Here is a link to begin with to educate yourself on what we are actually discussing… It may not be updated with the final changes from the last few days but it’s basically intact.
It’s sad we must have a position paper on anything, but society pushes all limits and challenges all things; this bringing about position papers on common daily activities or practices. Recently, the Assemblies of God USA posted their new revision to the position paper concerning the consumption of alcohol. I’m sure this blog post comes somewhere amid a line of hundreds of other postings.
Many people, according to the massive number of posts on social media of late, are up in arms on both sides of this issue. I personally see the rants for and against the consumption of alcohol. The thing I think that is being lost is the position paper, to my knowledge, does not even state the BIBLE says drinking alcohol is a sin. I believe it brings the issue to a standard of living required of the ministers signing a card with the Assemblies of God USA. I have seen arguments of culture, relational connectivity, and even ignorant disputes of it not being scriptural. The thing it all comes down to is there are millions of churches out there and the fellowship of the Assemblies of God USA has always stood by the POSITION on this subject as a STANDARD of living not adding it to the Big Ten as if it were the 11th commandment. The position papers we have are based on scripture; but there is not a scripture that strictly says do not consume an ounce of alcohol at any time as a believer. That said… I believe the following is stated in scripture and I know you, as my readers, will let me know if I have misquoted or missed something.
I believe the description is, the AG USA has a stance of abstinence as the WISE course for Christians. I have heard shouts of legalism and backwoods teaching, as well as sinner, or hand over your papers as a joke. To me, none of that is funny and I find it filled with disrespect and cynicism rather than humor. I am credentialed with the AG USA and I travel the world and meet other AG nationals who are perfectly fine with drinking; do I condemn them and hold them to the standard of the USA AG…no. I love them where they are and pray for them, I love them regardless of their life decisions… if they choose to drink, it’s a choice an individual makes. However, I have signed my card and am held to another standard requiring integrity out of me.
I don’t believe preaching or teaching against something is of any value unless we preach and LIVE the Word. This position paper is not a doctrine… we are not a denomination and many can call it splitting hairs but I believe this is where they become ignorant. We set standards because people innately push their boundaries and limits so we must place a standard SOMEWHERE and who’s to say where but a panel made of varying thoughts. I realize there is a depth of eisegesis versus exegesis in this position paper but it is not unfounded.
Enrichment Magazine (RIP) once had an article stating, in so many words, that we as ministers would have less stress in the ministry if we would just stop expecting our congregation to act like mature believers. This is an intriguing thought? Where does that leave us? Maybe at… hmm…..stop demanding they act mature and start helping (disciple) them to actually be mature? Or… Is this too much work? Yes there’s the four letter word!!!
I may sound a little conflicting in the following line of thinking, but I would love some of your insight back with more than your opinion of course… because we all have feelings and opinions but it doesn’t make us RIGHT or CORRECT.
I can preach the wisdom in abstinence, because there is a LOT of wisdom in it, and I can also preach against the sin of drunkenness. But I am not sure I can say that choosing to not abstain from all alcohol is itself a sin.
I do not believe alcohol has any place in the life of a minister of the Gospel. I am very glad to hear that our leaders believe the same. There are plenty of independent groups that would like to have your dues if you want to carry a bible in one hand and a drink in the other.
To bring a little thought provocation to the subject I would like to present a quote from Jason Stidham, a moderator of Conservatively Speaking…in the Assemblies of God, “That clarity has been brought here repeatedly. HOW, they arrive at abstinence has always been the issue. For example, this particular paper made inference that Jesus created fermented alcoholic beverage. Such is unacceptable. It was this kind of liberal ‘scholarship’ which was debated and amended. Some believer in the fellowship have said things such as I am still sickened and in utter amazement that this topic is even up for debate in the first place!! And then, it just infuriates me!! We are STILL the church of the living God! We are STILL called to be Holy! As others have commented that …What other distinctive are we willing to sell out to the intellectuals of the religious world? By the way, these are the same intellectuals who think we are demon possessed or mentally deranged because we speak in tongues…. I should say there are even some extremist that are on record stating…The single people could use this rationale. …we can have sex just not enough that pregnancy occurs. …nuts”
All this to say this is not a topic that is sneaking by us. Here are more quotes from ministers in the AG and some adherents…
“This opinion is not scriptural. It is religious and adds to the Word. It is the simple Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit that changes the life of the believer, not man-made rules. What we have created is a group of people who are following rules and do not know Jesus.” `Bridget ‘a Milleniel’
“As believers we must draw a line on the use of alcohol. If we draw the line at the point of moderation, our ministers will soon find it necessary to exhort congregations to forsake drunkenness. If we draw the line at total abstinence, we will save a multitude of young and old from the sin of alcoholism.” ~David Messener ‘Gen X’
~Andrew John, ‘a Gen-Xer’ states, in response to David Messenger:
” The Sin is Drunkenness, not Alcoholism. Alcoholism is something that may or may not happen to anyone who drinks. For those who drink in excess it is a likely occurrence, a price paid for indulging in sin. “Drawing the line is an interesting concept.” However, it is not Biblical. At this point the “Abstinence” position if mandatory for Pastors or Membership, and not just a recommendation, adding a policy or making it to be “doctrine” amounts to: Adding To Scripture and that is a big problem. When a “Cooperative Fellowship” or Denomination make a policy rule or take a doctrinal stance that strays from the Word of God, well intended or not, it is wrong.”
“If a church, denomination, organization, etc makes the decision to make no alcohol consumption as part of their membership they have that right!!! If they want to point out all the problems associated with alcohol!! Their right. If they want to stress limits and moderation… as we should be doing with food, etc… they should. THAT is Biblical! However, when they start to put labels of sin attached to someone who drinks alcohol then they are adding to the Bible and that IS sin! A CLEARLY stated sin!!! I have no problem with making the points about the dangers of the potential spiral effect into sin when many people indulge in alcohol! But if God does not outright call it sin than neither can we!”
~Debbie Kitelinger ‘adherent and Gen-X’
These are just a few thoughts on the subject for PART 1 of this lively topic. Stay Tuned more to come…