Attorney General: Rogue & Clueless

 

There are times when I look at public officials and for the life of me, honestly cannot believe the things they say. These are people who are public servants, almost all of which are required to swear an oath to uphold the Constitution – and yet they speak words that clearly are in opposition to the Constitution they took an oath to defend. 

Just two days ago the Ag appeared before the NAACP to give a speech. In this speech he said, among many other things:

“it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.”

Really? the “concept” of self-defense? He goes on:

“These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the “if” is important — if no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety.”

All this stems from, of course, the resulting  acquittal of Florida resident George Zimmerman in the charge of Second Degree Murder (and later the Manslaughter as well, added by an activist judge from the bench – a crime in itself) against him for the death of one Travon Martin last week. This incident, that Holder in this same speech refers to as “gun violence“, has brought social unrest all across the US, with attacks against all races by black in an effort to show some sort of solidarity for the injustice they feel has been done against Travon Martin, all the while, with the Attorney General fanning the flames of violence, hatred and racial division. 

Holder is the A.G. Correct me if I’m wrong, but his job is not to create policy – his job is not to drive the Administration in a particular social direction of his choosing- his job is not to push a social agenda – NO!

The office of Attorney General was established by Congress by the Judiciary Act of 1789. The original duties of this officer are “to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the president of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments.” Only in 1870 was the Department of Justice established to support the attorney general in the discharge of his responsibilities.

Please tell me where giving the speech before the NAACP, speaking out against centuries established mandates of the Constitution fall within the auspices of the Office of Attorney General of the US?  They do not. This is political activism from a legal bench. This man tries and in some cases is held to adjudicate cases set before him, not to create them. 

Repeating something that was said by conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin,
when this country was created we heard the cry,  ‘taxation without representation’, now we have
‘representation without representation’, and he’s 100% spot on right.

Congress should censure Eric Holder for acting beyond the scope of his office and demand that he apologize and stand down from his activism.

Boldness in Truth

I was reading through some old devotionals that I had written while still full-time pastoring, and i just thought this was worth sharing – again.


Acts 14:1-3
1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.



Right before Paul was stoned at Lystra (most scholars think to death, but that’s a story for another day…), he and Barnabas were traveling together on Paul’s first missionary journey in the city of Iconium. Paul being an excellent example of an evangelist, shows us some interesting things. 
He took the word directly to the people. He taught doctrine and theology that was contrary to the accepted norm, and did so in their own places of worship. How exciting/dangerous this would have been. Imagine a Protestant pastor teaching that the historical traditions and doctrines of the Catholics are wrong, in many cases heretical, IN a Catholic church! This is what Paul is doing. Taking TRUTH to the people. 
When truth is revealed to a people, some will believe, some will be skeptical, and some (through the hardness of their hearts) will not/cannot believe. Paul faced this problem here. As a speaker of truth, be you a pastor or layperson, you will encounter those who are vehemently opposed to that truth. Of those who oppose you, there are the school of thinkers that will simply shrug and walk away thinking that you are a fool, and then there are those who will not just fight you, but do so by nefarious means. These people are back-stabbers, rumor-mongerers and their job is to stir up strife and discontent among the body of believers. Like Luke says here, they “poison the minds” of believers with their lies. They stay IN the church, and make it their job to destroy what they do not like or agree with. They have a faith based on “feeling” and “emotion”, NOT based on a foundation of scriptural truth.
How do we combat this? Take Paul’s example. Be persistent, and do not give up. Serve the body in defending Christ. Speak Boldly! Speak in grace and love, and know that you always have the truth and the Word on your side. In Paul’s case, his boldness was rewarded by mighty works from the hand of God. But remember, they stoned him in the next city. 

The cost of discipleship is real, and it is extreme. Jesus spent much time relating this truth to us, but we so often over look the price. We have the ability to reap the reward by dying to ourselves. Jesus did not have that option. If all Jesus had to do was die to Himself, there would have been no Cross. We would have had the perfect example, but no propitiation for our sin, no atoning sacrifice. Jesus had to be crucified to give us the opportunity. 

