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Hot topics among some Christians that probably shouldn't be.
The Bible does not necessarily speak to these topics on a concrete basis, at least in the New Testament, therefore, one can't really be too dogmatic on them. Let me just comment my own thoughts regarding these topics.

1. Alcohol. When I taught on Wine and the Bible, I emphasized the fact that I was only going to show from a Biblical perspective why I believe the Christian should not drink and not give reasons why a Christian could drink alcohol. I said looking for reasons why a Christian can drink alcohol is like trying to see how close to the edge of a cliff one can drive without driving off. I do believe there are a few passages in the NT that give evidence to drinking alcoholic beverages. One in particular is the qualifications for bishops and deacons. While the Bible says bishops or pastors are not to be given to wine, it says deacons are not to be given to much wine. If this is not referring to alcohol, then why even bring the subject up? Also, I do believe Jesus turned water into alcoholic or fermented wine based on the context. The scene was at a wedding and the host was about to run out of wine. To save them the embarrassment of doing so, Mary basically asked Jesus to do this thing. Upon drinking this new wine, the governor of the feast commented that the host saved the best for last. Typically the host will save the worst for last because by the time they brought out the old wine, the drinkers would not really be able to tell the difference. Why? probably because they were intoxicated.

2. Tattoos and piercings. Again, not a hill I would die on but I do believe there is a principle in the New Testament that should keep a Christian from permanently marking up his or her body. This principle is found in the fact that we are bought with a price (The blood of Christ) and that we are not our own. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As with any physical building, to put markings on that building without the owner's consent is criminal. It is vandalism to graffiti a building or any property that does not belong to you. Why do we think it is ok to graffiti our own body when the Bible clearly states that it is not our own? First, pray to God and ask Him if it is ok for you to graffiti his temple. If he does not answer you, then the answer is no and to do otherwise would be criminal.

3. The King James Bible. This is a very sensitive subject to independent Baptists. Here is what I believe about the KJV. I do believe it is translated from the Textus Receptus or the Masoretic texts, which is the only pure text from which a bible should be translated from. The others, ie. The Alexandrian texts have proven to be untrustworthy in that they not only disagree with the collected texts of the Textus Receptus but they also disagree among themselves. Here is where I stand on the KJV being the only God given translation for the English speaking people. I personally do not believe that. I believe the New King James Version is trustworthy and while they do claim to be translated solely from the Textus Receptus, I think they had to make some unnecessary changes for the sake of copyright purposes. However, those changes are not significant and in no way dilute the cardinal doctrines. There are now a couple of other English versions derived from the Textus Receptus on the market. The American King James Holy Bible is available for about $25. The Simplified King James Bible is worth taking a look at, selling for less than $20 on Amazon.com. The Modern King James Bible by JP Greene is available but typically it is cost prohibitive, retailing at over $100.

Now, what about countries that have English as a primary, or a trade language but is not necessarily their first or native language? Should they use the King James Version? I don't think so. I don't think God gave us one English translation for all time. To elevate the 1769 KJV (which is what is sold in stores today) to this position is no different than saying it is better than the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from which it was translated. We do not believe God inspired the translators of the KJV in 1611 so why not believe that other godly men could take the same original manuscripts and translate them into a more grammatically accurate text for the 21st century? I think they can and I think they did. So why don't I change? Self-imposed limitations, I suppose. I do use other English versions when I am studying to give me clarity on verses I struggle with. My favorite study version is the Amplified Bible, which isn't an English "version" at all, but in truth, is truly a study aid.

4. Calvinism. While I think there are some verses in the Bible that make me scratch my head about God's sovereign election, I believe there are more verses that teach free will and moral choice than not. Some time back, I did a study for myself on Calvinism because I regularly said I was a 2 or 3 point Calvinist. But I concluded that if I was going to believe one point of the TULIP of Calvinism, then I had to believe them all and I could not reconcile the limited atonement and irresistible grace teachings with the overall character of God. I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world and that each individual has a choice about whether or not to accept Him as their Savior. If man did not have a choice in salvation, then why does he have a choice in sanctification? For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him has everlasting life. That word "whosoever" pretty much sums it up for me.

5. Music. Slippery slope. Gray matter as far as I'm concerned. I think there is a line to be drawn, but since I don't know the whole principle of beat, harmony, syncopation, I can't speak for everyone where that line should be. What I believe to be appropriate and/or inappropriate for worship in church on Sunday morning is relative. I listen to some music in my vehicle and at home purely for entertainment value. In these gray areas of the Bible, where there is not a solid right or wrong, I abide by these verses.

1 Thess. 5:22 - Abstain from all appearance of evil
Romans 14:5 - ...Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
Romans 14:22 - ...Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows.

Just my perspective. Hope this helps.
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