of separation of Church from State was originally proposed to describe the illegitimate role of secular governments interfering in the affairs of Church matters- not the other way around! The Church surely has as much right as any other lobby group or organisation to promote views it regards are for the best welfare of a society.

Claiming that Gay-Marriage or any other aberration of marriage should be accepted by society with the argumant that marriage is as much secular as it is Christian and therefore secular variations should be accommodated is misguided. Marriage is neither intrinsically Christian or even religious. Marriage is actually “original” and a part of the Covenant of Creation which God made with people. It is therefore found in every culture in every time throughout the history of mankind. It is not a Christian concept, but a divine one which overrides any appeal made by secularism.

 

BY SPEAKING OUT AREN’T WE CHRISTIANISING?

When we defend the place of the Moral (or “Natural”) Law aren’t we in essence appealing to non-christians to at least behave like Christians? Not at all. In fact, if this was what we were asking for we would be severely injuring the cause of Christ since Christianity is not merely about a change of behaviour but a change of heart!

If we were trying to “christianise” our societies we would be asking for Holy Communion to be made compulsory for every citizen, or for Sunday to the day for compulsory church attendance. That would be attempting to Christianise our society.

When we defend the rights and welfare of individuals and their property we are simply upholding the moral law which are laws common to all whether they are religious or not. The Moral Law tells us that certain things are right and certain things are wrong- no matter what our opinion of those things might be.

The test of morality is the welfare of the individual. That which is immoral is inherently harmful to a person’s welfare. Therefore murder is immoral because it is so harmful to a person’s welfare. Adultery is immoral because it too is harmful to not only the parties involved but also the betrayed spouse. Sexual misconduct is immoral because of the harm it inflicts physically, emotionally and spiritually upon its victims.

To claim that when immoral legislation (that which counters the Moral Law) has not really harmed a society, such as Canada, is a curious statement when these decision were only made within the last few years and already there is indeed negative fall out from it (none the least from those who have taken advantage of this radical legislation).

The “sky” doesn’t actually have to “fall in” for a negative impact to be made upon a society!

Sometimes legislative decisions take decades for their full implications to be outworked. It then sometimes takes generations to undo the damage done by what secularists felt at the time was rather innocuous legislation. For example, the Prohibition of the 1920s in the USA is frequently cited as an example of how it is just not possible to legislate morality. Yet the Prohibition of Alcohol in the USA was introduced due to the alarmingly high rates of alcohol induced family breakdown, domestic violence, workplace absenteeism and deaths, and premature deaths. The rate of hard liquor consumption in the USA at this time had reached record levels on a per capita basis. The Prohibition lasted 15 years. At the end of this time the rate of alcohol consumption per capita plummetted! Interestingly, so did the rate of negative welfare affects. Did the Prohibition stop all people from drinking? No. Does that mean the Prohibition failed? No. Facinatingly, the rate of alcohol consumption in the USA did not return to the pre-Prophibition rate until 1975! (Which demonstrates the powerful educative role any legislation plays.)

People who claim that Morality can not be legislated because legislation does not change anyone’s behaviour do not understand that the purpose of any legislation is to articulate what is right (moral) and what is wrong (immoral). If we honestly believe that morality can not be legislated then we would do away with any legislation which didn’t bring universal observance. The question should then be asked, “Is any legislation universally observed?” The answer is no. Think about it. If we believed that legislation against murder was failing to prevent murders, then why not simply do away with laws against murder- if legislation is only valid if it changes everyone’s hearts and behaviour!

Are we trying to Christianise our societies by speaking up for laws which reflect the Moral Law? Not at all. Are we claiming to be superior to our society because we are religious? Not at all. Do we want to see penalties prescribed under the Old Covenant enforced today for people who violate sexual laws? Not at all. All of the penalties of the Old Covenat Law have been borne by Christ. Does this mean that these sexual laws no longer reflect the Moral Law? Not at all. Indeed we have compassion for all people caught up in any form of immoral sexual addiction. But compassion should not be confused with tolerance.

I don’t think there is any other group within society that does more for both the victims and perpetrators of crime than Christians. While Christians are cast as intolerant soap-boxing, finger-pointing bigots, the reality is that it is Christians who have established halfway houses, soup kitchens, prison visitiation programs, drug rehabilitation centres, medical clinics, and schools to show compassion to all people, and especially those impacted by violations of the Moral Law.

