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SLICE on Alcohol, Tobacco and What Makes a Christian

Scott on September 30, 2006 at 10:02 pm

A recent post over at Slice of Laodicea titled “On Hookahs, Emergents and Booze Aplenty” caught my attention a couple days ago. It begins by bemoaning the use of alcohol by students attending Christian colleges and seminaries, which I agree could be of concern (though I don’t know if all students who attend Christian schools of higher education and who also drink should be called “drunken sots” as they are in this post).

This Slice post then goes on to connect such behavior to the Emergent Church movement (of course that particular devil is always hiding somewhere at Slice). The writer (Ingrid) lumps behaviors like drinking, smoking, etc together and then she sums everything up this way:

Some of us have looked at postmodern theology and wondered if it wasn’t crafted while under the influence of something. Perhaps now we’re getting a clearer picture. Frankly, this is disgusting. If these guys want to live like the world and the devil, do it. Don’t drag Jesus Christ into it. Take your choice but you can’t have both.

Obviously Ingrid’s opinion is that there is only one logical conclusion: anyone who drinks or smokes is living like the devil and couldn’t possibly be a “real” Christian. And of course her conclusion is based on exactly NOTHING from scripture. That’s right, there are exactly ZERO Biblical references to support the perspective that Ingrid and Slice want to advocate as being essential for being a real Christian, in this case that the use of alcohol and smoking are indicators of spiritual depravity.

You know, I was told many years ago by the father of a good friend of mine that at times you can almost gauge the depth of a person’s Christian faith by the amount of DON’Ts they believe everyone should comply with. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t trying to say that the MORE DON’Ts a person has the more spiritual depth they have. In fact, the exact opposite. He was trying to say that the more obsessed that people are with what SHOULDN’T be done, then the less time they spend worrying about their own life and doing what they SHOULD BE DOING. In the end, their faith may end up a shallow, finger-pointing, self-congratulatory exercise in checking items off lists, judging others who aren’t keeping to the same list, and pharisaical pronouncements of “Thank you, God, that I am not like those sinners.”

Welcome to the world of Slice of Laodicea a narrow world of don’t and complaints, of accusations and denunciations, and of proclamations and recriminations. The more time spent reading the prideful, judgmental, pharisaical posts on this “Christian” site, the more aware one becomes of how insecure these people must be in their own lives and in their place as Christians in a world where they are supposed to be the salt and light. Based on the sage wisdom from my friend’s father, Slice of Laodicea must be as shallow as a mud puddle in August.

(A necessary caveat: It’s not that everything on Slice is worthless. Not by any means. There are some posts that are worthwhile, and other pieces pointing to the works of A.W. Tozer and other deep thinkers of the faith that are quite good. But for all of the “good” posts that are worth reading, there are many more filled with negativity and pharisaical judgmentalism masquerading as Christian exhortation.)

Of late there have been several posts over at Slice that illustrate exactly how narrow the sponsors and contributors of Slice believe the road of belief is. Based on the overall image they project of the Christian faith, it isn’t really a road at all. It’s more like a really, really narrow alleyway. OK, it’s not even an alleyway. It’s much closer to a very, very small path. Well, very small path is probably too broad for sponsors of Slice. Let’s just say that in the opinion of Slice, the parameters of the Christian faith are so narrow that if you call yourself a Christian but have extra-wide feet, you’re in danger of falling out of the faith and into the abyss of darkness.

Though I don’t plan on arguing about the whole alcohol-issue in the Bible and in the Christian faith, I will say this: From what I have read and studied, it is plain that the use of alcohol is a personal issue and a matter of internal motivation and personal conviction. The Bible talks about the use of alcohol just as it talks about the consumption of food – it is EXCESS that is wrong, not the food or drink itself.

The website InPlainSite.org has a wealth of great write-ups on a bunch of different topics. Let me reference three of these articles in connection to this “slice” of ridiculousness (pun intended):

Can Christians Drink Alcohol?

Is Smoking a Sin?
The lead to this article reads: “It’s interesting that the culture of North American Christianity has made smoking an unacceptable, “unChristian” behavior or a sin, while in Europe, many Christians don’t think twice about smoking, but consider American Christians’ materialism and women’s makeup unacceptable, “unChristian” behavior.”

(I would add that it isn’t just European cultures that see smoking as a non-issue. Go anywhere in the Middle-East, Asia, and in parts of Central and South America and committed Christians smoke regularly without any qualms or doubts about the sincerity of the faith of others around them who smoke.)

Christian Tattoos?
I add this link, even though Ingrid didn’t mention tattoos in her post, because I am 99.9% sure that Slice and most/all of its contributors would believe tattoos belong in the same category as alcohol and tobacco.

The bottom line of this whole thing Ingrid and many of her “peeps” over at Slice of Laodicea seem to feel it is their calling to take their personal preferences and declare those preferences to be the only expressions of Godliness and righteousness acceptable within the realm of Christianity.

This particular post is only one of the many examples of how their incredibly narrow-minded, Ameri-centric, self-righteous and pharisaical view point is shaped by personal preference and a yearning for the “good old days” of hymn singing, tent revivals, and a “Jesus must be Caucasion and God must be Republican” mentality.

Of course, smoking and alcohol aren’t the only areas where Slice has difficulties separating personal preference from Christian doctrine and theology. Of late they have posted several write-ups on music as well. According to Ingrid and the gang, the only truly “Godly” music for worship are the hymns of yore, and preferably those written before 1800.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on that absurd paradigm.

John Adds: Ingrid condemned tattoos and mohawks a few days ago:

Nobody can criticize the unregenerate for observing pagan practices of tattoos, multiple piercings, and bizarre hairstyles and immodest or extreme clothing. With the rejection of God comes the rejection of moderation, modesty, etc. But what about after a person is converted? Should they continue to walk around looking like Satan’s own?

She may have a point about some of that, but tattoos? Last I checked they don’t come off in the shower.

Update #2: Someone named the Internet Monk also responded to Ingrid’s comments about tattoos and hairstyles:

The idea that Christianity is, like Islam, a collection of cultural laws, dress codes and “badges” that prove one’s acceptance with God continues to have wide appeal among conservative evangelicals more interested in perpetuating their own culture war than in the Kingdom of Jesus. It isn’t that Ingrid’s completely off the rails- every part of a Christian’s life is subject to Christ- but when Slice heads to the specifics, it’s an almost perfect imitation of Pharisaism.

Yeah, I’d say that nails it.

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