I strongly object to the tyrannic and unscriptural insolence of anything that calls itself a Church and makes teetotalism a condition of membership. Apart from the more serious objection (that Our Lord Himself turned water into wine and made wine the medium of the only rite He imposed on all His followers), it is so provincial (what I believe you people call "small town").
Now, I don't know that its being a "small town" idea really does to these fellows' arguement, but that's beside the point. The weight of Lewis's response to them lies in the word unscriptural.
Fast forward 60 years.
The Missouri Baptist Convention has recently moved that any church plant receiving funding from them must teach alcohol abstinence. This is a reaction to Theology at the Bottleworks, an outreach of the Journey church(who was funded by the MBC), where folks would essentially drink beer and discuss different topics. While Donald Miller would likely applaud such a concept, this Rasta-esque outreach doesn't do it for me. Beer and church may not be incongruent, but I don't see them as really congruent in this sense, especially given the divisive nature of the conflict over alcohol, and the serious conviction that many believers have against it. Drink your beers after the discussion, but alas, here we are.
And here the MBC is.
While I would have expected a response to this, I would NOT have foreseen
Church planters who receive money from the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) must now teach alcohol abstinence.
This, under the banner "we need to engage the culture, but without compromising our biblical, traditional Baptist values." Baptist values, I'm afraid so. Biblical? No.
Now, there certainly are Biblical restrictions on alcohol consumption. The warnings against drunkenness are plentiful(see Lk 21:34 and Gal 5:21, for example). Also, any Christian under the age of 21 in the United States simply cannot drink. To disregard the law of the land is not only unbiblical, but it only betrays a spirit of impatient selfishness that cannot be supported before God by any arguement. These warnings in scripture should be acknowledged with the utmost seriousness by the Body.
Nevertheless, arguements for complete abstinence from alcohol are unfounded. As Lewis points out, the Eucharist itself involves alcohol, and we can't that little incident in Cana at the wedding feast, Christ's first miracle.
In all of this, I'm reminded of a comment made recently on one of Internet Monk's posts, originally in a discussion concerning Harry Potter, but is general enough to speak volumes here:
. . .don’t underestimate the effect of rhetoric coming from the Religious Right;every statement they make, in word or deed, tends to convince the rest of us how wrong they and their creed are and vindicating the truth of Nietzsche statement in The Gay Science (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, 1882) ‘The Christian desire to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad’.
The only results I can see coming from this sort of move are 1) the growing discontent of many with the SBC; 2) the further fragmentation caused by a convention cutting ties with more culturally liberal partners; and 3) the continued estrangement, unnecessarily, of those we are supposed to be reaching. . . all to uphold a principle that is "hard to argue" for anyways.
And yet the really scary part is, this could be indicative of things to come. According to CT's article, there were "heated arguements" on the topic at the annual SBC meeting in June, followed by an affirmation of abstinence. The heated arguements give me hope, as there are apparently those against unfounded teachings that serve to further ostracize many outsiders. It did pass in the end, but I have a feeling that this topic will be revisited before long.
One of my major disputes with the very foundations of the Southern Baptist church has been the lack of established authority, i.e., we have self-governing congregations and the Bible, without any real denomination-wide rule over the individual churches and without tradition or an authoritative standard by which to interpret the scripture. This turn of events, however, is one case where I am glad for the deficit; otherwise the SBC would likely impose this "tyrannic and unscriptural insolence" on us all.
My hope now is that those of us who are indeed disturbed by such decisions will continue to argue heatedly, and pray for their leaders to exercise more Biblically sound judgement.