We are trying to promote laws which are beneficial for all of society. We know that this is often met with hostility by those who interpret this as bigotry. And it is our wish that all those who believe in Higher Laws will defend this position graciously and in a way that is genuinely compassionate for those who hold a different perspective.

© Andrew Corbett, 23 November 2004

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How Should A Christian Think About Climate Change?

How Should A Christian Think About Climate Change?

A Christian Response To Climate Change – Is Climate Change A Sign of the End Times? Originally written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia [April 7th, 2009]

It seems that the Christian response to the claim of rapid climate change is polarised between the extremes of outright denial on the one hand and apocalyptic alarm on the other. And these responses often have more to do with theological biases rather than real science… 

DENIAL…

A recent example of Christian dismissivism about Global WarmingThere are a large number of Evangelical Christians who simply reject the claim that the Globe is unusually warming. Their denials often downplay the cries of scientists alarmed about the current global warming trends. These Christians scoff at such alarmism and dismiss these weather patterns as merely normal cyclical trends that have carried on this way for centuries if not millennia. 

Already there a groups within the Evangelical Community who are widely publishing books and DVDs to counter the idea of global warming by claiming that the data used by scientists is built entirely upon a false premise (which we’ll examine later). 

 

APOCALYPTIC ENVIRONMENTALISTS…

On the other hand there are some Christians who are acknowledge that what we call Global Warming is no mere cyclical event. They recognise that the earth has never before experienced such rapid warming. They share the concern of Environmental Scientists who claim that the Earth is rapidly warming – that is, it’s still going to get a lot, lot hotter. This will cause much of the polar ice-caps to melt resulting in massive sea-level rise (currently about 3mm a year but expected to be about 5-6mm a year within the next 10 years). This means that several South Pacific Island nations, such as the Marshall Islands, shall be wiped out within 20 years since they are less than 2 metres above sea level! Great chunks of Chinese, American, and European coastlines will become uninhabitable, if not completely destroyed, if the current predicted trends continue. And for Christians disposed toward an apocalyptic outlook for the future all of this is just the earth’s destiny.

“DO NOTHING!” THE CRY FROM BOTH GROUPS… 

As different as both groups are in their interpretation of these events, they actually share a common response: do nothing. Denialists argue that there’s nothing really to worry about so let’s just keep going the way we’re going. Apocalypticalists argue that it is entirely the hand of God bringing the world to an end and therefore we cannot and should not resist it. 

WHEN THEOLOGY IS FAULTY…

I recently watched a docu-drama called Egypt in which there was a scene when a French Vatican representative opposed a piece of Egyptian artwork potentially being dated any older than 2439 B.C. by an expert into Egyptian artefacts, since that would contradict the Biblical account of the global flood destroying all of mankind. The fear was that experts would conclude that the artwork was made around 3000 B.C. I felt like screaming at the TV! Where in the Bible does it say that Noah’s flood occured in 2439 B.C.? The answer is: no-where! But thanks to the faulty chronology devised by Bishop Ussher who incompetently calculated the age of the earth, the date of creation, the time of the Great Flood- all based entirely on his calculations of the genealogical accounts within Scripture, there are now millions of Christians who believe that the ridiculous dates proposed by Bishop Ussher are actually stated in the Bible. The most absurd date given by Ussher was 4004 B.C. as the date for the beginning of the world. This would mean that the earth was created to look ancient even though it was only created recently. Thus, when scientists claim that the earth is 3.8 billion years old, Denialist Christians, who sincerely believe that the Bible teaches that earth is “young” (around 6,000 years old), scoff at such ideas as contrary to God’s Word! 

But Bishop Ussher blundered. He failed to calculate the genealogies accurately or compensate for the many generational ommissions that Hebrew writers deliberately employed (the best example of this literary style is Matthew chapter 1). Therefore, while Bishop Ussher falsely assumed that he could calculate the age of the earth based on genealogies, he further miscalculated the age of mankind by his inept calculation of Biblical genealogies. It is quite plausible to arrive at a creation date for Adam within the range of 30,000 – 50,000 years ago based on a more accurate calculation of Biblical genealogical records. It is also quite plausible to assume that the earth was created long before God created Adam. It is far more probable that the days of Genesis 1 are “ages” or periods of time rather than 24 hour periods. This means that the earth could actually be 3.8 billion years old based on the Biblical record. If this is the case, Denialists should reconsider the basis of their denying the trends that scientists claim are based on hundreds of thousands of years of weather patterns and consider that this is a rather unusual weather pattern that the globe is experiencing.

