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Jaeggli’s Alcohol Sermon and a Few Others

Randy Jaeggli’s recent alcohol book has been the source of unnecessary controversy. Following blatant misrepresentations by people who seem determined to miss its point (and whose real argument is with the biblical record), it’s been pulled so he can rework and clarify it. (This response from BJU to one of the critiques is helpful.) However, Dr. Jaeggli preached an abbreviated (or I might say, um, distilled) version of the book in a sermon delivered in chapel at BJU last spring: “Abstaining from Alcohol.” Give it a listen. He’s hardly a libertine on the issue.

Here are a few other sermon mp3’s that you may find helpful:

  • There are few issues more important to the faithful ministry of God’s people than our understanding of the Spirit’s work of illumination. We know that we’re dependent on God’s Spirit to oven the eyes of the lost. (Well, we should.) However, Scripture repeatedly records inspired prayers that God would open the eyes of believers so that they will grow (as in Ephesians 1 and 3). Those passages, reinforced by John Owen’s writing on illumination (which we studied at the OBF Pastor’s Conference at the suggestion of Mark Minnick) and the central place prayer has in Acts 6:4-defined ministry all contributed to this message which I preached earlier this summer. It’s changing my understanding of preaching and personal ministry, and it’s been useful for our church family. You might give it a listen.
  • I owe the thoughts behind a message on compassionate evangelism to a diaper bag which was left behind by my friend Ben, a missionary candidate from “the state up north.” When Ben stopped by my home to retrieve it, we fellowshipped over Christ’s person-to-person ministry in Matthew 8-9. I preached on the passage several years ago, when I highlighted the various displays of Christ’s power. Justly so. But with Ben’s encouragement to “see the story behind the face,” I preached it again, this time with a focus on the displays of Christ’s compassion. It’s convicting, life-changing stuff, and it should motivate “Compassionate Evangelism.” Thanks, Ben!
  • Joe Tyrpak is as burdened about the proper use of the Psalms in corporate and private worship as anyone I know. He’s writing metrical psalms (some are here, others are coming) and writing and preaching on why we should be singing the psalms. Last night he preached a message on how the Psalms should affect our prayer lives, citing the early church’s use of Psalm 2 in Acts 4 as an example. It was a tremendous message, and it’s available here.
  • Dave Conant is a dear friend of mine. He came to Christ through TCBC’s ministry around 10 years and has grown like a weed sense then (or, as Joe says, “like a tree planted by rivers of water”). We asked him to share his testimony during a recent series on moral purity at TCBC, essentially because this young, handsome, and successful graduate of a liberal state college here in Ohio arrived at his wedding day not even having held his beautiful fiance’s hand. How does that happen? Well, what he shares regarding “strategies for moral purity” has less to do with safety nets and accountability than it does with finding “Superior Pleasure in Christ.” It’s a compelling description of what should be normal Christian living, especially in the last 15 minutes when he shares his testimony. There’s a key lesson here: purity from sin has more to do with running after Christ than running away from temptation. I thank God for Dave, am privileged to minister with him, and commend his teaching and testimony to you. SDG.
  • Finally, I enjoyed fellowshipping with Dick and Holly Stratton of Clearwater Christian College last week at Peniel Bible Camp. There messages (5 from Dick to the entire camp and 4 from Holly to the ladies) will be up here very soon, Lord willing. What a blessing they were, repeatedly and intentionally pointing us to Christ. I can’t imagine another couple with whom I am more likeminded. I praise God for them!
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9 Responses

  1. Call me weird, but I could hardly care less if someone wants a glass of wine with their dinner. I’m not saying I condone or don’t condone it; I think it’s a matter of personal liberty. Am I the only one who couldn’t care less about these issues while at the same time wondering why on fundamentalist sites (no names mentioned) we have to be all cool and accept Darwinism as a valid worldview and can’t critique him because that would be unhip?

  2. I don’t agree with Jaeggli’s view on alcohol, but I was horrified that BJU pulled the book, especially in response to criticism as poorly founded as SOTL’s. Jaeggli shouldn’t have to “prove” that he’s conservative enough for these people. He’s a Bible scholar seeking out the truth, and if that threatens them, it shouldn’t be his problem. More than that, I think it threatens BJU’s credibility as a place of learning and thinking. What does it say when a work of scholarship is pulled after a constituent group think it didn’t reach their desired conclusion emphatically enough?

