Pass the Port

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This is funny coming from a Baptist theologian and biblical scholar:

If I’m called to preach the gospel among a lot of people who are cultural teetotallers, I’ll give up alcohol for the sake of the gospel. But if they start saying, “You cannot be a Christian and drink alcohol,” I’ll reply, “Pass the port” or “I’ll think I’ll have a glass of Beaujolais with my meal.”

For context and explanation, see the whole quote. It's just funny seeing this from a committed Baptist like Carson, but then again there's only been one time I've seen anything in Carson's writings that I disagree with, and I've read a lot of Carson. In that case he did get it about as wrong as it could be gotten, but it really is the only time I remember thinking that something Carson was writing was surely wrong. (There have been things he's defended that I've had no view on, but that doesn't count as disagreeing with him. There have also been times he's said things I disagreed with, until I finished seeing his arguments, and then I was convinced. But I don't remain in disagreement with him in such cases.)

But there aren't that many Baptists, even Reformed Baptists, with absolutely no qualms about the fundamental morality of drinking alcohol. I'm a complete teetotaler myself, but my reasons for not drinking alcohol have nothing to do with thinking it's wrong to do so. I just think it smells so unappetizing that I've never wanted even to taste it, and so it isn't very tempting to try to develop a taste for something that, given my hypoglycemia, would be extremely unhealthy to drink regularly. I do find myself regularly purchasing 12-packs of Saranac or Sam Adams, however, because someone in the family does happen to have a fondness for those particular beers. I don't think I'd pull one out and start drinking it if I encountered someone claiming that not drinking was essential to being a Christian, but maybe I could pull one out and hand it to someone who would drink it.

9 Comments

Oh, hm. Out of curiosity, if you don't mind saying of course, what was it that Carson said that you disagreed with?

He discusses Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology in a couple places (in Letters Along the Way, pp.151-156 and in The Gagging of God pp.186, 188). He makes some pretty egregious errors in his critique that display that he doesn't understand the view, which is surprising given that his presentation of the view sounds fine until he starts critiquing it, and it's especially out of character for him to get someone's view dead wrong. I'd go into details, but it would take a lot more space than I'd like to devote to it in a comment. Maybe I'll put together a post on it.

It occurred to me after I wrote this that I've also heard his first few sermons on I Peter on MP3, and in one of them he defends the view that Peter is referring to Christ preaching through Noah to spirits now in prison of human beings who then were about to die in the flood (rather than Christ preaching victory demons who sinned in Gen 6 who are imprisoned, which is the dominant view today). At the time, I thought the reasoning of Carson and Grudem in defense of that view was convincing, but then I read a number of other commentaries, and I was convinced away from that position. So it's technically true that I didn't disagree with Carson at the time (and it wasn't in any of his writings anyway, which is all I said anything about). But there are at least those two things that I know I disagree with Carson about (assuming he hasn't changed his mind since then). I can't think of any others at the moment, and I can't imagine them being major disagreements even if there are more.

Since we're dealing with perceived vices, what are reformed views on gambling.

I'm not sure if you're asking or asserting something.

Cool, thanks Jeremy. That's helpful! :-)

I took a look at the pages you cited in Letters Along the Way and The Gagging of God. But I couldn't tell what was wrong with Carson's critique? Of course, that's almost certainly because I've never so much as taken a single philosophy or logic class, nor read Plantinga on foundationalism and properly basic beliefs and so on.

So if you are able to write a fuller post on it, I for one would be very appreciative of your effort! But if not, that's cool, too. :-)

Since we're dealing with perceived vices, what are reformed views on gambling? (That's a question)

Patrick, my critique of Carson on Plantinga is up.

ECS, I don't have a handle on what Reformed theologians in general would say, but I think gambling is very clearly a vice. I'm not sure there's an absolute prohibition on it, but I think there are important moral principles that it goes against in general.

Technically Carson grew up baptist, but I understand that he's EFCA presently, which is not baptist (though some people think it is).

He's been known to describe his theology as Reformed Baptist.

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