Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review

Book Review: Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth by Alister McGrath

There is a trend today to see heresy as a forbidden fruit. What is heresy?; Who says these views are wrong?; Aren’t heresies just the losers in a power struggle?–these are but a few examples of the questions being asked about heresy. Alister McGrath’s book,Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth [1] seeks to explore many of these issues while providing a historical background for those looking into the topic.

“A heresy,” states McGrath, “is a doctrine that ultimately destroys, destabilizes, or distorts a mystery rather than preserving it… A heresy is a failed attempt at orthodoxy, whose fault lies not in its willingness to explore possibilities or press conceptual boundaries, but in its unwillingness to accept that it has in fact failed.”[2]

One might wonder why McGrath utilizes this view of heresy, and it is important to see that his definition stands between two misunderstandings of the historical context of the development of heresy. McGrath argues that there are two positions about the history of heresy which are extremely popular but also highly anachronistic. The first is that heresy is something from outside of the church which was able to somehow “get into” the church and corrupt it;[3] the second erroneous view is that “What determines whether a set of ideas is heretical or not is whether those ideas are approved and adopted by those who happen to be in power. Orthodoxy is simply the set of ideas that won out, heresies are losers.”[4] Both positions suffer from an anachronistic view of the history of heresy and tend to over-emphasize certain aspects of that development.

The notion that heresy is some kind of “Trojan horse” smuggled into Christianity from without is historically untenable.[5] Furthermore, this view generally holds that “Heresy was a later deviation from [the] original pure doctrine.”[6] Instead, “heretics were insiders who threatened to subvert and disrupt [the church]….”[7] However, the fact is that the notion of early Christianity holding to the best orthodoxy is a purely fictional historical concept. Rather, doctrine developed as new challenged were presented to the Christian faith or new truths were explored.[8] Heresy was part of this development. Heresies were ideas that failed to take hold within Christianity because it was deemed to undermine the strength of the Christian faith as a whole.[9]

Therefore, McGrath argues, it can be seen that the second view of the development of heresy is also historically mistaken. There was an orthodox core from which doctrine developed, and heresies were seen as defective.[10] “The process of marginalization or neglect of these ‘lost Christianities’ generally has more to do with an emerging consensus within the church that they are inadequate than with any attempt to impose an unpopular orthodoxy on an unwilling body of believers.”[11] Heresy was “an intellectually defective vision” of Christianity,[12] rejected because it could not stand up to the theological challenges raised against it.[13]

McGrath provides more development of the concept of heresy, and then turns from his analysis of the rise and rejection of heresy to a historical account of several early heresies. His analysis of these early heresies (ebionitism, docetism, valentinism, arianism, donatism, and pelagianism) provides significant historical support for his thesis that heresies are ultimately insufficient accounts of Christian theology and were rejected thereby. Against the thesis of Walter Bauer, who held that orthodoxy was an “ideological accident,” it is rather the case that “The relative weakness of institutional ecclesiastical structures at this time, including those at Rome, suggest that the quality of the ideas themselves played a significant role in their evaluation…”[14]

It is also important to note that heresies are not necessarily tools aimed to destroy Christianity from within. McGrath is particularly concerned with the contextualization of heresies. These were often developed within a context of a question, like “What is the nature of Christ?” (Ebionitism). “The problem [of heresy] lay not with the motivations of [heretics], but rather with the outcomes of their voyages of theological exploration.”[15]

McGrath ends Heresy with an exploration of the origins and development of heresy. Heresy, he argues, develops through 5 major strands, each of which usually involves turning theology towards: cultural norms, rational norms, social identity, religious accomodation, and ethical concerns (180ff). Heresies will continue to emerge as Christianity faces new challenges. Furthermore, orthodoxy is itself a process of ongoing development.[16]

McGrath concludes with a vision for orthodoxy: “If Christ is indeed the ‘Lord of the Imagination’… the real challenge is for the churches to demonstrate that orthodoxy is imaginatively compelling, emotionally engaging, aesthetically enhancing, and personally liberating. We await this development with eager anticipation.”[17]

Heresy is indeed something which has caught the popular imagination. McGrath’s book offers a reasonable, sound defense of Christian orthodoxy in an era wherein heresy is often portrayed as an unfairly suppressed system which should be resurrected. By providing a significant investigation of the historical background and development of heresy, McGrath avoids the two ahistorical extreme views of heresy: that it was entirely a plague from outside the church or that it was merely one of many competing ideas that happened to lose.