Be prepared to be rewarded for your boldness. But remember, they just might stone you too. If they do, at least you’ll be in good company!

Who’s To Blame? Is there an answer?

A friend of mine and fellow pastor has had a very rough year. His wife has had health issues most of her life, and then last year was diagnosed with cancer. Treatments went well, and then infections set in after surgery.  He was accused of untrue things by some of his church board members and went through a church split. He has had health problems of his own, and his wife had been hospitalized and required surgery for health complications in addition to her cancer. Then, just last week, his mother was diognosed with inoperable and terminal cancer as well. 

How is it that these things happen? It seems that Christians are constantly answering or seeking to answer the seemingly eternal question of, “why do bad things happen to good people”.  While this can be a broad discussion of it’s own, I want us to consider a narrow target thought on this issue.

In a recent discussion about these circumstances, I wrote a letter to a fellow pastor seeking some advise. When asking about this gentlman’s circumstances, one fellow pastor wrote, “…clearly (he) has been under attack for a very long time”. I wondered. Was this an attack by the enemy, or were these simply circumstances that were permitted to happen because we live in a fallen sinful world in constant (physical and moral) decay? More to the point, how do we tell the difference?

Here’s what I wrote, and I ask you to ponder the same questions and reply:

How can you say with certainty that these events are attacks from the enemy? And perhaps the unanswerable question: How do we draw the line/see the line between circumstantial events that come about because we live in a fallen world (illness, disease, ‘natural’ disasters etc), and a persecution that has its source in Satan?

But how can I, you, or anyone be certain that what trials and tribulations we are going through are brought by Satan as an enemy attack? Can’t we overstep ourselves by saying, “this is an attack by the enemy” the first time something happens unexpectedly?
I once counseled a woman that was dead-set on the fact that Satan was manipulating the red lights to make her late for homegroup and church every week. She was convinced it was an attack by the enemy, and that it had nothing to do with the fact that she has three children under 10, and that she simply did not give herself enough time to get ready.
I don’t know if I’m hedging because of lack of understanding or lack of faith, I don’t think so in either case…, but as a Christian I feel that we tend to take a narrow look at ‘when bad things happen to good people’. I feel like our faith compass points to one of two poles: Action of God, or action of Satan. I guess my question is this; is there something in between? Can things happen just because they happen in the process of this fallen world?

Earthquakes. What do we call them; acts of God, because it is nature “doing her thing’’, and man really has no full explanation for it. Tornados, floods, disease etc. From a secular point of view, anything that man cannot fully explain or control we tend to call ‘acts of God’. From a Christian point of view, I think we are less likely to do that. Cases in point would be John Hagee and his blaming Katrina on God’s retribution against a sinful New Orleans, Pat Robertson sourcing the earthquake in Haiti to God as an act of retribution for their sin, or even the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Jerry Falwell saying that the terrorist acts of  9/11/2001 were God taking action against a sinful America. Evangelicals, most of us included, seemed to run as fast as we could to distance ourselves from such a blanket statement on both accounts, that the wind created by all the evangelicals running as quickly as they could to distance themselves from Hagee and Robertson et al may have created a hurricane of its own! In other words, we tend to, in cases such as this, get behind these acts as being natural acts of a fallen world, decaying earth and sin simply having its way on nature and man. We simply describe them as being acts of nature in a world that is no longer perfect, a world that is impacted by sin, falling apart, and that sometimes man simply gets in the path of those actions. After all, were not Christians killed in those acts as well?

Please understand that I am not making this argument personal, this is just a young man trying to align his theology with real world events and in all sincerity seeking wisdom from someone whom I greatly admire. But why in a case such as (a man whom we know), are we willing to so quickly cry “Satan!” when the attacks are against a Godly man, and just as quick or more quickly to say in cases such as Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti “this is not God acting out against man, this is just the result of sin being present in this fallen world” – when if anything it would seem highly more likely that Hagee and Robertson are more likely to be correct? Does it not make more sense that God would have retribution against these sinful, lustful, hedonistic and pagan idolatrous people?

