In an email exchange this evening with MBC Interim Executive Director David Tolliver, I communicated to him that I would provide a clarifying statement on my blog concerning the dialogue on the floor of the convention today. As such I would like to do so.
In my attempt to make a point this afternoon, as I addressed the convention, I referenced a statement by Dr. Tolliver from his sermon on Monday night concerning the position of abstinence only. I did not intend to infer in that position that Dr. Tolliver necessarily supported my position, although it appears that some may have assumed that was my purpose. Rather, my point was much to the contrary and was intended to show that even those who may take an opposing view to my own seem to have difficulty finding absolutely clear support for their position and instead must draw from inferences made in various passages such as Romans 14:13. As such I wanted to point out that asking for the convention to clearly mandate something that scripture itself does not clearly mandate is, in my opinion, a strike at the sufficiency of scripture.
In addition, as I now have opportunity, I would like to clearly state my personal position regarding alcohol consumption. Personally I assume a position of abstinence in regard to the use of alcohol and I lead my church to do the same. I am convinced, from the inferences made in Romans 14:13, among others, that abstinence is the biblically faithful position for a pastor in Missouri. I would much prefer to restrict my personal freedoms for the sake of non-believers coming to Christ and weak believers being strengthened in the faith, than to simply indulge for personal comfort. Having said that, however, I also recognize that the scripture does not clearly state that abstinence is the only option. I also recognize that there are a variety of views that exist regarding alcohol usage, even in Baptist life. I am of the opinion that to attempt to define a specific position on this topic from the floor of the convention is an unwise attempt to divide over a secondary issue and should be avoided. In my opinion this should be a local church issue. As such I will lead my church to hold to an abstinence position but will continue to partner with Missouri Baptist churches across the state.