David Westerfield

Theology, Culture, Technology, Reviews, and Other Commentary

Mark Driscoll on Alcohol – Man Does He Bring It


Within the Christian world, there are many who seem to think that just because there are those who abuse alcohol, we should eradicate it altogether. So just because some people abuse and rape women, does that mean we should get rid of them too? Or because some abuse food we should all starve? It’s an absurd argument. And that’s Driscoll’s point. Eradicating alcohol is not the answer, but rather turning to the Scriptures for answers concerning it. And it is clear: do not get drunk (not, Don’t drink at all) but rather moderation and special attention to your fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. Unfortunately though, many have gone to the Scriptures to support their self-conceived idea concerning this (and I say unfortunately because of the conclusion that these fellow believers have arrived at from the Scriptures and the poor exegesis done to arrive at those conclusions). They’ve gone to the Scriptures with the preconceived idea that alcohol is wrong altogether and then find Scripture (ignoring context) to support their idea (much like those seeking to support the idea that the Earth is the center of the universe).

One argument from this group goes like this: “Well, the alcohol in Jesus’ day had very little alcohol in it,” or, “The ‘wine’ was really just grape juice in the Scriptures.” Oh really? Why did the Scribes and Pharisees call Jesus a drunkard then if he was just drinking watered down wine or grape juice? Still haven’t heard a good answer for that yet … usually ends in a circular argument, trying to reinforce their former point which has already been squashed. Driscoll totally takes this thinking apart and doesn’t really hold back on it, and I’m glad, because these people’s thoughts on eradicating alcohol and stating that anyone who drinks alcohol is sinning all amounts to legalism (or maintaining your own righteousness before God for either temporal or eternal acceptance – Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, etc). He brings church history, Scripture, as well as personal experience to the table and does a fine job of drilling home the fact that drinking is not the problem but rather excessiveness in it, as with anything else.


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  1. tom

    If I hang out with gang members does that mean I am in the gang. Just because they called Jesus a drunkard doesn’t mean he drank. Why did Paul have to tell timothy to drink? Why wasn’t he already drinking if that was modeled. Wine in biblical times is equal to about in alcohol content to our apple juice today. Sixteen glasses to equal a single beer today. (Yale University study 1994) How do we have such high alcohol content today? Distillation, which came about in the dark ages. So our wine and Jesus’ wine quiet different. Our wine would equal the bibles strong drink (Yale ’94). Lastly Pentecost, they asked are these men drunk? Their defense, no its like 9a.m.. Why is that important? To get drunk on their wine one must drink all day to achieve being drunk. You can achieve that today under an hour with our wine or strong drink. I agree this is not a hill to die on but many are so uneducated on this issue.

    • What did Jesus institute communion with? If you say grape juice, you’re 1800 years early, since Mr. Welch is the one who invented that.

    • Cicero

      Beer and wine are and always have been non-distilled beverages. How lot and anyone else in the old testament managed to get drunk if the technology required to produce those inebriating beverages hadnt been invented yet is beyond me…

  2. Jeremy

    With soooooooo many problems in our society that stem from alcohol I do not know why any Christian would be such a strong supporter of drinking? Yes, we are allowed to do many things according to the Bible but we are not commanded to drink alcohol and I believe that it is a very bad example to set to others(especially our kids) as we may be leading them down the road of excess because it can easily be used as a horrible addiction. So I know you can work yourself around that last sentence and come up with all kinds of justification for drinking but if your goal is to honor God with your life and not just please your own worldly desires then I hope you will consider this issue deeper. Will you be the one to define excess for everyone? I pray that you will look into all of the ramifications of drinking in our society and make a decision as to whether it is wise (not just allowed) to drink alcohol. Honor God as wholly (and Holy) as possible with your life – Is your drinking for that purpose or your own? Many times my abstaining from drink has led others to question why, which leads me to talk about my Savior. When we look different they have a reason to question why, when we look the same they don’t. What is your purpose for drinking alcohol?

  3. A doctrine based on tradition if I’ve ever heard one, both of you. Probably didn’t even listen to the talk huh? I’d be curious.

    “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we prohibit and abolish women? The sun, moon, and stars have been worshipped. Shall we pluck them out of the sky?” – Luther

  4. Your slippery slope arguments simply don’t fly … the reality is everything is a slippery slope, we live in a fallen world. The Bible has very specific outlines for handling drinking: drunkenness is a sin. No we aren’t commanded to drink, no one ever said that. This is a nonsensical argument (??). Neither is it demanded we abstain. It’s fine if you do, no problem for those who do so. Just don’t tell me it’s a sin if I drink, for it’s no where commanded as such. You think the “fruit of the vine” Jesus speaks of at the wedding feast of the Lamb will be grape juice? This is all just straight up legalism, Galatians has a few things to say about that.

    One of the first blessings the Lord took away from Israel was their wine (not their grape juice, invented by none other than Mr. Welch in 1800’s). Wonder why. Psalms speaks of wine gladdening the heart. It’s a blessing of God. Can it be abused? Sure, just like sex, food (Southern Baptists are notorious for this and yet refuse to preach against it (??)), money, thousands of things.