I’m not saying Hagee, Robertson, Wright and Falwell are right. Not even close. I’m not saying everyone in particular is 100% wrong (well, maybe the Rev. Wright…). Maybe you are all right, and maybe you are all wrong. Are we saying then that it just comes down to the ‘gut’? is it simply a matter of spiritual discernment? Obviously we know (some) circumstances very well, and I’ll tell you, my heart just aches when I read (some) stories. …
Why are we so quick to run from the possibility of 9/11, Katrina, the Haiti earthquake etc as being acts of God punishing sinful man, and equally quick to blame Satan for egregious acts in the lives of faithful men? I can see where being to quick to judge things in the manner of Hagee, Robertson, Wright and Falwell would quickly see you branded as, or even turn us into another Westboro Baptists Church! Never want to go there.
Is it wrong for me to ponder such things?

Do we as evangelicals get so focused on grace and explaining God’s love for people that we do not warn them enough of the possibility of His wrath being poured out on a sinful man?

Is there an answer? Probably not. Just exercising my faith and understanding.

Considering Mormonism and Politics

The post shared below was written by Albert Mohler who runs an absolutely excellent blog at www.albermohler.com. It is honest, distinct, intellectual and solid Christian theology applied to our Christian world view. I have written similar posts in the past, but could not have written this better myself. 
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Predictably, Mormonism is in the news again. The presence of two members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints among contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination ensured that it was only a matter of time before Evangelicals, along with other Americans, began to talk openly about what this means for the nation, the church, and the stewardship of political responsibility in the voting booth.
There are numerous ways to frame these questions wrongly. Our responsibility as evangelical Christians is to think seriously and biblically about these issues. The first temptation is to reduce all of these issues to one question. We must address the question of Mormonism as a worldview and judge it by the Bible and historic Christian doctrine. But this does not automatically determine the second question — asking how Mormon identity should inform our political decisions. Nevertheless, for evangelical Christians, our concern must start with theology. Is Mormonism just a distinctive denomination of Christianity?
The answer to that question is definitive. Mormonism does not claim to be just another denomination of Christianity. To the contrary, the central claim of Mormonism is that Christianity was corrupt and incomplete until the restoration of the faith with the advent of the Latter-Day Saints and their scripture, The Book of Mormon. Thus, it is just a matter of intellectual honesty to take Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, at his word when he claimed that true Christianity did not exist from the time of the Apostles until the reestablishment of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods on May 15, 1829.

