Simply put, brethren, there are the beer drinkers and the wowsers.
I grew up Lutheran, and the wowsers of my home city were appalled to discover that the gentle, compassionate "we preach Christ crucified" pastor at St. Matthew made wine in his garage. I remember it particularly as the 'scandal' was shared with me, somewhat breathlessly, by a teenage friend with Adventist connections who had made this horrific 'discovery'. Nothing like that in Steps to Christ! I found his consternation quite humorous.
As I morphed into a self-important, intolerant, Bible quoting twenty-something plonker, my allegience shifted to a fundamentalist sect about as far removed from Lutheran orthodoxy as you can get. But one feature remained constant, 'real Christians' could enjoy a beer. And behold, I could even proof text it with a semi-scholarly reference to that marvellous koine word oinos (as in "take a little oinos for thy stomach's sake.") Grape juice? Considering the use of the same term in Revelation, I think not.
Parenthetical qualifier: I've never been drunk in my life, and never failed a breath test. My personal limit is fairly low and as I'm one of those boring people who doesn't like to lose control, there isn't much temptation to excess. To be clear though, people who have a drinking problem should stop and seek help. In my fundamentalist years I became aware that drinking could indeed be a big problem for "Bible-believin'" folk, and especially morally compromised pastors under pressure (which was essentially the entire ordained ministry of that particular sect!) Just like people with religious delusions should swear off their red letter King James Bible, Eddie Long should stay well clear of teenage boys, and those of us a tad heavy on the scales should avoid buckets of KFC, so too with the demon drink. But for most of us that isn't a concern, and I guiltlessly relish a good dark brew with a pub meal and occasionally, in the company of more refined tastes, a glass of red wine.
I know the wowsers have a few choice proof texts of their own, but they've never impressed me. I once attended a men's function organised by the local Baptist church where the guest speaker gave his testimony. He had been a very bad boy before the Lord had come into his life. He had been to Japan on business and imbibed a little saki! Worse, he had moved his lawns on Sunday a couple of times before the light shone down from above. Depravity unparalleled! I couldn't quite work out what he was repenting for...
I mention this in light of a posting by John Petty (reacting to a posting by Timothy Dalrymple.) Why is it that the 'dry evangelicals' find a glass of beer - even a low alcohol brew - such an issue, wouldn't be caught dead with a lawnmower on Sunday, and yet seem so totally blind to the big issues that move out from morbid personal piety into the real world?
Petty concludes his piece thusly:
In taking mainliners to task, Dalrymple makes no reference to any particular Biblical teaching. It appears he believes that his evangelical childhood was, without question, Biblical. He seems to assume that the mores and customs he was taught growing up in an evangelical household pretty much are the Christian faith.
That being the case, it's not surprising that he thinks evangelicals understand the Bible better without seminary training than mainliners do with it:
For instance, students (like myself) who had attended Bible churches or belonged to evangelical fellowships knew the Bible on the first day of the year-long survey course as well as the rest of the students knew the Bible on the final day of that course.
Even allowing for rhetorical license, I doubt that very much.And that about says it all.