Would Jesus be allowed to be a Southern Baptist pastor?

Would Jesus be allowed to be a Southern Baptist pastor?
By Dan Kimball

"[Editor's Note: This article first appeared in July 2007 on
Dan Kimball's blog, Vintage Faith.]

“I can assure you of this: if you are associated with the use of beverage alcohol, I think I dare exaggerate not to say that 99% of all doors of ministry in the Southern Baptist Convention will be closed to you.”
- Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

I have met wonderful, loving, godly Southern Baptists. I have spoken at two Southern Baptist conferences with wonderful, wonderful people involved in leadership at them whom I met and got to know. I have attended wonderful Southern Baptist churches where God is moving and active - so this is not in any way questioning Southern Baptists at large.

But I just read this quote and read some of the responses to the context of when it was said to Southern Baptist seminary students on a couple of Southern Baptist blogs. I had no idea this was such a big deal to Southern Baptists as to say that almost all ministry doors are closed to you if you drink any alcohol. This is such a very strong and interesting statement to make. It is interesting because when you read Scripture, you read that Jesus created wine and Jesus drank wine. Paul instructed Timothy to drink wine. Martin Luther and John Calvin drank beer and wine. C.S. Lewis whom I believe many Southern Baptists respect and quote - drank beer.

I know getting drunk and abusing wine or beer is sin. Alcohol has horribly destroyed people and their families. No question about it. I have first-hand seen the horrible damage that alcohol abuse has done. But so does preventable obesity and people eating until they clog their arteries and have premature heart attacks and die and their families suffer. So does greed and gluttony cause people to suffer in other ways. So does unhealthy marriages that impact children who even grow up in pastors homes or children in homes where anger issues are a problem etc.

There were alcoholics in Jesus day, so if the whole "causing your brother to stumble" argument was valid in regards to how I have heard it used with alcohol (it is not how it was specifically used in the Bible with that verse), then Jesus Himself was causing brothers to stumble at the wedding He created more wine at.

I hear the "cause your brother to stumble" argument, but I often wonder if it is more about not causing my conservative Christian brother to stumble, than an alcoholic to stumble. As most alcoholics (actually all) I personally know don't mind if you drink a glass of wine or beer in their presence. I have alcoholic friends, and have talked to them about this.

But what is intriguing me about this statement is that with this view, I am wondering - would Jesus then have 99% of the ministry doors shut on Him?......But I would be interested in how this statement would be played out in regards to Jesus, since He drank and even created wine (when there was also alcohol abuse happening in His time) - and even the sacrament of the Lord's Supper/Communion was originally with wine as well. I am wondering about this - especially if you are a Southern Baptist. If Jesus came to apply for a job as a Southern Baptist pastor, would He have 99% of the doors shut?"

Thanks Anne for sending this to me :-)


Anonymous said…
Excellent. Thanks.
Joyce said…
This was a loaded blog entry.

It's going to cause an uproar either way. People are passionate about this issue both ways.

I'm left wondering as to "Why" this article was even posted??

But okay, I'll play.......
Here we go......deep breath.

"Thank GOD for the Southern Baptist!" That's all I can say. At least they didn't ride the fence like other denominations are.

We can see why many people are leaving (and have left)"Charismaina" the "anything goes religion" and are looking for the "conservative churches" that he mentions.

Because people got tired of legalism and traded that for liberalism in our churches. Now we are running for our lives because the pendulum has swung way too far to the other side of this "free" Christianity and we know it. Balance people. Balance.

I already had Dan Kimball's book on order ("They like Jesus but not the church" before this.. should I cancel it? Nope. I had never accessed his website until today either.

This argument never convinces me no matter who uses. No matter whatever spear they use to throw in the direction of the "drink or not to drink subject."

I know ALL the science and the grape juice and vinegar stuff and theories of water and wine in biblical times.
Not buying it.

10 years ago this wouldn't even have been brought up in the church world. Why is it such a hot topic today?? BECAUSE....Controversy sells in all areas....even the church. Especially the church.
Sad thing is....people are buying it and I don't mean just the story either.

