Monday, March 5, 2012

Dr. R. L. Sumner on "Ancient Wine and the Bible"

ANCIENT WINE AND THE BIBLE: The Case for Abstinence by David R. Brumbelow; Free Church Press, Carrollton, GA; 10 Chapters, 306 Pages; $21.00, Paper

The author obviously hates booze, and for good reason. He never knew his grandmother, who died when his dad was only six. She had been stricken with a severe case of appendicitis and her husband rushed her to the nearby Sugar Land (TX) hospital. The doctor could not be found and after failed attempts to locate him, his grandfather went looking for him. He eventually found him hopelessly intoxicated at an area beer joint. By the time the husband got back to the hospital, his wife was dead. If that wouldn’t make you hate booze, I don’t know what would. And that story is only one in millions that could be told.

As Brumbelow said in his Introduction: “Some claim those who are educated cannot and do not oppose alcohol.” He explodes that myth by giving quotes from many highly educated individuals, both dead and living, who fought it.

We fear the average Christian – and even some of the church leaders who speak and write on the subject – simply conclude that every reference of ‘wine’ in the Bible is alcoholic and intended by God for our pleasure (in moderation, of course). They do so at their peril and the welfare of their hearers/readers. These supports for alcohol are grossly unfair and patently untrue, as the author documents (there are well over 400 notes). Brumbelow proves the ancient words for wine in the Bible referred to “grapes still on the vine, fresh expressed grape juice, fermented wine, preserved unfermented wine, wine greatly watered down, and vinegar.” Yes, all of the above!

This book has everything you always wanted to know about wine (and grape juice) – and some you probably didn’t! There are ten hard-hitting chapters and five helpful Appendices. At least two sections deal with problem passages. He quotes a wide range of authors.

In short, Brumbelow’s research is amazing – and thorough! If someone today tells you all wine is intoxicating, or that the ancients didn’t know how to preserve fresh grape juice to keep it from becoming alcoholic, just smile and hand him this book! When referring to nonalcoholic wine the ancients often called it ‘wine that doesn’t hurt the head.’ In short, no hangover!

Ancient Wine is also the kind of book preachers and teachers need to have handy on a shelf for quick reference in time of debate or discussion – and in counseling! As Brumbelow notes, “Many pastors, youth ministers, and parents who see the danger of beverage alcohol do not have the information and resources to speak up about the issue.” This book solves that problem. It will especially convince honest people that neither Jesus nor the Bible promoted the use of anything alcoholic.

As Billy Sunday would sum it up, “Get on the water wagon!”

In addition to the hundreds of notes (documentation) there are five Appendices. A small portion of this book was previously printed in our magazine, The Biblical Evangelist. Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote the Foreword.

We urge you to get Ancient Wine & the Bible, the Case for Abstinence. It is worth every penny it will cost you – and then some!

-Dr. R. L. Sumner, Editor, The Biblical Evangelist

The above article can be found at Book Reviews, Biblical Evangelist.  Reprinted here by permission.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 5, AD 2012.

For ways to purchase "Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence," click the book cover in the right margin.

Other Articles:
Ancient Wine and the Bible - the book
Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
2006 SBC Resolution on Alcohol Use in America
Book Review of "Alcohol Today" by R. L. Sumner
Other articles in lower right margin. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dr. Robert Wring on Baptists and Elder Rule

The past few years have seen an upsurge in Elder Rule and Elder Leadership in Baptist churches. Many Southern Baptist churches have been convinced by new pastors (often, but not always Calvinist or Reformed Baptist) to change from being ruled by the congregation, to being ruled by a small group of elders. Often this pastor then proceeds to select a group of his close friends as elders, thus insulating him from congregational vote and authority. 

Southern Baptists have historically believed Scripture teaches the church is to be governed by the congregation. While the pastor is to be the spiritual leader, and the deacons and others have influence, the final decisions are to be made by the congregation, the members of the church. 

“Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.” -Baptist Faith & Message, 2000; SBC doctrinal statement.

Following are notable quotes on Elders and Church Governance from Dr. Robert A. Wring of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. These excerpts are quoted from the Biblical Evangelist, 2012. Footnotes have not been included.

“There are three Greek words, however, that are used interchangeably in several New Testament passages that express the idea of elder leadership which was practiced in the early stages of church development. These are presbuteros, episkopos, and poimen. The English equivalent is elder, bishop, and pastor.” -Dr. Robert A. Wring, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

“The congregational model was widely practiced in the first century New Testament church, apparently by theological design. This was the only form of government practiced among primitive Christians until the second century when changes began to be made in church polity.
The elders and deacons could make their voices heard in any matter pertaining to the church’s welfare, but they did not have exclusive governmental prerogative. Under Christ, the whole congregation was the final court of appeal.” -Dr. Robert A. Wring

“In the Book of Acts, many important decisions were made by individual congregations. It was the entire church that chose the first deacons in Acts 6:5. In Acts 13:1-4, the whole church sent out Barnabas and Saul to do mission work, and in Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council included the messengers from at least one local congregation from Antioch (15:23), as well as the believers in the Jerusalem assembly. Paul instructed the Corinthian church to be responsible believers and take charge of their own affairs.” -Robert A. Wring

“One will search in vain in the annals of early American Baptist church history to find ruling elders operating as a board of administrator/rulers with one preaching elder and the rest laymen who do not minister the Word and preach.” -Robert A Wring

“Since their beginning in 1845, every major Southern Baptist writer, minister and other leaders have consistently argued that a Baptist church has only two biblical church officers. These are pastors and deacons.” -Robert A Wring

“The office of ruling elders is really a recent development in Southern Baptist thinking which has begun to take root and grow at an alarming rate since the early 1990s. The idea of having ruling elders in a Baptist church in modern times is confusing, especially when those favoring having elders in their churches refer to them as elder leadership, rather than elder rulers. Whatever name is given to this group of leaders in a Baptist church, the truth of the matter is, elder rule is not necessary. It does not have biblical support, nor does it have strong historical Baptist precedence.” -Robert A. Wring

“The pastor, deacons, and other leaders work together as a team in helping the congregation in seeking the will of Christ as they meet together in doing the business of the church. Elder rule usurps the priesthood of the believer role because it denies the church members their right and privilege as believers to make decisions affecting the welfare of the church.” -Robert A. Wring 

See the entire article, Elder Rule and Southern Baptist Church Polity at The Biblical Evangelist, or the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry Vol. 3 No. 1 (Spring 2005): 188-212.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 1, AD 2012. 

Other Articles:
Books on Calvinism, Predestination
Brief History of SBC Conservative Resurgence
Acts 29, Alcohol, and the Southern Baptist Convention
Top Three Seminaries
Adrian Rogers on "Wit & Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow"
Adrian Rogers on Predestination, Calvinism
Paige Patterson on Calvinism
More article in lower right margin.