Christians would do well to have knowledge of the development of Christian doctrine. As more challenges are raised to the Christian faith, orthodoxy will have to continue to respond. Without a historical grounding firmly in place, Christianity is liable to change with the winds. Heresies repeat themselves,[18] and Christians need to be ready to respond to these alterations of the faith. Heresies have historically been rejected not due to an internal power struggle, but rather due to their insufficient intellectual bases.

Alister McGrath’s Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth is one of those books Christians should have within reach on their shelf in order to readily access it as challenges arise. He provides an enormously useful historical evaluation of heresy which allows readers to avoid the pitfalls of ahistorical views. Furthermore, McGrath convincingly demonstrates the reasoning behind labeling a position as heretical follows from a corruption of Christianity which makes it less theologically or intellectaully viable. By providing Christians with a vision of orthodoxy and heresy that is both aware of its past and looking towards the future, McGrath has written an invaluable source.

J.W. Wartick is a graduate student in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. His greatest interest is philosophy of religion--particularly arguments for the existence of God and the polemics against atheism. He frequently writes on these topics (and others) at

Book Review

Book Review: Defending Inerrancy by Geisler & Roach

God cannot err. The Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, the Bible cannot err.

This simple syllogism sums up the argument for the unlimited inerrancy of Scripture. While there have always been those who denied the historicity of some of its parts (Origen, for example), the view of the Bible’s total inerrancy is “rooted in the early fathers of the church, expressed emphatically in Augustine and Aquinas, expressed explicitly by the Reformers and continued into the 19th century without a major challenge from within the church” (12). However, when Darwin came along, attacks on God and Christianity took on new life, with the inerrancy of Scripture becoming one of the most beleaguered doctrines.

Norman Geisler and William Roach present a detailed study of the issue in Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation. They begin with a rather dry, but necessary discussion of the history of inerrancy, ending with the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICB I) and that body’s treatise on the subject known as the Chicago Statement. Put forth in 1978, it consists of 19 articles, and was produced along with a Preamble, a Short Statement and an official commentary entitled Explaining Inerrancy by Reformed Theologian R.C. Sproul. Geisler and Roach include the articles in their book. It is imperative that readers familiarize themselves with them because they provide the standard by which all discussions, theories and interpretations of inerrancy are measured by the authors. If anyone deviates from the Chicago Statement, he or she ends up in Geisler and Roach’s doghouse.

The authors assert that the Chicago Statement made inerrancy the standard view of American evangelicals including the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). They present a tale of two organizations, showing its influence on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) compared with the Fuller Seminary. The latter dropped inerrancy from its mandate. The former, however, having drifted from it, made a decision to reintroduce the doctrine into the fold. Its leadership recruited delegates who they knew would support inerrancy-believing presidents. They, in turn, appointed persons to crucial positions in the denomination, who, in turn, appointed board members in the seminaries who, in turn, hired inerrantist deans and faculty. Thus, the SBC completely reversed its view of inerrancy from top to bottom (35).

The second section of the book presents 10 theologians who the authors state have threatened inerrancy. They begin with Clark Pinnock who drew attention to himself as a member of the Evangelical Theological Society when he developed a view of inerrancy not in keeping with the Chicago Statement. He came close to being voted out of ETS and Geisler and Roach make a strong case suggesting that he should have been. According to them, among his aberrant views was his belief that only those portions of the Bible that are redemptive in intent are inerrant.

