August 22, 2017

Does the Great Commission Require Drinking Beer?

David Potter

Does fulfilling the Great Commission require that we must be willing to drink beer in a bar in order to win people to Christ? Thus said Daniel Wallace, probably the most brilliant mind on the faculty at Dallas Seminary. Here is the link so that you can see for yourself if I have mischaracterized what he said.

That post, the third in a series on the Great Commission, contains much food for thought. His main point in the series is that the translation “having gone” (rather than “go ye”) does not convey the urgency implied in the original. The Great Commission mandates aggressiveness. Up to this point in the argument, I heartily agree. Where I differ with Wallace is over the form this aggressiveness should take.

As I see it, Wallace and others are trying to tell people, “Come and join us because we are just like you.” I believe that God wants to use holiness, rather than compromise, in order to attract the lost. If memory serves me correctly, the Jesus People tried reaching the hippies by rolling joints with them. With the advent of legalized marijuana, is smoking pot the next step for aggressive evangelism?

Wallace’s position might also be an example of what Matthew LaCava has called “freer than thou.” Being holier than thou means demonstrating your spirituality by conforming to a set of rules. Being freer than thou means proving your spirituality by how much your conscience will permit you to do.

I have the utmost respect for Wallace as a scholar. I have read his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics through three times. Although advertized as an intermediate grammar, the book is pretty comprehensive, being over 750 pages in length. Wallace has also done us all a great service in refuting the New Perspective on Paul and in his defense of the deity of Christ in the New Testament.

In view of these achievements, I am, to say the least, very disappointed in Wallace for taking this position. Wallace’s blog post, along with the recent changes in faculty standards at Moody Bible Institute, indicates the direction that a broad swath of New Evangelicalism is headed.

To demonstrate that Wallace’s position on consuming alcohol as a beverage is not an isolated phenomenon, I would also note that in an earlier blog post he says that the music he listened to at the Hard Rock Cafe was “awesome.” Let’s concede for the sake of argument that music is amoral. The justification for Christian Rock is that the words are Christian. What about the words to the music one would hear at the Hard Rock Cafe? Having never entered a Hard Rock Cafe, I cannot give any first-hand impressions, but I can guess. One wonders if the term “worldliness” means anything to New Evangelicals any more.

What does aggressive evangelism entail? Broadly speaking, I see two major elements. First, we need love and compassion for the lost. Our outreach should seek the lost wherever we can find them. (Is the bar the only place they frequent?) What worked twenty or thirty years ago may not work today. What works in one place may not work in another. We should be willing to try new tactics. We should care for people as they are.

Second, we must have a passion for truth and holiness. Compromise in either of these areas weakens our spiritual power. At the same time, we must recognize our own sinfulness. Otherwise, our self-righteousness will repulse the lost.

If our evangelism has these two elements, we can win people to Christ without having a beer with them at the bar.


David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.


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