I have GRACE for many and most all situations...people go through hard times, people fall, people don't know better people come out of enviroments that embraced this. This is what I have seen first hand through years of ministry "People are hurt and turn to various forms of "sedating" themselves." I don't judge these things. We can't. But I can help them out of it when they ask.

The boundary lines get way out of order, in fact crazy and we do not understand moderation so why even try to think we can drink moderatly...or whatever your vice may be.

It's always interesting how people use examples of Europeans whose cultures embrace drinking in their defense too.
No offense against any Europeans because you KNOW I love them......especially the Brits. YET...I know people that live in those countries and missionaries that do as well and they don't partake. How so??

Kimball lists:
Luther who was German, C.S. Lewis who was British....and Calvin who was French.

How's about using some of America's Old Time Preachers???

Finney who was a GREAT American Revivalist....he preached against drinking and slavery and even TEA AND COFFEE.....because Caffeine "dulled the mind." We all know what a "God" coffee has become to the world...and yes..I am a tea drinker. That's about as "hard" as of drink as it's going to be in my lifetime.

Then there's Billy Sunday...don't forget him. He was a powerhouse preacher against saloons and drinking.

There are many more too...I can go on and on...but it doesn't really matter because I'm not writing this to win my side of the debate.

What does matter is how are WE using our time, and our money and our life for God.

Don't cast your eyes on me. I'm not perfect I don't think I have it all together. I'm not blameless.
Personally though.....
I don't need the "drink. And yes...I have had it. I haven't lived under a rock my entire life.

This statement Kimball made is malarcky too......
"As most alcoholics (actually all) I personally know don't mind if you drink a glass of wine or beer in their presence. I have alcoholic friends, and have talked to them about this."

As far as the Christians "stumbling" in this area. I don't know who he goes to church with but I know people sitting in pews all over the place in all kinds of churches ...and this DOES offend them because they were alcholics. Now EX-alcholics.

It HURTS them to see this entering the church and many of them have very strong points against this.
If anyone would ask them or actually be sensitive to their feelings.

Most of them don't read blogs either. I have names. I know many would love to tell what they lived in and through.

Please think of your children..they are watching you. Please think of others.....they are watching you.

Bible in Basic English:
"We are free to do all things, but there are things which it is not wise to do. We are free to do all things, but not all things are for the common good."

Ask yourself....is this for the "common good" and could I be using my martini money on better causes?? It could buy a cow for a village. Maybe clean water in
stead of vodka shots....just a thought.

Oh and I'm not a Southern Baptist...and my Dad is an Alcholic.
Check please.
Anonymous said…
I think Joyce needs her own blog page. Thanks Carole for a great post!
Anonymous said…
BTW, I DON'T agree with Joyce, as a fence leaning, free, anything goes, can't make up my own mind, CONSERVATIVE, underaged, non-alchoholic, non-denom christian.
Carole Turner said…
Ok, Joyce is my friend even though I disagree with pretty much all 1557 words of her comment :-)

I wont engage though cuz' I'm a lover not a fighter.

She does have her own blog Bradley.
Anonymous said…
I'm not sure what Joyce is trying to say - I've been drunk multiple times (in younger days) - yet I was raised in an abstemious house (my father has never touched a drop of alcohol).

Let's get a few facts straight:

1. The wine in the Bible was fermented wine (John 2:10, Act2:13, Genesis 9:21, Gen. 19:30-36, 1 Sam. 25:36).

2. Jesus and all of his disciples consumed wine (only John the Baptist abstained).

3. Alcoholic drinks were necessary until the early 1800's because of the the poor water quality (often tainted with cholera, salmonella, etc.) in ALL parts of the world. The Islamic world was the only region in the world with sanitation procedures adequate to allow the routine consumption of non-alcoholic beverages. It was the Muslims who first drank coffee - starting in the 10th Century AD. This was a safe drink - since it was boiled and was therefore free of pathogens. It was the stimulant caffeine which fueled the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. It was coffee that kept the Arabs ahead of the West (in science, philosophy, medicine, etc.) well into the sixteenth century. So Finney (Charles Grandison Finney?) said coffee "dulls the mind"? I'm not sure I want to listen to this Finney character - if this sort of odd statement is characteristic of him.
I'll stick with the beer-swilling, pipe-smoking, coffee-drinking C.S. Lewis.
-- Clay Kelly, MD
Son of a Church of Christ Minister
Anonymous said…
Hey baby, you sure know how to stir them up. Debate is always good. Keep up the good work.
Love MOM
HerstoryGirl said…
I have been thinking about typing this for several hours and even slept on it because I DO want to tread lightly and not hurt any of my friends' feelings...

