Contend Earnestly: God Gave Wine

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

God Gave Wine

I first read the review of this book over at Bob Hayton's blog and really enjoyed the review and the seemingly thoroughness that Gentry seemed to put forth in the discussion. Because of that Bob and I did a book swap (he received The Reason for God from me) and what I found is exactly what I was hoping.

Kenneth Gentry is a Presbyterian, theonomist and preterist. So, while I don't agree with all his theological convictions, I was still interested in his understanding of this sometimes sensitive topic among Christians. While he doesn't drink anymore because of a medical condition, when he was able to, he only drank about 4 to 5 glasses of wine per year. The reason I say this is that Gentry's book is not put forth for him to be able to continue in a habit that wasn't breakable. This book is simply to show what the Scriptures say about wine and strong drink.

If I were to ask Dr. Gentry to outline the book how I would have desired, I don't think I would have any changes in how he specifically lays this book out. It is exactly what I was looking for.

The chapters are as follows:

1. Introductory Matters

Here, Gentry simply lays out the three main convictions on Alcohol: prohibitionists, abstentionists and the moderationist. He also tells a little about the three authors that he will be refuting throughout the rest of the book as they have been the ones to most loudly try and refute the biblical understanding of drinking and the Bible.

2. The Bible and Alcohol Abuse

Gentry makes sure, in this chapter, that he speaks out against alcoholism and drunkenness. He lays this out so that no one confuses the moderationist as one who condones drinking without regard.

3. The Old Testament and Alcohol Use

This chapter is exactly as the heading alludes to. Gentry goes through the three different terms that are used for alcohol in the OT: yayin, shekar, tirosh and 'asis. He shows how each of these are alcoholic and that none of them simply mean grape juice or some watered down wine.

4. The New Testament and Alcohol Use

This chapter flows directly from the previous one. Here Gentry speaks on the verses that use the two terms for wine in the Greek: oinos and gleukos. He then goes into showing that the Lord's Supper used alcoholic wine, that Jesus drank wine and that Paul and apostles never allude to the prohibition against wine. He spends some time on the miracle of Cana and dispels any myths regarding the "old wine" vs "new wine."

5. Alleged Negative Passages

Gentry takes head on the passages that might seem at first glance to be in the negative, but in fact are far from it. The passages that Gentry spends time on are Leviticus 10:8-11; Numbers 6:2-6; Judges 13:4; Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:31-32; Isaiah 5:21-22; Jeremiah 35:6; Hosea 7:5. He takes each one of these and makes sure the reader sees the context and points to the overall understanding of them. Very good chapter.

6. Bible Teaching on Christian Liberty

After one is done reading the previous 5 chapters, one could still appeal to the fact that it isn't whether or not we can drink alcohol, but should we drink because of our culture and weaker brother. Gentry spends much of this chapter in Romans 14 breaking down the understanding of this passage and also Pauline theology of weaker brothers elsewhere. He also draws from the fact of Christ drinking and the apostles drinking for further reason why total abstention isn't the answer to this.

7. Common Objections Considered

The objections after all else is said, have almost been answered already. Here he handles the objection of the following:

The Potential Alcoholic
How Much is Too Much?
Alcohol and Health
Alcohol and the Christian Witness
Thinning Wine with Water (he destroys this notion and makes it almost laughable from a Scriptural standpoint)

Overall this book is very well done. Gentry takes the reader to almost, if not every verse that deals with wine and strong drink in the Bible. The conclusion one should come to after the reading and understanding of the Hebrew, Greek and context should be that the Christian is not to be held to a prohibition of alcohol. I personally know of some who have decided to abstain for their own reasons and that is their conviction and one that they hold for themselves and not others. But, to preach against alcohol and plead with Scripture for proof, one will come away looking quite silly. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know what the Bible says about alcohol and how it was used in the Scriptures. Highly Recommended

Buy from Kenneth Gentry's Site


Anonymous said...

Good review. Thanks. We're in the process of rewriting our existing church covenant. The prohibition of alcohol use in this particular covenant is one of the catalysts for our action.

Seth McBee said...

I would pick this book up for any argumentation that might happen because of this change.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bob Hayton said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the book. He really does seal the deal, quite well.

Have a great and blessed day,


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