FAULTY APOCALYPTIC INTERPRETATIONS… 

I’ve just returned from stretching my slightly atrophied legs. As I went to listen to the radio I heard a local talk-back radio caller describing the Christian response to Global warming. She said that Global Warming was a Biblical sign of the end of the world, and that Christians should know their Bibles better so as not to be caught up in the hysteria. This is the other pole of faulty theology resulting in Apocalypticalism. 

Is Global Warming a “sign of the last days”? No. I was bemused to hear the absence of any Scriptural citation for this sincere lady’s claims. Put simply, the Bible makes no such claims about Global Warming being a sign of the last days. Any reference to Matthew 24 or the Book of Revelation needs to consider that Jesus gave a strict time-frame reference for when these would occur- and none of them pertain to our time! I present the reasons for this in my eBook- The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible

 

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS RESPOND TO GLOBAL WARMING? 

The Earth is not ours: it is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1). But, the earth is ours to steward. Perhaps it’s difficult for people living in reasonably unpolluted areas of the world to appreciate just how serious atmospheric, geological, and water pollution has become in other parts of the world. It’s perhaps even easier to adopt the “not in my backyard – not my problem” approach when confronted with the choking air-pollution of Calcutta or Beijing, or the putrid water of Manila, or the growing soil salinity problem of rural Australia. This approach is like two survivors sitting in a life-boat in the middle of a vast ocean with one survivor pointing to the other end of the life-boat and laughing- “Ha ha, your end of the life-boat has just sprung a leak!” 

Al Gore has come under much ridicule from some in the Christian community for his campaign to avert Global Warming. This is a shame. Most of those who are criticising him have not seen his docu-movie An Inconvenient Truth and have therefore not seen the heartfelt passion this man has for saving the planet from self-destruction, or the data upon which his concerns are based.

 . 

Christians don’t worship creation but we can make our care of creation an act of worship. Denialists and Apocalypticalists are both wrong. Denialists are wrong because Global Warming is happening and something should be done to avert it. Apocalypticalists are wrong because the Bible has not prophesied the doom of earth through Global Warming – therefore complacency is similarly unacceptable. 

Al Gore makes the point that the Fossil Fuel industries are the major cause of Global Warming. He also points out that they have billions of dollars at stake in keeping it that way. The solutions to replacing these industries could well be remarkably simple and affordable. We have not yet really begun to explore how we harvest renewable energy from existing free resources without impacting the stability of the environment. Some suggest that the answers lie in solar, wind, sea-wave, and hydrogen technologies (nuclear power should be regarded as the worst possible replacement energy source to carbon-based fossil fuels). But there are other commentators who take issue with Vice-President Gore. They acknowledge that human activity is a major contributor to global warming, but that it is not the largest contributor. Therefore, they argue, broader ethical issues need to be considered before jeopardising the jobs and welfare of people unnecessarily in the pusuit of arresting global warming. Other critics of the former Vice-President are cynical about government moves to tax carbon emmissions. In Australia, Senator Barnaby Joyce (Leaders of the National Party in the Senate) said that a carbon-tax was akin to a “world-peace tax” – its sounds nice and hard to disagree with but had no real way of achieving its purpose. [Source]

Professor Ian PlimerWhile Global Warming is now generally accepted as occuring, the real question is: Is Global Warming the result of human activity alone (such as increased carbon emissions due to fossil-fuel consumption)? Or, is do rises in global carbon levels follow global warming? Professor Ian Plimer, Chair of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide, says that global warming is a fact, but its cause is certainly not human. 

Professor Plimer believes the IPCC has neglected historical evidence of past climate changes, which are recorded in the rocks.

“When we look at the history of climate changes, not one has been driven by carbon dioxide,” he says.

“Climate always changes, as do sea levels, as does life (on Earth) and we are living in times that are not extraordinary. The only way you can have the view that humans change climate is if you ignore history.”
Prof. Ian Plimer, News.com.au report.

Professor Plimer makes a very strong case in his book about global warming, Heaven and Earth – Global warming: the missing science. Dr Jay Wesley Richards of the Discovery Institute, makes a similar point to Professor Plimer. If these men are right, Christians at least should be sceptical about how responsible carbon-emissions are for global warming. Christians can, however, lead the way in being responsible stewards of God’s earth in a way that directs scarce resources to solving the most urgent crises facing the well-being of humankind. This at least includes clean drinking water for everyone on the planet, the erradication of malaria, free literacy and numeracy programs for every child on the planet and affordable housing. 