However, that being said, I'm confused by the staunch, patronizing tone that you have used (Joyce). I know you and I (think) I know your heart, so I can't imagine that you meant your post to come across quite as vitriolic as it did.

First and foremost, this IS Carole's blog -- and it is her right to post whatever she pleases here. As a writer, myself, I take considerable offense at anyone who tries to stifle freedom of speech or freedom of the press. I'm not sure why you felt compelled to "bite." As it IS just a blog -- not a national magazine or pending legislation -- you certainly could have just hit the back button on your browser.

I really hesitate to go any further, but I have to ask you, Joyce, why you are so up in arms about this?

I TOTALLY agree with you about many churches today become wishy-washy and "lukewarm;" anyone who knows me has heard me rant against COMFORTABLE Christianity. But I don't consider this one of those issues. This IS NOT a SALVATION ISSUE.

Now, for anyone who does not know me, I admit that I do occasionally enjoy a glass of wine with dinner -- but that is very occasionally. I don't think I've had anything to drink in at least a year and a half! And I grew up around alcohol. More importantly, I have NEVER been drunk. While I stand, convicted, by the need for Christians to abstain from alcohol in the presence of anyone who might be negatively persuaded, I absolutely do NOT agree that abstaining from all alcohol -- at all times -- is required of "real Christians." And I take serious issue with your putting Southern Baptists up on a pedestal as though they have it all figured out. I grew up in the Bible Belt going to church with Southern Baptists and while a good many of them ARE obedient to this self-imposed command, it is well-documented that alcoholism is FAR more prevalent in cultures/religions where alcohol is so condemned. In other words, they preach it, but don't live it. MOST of my Baptist friends were the ones going out and getting drunk on the weekends! But this diatribe is not aimed at putting down the Southern Baptists. I have a lot of respect for them, but I do NOT think they are some shining example that all other churches need to look toward...

Honestly, I could go the rest of my life without ever taking another drink. Seriously. This is just a non-issue with me. And I think that is KEY. If you are convicted against something, then for YOU, it IS a sin. If you are not, then it is not -- especially those things for which the Bible has taken an ambiguous stand.

"Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:16 & 17

I have to respect the views of this author, as well as Mark Batterson, who wrote that legalism in the church negates free will and personal responsibility.
**Alcohol aside, I pray that NONE of my actions ever negatively affect another person's salvation. I'm sure there have been MANY Christians who have never touched a drop of liquor who have done many other things to turn people away from God. In all things, I want to have Christ's heart and I want to yield to His promptings.**
Summer Kelly
staceyn said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Do you know why the Baptist became a Presbyterian?
She/He liked to drink, but could not afford to be an
Much love to all, Anne
Robin said…
Wow It is soo funny how those who say we shouldn't attack seem to do attacking of their own. I am trying to figure out why as the church we feel it so necessary to try to justify appearing as the world. There is not much good that comes from drinking alcohol, so why do it. In our culture especially, it is associated with partying and revelry sp?. Very seldom do I think that a gathering of my closest Christian friends should involve a few beers and wine for those who choose to drink. What is wrong with people living by their convictions? The problem is the church today doesn't want conviction for anything because that would require repentance. Drunkeness, anger, gossiping, sexual sin it all has its end according to the Bible. Of course, I guess one glass of wine is not drunkeness but is it two or maybe three or does it depend on who you are and your body composition. Drink away Christians I guess we'll find out how God feels about it once He burns our works with fire and only the eternal remains.

Robin Waites

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