Second on the list is Bart Ehrman. Ehrman is one of the most vocal and well-known opponents to the inerrancy of God’s Word. He asserts, among other things, that the canon of Scripture is only one of many competing Christianities, that the biases of the authors undermine inspiration, and that the transmission of the information was unreliable as many of the scribes were amateurs and incapable of doing a good job. Geisler and Roach present a detailed examination of Ehrman’s philosophical and methodological presuppositions before tackling the issue of the historicity of the New Testament, the reliability of eye witnesses and both internal and external evidences for the trustworthiness of Scripture.

Next up is Peter Enns, who left the Westminster Theological Seminary for Princeton because of his views on inerrancy. His contention is that because Christ, the living Word of God, partook of full humanity with its accompanying limitations and imperfections, then why should God’s written Word be any different? (99). Geisler and Roach find some positive elements in Enns’ incarnational model of Scripture. For example, they concur with him that Genesis does not borrow from Babylonian origin stories, noting that the similarities between them are only conceptual, not textual. However, Enns does call Genesis myth even though he says it contains history. Enns opposes any apologetics that defend the Bible’s perfection, claiming that we accept the Bible by faith, not by reason or evidence (104). In other words, he would dismiss this book in which Geisler and Roach are assessing his views as entirely unnecessary.

The authors then take on Kenton Sparks who doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his views on inerrancy. He has stated that “inerrantists are naïve fundamentalists equivalent to believing in a flat earth and are not real academics” (113). Those are fighting words indeed! Geisler and Roach discuss the theologian’s antisupernatural bias, his postmodern belief that truth cannot be found, but is created by the individual, and his insistence that genre determines meaning. The authors conclude that, if we are to accept his view on inerrancy, we would have to “believe that God can act contrary to his nature” among other equally unpalatable claims (130).

While all of the previous theologians either suggest a limited inerrancy of Scripture or deny it altogether, Kevin Vanhoozer (Wheaton College) claims to affirm total inerrancy. Why then is he in this book? Geisler and Roach suggest that he adopts philosophical positions that undermine it. For example, he believes that each text has many meanings. This flies in the face of the standard understanding of Scripture, that is, that it has one meaning and many applications. The authors insist that such a stance, while seemingly harmless to some, threatens the doctrine of inerrancy subtly, and makes Vanhoozer’s views questionable in light of the Chicago Statement.

Andrew McGowan argues that the term “inerrancy” should be discarded because it implies scientific precision and is “a violent assumption of fundamentalist thinking” (161). He considers it a new doctrine that arose as an apologetic response to the Englightenment. Such a view is easily refuted with a simple rundown of all the early Church fathers who upheld it. Nevertheless, McGowan favors the word “infallible”, a word that Geisler and Roach say is too easily open to misinterpretation and is effective in describing Scripture only when it is accompanied with the word “inerrant”.

The authors tackle Stanley Grenz and Brian McLaren together in the next chapter. These are the postmodernists who desire to have a “creedless” theology (180) and reject, among other things, absolute truth in favor of relativism. Geisler and Roach denounce McLaren in particular for his liking of the Jesus Seminar.

The last chapter in the second section addresses Robert Webb and Darrell Bock. Readers might be surprised to see the latter included in this book. Bock has declared his belief that the Bible is inerrant and has defended the faith both in the written form (including books denouncing Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and affirming the reliability of the Gospels) and orally in debate with atheists. However, Geisler and Roach express concern over his and Webb’s preference for redactive criticism over a grammatical-historical approach to Scripture which leads to their late dating of the New Testament books and other questionable conclusions about God’s Word. This, they say, undermines inerrancy in subtle but devastating ways.

The third and final section is a reexamination of inerrancy, looking at it in light of the nature of God, the nature of truth, the nature of language and the nature of hermeneutics. The authors note that the nature of God is crucial to the inerrancy debate (215) and that to question the inerrancy of his Word is to question God himself. The challenge regarding inerrancy is a challenge to God’s sovereignty, immutablility, and omniscience.

