February 16, 2012

Cracking the Wine Case: Unlocking Ancient Secrets in the Christian and Drinking Controversy *

* Cracking the Wine Case: Unlocking Ancient Secrets in the Christian and Drinking Controversy, Scott E. Smith, 2010

The thing that disturbs me about this book is that it purports to be an unbiased examination of the scriptures to find what the Bible says. But every chapter starts with a quote about the evils of alcohol and it takes over 100 pages before it gets to actually examining the scriptures. The first seven chapters stack the deck before we get there.

  • Introduction: Stories about how alcohol abuse destroyed the family of a childhood friend and how God saved him from alcohol through a childhood experience.
  • Chapter 1: Story about a drunk driver who killed someone. Story about arguing his case in a Bible study that met in a bar. Long section addressed to those with alcohol addiction.
  • Chapter 2: Story about how Martin Luther was right about a lot of things but dead wrong about drinking.
  • Chapter 3: Compares drinking to porn, snake venom. Quotes from AA that the only safe way to drink is to not drink at all. Negative, medical facts. Analyzing motives of those who drink. Admonitions that God can set you free from a distorted lifestyle of drinking.
  • Chapter 4: Calls preachers who advocate drinking "wolves in the pulpit."
  • Chapter 5: Compares drinking to premarital sex, LSD, meth, cocaine. If you love God, you will do want he wants, which is to not drink.
  • Chapter 6: Different words for wine in the bible.
  • Chapter 7: History of fermintation techniques.

All of this before we actually examine what the Bible says in Chapter 8. By now he's lost credibility with me because of this whole sandbagging technique. As far as looking at the verses, it's nothing I haven't already read in the other books, although once again there are discrepencies with how other abstainers interpret things.

For example, some say Paul told Timothy to take wine to kill the bacteria. Others say there is no evidence for this and people who say that are distorting the scriptures, that it is well known that wine is not good for for your stomach, and obviously in this case oinos meant grape juice.

If there were any doubt about this being a dispassionate study, chapter titles such as "Jesus the Miraculous Bartender" (referring to the miracle at the wedding at Cana) remove any doubt. This chapter is also a good example of the creative explanations that these guys seem compelled to come up with.

This book treats all drinkers as if they are alcoholics and in some places outright says that anyone who takes one drink will eventually become an addict and have his life destroyed. This is clearly not true and compromises the credibility of his other statements. To be fair, Smith's viewpoint might be colored by the fact that he has a prison misistry to addicts whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol. But not everybody who drinks wine ends up a drunk. That's just a fact and this book does a disservice by claiming otherwise.

My take: WWJD

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