Besides the issue of music, there is perhaps no more controversial topic for Christians today than whether believers should partake of alcoholic beverages.
Two potential errors exist in this discussion. First, some Christians argue that Christians in the first century (i.e. during and after Jesus’ ministry on earth) did not drink beverages with any alcoholic content whatsoever. They argue that when the Bible refers to “wine” or “the “fruit of the vine,” it is simply referring to grape juice. This position, perhaps the most prevalent argument for total abstinence in some circles, is simply grammatically and historically impossible, however. It is undeniable that Jews and Christians drank beverages with alcoholic content for centuries.
The other error however, is to assume that the alcoholic beverages served in restaurants and bars or sold in the grocery store are exactly the same as those that Jesus and the early Christians would have drunk. This position, although perhaps not as obvious, is nevertheless just as grammatically and historically errant as the previous position.
Randy Jaeggli, in his book, The Christian and Drinking: A Biblical Perspective does not fall into either of these traps. Dr. Jaeglli biblically, historically, and logically argues that abstinence is probably the best position for 21st century Americans to take, but he recognizes two important facts that resist the pull of either errant position above: (1) People in times past (including Jews and Christians) have by necessity drunk beverages with alcoholic content for health reasons, and (2) The alcoholic beverages of that time had much, much less alcoholic content than those of today. This leads to a biblically-wise conclusion that since the Bible warns against the dangers of the effects of alcohol, and since we don’t really need alcohol to purify our beverages today, it may be wisest for Christians to abstain.
From the book’s website:
Does the Bible condemn drinking? Some verses seem to point to wine as a permissible drink given by God for man’s enjoyment. Other verses warn against the dangers of wine and strong drink. How does a Christian make the right choice on this controversial topic? For the Christian today, testimony and prudence demand a careful examination of what the Scriptures teach on this subject. In The Christian and Drinking, Randy Jaeggli examines relevant passages in the light of thorough research into ancient and modern cultural norms and expectations.
I highly recommend this book as a very helpful tool in dealing with this controversial, yet important topic.
Let me also put a quick plug in for another of Dr. Jaeggli’s books that deals with broader related issues, Love, Liberty, and Christian Conscience.