The nature of truth is crucial to the inerrancy debate. Geisler and Roach offer the definition of truth as that which corresponds to reality. In turn, “the Bible is completely true in that all its affirmations and denials correspond to reality” (234). The authors embark on a discussion of the correspondence view of truth used by courts, scientists, and ordinary people, and provide arguments for its validity.

In their discussion of language and inerrancy, Geisler and Roach investigate the concern about the adequacy of human language to convey an objectively true propositional revelation from God (254). They quote Article #4 of the Chicago statement which reads, “We affirm that God who made mankind in his image has used language as a means of revelation. We deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration” (255)They then go on to look at equivocal, univocal and analogous God-Talk as outlined by Plotinus, Duns Scotus and Aquinas as well as the basis for meaning and the challenge of human fallenness.

While inerrancy deals with the nature of Scripture and hermeneutics deals with its interpretation, the two are, in actual practice, closely related (282). The proper hermeneutic approach as outlined in the Chicago statement is grammatical-historical. The authors define that method, then revisit several of the aforementioned theologians (Pinnock, Enns, Vanhoozer) and defend it in light of their work.

Finally, Geisler and Roach study the relationship between God’s written Word (Scripture) and God’s living Word (Christ). Among the topics discussed is Barth’s fallacious view of fallen human nature and its influence on the subject of inerrancy.

The discussions in this third section as well as that of each of the 10 theologians in the second are lengthy and detailed. This review seeks only to present a tidbit from each with the hope that readers will get their hands on the book to explore them in full. Be warned, however. This time it's not an easy read. It would be helpful to have a background in both theology and philosophy, but not absolutely necessary. The authors’ arguments may seem, at times, a matter of severe nitpicking. However, given the importance of maintaining the Bible’s place as a book of absolute truth, their fussiness is both understandable and forgivable.

Unfortunately, the book suffers from verbosity. In some cases, the authors choose to list the problems of a selected theologian’s views one by one, following each point with a response outlining its mistakes. However, in other cases, the authors list all the flaws in a theologian’s opinion and place their rebuttal at the end. This means that, throughout their refutations, they have to repeat what their subject has said to refresh the reader’s memory. This results in a lot of redundancy that could have been avoided with better organization and editing.

Aside from that, this book has much to offer. It is a comprehensive look at inerrancy and achieves the authors’ goal of affirming the accuracy of Scripture for the current generation.
written by: Mary Lou is a Canadian journalist currently working on a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Tyndale University College and Seminary, Toronto, Ontario. She holds three other degrees, including one in history, and writes poetry and fiction as well as non-fiction.

Sunday Quote: J. Gresham Machen on False Ideas

"False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation to be controlled by ideas […] which prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion."

J. Gresham Machen"Christianity and Culture," Princeton Theological Review 11 (1913): 7.

God creates from nothing

Our Top 15 Apologetics Books

The full text of Westminster Confession of Faith at Wikisource

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Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living[16] and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Bible-Presbyterian Brethren's Response to Verbal Plenary Preservation Heresy

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VPP heresy and the bullying of a Chinese congregation

In the Christian Church heresy does not come as a total package. It builds up gradually. It develops within the minds of heretics as they succumb to the temptations of Satan. The day will come when it finally shows itself in its true form.

VPP is no exception. It started with the illusory religious zeal to defend the King James Bible and showed its true form when one of the founding senior pastors of the BP movement in Singapore 'preached',

"We must be careful; not every Bible is the Word of [NKJV] is a very corrupt has a Satanic logo...Satanic logo on the front cover...There is only one Bible today in English true to the Word of God...the King James Bible."

"In case you're in any doubt let me assure you. THE TRUTH OF GOD'S WORD WILL BE SETTLED NOT IN ANY OTHER LANGUAGE BIBLE BUT IN ENGLISH." The Chinese translator could hardly believe his ears and the pastor repeated the sentence.

It's therefore not surprising that the VPP heresy is a form of Ruckmanism.

