This page offers an explanation of the rationale behind one of the elements of DTS’s Community Covenant.
Discretion is required for each member of the DTS family to walk in wisdom and grace as we respond to various expressions of conviction within the Christian community regarding the use of alcoholic beverages. The position of DTS is that Scripture does not prohibit the moderate use of alcohol, yet it warns against the dangers of excess. Therefore, members of the DTS community are asked to be cautious and discerning in their choices regarding alcoholic beverages. As physical-spiritual image bearers of the Triune God, we aspire to be known for excellence in Christlikeness and the exercise of moderation in all things.
As a community of believers in Christ, adopted by the Father, and indwelled by the Spirit, Dallas Theological Seminary faculty, staff, and students possess a unique opportunity to live in loyalty to the Lord, faithfulness to the Scriptures, and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Within this calling and freedom, we recognize that the Christian community differs over the use of alcoholic beverages, with a range of positions extending from full acceptance to total abstinence. The position of DTS is that Scripture does not prohibit the moderate use of alcohol (Deut 11:13-14; 14:22-26; 1 Chr 12:39-40; Luke 7:33-34; 1 Tim 3:8; 5:23). However, the Bible clearly forbids drunkenness as well as the abuse of freedom that would cause others to stumble in violating their own consciences (Rom 13:13; 14:13-23; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 2:3; 1 Pet 4:3-4). Because the Bible both affirms the appropriate use of alcohol and warns against its dangers, members of the DTS community are asked to be very aware and discerning in their choices. While members of the Seminary family are asked to exercise cautious freedom and discernment with the issue of alcohol consumption off campus, Dallas Theological Seminary premises and events will continue to remain free from alcoholic beverages, except for liturgical, ceremonial, medicinal, or other exceptional instances as approved by the administration.
In light of the differing convictions on the use of alcoholic beverages, each member of the Seminary family is urged to walk in wisdom and grace toward one another. Paul admonishes believers not to be characterized by conflict, divisiveness, or judgmental attitudes when promoting their preferred version of Christian conduct (1 Cor 8; Rom 14-15). As we walk together in the Spirit, the effects of His presence in our lives (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Gal. 5:22-23]) testify that Christ’s love for us compels us to live for the good of others, to model His sacrificial love to all people, and to unselfishly place the interests of others above our own (Rom 15:2; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Phil 2:3-4).
It is important to understand that DTS’s policy on the use of alcoholic beverages does not represent the only factor that should guide behavior. One’s ministry context plays an important role in choices regarding the issue of alcohol consumption—whether that involves the biblically defined use of or abstention from it. Seminary students, faculty, and staff are admonished to be faithful in their ministry context by submitting to the guidelines established by the leadership of their own local churches, denominations, parachurch ministries, or mission organizations (Rom 13:1-5).
Likewise, in public and global contexts, seminary board, faculty, staff, and students should understand they represent both the Lord and Dallas Theological Seminary, and they should therefore obey any local or national laws regarding alcohol consumption and consistently demonstrate sensitivity to cultural standards as representatives of the Church, the Seminary, and our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we seek to honor and serve.
All aspects of our lives serve as a testimony to the world and at the same time should build up the church. As physical-spiritual image bearers of the Triune God, we aspire to be known for excellence in Christlikeness and the exercise of wisdom in all areas of life—our sexuality, diet (whether food or drink), character, finances, ministry, relationships, work ethic, and doctrine. As the mission of DTS states, we exist as a community “to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide” (emphasis intended).
Extended Note of Reference
In the days of ancient Israel, people commonly drank wine and beer (Heb. shēkār—long translated “strong drink”). The fact that Nazirite men and women abstained from wine during their time of special vow (Num 6:1-4) demonstrates how ordinary drinking wine was in biblical times. Consumption of these drinks took place at banquets, sacred meetings, times of worship (Gen 14:18-20), and weddings (SOS 1:2). Wine—a gift of God “to gladden the heart of man” (Ps 104:15), a drink used in the joyful worship of Yahweh (Deut 14:26), and a joyful part of prophetic portraits of millennial blessings (Amos 9:14)—was a normal part of daily living in biblical times. New Testament evidence is similar to that of Hebrew Scriptures. Our Lord’s first miracle was turning ordinary water into a lavish bounty (120 to 180 gallons) of the best wine (oinos) the steward at a wedding feast had ever tasted (John 2:1-11). The red wine at the Passover Seder and used during Christian communion speaks of the blood of our Lord Jesus (Matt 26:27). Paul encouraged Timothy to “drink a little wine” for health reasons (1 Tim 5:23). However, good things—even the best of things—can be abused. Thus, those called to leadership in the early churches were expected not to drink too much wine (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 2:3). Both wine and beer are subject to abuse, leading to drunkenness, wantonness, and ruin (Gen 9:20-21; Prov 20:1; 23:29-35), but it is important to remember that abuse does not make a good thing evil in itself.