    At the same time Proverbs speaks of strong drink being a brawler. Drunkenness is a sin. One word to sum this up: moderation. Maybe if we taught our children this concept in regard to drinking maybe they wouldn’t be prone to excess? Something to think about. Legalism bends kids very hardly toward excess in my opinion, as opposed to moderation and temperance. One pastor noted that legalism produces the worst kinds of disobedience. If children knew how to handle alcohol once they encountered it in college, maybe they would deal with it better.

  5. Jeremy

    Well, you still did not address the issues or questions that were brought up in my last comment (did you read it). Watch a few hundred alcohol commercials, look at the deaths and vehicle accidents caused by it, look at the families ripped apart by it, look at the money wasted by it. The commercials will show you the extreme worldly purposes of alcohol. So, as a Christian do you think it is wise to drink alcohol and what is YOUR purpose for drinking?

    • Yes I read your comment. I don’t always respond to absolutely everything someone says but I will respond to your questions since you insist on direct answers (still not sure why you care since you seem unwilling and closed to changing your opinion).

      Again, have you listened to the talk? I doubt it since the media was moved unbeknownst to me from the original link and I had to change the link to the new audio (it’s up now, please give it a listen). Being that you are completely dug in on your position, closed to any possible change of opinion as far as I can tell, I’m not sure how much purpose this will serve. Ingrained tradition is informing your opinion of what Scripture says concerning this and having me respond in a thorough way would do little to change your opinion. Nevertheless, I’ll respond …

      “Will you be the one to define excess for everyone?”

      It depends on someone’s tolerance level. Excess would be getting to a point where you don’t have your wits about you and lose judgment. That’s too much and that is getting drunk. It’s different for different people. Moderation means staying sober while enjoying a drink. I max out at about two drinks, usually over a few hours, with the knowledge that one drink metabolizes in about an hour (meaning it’s effects completely wear off).

      “Honor God as wholly (and Holy) as possible with your life – Is your drinking for that purpose or your own?”

      [My response] “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV) … so yes, when I drink I thank God for His provision, just as Israel did in the OT.

      “What is your purpose for drinking alcohol?”

      The enjoyment it brings and thus turning that enjoyment around to giving God glory, just like you enjoy eating food that isn’t good for you but tastes amazing or making love to your wife, etc.

      “I pray that you will look into all of the ramifications of drinking in our society and make a decision as to whether it is wise (not just allowed) to drink alcohol.”

      I have looked at and know the ramifications of drinking on society. There’s certainly a lot of bad. I’ve seen the statistics. I also know the ramifications of over-eating on our society, or eating mass amounts of processed food that many Baptist (sorry to pick on Baptists, the stereotype is too easy to use) pastors heartily endorse as no problem (by their lifestyle), that more people die of heart attacks than die in drunk-driving related cases as a result of poor diet each year. Do we ban fatty foods since people misuse them? What about texting while driving? Have you done that? That’s just as dangerous as drunk driving according to a study I read about last year. Alcohol, the object, isn’t the problem. Sinful people’s use of it is the problem, just as it is with money, sex, excessive TV watching. Why do you watch TV? (Maybe you don’t, but you get my point). The misuse of alcohol or anything else is a heart/soul issue, not a substance issue.

      One last thing I’d like to add to this whole discussion: the Reformation (i.e. the recovery of the Gospel) came to England in a pub called the White Horse Inn. The Gospel broke through with people hammering out theology over a couple of pints. To lambaste alcohol itself as the problem as opposed to people’s misuse of it is misguided.

      Again I want to stress that I appreciate people’s desire to abstain. I have no problem with that and have friends who do so, and they have no problem with me drinking. I don’t think everyone should drink and in many instances, I shouldn’t drink around weaker brothers or people who have had a problem and am conscious of that. I just think your desire for what amounts to the re-institution of prohibition, which was an utter failure and created greater problems, is misguided, nearsighted and extremely eisegetical as it pertains to Scripture informing your position.

  6. I have yet to find anything related to a Yale study from 1994 on the alcohol content from Biblical times. Please cite this for the discussion. I’d love to read it, honestly. As cited from one pastor I read against all of these low-alcohol positions being posited: “Virtually every scholar agrees that the alcohol content of wine during Biblical times was usually between 5-20%, which is enough to intoxicate.” You don’t need distillation processes to ferment grapes my friends. You should watch how wine is made on youtube.

  7. One more thing: “Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.” – Genesis 9:20-21

    If wine couldn’t ferment to produce alcohol above a certain level during the time of Noah (with the absence of distillation as posited, though wine doesn’t require distillation, for the record), how much wine do you think Noah would have had to drink to become drunk? Quite a bit I would surmise, which is just nonsense. That wine was at a normal level of alcohol at the point wine ferments. This business about lesser amounts of alcohol before distillation was invented are fallacious.

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