The senior pastor, together with the elders from his church (Calvary BP Pandan), are bullying the Chinese-speaking congregation into subscribing to VPP. The Chinese congregation can't accept this because their Bible, the CUV is based on the Westcott and Hort (W-H) texts. The VPP proponents view the W-H texts as Satanic inspired, hence implying that the CUV is from Satan.

The VPP heretics have forgotten of how God used the CUV in the Asian Awakening (where an estimated 200,000-300,000 souls were saved 1928-1949) through His faithful servant (John) Sung Shang Chieh.

The Chinese-speaking congregation has written an irrefutable defence of orthodox Christianity once delivered to the saints. Our God is no respecter of race or language (Acts 10:34) although the VPP advocates think that God favour the English and Americans over other races. 

Question: "Did Jesus drink wine/alcohol?"

Question: "Did Jesus drink wine/alcohol?"

Answer: There is only one group of people who are explicitly told in the Bible to never drink wine/alcohol, and that is the Nazirites (Numbers 6:1–4). Jesus was not a Nazirite; He was a “Nazarene,” a native of the town of Nazareth (Luke 18:37). Jesus never took the Nazirite vow. 

Christ’s first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana almost certainly involved a fermented beverage. According to Jewish wedding tradition, fermented wine was always served at weddings; if Jesus had provided only grape juice, the master of the feast would have complained. Instead, he said the wine was better than what was previously served; it was apparently a “fine” wine (John 2:10–11).

The Greek word for “drunk” in John 2:10 is methuo, which means “to be drunken” or intoxicated. It is the same word used in Acts 2:15 where Peter is defending the apostles against accusations of drunkenness. The testimony of the master of the feast is that the wine Christ produced was able to intoxicate.

Of course, just because Jesus turned water into wine doesn’t prove that He drank the wine at the wedding, but it would have been normal for Him to do so. What it does prove is that Jesus doesn’t condemn drinking wine any more than He condemns eating bread. Sinful people abuse what is not inherently sinful. Bread and wine are not sinful, but gluttony and drunkenness are (Proverbs 23:2; Ephesians 5:18). 

In Luke 7:33–44, Jesus said, “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (emphasis added). In verse 33 Jesus is making a contrast between John the Baptist’s “drinking no wine” and His own practice. Jesus goes on to say the religious leaders accused Him (falsely) of being a drunkard. Jesus was never a drunkard, any more than He was a glutton. He lived a completely sinless life (1 Peter 2:22); however Luke 7 strongly suggests that Jesus did indeed partake of alcoholic wine.

The Passover celebration would also have commonly included fermented wine. The Scriptures use the term “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:27–29; Mark 14:23–25; Luke 22:17–18). Of course, Christ participated in drinking from the Passover cup (Mark 14:23).

All Christians would agree drunkenness is sinful, and Christ Himself warns against it (Luke 12:45). However, a biblical view of wine is that it is given as something to delight in (Psalm 104:14–15). There are plenty of warnings against alcohol abuse, in texts like Proverbs 20:1, because sinful men are more likely to abuse wine than to use it in moderation. Those who try to use Jesus’ probable use of wine to excuse their drunkenness should heed the warning in Luke 12:45. Christians who want to keep a biblical view of drinking wine should either drink in moderation, never to drunkenness, or abstain totally.

read more:

Jesus Christ was drinking wine

Luke 7:33 For John the Baptist did not come eating bread or drinking wine, h and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ i[1]

What is “wine” means in Luke 7:33

3631.  οἶνος ŏinŏs, oy´-nos; a prim. word (or perh. of Heb. or. [3196]); “wine” (lit. or fig.):—wine.[2]

3196.  יַיִן yayin, yah´-yin; from an unused root mean. to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by impl. intoxication:—banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].[3]

