Remember the old joke about the Three Great Religious Truths? 1) Jews don’t recognize Jesus as Savior. 2) Protestants don’t recognize the authority of the Pope. 3) Baptists don’t recognize each other coming out of liquor stores… Well that old joke has been put to the test with Pastor Kevin Larson of Karis Community Church who just lost $6,000 in funding from the Missouri because he won’t forbid his church’s members from drinking an occasional beer.
At its December meeting, the executive board of the Missouri Baptist Convention voted 28-10, according to the , to cut funding for all Acts 29-affiliated churches in Missouri. Acts 29 is a church planting, or starting, network based in Seattle. I’ve seen a lot of discussions lately about Christians who drink (I happen to be one of them), and it seems like the whole issue may finally be coming out of the closet.
In fact, I had an interesting conversation with a leading pastor recently who puts forth the fascinating premise that one of the big reasons the church has become irrelevant to the culture in recent years is because it backed prohibition in the early part of this century. It’s an interesting idea, based on the fact that the church actively backed the prohibition of something not expressly forbidden in scripture. Before that time, the church’s voice was a powerful influence in nearly every aspect of community and national life. But after that, the church lost much of it’s moral authority to speak into the culture. Essentially, when the culture saw the church use it’s power over something not expressly a Biblical issue, the church lost it’s credibility in the eyes of the culture.
Is alcohol a huge social problem in the United States? Yes. Should we actively help people struggling with alcohol abuse? Yes. Is alcohol responsible for many social ills? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we should abolish or forbid it.
Reckless driving is a huge social program, but we don’t outlaw cars. Obesity is an incredible problem in America, but those churches who preach against alcohol, rarely if ever preach against over-eating.
Where’s the balance? Did the Baptist denomination over-react in this situation? Should we change our thinking within the church on the subject? What’s your take?