Related Posts

From a Christian perspective, Mormonism is a new religion, complete with its own scripture, its own priesthood, its own rituals, and its own teachings. Most importantly, those teachings are a repudiation of historic Christian orthodoxy — and were claimed to be so from the moment of Mormonism’s founding forward. Mormonism rejects orthodox Christianity as the very argument for its own existence, and it clearly identifies historic Christianity as a false faith.
Mormonism starts with an understanding of God that rejects both monotheism and the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The Mormon concept of God includes many gods, not one. Furthermore, Mormonism teaches that we are now what God once was and are becoming what He now is. This is in direct conflict with historic Christianity.
Mormonism rejects the Bible as the sole and sufficient authority for the faith, and insists that The Book of Mormon and other authoritative Latter-Day Saints writings constitute God’s final revelation. Furthermore, the authority in Mormonism is mediated through a human priesthood, through whom God is claimed to speak directly and authoritatively to the church. Nothing makes the distinction between Mormonism and historic Christianity more clear than the experience of reading The Book of Mormon. The very subtitle of The Book of MormonAnother Testament of Jesus Christ — makes one of Mormonism’s central claims directly and candidly: That we need another authority to provide what is lacking in the New Testament.
The Mormon doctrine of sin is not that of biblical Christianity, nor is its teaching concerning salvation. Rather than teaching that the death of Christ is alone sufficient for the forgiveness of sins, Mormonism presents a scheme of salvation that amounts to the progressive deification of the believer. According to Mormonism, sinners are not justified by faith alone, but also by works of righteousness and obedience. Mormonism’s teachings concerning Jesus Christ start with a radically different understanding of the Virgin Birth and proceed to a fundamentally different understanding of Christ’s work of salvation.
By its very nature, Mormonism borrows Christian themes, personalities, and narratives. Nevertheless, it rejects what orthodox Christianity affirms and it affirms what orthodox Christianity rejects. It is not orthodox Christianity in a new form or another branch of the Christian tradition. By its own teachings and claims, it rejects any claim of continuity with orthodox Christianity. Insofar as an individual Mormon holds to the teachings of the Latter-Day Saints, he or she repudiates biblical Christianity. There are, no doubt, many Mormons who are not fully aware of the teachings of their church. Nevertheless, the doctrines and teachings of the LDS church are there for all to see.
It is neither slander nor condescension to state clearly that Mormonism is not Christianity. Taking Mormonism on its own terms, one finds a comprehensive set of teachings and doctrines that are self-consciously set against historic Christianity. The larger world may be confused about this, but biblical Christians cannot make this error, for we are certain that the consequences are eternal.
So, how do we move from this knowledge to the question of our social and political responsibility? Can a faithful Christian vote for a Mormon candidate?
It is on this question that Evangelicals must think forcefully, faithfully . . . and fast. We need to recognize that we are asking this question from a privileged historical and political context. For most of our nation’s history, voters have chosen among presidential candidates who were identified, to one degree or another, with some form of Protestant Christianity. To date, for example, America has had only one Roman Catholic president and one Jewish candidate for vice president as a major party nominee.
It can be argued that our contemporary political context puts greater emphasis on the religious identity of candidates at all levels than has ever been experienced in American history. Both major political parties have sought various elements of the religious electorate and have developed strategies accordingly.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Evangelicals stating a desire to vote for candidates for public office who most closely identify with our own beliefs and worldview. Given the importance of the issues at stake and the central role of worldview in the framing of political positions and policies, this intuition is both understandable and right. Likewise, we would naturally expect that adherents of other worldviews would also gravitate in political support to candidates who most fully share their own worldviews.
At the same time, competence for public office is also an important Christian concern, as is made clear in Romans 13. Christians, along with the general public, are not well served by political leaders who, though identifying as Christians, are incompetent. The Reformer Martin Luther is often quoted as saying that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk (Muslim) than an incompetent Christian. We cannot prove that Luther actually made the statement, but it well summarizes an important Christian wisdom.
Furthermore, Christians in other lands and in other political contexts have had to think through these questions, sometimes under urgent and difficult circumstances. Christian citizens of Turkey, for example, must choose among Muslim candidates and parties when voting. Voters in many western states in the United States often have to choose among Mormon candidates. They vote for a Mormon or they do not vote at all.
Furthermore, we must be honest and acknowledge that there are non-Christians or non-evangelicals who share far more of our worldview and policy concerns than some others who identify as Christians. The stewardship of our vote demands that we support those candidates who most clearly and consistently share our worldview and combine these commitments with the competence to serve both faithfully and well.
In a fallen world, political questions are always contextual questions. With fear and trembling, matched with faithful biblical commitments, Christians must support and vote for candidates who will most faithfully and effectively meet these expectations. We must choose between real flesh-and-blood candidates, and not theoretical constructs.
Given all this, we would expect that, under normal circumstances, Mormon voters will support candidates who most fully represent their worldview and concerns. Given the distribution of Mormons in the United States, this means that many Mormons (who would probably prefer to vote for a Mormon candidate), often vote for an evangelical or a Roman Catholic candidate. The reverse is also true. Evangelicals in many parts of the United States vote eagerly for Roman Catholic candidates with whom we share so many policy concerns, and this is true also in reverse. In an increasingly diverse America, we will be faced with very different choices than we have faced in the past.
None of this settles the question of whom Evangelicals should support in the 2012 presidential race. Beyond this, those who support any one candidate for the Republican nomination must, if truly committed to electing a president who most shares their worldview and policy concerns, end up supporting the candidate in the general election who fits that description.
We are facing what are, for America’s Evangelicals, new questions. These questions will call for our most careful, biblical, and faithful thinking. We need to start thinking urgently — long before we enter the voting booth.