οἶνος (oinos), wine. Cognate words: οἰνοπότης, οἰνοφλυγία, πάροινος. Heb. equiv. fr. LXX: יַ֫יִן (115×), תִּירוֹשׁ (35×);  + 10 more. Aram. equiv. fr. LXX: חֲמַר (2x)
6.197 (28) wine Mt 27:34; Lk 1:15; 7:33; 10:34; John 2:3 (2), 9, 10 (2); 4:46; Ro 14:21; Eph 5:18; 1 Ti 3:8; 5:23; Tt 2:3; Rev 6:6; 14:8, 10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3, 13; 19:15; Did 13.6; Herm, M X, iii, 3; Herm, M XI, 15; Herm, M XII, v, 3 (2)
6.198 (10) wine Mt 9:17 (3); Mk 2:22 (4); Lk 5:37 (2), 38
6.204 (1) wine Mk 15:23[4]

3885 οἶνος (oinos), ου (ou), (ho): n.masc.; ≡ DBLHebr 3516; Str 3631; TDNT 5.162—1. LN 6.197 wine, naturally fermented juice of grapes (Jn 2:3; Eph 5:18; 1Ti 3:8; Tit 2:3); 2. LN 6.198 οἶνος νέος (oinos neos), new wine, newly pressed juice of grape, possibly just beginning the fermentation process (Mt 9:17; Mk 2:22; Lk 5:37, 38+); 3. LN 6.204 myrrhed wine (Mk 15:23+) see 5046[5]

ΟΙΝ̓͂ΟΣ, , Lat. vinum, wine, Hom., etc.; παρʼ οἴνῳ over ones wine, Lat. inter pocula, Soph.; οἶνοσἐκ κριθῶν barley-wine, a kind of beer, Hdt.[6]

QUESTION—What is meant by Jesus eating and drinking?
In contrast with John, Jesus ate and drank like ordinary people [Arn, TNTC]. In connection with the previous verse, it is implied that Jesus ate bread and drank wine like other men [Lns, TG, TH]. It refers to a way of life and refers to Jesus’ practice of entering into the social life in the towns and even attending banquets with sinners [Su]. He had no ascetic restraints such as John’s [AB]. Jesus behaved as though there was always something to celebrate [WBC].[7]

 In distinction from the Baptist Jesus drank wine, as may be seen from Mt. 11:19; Lk. 7:34 (Jesus as οἰνοπότης). According to Mk. 2:18–22 and par. Jesus justified His conduct on the ground that the time when the bridegroom is present is one of festivity. Jesus is more than a Nazirite; hence the corresponding OT regulations do not apply to Him. He explains this in the parable of the new wine and the old skins, Mk. 2:22 and par. The new which he brings cannot be mixed with the old. Lk. 5:39 added the difficult saying: καὶ οὐδεὶς πιὼν παλαιὸν θέλει νέον· λέγει γάρ· ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν.[8]
John was too much of an ascetic, and Jesus was too much of a libertine (in the Pharisees’ definition of the term). Neither extreme could make the religious leaders happy.[9] When Jesus came, they said, “He’s too smooth! He parties, you know. And goes around with sinners.”[10] Jesus mingled with the people and preached a gracious message of salvation, and they said, “He’s a glutton, a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners!”[11] 7:34 The accusation that Jesus was a glutton and drunkard came from the Jewish authorities. Though He undoubtedly mixed with the less-than-respectable, there is no indication that the charges of gluttony and drunkenness were anything more than caricature.[12] Jesus was eating and drinking Jesus did not fast like the disciples of John (see 5:33), and He was not under a Nazirite vow like John was. Furthermore, He frequently dined with tax collectors and sinners—those whom He came to save (see 5:27–32).[13]The reproach belonged to the general way of our Lord’s way of living, consorting as he did with men and women in the common everyday lite of man, sharing in their joys as in their sorrows, in their festivity as in their mourning. But the words specially refer to his taking part in such scenes as the feast in the house of Matthew the publican.[14] The rejection of the gospel message is not due to the form of its presentation. John preached the gospel while living an ascetic life-style (Luke 5:33a). Jesus preached the gospel in the joy of the kingdom’s arrival, but both were rejected (5:33b–35). Neither satisfied the wishes of this generation because their message was the same. Both preached a message of repentance (cf. 3:3, 8 and 5:32; 13:3, 5), and both offered salvation to the outcasts (cf. 3:12–14 with 4:18; 5:27–32; 7:22).[15] Besides, while Christ accommodated himself to the usages of ordinary life, he maintained a sobriety truly divine, and did not encourage the excesses of others by his dissimulation or by his example.[16] Paul does not use the term much. In R. 14:21 he recommends total abstinence from flesh and wine should the weaker brother be upset about eating and drinking.21[17] A moderate use of wine can be beneficial to health, 1 Tm. 5:23;[18]

