The Biblical Basis for Abstinence From Alcohol

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Conference Proceeding

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Publication Details

This conference presentation was originally published as:

Thompson, S. (1993). The biblical basis for abstinence from alcohol. In E. Durand & G. Swanson (Eds.), Health 2000 and beyond: A study conference of Adventist theology, philosophy and practice of health and healing (pp. 117-125). Silver Spring, MD: General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Church.


220405 Religion and Society


During most of its history the Seventh-day Adventist Church has vigorously advocated for its adherents total abstinence from alcoholic beverages, arguing that there is a biblical basis for this position. Changing times have prompted changes to the arguments and evidence used for this position, starting with a “laws of health” and “vital force” approach. This was supplemented with a “physiological” approach giving voice to views then current that God’s claim on the whole person obliged Christians to care for their bodies as well as their souls. The “two kinds of wine” approach to the Bible also impacted Adventist abstinence arguments. Biblical statements approving drinking were argued to refer to unfermented grape juice. This was then supplemented by the “weaker brother” view—abstinence sets a good example for others. The most recent argument for abstinence drew on the “special identity and mission” argument—Seventh-day Adventists have a vital last-day message for the world. Their ability to deliver it would be seriously compromised by alcohol consumption.


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