  3. Becca, that’s an interesting point. I don’t know much about this Bob Jones place, so I probably shouldn’t comment too much. About the only thing I know about them is that they ocassionally are in national news and they have a hard time winning at American Idle. (But there have been conjectures that that show is rigged from the beginning anyway, so maybe it’s not a fault of BJ)………..The only thing that horrifies me is not this debate about alcohol. To me it’s not really that big of a deal; it’s a matter of personal liberty. I really could hardly care less about the issue in general. But what does horrify me is that these pet issues get magnified and turned into a huge issue while other, much more important issues, such as one’s worldview, get swept under the rug and treated nonchalantly. For example, if you try to critique Darwinism on fundamentalist sites and show the logical flaws of that system, you might get a lot of negative feedback for having the audacity to be too critical of it. It’s like people don’t want to be seen as uncool and as rightwing creationist nuts, so they have to be in the hip crowd and support the fraud of global warming (global governance), the deceit of socialism (nice idea, but it never works long term), etc. It’s as if fundamentalists have all of a sudden decided to be hip and embrace things they shouldn’t just to be cool, while at the same time they are still having a huge debate over minor things such as this alcohol thing………Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems as if the priorities are really messed up. But what do I know? That’s just my opinion.

  4. This, from BJU’s response, is proven exegetically how?

    “The beverage use of alcohol is incompatible with growth in personal holiness; it hinders progress in being conformed to the image of Christ.” (p.72).

    In addition to the extra Biblical nature of this pronouncement, I think there are quite a few sanctified saints of yesterday and today who provide evidence to the contrary.

    Had they said, “Based on passages X,Y,Z regarding wisdom and the use of Christian liberty, I/we have decided to avoid alcoholic beverages in our current cultural context,” I’d have no dispute. But to declare that beverage use of alcohol automatically and absolutely hinders growth in holiness is to say too much more.

  5. I may post more on this later. For now, I’ll point you to an excellent post from my friend Larry.

  6. Good post from Larry. Thanks for the reference.

  7. Upon your recommendation I downloaded Jaeggli’s sermon. I actually love Jaeggli as a person and have had the privilege of sitting under his lectures in the ever distancing past and appreciate his humility and scholarship greatly. However, I was a little disappointing with how little scripture was used in the sermon and how unfairly the issue was presented. Admittedly, he had to make is argument in 30 minutes so there wasn’t time to fairly deal with all the issues. But he ended his sermon with an appeal to the student body to make a commitment of abstinence based on those arguments which were very one-sided. What about Numbers 28:7 where God commands a drink offering to be made on a daily basis in the most holy pace of “strong drink” to be made as an act of worship. Or Deuteronomy 14:26 where God tells the children of Israel to have a feast of worship to God and God tells those who can’t carry their festivities with them to bring money and to buy wine or strong drink or whatever they want as an aid in their worship and thanksgiving to God.
    Please know that I’m not saying that those two references alone prove a point either direction, I’m just asking, shouldn’t we at least address those issues before we ask thousands of people to bind their consciences with a commitment that may or may not be biblical?
    Your friend Larry’s post was excellent and I believe makes the point I am trying to make about Jaeggli’s sermon. It seems like the responsible thing would have been to appeal to the students to to run to their Bible’s and search the scriptures rather than to appeal to them to make a commitment of abstinence with only a brief unfair representation of the scriptures.
    That being said, I plan to read his book and am confident that he will deal with many of the arguments for “the other side” and I expect to find a thorough unpacking of the scriptures on the subject.

  8. It’s a tough issue for fundamentalists, Jeff. To be honest with the Scriptures demands acknowledging that OT and NT believers drank. Thus, to recommend abstinence requires that the case be made as a wisdom / cultural / testimony / stumblingblock issue.

    Jaeggli faces the challenge of being exegetically honest while also maintaining the abstinence position that fundamentalists (and conservatives like MacArthur) have espoused for generations (and which I agree is a safe position in our culture). He did that in the book that was pulled, I think, but he’s inevitably going to be stuck making someone (or almost everyone) unhappy: Exegetes won’t like the fact that his conclusions don’t obviously follow his exegesis—OT and NT saints drank, but we shouldn’t. Fundamentalists won’t like the fact that he acknowledged that temperance (an emotionally-charged word, to be sure, but an accurate one) was the biblical standard. I don’t envy him.

  9. Thanks Chris for your reply. I don’t mean to start a dialogue on an issue that cannot possibly be resolved on a blog comment section. My only concern is that we are presupposing that the position of abstinence is a recommendation that must be made while admitting that an honest exegesis of the topic does not say that. As you said, and I agree, temperance is the biblical standard in this issue. Why are we not teaching temperance then? For some people, maybe many people, temperance will mean complete abstinence, and I have no problem with that. For some people, it may mean temperate partaking. For either position, the glory and worship of God must be the preeminent consideration. Either way, to bind someone’s conscience, as he seemed to do in his sermon, with a conclusion that doesn’t obviously follow his exegesis seems like a dangerous thing to do in a pulpit whether we are speaking on alcohol or any other subject. Several times in his sermon he said “I hope you come down on the right side of this issue”. I just respectfully would argue that the scriptures must be the definer of what is right, especially when it is asserted from a pulpit.
    Again, I appreciate Jaeggli greatly and do not have half of the wisdom that he has and I respect that. My goal is to simply guard the integrity of the church, the scriptures, and the preaching of the Word with a clear distinction of what the scriptures say and what is my opinion and/or preference. Both are good and helpful but only one is authoritative.
    I look forward to reading his book with an honest and humble conscience.

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