Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Total abstentionism as it is held among such groups as Southern Baptists is a serious compromise of the Christian gospel, not just in its legalism, but also in its sectarianism. Rather than fall out with the legalists in their churches, pastors who should know much better refuse to fellowship with pastors in other denominations if there is any alcohol around. In my experience, total abstentionism is a conviction that many fundamentalist Christians very, very deeply. I have experienced firsthand the irrational reaction that one gets when one attacks this position (and on the principal occasion that I am thinking of I attacked it as a teetotaller). The most interesting thing that I observed was the type of responses that I received when I brought forward Scriptures on the issue. I was told that the Scripture's teaching on the matter was culturally specific, for the OT alone and other things like that. I realized that the allegiance to Scripture was only skin-deep on certain cultural issues. I have never looked at fundamentalism in the same way again. As long as fundamentalist churches continue to insist upon total abstention for members or pastors or celebrate communion with grape juice, I will continue to consider their commitment to sola scriptura to be questionable.