Monday, August 29, 2011

John MacArthur on Alcohol (Or, John Barleycorn)

I've noticed an alarming familiarity that conservative evangelicals have today with alcohol that both bewilders and saddens me. It's a monumental shift from the evangelical Christianity of an earlier day. It's not an improvement.

Well-known evangelical preacher, John MacArthur, preached in great detail on the difference between "wine" as consumed in the biblical times verses the modern varieties of alcohol today. I think these sermons are very helpful.

Unfortunately, MacArthur—not from my Pietistic & holiness Tradition—was hesitant to say Christians just shouldn't drink, period. Perhaps he feared falling into legalism. Well, I'll say it: Christians just shouldn't drink, period. I don't think it's legalistic to expect this of holiness Christians. Through a checklist of eight questions...
1. Is drinking today the same as in Bible times? Or is the wine today the same as then?
2. Is drinking necessary?
3. Is drinking the best choice?
4. Is drinking habit-forming?
5. Is drinking potentially destructive?
6. Is it offensive to other Christians?
7. Will it harm my Christian testimony?
8. Are you really sure it's right to drink? I mean, are you absolutely sure? Because if you have any conviction about it at all you ought to deal with that.
...MacArthur seems to ask for abstinence without flat-out demanding it. Well, I'll demand it: Christians should abstain from alcohol.

Click the hyperlinks below to listen or download his sermons from 1978 for free. (Don't tell MacArthur I said this but if you're short on time I think you can skip Part 1 and jump right into the heart of the discussion with Parts 2 and 3.)

BeNot Drunk with Wine, Part 1
 Be Not Drunk with Wine, Part 2 
Be Not Drunk with Wine, Part 3

Update: In January of 2012 MacArthur again addressed this issue because some "young, restless and Reformed" Calvinistic pastors are openly celebrating alcohol today and, for some bizarre reason that escapes me, making the consumption of hooch a big-ticket Christian liberty issue. ("Christians and Alcohol" overlaps some material found in Parts 1 and 2 in the 1978 series. "Interrogating Alcohol" overlaps 1978's Part 3.) I think his 1978 sermons are crisper in presentation but MacArthur appears even less accommodating to alcohol in 2012, a stance I appreciate. Also, he makes very interesting points about slavery in the Bible as he draws a parallel.

Christians and Alcohol
Interrogating Alcohol