Thoughts on the Modern View of Christian Freedom

My heart is one of seeing a radical devotion to Christ among Christians today. Unfortunately, there is a movement currently among the American Christian church where the main focus seems to be on Christian freedom, rather than a Christian lifestyle of holiness and reverence to Jesus. 

I have stated before, both here in the blogosphere and in sermons that there is a very real danger in this current wave of teaching coming from youth oriented churches. Anytime we emphasize personal freedoms over responsibility to others (do not stumble a brother), and reverence to  Jesus (be holy for I am Holy), we are on the wrong and very dangerous path.

Pastor John MacArthur
Despite the fact that I feel as though the bible does not support the Reformed Theology preached by most in the “reformed churches” and pastors of today, specifically the doctrine of predestination as they teach it, I find myself strangely drawn to the teachings of one such man; John MacArthur. 

What the Christian world has in John MacArthur is a well known and well respected pastor who is taking an unpopular stand against what has been coined as the “YRR” (Young, Restless and Reformed) generation of current day Christians. While most are in what we might call the “youth” movement itself (to me that means 20-something or less), many are wildly popular 30-40 something pastors who find emphasizing freedoms does a great deal to fill seats and pews, and get the ‘fan-base’ excited, but fail to look beyond the attendance count or the offering total to look for results or consequences.

Well, I strongly disagree with the YRR movement/trend, and to my liking (and of no great surprise to me), so does John MacArthur. He recently wrote a blog that I have shared below. 

Since this was posted on an open blog, I have copied and pasted it here. For a direct link to this article, click HERE. It is not only relevant to the discussion, but says things with an authority within the Reformed Church that few other can offer. 

Before you read his blog post let me share with you this thought. Speaking from experience, the Seattle area is a tough area when trying to preach a biblical responsibility to holiness. We are the world capitol of the ‘micro-brewery’, and seemingly theological extremes in testing the Hipster Christianity marketplace. I have been openly critical of the reformed theology seemingly so abundant locally, and the ultimate pathway that (when taken advantage of by the human psyche) leads people to go: to SELF first. 

What we face here is an attitude of, “I have freedom, and if you cannot recognize that I have this freedom, than you are…:

[Insert Choice insult here-

1. Too weak of a Christian
2. Too young or uneducated of a Christian
3. Un-elightened

4. Too judmental
5. Pharisaical 
6. etc, etc…]

…less of a Christian than I am, and therefore are to be looked down upon”. Or, “I’m guaranteed a ticket to heaven, I’ll do as I please. All I have to do is ‘redeem‘ these things that I do ‘in the name of Jesus‘, and I can do whatever I want with my freedoms, and everything will be fine.” This sort of theological rhetoric, while perhaps not preached directly- in a word-for-word style from the pulpit, is intimated by so many of the Driscoll/Mars Hill/Acts29/YRR group, and the results are pervasive, self-evident and harmful.


The seriousness of the errors in this theology are, in the end, the results that we see in the youth movement of today. Most young people seem to be gravitating towards this theology. They see a rebellious freedom in it that allows them to identity with, and look no different then the world, a tactic they see as necessary in being able to “reach the current generation”. To them, being indistinguishable from the world has its benefits. 

Additionally, adults who have been seasoned mature Christians are falling back into their old ways as a celebration of these newly re-recognized freedoms. Or, when faced with the challenges of an ongoing Christian life lived out for Jesus, they are choosing to slip back into old habits that they themselves once vilified as sin. 

