A Letter showing Scriptures applicable to the use of wine and strong drink, conditions of fellowship, the Christian's place in the world of business, etc.
September 5, 2004
Dear _____ & ____,
We all appreciated you traveling to see us during our _____ ____ vacation – we hope that _____ wasn’t too tired during his business trip the subsequent day to northern NJ.
In the latter part of our conversation as to issues regarding brethren – especially some of the issues in our locale – we had been speaking about the points specifically listed by _____ as to our fellowship in _________.
One of the initial points raised by _____ involved “strong drink” as regarded by Scripture. You indicated that a search of Scripture showed that the Bible always regarded strong drink in a negative light and that, therefore, it is unscriptural to drink hard alcohol.
I had been unable, at a glance, to locate on the night of our discussion the verse in Deuteronomy that contradicted your assertion. That section in Deuteronomy 14 is as follows: “And thou shalt eat before Jehovah thy God, in the place which he will choose to cause his name to dwell there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy new wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear Jehovah thy God continually. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it, because the place is too far from thee, which Jehovah thy God will choose to set his name there, when Jehovah thy God blesseth thee; then shalt thou give it for money, and bind the money together in thy hand, and go to the place which Jehovah thy God will choose, and thou shalt give the money for whatever thy soul desireth, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink [my italics], or for whatever thy soul asketh of thee; and thou shalt eat there before Jehovah thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thy house.”
This verse not only completely sets aside any thought that scripture condemns either wine or strong drink, it explicitly approves of their use. While other scriptures may gainsay the abuse of strong drink, etc. they in no way could be used to mitigate what is quoted above. The use of strong drink or wine is scriptural; the abuse of any alcohol is unscriptural, isn’t that right?
One of the other points raised involved local and universal fellowship. I thought I should reiterate that we in _________ believe that Christian fellowship is regarded by Scripture as being a privilege and a responsibility of each and every true Christian. I don’t think that there is any disagreement among us as to the scriptural reality that certain conditions must be present for a fellowship to be proper according to the mind of Heaven.
_____ had mentioned a specific example in JND’s time involving a clergyman who, on at least one occasion, had broken bread with JND and others and subsequently returned to his usual fellowship. We know that the clerical principle as it is seen in public Christendom is unscriptural. Using this circumstance as an example, my question would be that, assuming that oneself did break bread on a Lord’s Day with such a clergyman, what scriptural basis would there be to have or to continue such a relationship? If the clergyman was informed of the truth against the clerical principle – which, of necessity, would have to be done - he would have two choices. If he renounced the clerical principle and his robes were washed he would be fit for right Christian fellowship. If he refused the applicable truths involved; then, his will would be in display and he simply would not be fit for proper Christian fellowship in that self-willed state.
I would say, further, that, his public position being unscriptural, he would really have to wash his robes first before he had the right to enter into the city. Paul writes as to this matter of fellowship, “Let a man first prove himself and then let him eat and drink.” This being the case, there really would be no scriptural basis to break bread with such a brother unless he had proved himself first. This “proving first” only is the proper basis for right Christian fellowship according to scripture – and this is what we hold.
I think I should also clarify your concern as to Mr. ______ ________ continuing to speak to Mr. and Mrs. ___ _____________ regarding the issues that commenced in Westfield in the mid-fifties - issues known to all of us. I have further questioned both ___ and his wife and neither of them have any knowledge of or recollection that Mr. and Mrs. _____________ had ever stated to them their own wrong part in the matters named above. You mentioned a circumstance prior to the picnic at _____ _______’s house about which the ______________ evidently indicated to you that they had spoken privately to Mr. ________ and his wife during Fellowship Meetings held in ________ _______ in 1993; however, they state that no confession to that effect was made to them at that time. Whatever the ______________ have in mind as to a confession made, it appears evident that nothing distinctive from them was pronounced.
I believe your other concern was that Mr._._. ________didn’t appear to be overly responsive to your statements as to the nature of statements or prayers made – some evidently made by Mr. ___ _____________ – during Amway meetings in which it was said that, while prayer was being directed to God during such meetings, those in attendance were free to consider any god of their choice.
I know well my Dad’s mind regarding such a circumstance, as we have discussed this and I share his sentiments. This is to say, that oneself as a true Christian should not only not normally be engaged in public prayer to God in the midst of a business meeting but also oneself would not ever state or agree with the notion that “any god considered would be acceptable.” Specifically, my Dad (and I) understood for a long time that Mr. ___ _____________ was not moving properly in relation to the Lord, and the above circumstance was simply further attestation to this fact.
As to Amway in particular, it is simply a business and needs to be regarded in that light. The fact that mention of God is made – either properly or improperly – doesn’t change its business status. In our own business in _________ we are involved in relationships every day with firms, entities and individuals in which much corruption and ungodly or improper mention or use of God’s Name undoubtedly takes place. This by itself is not a basis for us to condemn doing business with such a firm, etc. "Everything in the shambles eat", etc.
I hope all of this helps – I would be interested to know your thoughts as to what I have expressed. As you can see, as well as seeking to elucidate a bit more on some of the points we all had discussed in _____ ____, I have attempted to answer some of the other points you had raised that evening about which we never had time to speak.
We very much appreciated your time and travel in coming to see us, as well as your brotherly spirit in discussing these issues. The desired end in view in the discussions amongst brethren would always be that the rights of the Lord be clarified and strengthened. Of course, the ultimate end should be that of right, mutual fellowship. I am sure you agree with this.
Your brother in Christ,
(signed) _____ ________