The Two Witnesses Of Revelation

The Two Witnesses Of Revelation

Who Are The Two Witnesses Mentioned In Revelation Chapter 11?

Confusion reigns when it comes to interpreting the Book of Revelation, especially over the speculation to the identity of the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11…

And what’s at stake is the entire credibility of the Bible!

written Dr Andrew Corbett pastor of Legana Christian Church in Tasmania, Australia

I was listening to a well-known Texan radio preacher declare that very soon the whole world was going to be thrust into turmoil with the rise of a global dictator (known as the “Anti-christ”, according to this preacher) who will establish a one-world government and begin the greatest era of persecution against Jewish people ever witnessed. I used to regard this type of teaching as irrelevant guess-work, but I now regard this “theology” as incredibly toxic and dangerous. Then to my horror he went on to announce that this dictator would be challenged by two revitalised witnesses who would capture the attention of the whole world by their prophesying and miraculous powers- even being publicly slain then resurrected! There are of course millions of Christians who have innocently accepted this new theology without ever realising that this is an impossible interpretation of Revelation 11.

Firstly, the assumption that Revelation prophesies a world dictator is false. I elaborate on this in my article about the identity of the character behind 666. But I would encourage the reader to consider the text in Revelation 13 and search for any prediction about a “one-world government”. I would also point out to the reader that the Beast from the Sea is not the same beast who numbers people with the 666 seal. I would also invite investigation into the contents of Revelation for the term “Anti-christ” as well as “one world government”. Then consider the fact that John the Apostle told his original audience that they could identify the person whose number was 666 via gemetria (the adding of the value of each letter in a person’s name). It was well known to the audience of Revelation who this person was. He is identified as the person behind the fifth seal who launches State martyrdom of the Church (Rev. 6:9) and as the ‘sixth’ king in the succession of kings in Revelation 17:10 – that is he is the 6th king of Rome.

The Texan preacher implied that the two witnesses would be Old Testament characters who would miraculously appear in the “last days” to challenge this coming Antichrist. These figures are variously supposed to be Enoch, or Elijah, or even Moses. The Bible identifies these two witnesses as the “two lampstands” or the “two olive trees” (Zechariah 4:3, 10, 11; Revelation 11:4). 

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
Revelation 11:4

The context of Zechariah refers to Zerrubabel and Joshua as the two in question.

For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.
Zech. 3:9

Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ ”
Zech. 4:7

The Lord had previously described Israel as an olive tree (Jer. 11:16) and the two Houses of Israel as His witnesses. Therefore the two witnesses are leaders of the Houses of Israel. This could have either been leaders from Ephraim (Israel) and Judah (the southern tribes) or of the Kingly line and the Priestly line (as indicated in Zechariah).

Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.”
Revelation 11:1

This is one of the clearest indications that Revelation could not have been written in the 90s of the first century. Since the temple and its furnishings were destroyed in 70AD it would have been impossible for John to have measured it in 95AD! Since the prophetic statements about the Romans’ 42 month occupation of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:2) are so accurate, some liberal scholars have dared to suggest that Revelation was actually written in 95AD and was really history dressed up to sound like prophecy! But the jury is back and the 95AD date for Revelation’s authorship is now considered impossible.

The scene of the sounding of the seventh trumpet involves our two witnesses. To some, their identity remains a mystery. Some have suggested that James the Just, the stepbrother of Christ aptly fits the description of at least one of the witnesses. Others have suggested that it refers to Moses and Elijah (since they were present at the Transfiguration of Christ, and performed the miracles ascribed to the two witnesses.) Still others claim that death must be made complete for Enoch and Elijah, so they must be the two witnesses. Again we must tear ourselves away from such speculation and anchor our hermeneutics to the principle of Scripture interprets Scripture.

But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months
Revelation 11:2

The forty-two months is most naturally associated with the historic Roman occupation of Jerusalem which commenced in 66AD. This is supported by the statement in Revelation 13:5 where the Roman Beast speaks against the “Tabernacle” for forty-two months. The twelve hundred and sixty days however, while also equivalent to three and a half years is distinguished from the Gentile occupation of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:3) because this was also the period of time when Rome waged war on the Church (Rev. 12:6). Therefore, we are dealing with the two witnesses ministering during the time of persecution against the Church, not the occupation of Jerusalem

I will be like the dew to Israel;
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
6His branches shall spread;
His beauty shall be like an olivetree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
Hosea 14:5-6

Of course, Paul refers to Israel’s being as an Olive Tree as well (Romans 11:17-24). These two witnesses are not necessarily two individuals. No empire has to “make war against” two individuals.