Jesus reached out to a generation who said of John the Baptist, “He has a demon,” and who said of Jesus, he “is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’ ” (7:33–34). They rejected the message of the one who was to prepare the way for the Messiah, and they did not receive the one who came to be a redemptive friend of sinners, like they were. But His heart was still moved with compassion toward them. He still healed and preached the good news to a generation of needy people.[19]

h 7:33 Lk 1:15
Most frequent title Jesus used for Himself (Dn 7:13; Mt 8:20)
i 7:34 Mt 9:10–11; Lk 15:2; 19:7
[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Lk 7:33–34.
[2] James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 51.
[3] James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 49.
 + 10 more                   חֶ֫מֶר         (1×), יֶ֫קֶב (1×), ירשׁ (1×), מַ֫יִם (1×), סֹ֫בֶא (1×), עָסִיס (1×), צָ֑חַר (1×), שֵׁכָר (1×), שֶׁ֫מֶר (1×), שְׂעֹרָה (1×)
[4] The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).
DBLHebr Swanson, A Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament)
Str Strong’s Lexicon
TDNT Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon
LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon
LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon
+ I have cited every reference in regard to this lexeme discussed under this definition.
[5] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
Soph. Sophocles. Tragicus, v b.c., Tragoediae, Ed. A.C. Pearson, Oxford (OCT)
Hdt. Herodotus. Historicus, v b.c., Ed. C. Hude, Oxford (OCT). Ps.-Hdt. Vit. Hom. = Vita Homeri, Ed. T. W. Allen, Homeri Overa V, Oxford (OCT), p. 192
[6] H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 547.
Arn Arndt, William F. Luke. St. Louis: Concordia, 1984.
TNTC Morris, Leon. Luke. Revised Edition. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
Lns Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1946.
TG Bratcher, Robert G. A Translator’s Guide to the Gospel of Luke. London, New York: United Bible Societies, 1982.
TH Reiline, J., and J. L. Swellengrebel. A Handbook on The Gospel of Luke. New York: United Bible Societies, 1971.
Su Summers, Ray. Commentary on Luke. Waco, Texas: Word, 1972.
AB Fitzmyer, Jospeph A. The Gospel According to Luke. 2 vols. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981 and 1985.
WBC Nolland, John. Luke. 3 vols. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word Books, 1989 and 1993.
[7] Richard C. Blight, An Exegetical Summary of Luke 1–11, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 312.
[8] Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 163.
[9] John A. Martin, “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 223.
[10] Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 665.
[11] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 197.
[12] Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1527.
[13] John D. Barry, Michael S. Heiser, et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Lk 7:34.
[14] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St. Luke, vol. 1, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 176.
[15] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 232–233.
[16] John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 21.
21 On the abstinence in principle of the Therapeutae cf. Philo Vit. Cont., 74. For them wine was ἀφροσύνης φάρμακον. Cf. also Ltzm. R., Exc. on 14:1ff.; H. Lewy, “Sobria Ebrietas,” ZNW, Beih. 9 (1929), passim, cf. Index, s.v. “Wein.” Cf. also Raymond, passim.
[17] Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 164.
[18] Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 165.
[19] Ken Heer, Luke: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), 119.