Why The Wesleyan Church is Wrong on Alcohol: Part 2

A while back I wrote an article on why The Wesleyan Church is wrong on alcohol and recently received a couple of new comments. You can read the article and comments here. One of the comments was from Denn Guptill who  recently wrote an article for Wesleyan Life magazine called “Why Jesus Drank and I Don’t” . You can read that here. The other article was from a student at Bethany. I’ve wanted to respond to Denn’s article for some time but have held off until now. I figure his comment on my blog is the “green light” to finally do so. So here it goes…

  • In Denn’s comments on my blog he tries to creatively use sarcasm to illustrate that maybe we should also let Wesleyan’s smoke marijuana since the Bible doesn’t address it, and it is no more harmful than overeating (as I argued in my blog on alcohol). Sorry Denn, the difference is that while the Bible does not directly address illegal drugs, it does directly address alcohol and plainly teaches moderation over abstinence, just as you point out in your own article. We can debate marijuana, but the line on alcohol is clearly drawn in scripture.
  • In Denn’s article he points out that water in Jesus’ day was used for “bathing and washing clothes”, and “drinking untreated water would have been dangerous…” He then goes on to argue that the wine that Jesus drank “was mixed with water, usually two parts water and one part wine.” First of all, which is it? Was the water dangerous or not?  Remember, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water (Jn. 4:7) Would He have asked for a drink of water if it were dangerous to drink? History shows that water was very important to the sustaining of life in ancient Palestine, just as it is now, and has been from the beginning of time. Secondly, according to the Old Testament, wine diluted with water  was considered undesirable, a symbol of spiritual adulteration (Isa. 1:22).  When the Bible refers to “mixed wine” it could refer to a number of different mixes.  Ex. wine and myrrh, wine and balsam, wine and oil and garum, and wine mixed with honey and pepper. One shouldn’t assume “mixed wine”  is always referring to water.
  • In reference to the other comments, no, Deborah, we should not drink today just because John Wesley did. But neither should we require members to abstain from something their denominational name-bearer did not. (Nor did Jesus for that matter!)
  • As for finding another denomination, I believe that the Wesleyan Church is big enough and intellectually honest enough to handle challenging debate. If we have to agree with every single jot and tittle with a denomination before joining, we’ll all be standing on our own islands of self-righteousness.
  • Also, as a Wesleyan pastor I take my oath to uphold the membership principles seriously. I have not drank alcohol in 15 years and I will not take those who do so into covenant membership. That is why we have community membership. Although, this is one of the reasons for my argument. Should those who practice the same social customs Jesus did be considered second class citizens in the Wesleyan Church?

While some might be appalled that I would take such a stance on alcohol, I am appalled that for so long we have focused on externals such as alcohol, dancing, and movies as standards for holiness while ignoring such sins as slander, gossip, and racism.  

If we are to reach people for Christ we must be intellectually honest and biblically accurate. Anything less is ammunition for Satan against God’s Church.