When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.
Revelation 11:7

The Two Witnesses, which are the Olive Trees and the Two Lampstands refers to the Jewish Christians who were literally witnesses to Christ in the sense of having physically seen Him, and perhaps most importantly being prepared to lay down their lives for Him. It’s this latter aspect of the term witness that is recurring throughout the Book of Revelation. The Greek word for witness is martus from where we get the English word martyr. The Law required that a testimony be established on at least two witnesses.

Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.
Deuteronomy 17:6

During the three and a half year campaign of State eradication, the Romans thought that they would wipe out the Christians from the Empire.

The event that sparked official persecutions, however, was the fire of Rome, beginning on July 19 of a.d. 64. That holocaust, which lasted for nine days and gutted ten of the fourteen districts of the city, brought untold suffering to a population of about one million. Some of Nero’s enemies circulated a report that he had started the fire. The charge was probably untrue, but Nero diverted attention from himself by making scapegoats out of the Christian community in Rome. The penalty suffered by many of the supposed incendiaries was burning at the stake at night to light the gardens near Nero’s circus in the Vaticanus section of Rome. Some were crucified and others thrown to wild beasts or mad dogs. Paul suffered martyrdom at the hands of Nero; Peter is said to have suffered the same fate.
Howard Frederic Vos, Exploring church history [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994 by Howard F. Vos.

The Church’s ministry during this three and a half year period, when thousands of Jewish believers were martyred, is described in Revelation as equating to “three and a half days”. They are described as being dead for three and half days, and particularly in the city where the Lord Himself was killed: Sodom and Egypt.

And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.
Revelation 11:8-9

At the end of the 1260 day persecution against the Church (AD64 – AD66), the 42 month assault on Jerusalem began (AD66 – AD70). With the beginning of the prophesied terrible Day of the Lord coming upon Jerusalem, the two witnesses were vindicated. Significantly, while 7 represents complete, 31/2 represents incomplete. Rome had only incompletely destroyed the Church. The breath of life enters back into the Church and it lives!

Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.
Revelation 11:11

Josephus notes that at this time terrible manifestations began-

…for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continual lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and anyone would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.
The Works of Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 4, Section 5

Because these two witnesses have already come and gone just as Revelation prophesied, there is great danger to the credibility of the preaching of the Gospel to claiming that they are yet future and developing an enitirely fanciful array of speculation to match.

From the ministry of these two witnesses we see that Christ will ultimately triumph. We see that God will and does empower His servants to be witnesses. We also see that faithfulness under pressure matters a lot.

Let’s not be supposing that Christianity is about escaping from this world and leaving its inhabitants “to go to hell”. This is the great danger of the kind of teaching promoted by the Texan radio preacher. On the contrary Christians should be socially engaged, environmentally engaged, politically engaged, and theeologically engaged. We should be a two-fold witness by both fulfilling the Great Commission – preaching the Good News about God’s love through Christ, and carrying out the good works that flow from the Gospel to help the poor, needy, and underprivileged. This would be a great application of the two witnesses of Revelation for today!

Consider that there are two New Testament books written by two men who are eminently qualified as unique witnesses of Christ. They spent at least two decades more with Christ than any of the 12 Disciples. The account of how they died is remarkable and matches what Revelation said about their pending deaths.

 Andrew Corbett, November 15th 2006

————–

If you were downtown and looked across the street over the parked cars and saw someone you knew rushing intently to push a little old lady over, what would you think of that person? Would your opinion of this person change if you later discovered that the cars you were looking over obscured your view of this person actually pushing this little old lady out of the way of a speeding sports car which was hurtling towards her and about to hit her? Sometimes, a bigger picture changes the entire picture! 

This is what reading the Book of Revelation is like for some people. They have their understanding of the Book of Revelation obscured by their lack of understanding about history, Biblical language, and even modern opinions.

I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview).

Amen.

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What The Bible Teaches About Alcohol

What The Bible Teaches About Alcohol

What The Bible Teaches About Alcohol

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He’s considered to be one of the twenty greatest preachers of all time…

What The Bible Teaches About AlcoholThe Bible is black and white about certain issues such as murder, lying, property rights, and interpersonal relationships. But there are some issues that Christians feel very strongly about such as family values, hygiene, church attendance and fashion, that the Bible appears not to be very categorical about. Another issue that stirs emotions ranging from anger and disgust, to, indifference and carelessness, is the use of alcohol.

