Those Boozin’ Baptists
The initial post on the topic was more rhetorical than substantive, so this one will provide a more thoughtful critique of the SBC's latest resolution.
First, I am not retracting my earlier conclusion. I think statements like:
the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages
we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb alcohol use in our communities and nation
we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages
all justify the conclusion that the SBC thinks alcohol is inherently bad, and therefore the use of it is sinful. Absent from the resolution are the usual qualifiers about excessive drinking, or abuse of alcohol, or marketing to minors. Rather, the language is absolute: "total opposition," "curb alcohol use," "destructive nature."
Second, that said, in my experience, the ordinary Baptist, who is under no obligation to accept the resolution, is absolutely opposed only to drinking in excess and personally chooses to be a tee totaller out of concern for her christian witness.
Third, I also think the resolution is inconsistent with the SBC's own mission.
Most Baptists agree, contrary to this resolution, that alcohol is morally neutral. If you pressed most of the people who authored the resolution, they'd probably agree. The reason they do not drink it themselves is that they think it is a bad witness, or as they often phrase it "a stumbling block."
But who is going to be bothered by a beer drinking Baptist? His non-believing neighbor? Or the nosy old deacon he sees at the grocery store? My guess is the latter; the former won't care. On the other hand, who is a prohibition going to negatively impact? The beer drinking non-believer. Becoming a Christian is demanding enough without making people think they also have to give up their beer.
In short, you have a morally neutral choice: to drink or not to drink. Drinking will offend churchgoers. But saying Christians should not drink adds to the costs of being a Baptist. If one of your major purposes is evangelism, shouldn't you want to get rid of all the unnecessary costs to joining the group? I think so. Thus, I think they ought to drop the no drinking stuff.