Regardless of which category one might fall into, those who do not share their views are then deemed theologically shallow or immature now. They shine an aura of ‘enlightenment’ in their faith, that the rest of us have not ‘received’ yet. In other words, who are we to judge their fruit anyway…

It’s so very strange. I do not find Driscoll’s teachings to be so, “Weeee!!!, go do whatever you want, you’re going to heaven no matter what” in style or content.  For the most part these guys do tend to try and preach conservatively in all the right places socially; staunchly anti-abortion, pro-family, anti-gay marriage etc. HOWEVER (and this is the proof of the failure of the doctrine), the net result is not a conservative following. Rather, it is an almost cult-like trail of people reveling in their freedoms that past generations looked upon as sin or even debauchery, flagrantly ignoring the possibility of stumbling a brother, and raising their pastors and teachers to pedestals they should not be on. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and the pudding smells of beer and the stale cigarettes.

That’s the quandary and the proof at the same time. No matter what you preach, conservative or not, if the theology is a guaranteed ticket to heaven no matter what (as is the root to reformed theology and their predestination stance), than the result is the very attitude and lifestyle we see MacArthur speaking out against. Trouble is, MacArthur does not see it that way. He instead finds himself in the unenviable position of criticizing those most popular pastors and teachers in his own Reformed theological movement, all the while being blinded to the fact that it is the theology itself that has caused the problem.

A good friend and mentor of mine, Mr. Justin Alfred, once took me to a verse to prove a point in understanding original language texts. I will never forget his teaching. In Genesis 6:5, only six chapters into the story of God’s Creation, He Himself came to report upon the condition of man, Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” In other words, before the thought even forms in the mind of the man, before that formulated thought can be transferred to the heart of the man, that thought, or the beginnings of that thought, are ALREADY EVIL! 

Given the chance, without the restraint of the Holy Spirit and the heart of a man who’s will is set on the love of Jesus Christ and serving Him, he will chose evil every time! It’s literally a no-brainer. If we allow people even the thought that there is no free-will, a thought that there is no eternal personal accountability, that by being ‘chosen’ or predestined by God means anything less than just the fact that He is all knowing and outside of time able to see what your future holds, then you can preach all the conservative thought and doctrine you like, but the masses will chose evil every time.

To all you YRR’ers out there; Youth will not always be with you. And reformed and restless is no way to go through life.

_______________________________________


Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty

    
Tuesday, August 09, 2011

by John MacArthur
If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.
For some who self-identify as “Young, Restless, and Reformed,” it seems beer is a more popular topic for study and discussion than the doctrine of predestination. They devote whole websites to the celebration of brewed beverages. They earnestly assure one another “that most good theological discussion has historically been done in pubs and drinking places.” They therefore love to meet for “open dialog on faith and culture” wherever beer is served—or better yet, right at the brewery. The connoisseurs among them serve their own brands and even offer lessons in how to make home brew.

It’s clear that beer-loving passion is a prominent badge of identity for many in the YRR movement. Apparently beer is also an essential element in the missional strategy. Mixing booze with ministry is often touted as a necessary means of penetrating western youth culture, and conversely, abstinence is deemed a “sin” to be repented of. After all, in a culture where cool is everything, what could be a better lubricant for one’s testimony than a frosty pint?

Of course, beer is by no means the only token of cultural savvy frequently associated with young-and-restless religion. All kinds of activities deemed vices by mothers everywhere have been adopted as badges of Calvinist identity and thus “redeemed”: tobacco, tattoos, gambling, mixed martial arts, profane language, and lots of explicit talk about sex.

Cast a disapproving eye at any of those activities, and you are likely to be swarmed by restless reformers denouncing legalism and wanting to debate whether it’s a “sin” to drink wine or smoke a cigar. But without even raising the question of whether this or that specific activity is acceptable, indifferent, or out-and-out evil, we surely ought to be able to say that controlled substances and other symbols of secular society’s seamy side are not what the church of Jesus Christ ought to wish to be known for. In fact, until fairly recently, no credible believer in the entire church age would ever have suggested that so many features evoking the ambiance of a pool hall or a casino could also be suitable insignia for the people of God.

It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants—especially in church-sponsored activities. The ravages of alcoholism and drug abuse in our culture are too well known, and no symbol of sin’s bondage is more seductive or more oppressive than booze. I have ministered to hundreds of people over the years who have been delivered from alcohol addiction. Many of them wage a daily battle with fleshly desires made a thousand times more potent because of that addiction. The last thing I would ever want to do is be the cause of stumbling for one of them.