THE DANGER OF LEGALISM

In discussing the issue of alcohol I want to avoid two dangerous extremes. Firstly, man-made legalism which teaches that the salvation Christ purchased through His blood shed on the cross, and received by putting our faith in Him, is in doubt if we break a man-made rule. Secondly, antinomianism (a license to sin) where a person is under no obligations whatsoever to walk worthy of the salvation that Christ offers. In relation to alcohol, I want to stress that their various opinions among Christians that are worthy of respect. Throughout history there have been some very godly and influential Christians who have drunk alcohol (for example, Martin Luther used to brew and drink his own beer, Charles Spurgeon also drank hard liquor), and other equally great and influential Christians who were temperate (non-drinkers).

One of the reasons I have never preached on the subject of alcohol is my concern that some people who hold very passionate views either way and will make this an issue for our mutual fellowship. I’m reminded that doctrines never divide, only attitudes do. I trust that we are mature enough to perhaps disagree yet enjoy fellowship with each other.

Therefore, in stressing the main points of this article I need to stress that if someone disagrees with these findings and conclusions found here, I am not suggesting that their salvation is in question, or that they are not striving to live a liberated and godly life. I have endeavoured to avoid these two deadly extremes of legalism and antinomianism in presenting this article.

DEALING WITH BIBLICAL GREY AREAS

He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God… (v. 22) So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.(v. 23) But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 14:6 NIV

The New Testament presents the believer with certain issues that are grey areas where the believer should decide for themselves whether they are tight or wrong. Eating meat, drinking alcohol, and observing a rest day as holy to the Lord, are a matter of conscience. To assist the believer’s conscience come to a “fully persuaded” Biblical position it is helpful, if not inevitable, that a survey of what the Bible says is needed. In this sense then because these issues are grey, there is no one passage that deals with it. We therefore have to examine the overall Biblical presentation of an issue to formulate a clear “fully persuaded” position.

There are certain issues that the Bible seems to approve of, but many believers would clearly condemn. For example: polygamy (being married to more than one person at a time).

If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love…
Deuteronomy 21:15 NIV

We could justify polygamy (the marriage to more than one spouse) by pointing to Biblical characters who practised polygamy, such as Abraham, Jacob, and David. We could say that the New Testament nowhere condemns polygamy, it simply says that a man could not be an elder in a church if he was the husband of more than one wife (1Timothy 3:2 NIV – Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach).

Yet when we take an overall look at the Biblical presentation of polygamy, we see that it paints polygamy as being fraught with moral, spiritual, material, and physical danger. Polygamy was the downfall of Patriarchs, Kings, and common men alike. It led to family schisms that often resulted in treachery and even murder. Clearly, the overall presentation of polygamy is to condemn it. This condemnation is doubly subtle when you consider the parallels that Bible makes about monogamous marriages. It uses Adam and Eve, God and Israel, Christ and the Church as examples and models of godly marriages. I trust that you can see some principles here in the way the Bible should be interpreted: where the Scripture seems to silent, we need to closely note its overallmessage. We are therefore endeavouring to employ principles of interpretation, rather than seeking to uncover obscure Biblical laws.

THE OVERALL PRESENTATION

The use of alcohol can be viewed just like we view polygamy. We will survey what the Bible has to say about the use of alcohol, in much the same way that we have done with what it says about polygamy. By using these principles of ascertaining a Biblical position, we will see that the principles for determining whether alcohol usage is compatible with Christianity are identical other similar issues such as smoking (nicotine), illicit drug usage, pharmaceutical abuse, and other substance abuses.

The first mention of alcohol in the Bible deals with the shaming of Noah, and the subsequent mockery by his son Ham.

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Genesis 9:20 21 (NIV) 

This was a foolish indiscretion on the part of Noah. It resulted in his son being cursed, and a family division between the brothers that led to the generational Israel-Philistia conflicts. The next major reference to the use of alcohol in Scripture is when the daughters of Lot got their father drunk.

One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.” That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
Genesis 19:31-33 (NIV)  

This use of alcohol resulted in incest and the formation of a nation that caused Israel many problems. The next major reference to alcohol use is found in Leviticus 10 where Nadab and Abihu enter their priestly service drunk and mock the holy offerings. God strikes them dead. The Lord then gives this warning-

“You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”
Leviticus 10:9 

In the Book of Numbers, the Lord instructs people how to fully commit themselves to Him.

Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink…’
Numbers 6:2-3a (NIV) 

It should be stressed in the midst of these major references, there are other references to alcohol being used in offerings. It was an ingrained part of the culture, in much the same way that polygamy was. But when God would put His blessing on someone, it was said so that an expression of prosperity was used: abundant grain and new wine. For example, Isaac’s blessing of Jacob.

May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness– an abundance of grain and new wine.
Genesis 27:28 (NIV)  

It’s worth noting that the blessing was for “new wine”, (Hebrew word: tiyrowsh), which was different to fermented wine (Hebrew word, yayin). New wine was sweet, freshly squeezed grape juice. Interestingly, every reference to God’s blessing expressed as abundant grain and wine always refers to tiyrowsh, unfermented, sweet grape juice.

When Samson was dedicated to the Lord, he was not to drink alcohol.

 

Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean,
Judges 13:4 (NIV) 

 

Absalom, son of King David, was able to murder his brother because Amnon got drunk.

 

Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Have not I given you this order? Be strong and brave.”
Second Samuel 13:28 (NIV)

 

Proverbs talks about alcohol.

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1 (NIV) 

He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.
Proverbs 21:17 (NIV)

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,
Proverbs 23:20 (NIV)

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.33 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging.35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
Proverbs 23

4 “It is not for kings, O Lemuel– not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,5 lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.6 Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish;7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
Proverbs 31

Isaiah…

Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.
Isaiah 5:11 (NIV) 

Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,
Isaiah 5:22 (NIV)

And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions.
Isaiah 28:7 (NIV)

In Jeremiah 35, the prophet is told to honour the Recabites for abstaining from alcohol-

But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine.’”

Jeremiah 35:6 (NIV)

‘Jonadab son of Recab ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.
Jeremiah 35:14 (NIV)

In reforming Temple worship, God requires this of His priests-

No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court.
Ezekiel 44:21 (NIV)

Daniel refused to drink wine.

 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

 

Daniel 1:8 (NIV)

The prophet Amos laments over Israel’s use of wine –

 

You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

Amos 6:6 (NIV)

 

 

THE OLD TESTAMENT REVELATION

The survey that we have just done of the Old Testament about alcohol, presents an overall message that alcohol is neither wise, beneficial, or complimentary to a godly life. It must be remembered that this is presented against the backdrop of where alcohol was as much a part of culture as eating. Yet the Scriptures present it in the light we have just seen.

 

The phrase “wine and strong drink” is usually found in contexts warning against or forbidding the use of alcoholic beverages (see the following- Lev. 10:9; Num. 6:3; Deut. 29:6; Judges 13:4; 1Samuel 1:15; Isa. 5:11, 22; 22:9. Strong drink is probably beer rather than a distilled liquor…
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, page 1069

 

 

JESUS AND ALCOHOL

Did Christ drink alcohol? Considering what we know about the overall presentation of alcohol in the Old Testament, it would seem a curious thing if Christ drank fermented (alcoholic) beverages. Especially since He was and is our High Priest –

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess),
Hebrews 4:14

– and that God had strictly forbidden the High Priest from drinking alcohol –

Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come)
Leviticus 10:8-9

– it would have been extremely unlikely that Christ would have violated such a basic principle of ministering to God. Some people also use the Nazirite vow of Numbers 6 to substantiate that Christ would not have drunk alcohol. This is perhaps a legitimate use of the passage so long as it is understood that Christ was a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23), not a Nazirite, and that the original passage allowed for the extreme possibility of even grape products being fermented themselves, which was increasingly possible due to desert conditions, and lack of refrigeration. This is confirmed when we observe how the Nazirite vow was applied to John the Baptist.

for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.>
Luke 1:15 

Just as in the Old Testament, where there were two distinguishing words for alcoholic wine, and non-alcoholic wine, so it is that many scholars believe it is with the New Testament. “New Wine” was grape juice that had not been given the time for the sugars in the juice to ferment. The ancients could chill grape juice wine for extended periods of time by placing the wine into skins, tying a rope around it, and dropping it into a cool stream suspended from a tree, to prevent it from becoming fermented. “Wine” in the New Testament is the Greek word: oinos. This word can be either alcoholic wine, ornon-alcoholic wine. For example, there are Scriptures which warn against mis-use of oinos which would acknowledge the Bible’s dual use of this word (Eph. 5:18; Rom. 14:21; 1Tim. 3:8; Titus 2:3- which all imply drunkenness from oinos). But the Greek word for wine which always refers to alcoholic wine (gleukos) is never used of non-alcoholic wine.

