More biblical than the Bible

Scot McKnight on the issue of alcohol (but it could apply to any issue):

It seems every year someone brings up the Bible and alcohol (the drinking kind)…What I find every year in this conversation is a serious, but repeated mistake. The tack is this: If I take a stand more “biblical than the Bible,” then I can’t be wrong. That is, if I choose not to drink at all, I will keep myself from sin and all appearance of evil and will be safe. This is what I call the sin of “zealotry” — the belief that if we are more extreme than the Bible, then we can’t be wrong. Wrong.

If God is God, and if God speaks to us in the Bible, then God spoke words that show that wine drinking is fine. One may choose not to drink, but that view is more extreme than what the Bible says. Drinking too much is contrary to the Bible, but not drinking at all is not what the Bible teaches (except for ascetic strands at time). 

But, let’s not fall for the idea that being more biblical than the Bible is safe ground. Extremism is not righteousness; extremism is zealotry. Trust that what God says is what God wants.  (Link)

14 thoughts on “More biblical than the Bible

  1. Toni

    I wonder if the ink says things that apparently contradicts what that quote appears to say?

    Never mind (and I’m not following it up right now) but I largely agree with that.

    People like to make up rules. As long as I conform to the letter of my law then I shall be fine no matter what else I do. Like Peter, we need to step out of the boat we’ve made, into a place that’s not necessarily comfy or calm, but allows us to walk with Jesus.

  2. Randall

    People do like to make up rules, I agree, and if they/we can create rules that error on the side of “Safety” as far as scriptures are concerned, then we can live our lives by those rules knowing we won’t piss off the rule maker. Which is our motivation.

    It’s sadly easier to do that than to live and listen and learn from God and have a relationship with him by the Spirit, who wrote the book anyway.

  3. Ian H.

    There is no safety in rules. Scripture is clear that we are unable to keep all the commandments necessary to maintain personal holiness. This is not to say that we should throw out all the rules, but we need to be careful not to give them more power than they have.

    I’ve heard legalism defined as “Jesus and”. People who say that in order to be a Christian, you have to follow Jesus and not drink, or not smoke or not swear or do charitable works or whatever.

    Jean, I’d be interested to know from where you would support your assertion that Marc and Scot are wrong.

  4. Dean

    My only issue with the above post, as one who grew being taught that ‘drinking is wrong’ and has come to realize that it’s fine but simply chooses not to, is the mild, or otherwise, implication that those who CHOOSE not to drink, are somehow lumped in with those who equate tetotalling with Biblical Holiness. I KNOW and can plainly see that that is not what he is saying, but there are those who will read it as such. “Extremism is not righteousness; extremism is zealotry,” may then apply to the writers very own statement based upon such a mis-reading or -interpretation.

    Aside from the unfortunate careless tone with which he writes, see above description, he’s bang-on.

  5. Toni

    Dean, it is unfortunate that you and many others have been associated with a certain aggressive element. My SiL grew up in a strictly teetotal household and took (and maintains) the pledge. 150 years ago I might well have taken the pledge too.

  6. Dean

    I don’t remember taking a pledge. There was some sort of sworn affidavit when I was 6, but think that was fer smokin’.

    Actually, what I’m finding most interesting is that this seems to be “pick on Christians who don’t swear or drink” week. I think that may be more of an issue with site admin than any particular author though. Who knows, maybe admin has had a “pick on Christians who DO swear & drink” week…..

  7. Marc

    No. This is not pick on anyone week.

    The post from last week was more of a reflection on who I am and how that does and will relate to vocational ministry. I wasn’t targeting Christians who don’t swear.

    This quote is from a Scot McKnight’s blog in a post published within the couple of days. It struck me as an interesting angle on morality, and not just on the issue of alcohol (as I indicated).

  8. Marc

    “I KNOW and can plainly see that that is not what he is saying, but there are those who will read it as such.”

    So if you know that he’s not saying that, why is it a concern?

    There’s not much that can be done about misinterpretation. The other option–not saying anything at all for fear of misinterpretation–is unreasonable.

  9. Dean

    “So if you know that he’s not saying that, why is it a concern?”

    It’s not a concern for me so much, but as a “hopeless semantic”, and given the overall tone of the discussion last week, I’m just saying that this particular author could have been a little more careful with the tone of his presentation. His use of the phrase “every year” & “serious…repeated mistake” COULD make it sound like Christians who don’t drink ALWAYS equate abstinence with holiness.

    And don’t mistake this for an attack, because it’s not, but it’s the same way you said “the OTHER option- not saying anything..” is ignoring another ACTUAL option….being careful how you write, to avoid mis-interpretation.

    Maybe I’m just being picky, it’s a gift really, but I(bold) understand what he’s getting at. I just don’t like how some people will inevitably just pick out certain irresponsible word choices from the quote and run with them.

    But we should probably digress. We BOTH know, understand, & respect what the author’s intent & purpose are.

  10. Phil L

    My understanding of alcohol has changed a lot over the years, from teetotal to moderate drinking and even in fact winemaking. At the same time I don’t want to question those who come to a different conclusion about alcohol consumption than I do. I’ve seen enough damage from alcohol’s misuse to never question those who feel convinced that it’s wrong to touch it.

  11. Marc

    Dean: I don’t quite follow: are you saying that you are sensitive to the author’s tone because of last week’s discussion or that the author should have been careful of his tone in light of last week’s discussion?

    I ask, because Scot McKnight is not in any way related to this discussion and has in all likelihood never heard of or visited this blog.

    I suspect he says “every year” because he does run into this question regularly and “serious..repeated mistake” because he thinks the notion of being more biblical than the Bible is a serious mistake.

    Of course there are reasons not to drink, but the zealotry he describes is not, in his opinion, one of them.

  12. Eric Lanoie

    I didn’t think that the point wasn’t about alcohol, it was about zealotry, and how as people we like to make up rules to live by that may, or may not, be biblically based. As a MK, my biggest dissapointment with N.A. evangilicalism (not too big of a brush stroke there – is it;) ) is that too many simply blindly follow and have no understanding…are legalistic, and show no love…are quick to judge, instead of leaving the judging to God. How else can we explain evangelicals who often willingly support punishment in lieu of treatment and forgiveness, poverty in lieu of income redistribution and fairness, personal wealth in lieu of rightousness, and country over all?

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