Besides, deliberately cultivating an appetite for beer or a reputation for loving liquor is not merely bad missional strategy and a bad testimony; it is fraught with deadly spiritual dangers. The damage is clearly evident in places where the strategy has been touted. Darrin Patrick, who helped pioneer “Theology at the Bottleworks,” acknowledges the gravity of the problem:

As I coach and mentor church planters and pastors, I am shocked at the number of them who are either addicted or headed toward addiction to alcohol. Increasingly, the same is true with prescription drugs. One pastor I know could not relax without several beers after work and could not sleep without the aid of a sleeping pill. [Church Planter (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 51]

In biblical times, wine was necessary for health reasons. The risk of amoebae and parasites in drinking water could be significantly reduced or eliminated by mixing the water with a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23). The result was a greatly diluted wine that had virtually no potential for making anyone drunk. Purified tap water and refrigeration make even that use of wine unnecessary today.

Contrary to the current mythology, abstinence is no sin—least of all for someone devoted to ministry (Leviticus 10:9; Proverbs 31:4; Luke 1:15). It is, of course, a sin to give one’s mind over to the influence of alcohol or to bedeck one’s reputation with deliberate symbols of debauchery. As a matter of fact, drunkenness and debauchery are the very antithesis of Spirit-filled sanctification (Ephesians 5:18)—and men who indulge in them are not qualified to be spiritual leaders.
Yes, I realize Jesus Himself was referred to by His enemies as “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). But He was none of the things that expression implied—nor did He seek such a reputation.
He was indeed “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” in the sense that He specialized in lifting them up out of the miry clay and setting their feet on a rock. But He did not adopt or encourage their lifestyle. He did not embrace their values or employ expletives borrowed from their vocabulary in order to win their admiration or gain membership in their fraternity. He confronted their wickedness and rebuked their sins as boldly as He preached against the errors of the Pharisees (Matthew 18:7-9).
Note, too, that He ate and drank with Pharisees (Luke 7:36) as readily as He ate and drank with publicans. The only significant difference was that the typical tax collector was more inclined to confess his own desperate need for divine forgiveness than the average self-righteous Pharisee (Mark 2:16-17; Luke 18:1-14).
But there is no suggestion in Scripture that Jesus purposely assumed the look and lifestyle of a publican in order to gain acceptance in a godless subculture. He didn’t.
This tendency to emblazon oneself with symbols of carnal indulgence as if they were valid badges of spiritual identity is one of the more troubling aspects of the YRR movement’s trademark restlessness. It is wrong-headed, carnal, and immature to imagine that bad-boy behavior makes good missional strategy. The image of beer-drinking Bohemianism does nothing to advance the cause of Christ’s kingdom.
Slapping the label “incarnational” on strategies such as this doesn’t alter their true nature. They have more in common with Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom, than with Jesus, who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).
Real Christian liberty is not about flouting taboos and offending conventional notions of propriety. The liberty in which we stand begins with full indemnity from the law’s threats and condemnation—meaning we are at peace with God (Romans 5:1; 8:1). Christian liberty also removes the restrictions of the law’s ceremonial commandments (Colossians 2:16-17)—freeing us from asceticism, superstition, sensuality, and “human precepts and teachings” (vv. 18-23).

But sober-minded self-control and maturity are virtues commanded and commended by Scripture; these are not manmade rules or legalistic standards. As a matter of fact, one of the main qualifications for both deacons and elders in the church is that they cannot be given to much wine. In other words, they are to be known for their sobriety, not for their consumption of beer.

It should not take a doctor of divinity to notice that Scripture consistently celebrates virtues such as self-control, sober-mindedness, purity of heart, the restraint of our fleshly lusts, and similar fruits of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives. Surely these are what we ought hold in highest esteem, model in our daily lives, and honor on our websites, rather than trying so hard to impress the world with unfettered indulgence in the very things that hold so many unbelievers in bondage.