There is enough classic literature from antiquity to show that oinos was most commonly non-alcoholic. It was usually condensed through evaporation (either over a flame, or naturally) into a honey-like concentrate that could be rehydrated at a later time. In the Odessey, an ancient Greek tale, the central character sets sail on a ship that takes him on an epic journey. His fluids are sustained as he dilutes the wine-concentrate into oinos(non-alcoholic).

The most common mixture was wine diluted with water. The ratio of water to wine varied, but the quantity of water was almost always greater than that of wine. The favoured mixture for the Greeks was one part wine and three parts water…During Roman times the ordinary table beverage was wine mixed with water (see Ferguson). Since the water was not completely safe to drink, mixing wine with water had a purifying effect on the water (cf. 1Tim 5:23).
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, page 1070

Interestingly, Christ’s first miracle also involved water becoming wine (oinos).

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine (oinos). And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.
John 4:46

This is the wine that Jesus drank. The New Testament has another word that scholar James Strong in the Strong’s Concordance says is used for alcoholic wine: gleukos. This was wine where the sugars had been allowed to ferment it. Strong’s Concordance defines this word for wine as highly intoxicating, fermented wine. On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples are accused of having been drinking too much wine, gleukos, not oinos.

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine (gleukos).”
Acts 2:13

NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING

The question isn’t really – Can a Christian drink alcohol? but, Should a Christian drink alcohol? As I stated at the commencement of this study, your conclusions to this matter have a direct bearing on other issues such as, smoking, drug use, and pharmaceutical abuse, if one is striving for consistency. Are we free to do these things? Apparently. Will these issues veto our salvation in Christ? No. Are there Christians who feel strongly that these matters are definitely wrong? Yes. Are there Christians who believe that a person’s salvation is in doubt if a person lives a lifestyle incorporating these things? Yes. Therefore, should Christians who feel free to participate in these matters flaunt their freedom, either privately or publicly? To this, the New Testament says-

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
Romans 14:21

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
First Corinthians 10:31

A study on alcohol itself is another matter altogether. Suffice to say, I will note the following facts about alcohol itself-

  • In 1991 Australia had the second highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the English speaking world (New Zealand was the highest)
  • In 1997, 3700 Australians died from the effects of alcohol (AIHW, 1999, Media Release: Drug Use In Australia and Its Impact, 31st March 1999)

  • 91% of alcohol consumed by the human body is processed by the liver which has no mechanism for handling it
  • Alcohol affects the brain (loss of memory and brain injury), the muscles (loss of muscle tissue), the heart (high blood pressure), the lungs (increases the likelihood of infection), the stomach (ulcers), the intestines (ulcers), the nervous system (tingling and loss of sensation in the hands and feet), the skin (flushing, sweating, and bruising), the liver (severe swelling and pain, hepatitis, and cirrhosis), the pancreas (pains), the testicles of men (shrinking), and increases the risk of foetal damage to pregnant women.

But doesn’t the Bible teach that a little wine is good for us?

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
First Timothy 5:23

To this we note that it is now scientifically documented that grape juice, not alcoholic wine, has some beneficial health qualities. It is also worth noting that Paul instructed Timothy to drink oinos, not gleukos. For those who feel that too strong a case is being made over Greek words, there is the possibility of oinos being mildly fermented- to which the Scriptures give this warning

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 

There is only one guaranteed way to avoid drunkenness, and that’s to not start drinking. This verse also answers those who say that they drink to relax/forget their troubles/ease their pain, since we have these needs met by the Spirit of God. A person doesn’t need alcohol to be happy. In fact alcohol is actually a depressant. The Psalmist could say –

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
Psalm 4:7

WHAT NOW?

I have sought to give some Biblical and natural reasons for not drinking. I realise that there are people who have strong and differing views about these matters. But I trust that this has given you some food for thought, and that you can come to a position of being fully persuaded in your own mind about these matters. I believe that it is advisable for Christians not to drink. Too many missionaries have been sent back home as alcoholics from cultures where drinking was integral to the culture, after having been told that alcohol was amoral and only subject to cultural context. I believe that Scriptures present the believer with alcohol as being allowable, but strongly unadvisable. I believe the Christian loses nothing by refusing to drink alcohol, but gains much by the same position.

Amen.

© 2000, Andrew Corbett, Legana Tasmania [Printable Edition]

what the bible says about alcohol Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, updated February 26th 2008

– – –

The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBook, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBook, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.

John 5:25 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

 

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