Monday, August 27, 2012

Idolatrous Views of Food and the Curse

Here is a quote from one of the talks that Chef Francis Foucachon gave at the Reformation of Food and the Family Conference in July. I have it in a book that Chef Foucachon made just for this event, Food for Thought and Thoughtful Food. He should be coming out with a more refined version of the book next year.
"Today, fallen man frequently responds to the consequences of the curse with two different, yet equally idolatrous reactions...The first reaction seeks to, in effect, reverse the Fall through an unconditional faith in the infinite progress of science. The pride evident in this kind of Scientism elevates its own creations above God's Creation. The idolatry of Scientism is hard to miss. The reaction at the other end of the spectrum, however, may be far more of a pitfall for some Christians today...[T]hose adhering to the pantheistic religion behind radical ecology, mystical natural healing, and some of the organic movement live in denial of the Fall of Creation as seen in Romans 8. They try to recover Paradise by taking man's "evil" influence out of the equation, and fail to see that man is part of the solution as God works by His grace through those whom He has redeemed. The gurus of this false religion promise us all manner of health and well-being--if only, through the "purity" of untainted nature--we could eradicate the "cancer" of modern man's impact. This kind of idolatry may occasionally couch itself in biblical language, but in the end it's just one more example of worshipping the created rather than the Creator."
May we continue to work and shape God's creation, including our food, in the fear of God as His redeemed people as we "have dominion over...all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).

-Peter B.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Boy and the Bike

There once was a boy who got a bike from his dad for his birthday. He looked at the bike and thought, "Wow, what a temptation for me. I better not get too excited about this bike. I might end up greedy and selfish." He let the bike sit on the garage wall and would look at it every once and a while. Occasionally he would take a ride on it, but then he would feel guilty and ashamed and call it a sinful delight.

There was a friend of his who also received a bike from his dad for his birthday. This boy took a look at the bike and thought, "Wow, this bike is so much better than everyone else's bike." He went to his friends, including the boy who didn't ride his bike, and got into a big argument with them about which bike was better, safer, etc... When he got home to his family he was grumpy that not everyone wanted a bike just like his.

There was another boy who also got a bike from his dad for his birthday. He looked at the bike and without another thought he grabbed it and took off. He forgot about dinner with his family because he loved the bike. The only problem was that when trying to show off for his friends he fell and broke a leg.

And finally, there was the boy who received the bike from his dad, took a look at it and joyfully exclaimed, "Thank you, dad! This is great!" He got on the bike and zoomed down the road, waving to his dad, smiling. As he passed the group of arguing boys he called for them to join him, wondering why they didn't enjoy their bikes. When he got home for dinner he talked excitedly with his dad about the fun he had on the bike. Afterwards, he carefully fine-tuned the bike and put on the wall, making sure to take care of what his dad gave him.

Which dad do you think was the most pleased with his son?


In case you didn't get what I was getting at in this little parable, let me put it another way. Our Heavenly Father, through his creation and providence, has provided great blessings of food for us. We can look at these blessings and react in different ways. We could ignore them. We could spend all our time arguing about them. We could focus on the blessings themselves without remembering the Father who gave them, making idols of food. Or we could take this food and delight in God's goodness, giving thanks to Him for providing such wonderful things for us. It is with this last option that we will act like true sons of our Father, fulfilling the purpose of His blessings to us. In fact, this thankfulness will be a blessing in itself.

You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you...then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household...
At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
(Deuteronomy 14:22-26, 28-29)

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
(Psalm 107:8)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 14:17)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:1-5)

-Peter B.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reformation of Food: Blessings and Dangers

"We are at a time like the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s when the centralized Roman Catholic Church was called into question, motivating the common man to study the Scripture for himself. This was a great opportunity for Christians to go back to Scripture and build from a solid foundation. On the other hand it also allowed the Anabaptists and other unorthodox and autonomous sects to form and overreact. Nowadays, the centralized food industry is called into question, so the common man is now researching food for himself. This is great because it allows us to get back to what Scripture says on the subject and build on it, but it also allows for many independent overreactions that become the Anabaptists of the food industry." (The Christian Philosophy of Food, p. 7)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Abortion, Christ, and Eating Blood

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 
‘Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.’” 
−Genesis 9:3–6 

“It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” 
−Acts 15:28–29

While we have been given meat to eat, we are still to avoid eating blood because the blood has such a strong connection to life; it can be said that the blood is the life. As Christians we value life, even animal life to an extent (see also Prov. 12:10). God values life/blood so much that capital punishment is required for murderers of humans (made in the image of God) and abstinence from eating blood is required concerning animals. While some connotations are made by the cultural situation (food sacrificed to idols: 1 Cor. 8), the connotation of blood and life transcends the specific situation and is part of the created order.

It is easy to think that the ban on blood eating is a pretty small point and is just another thing to put on the “do not eat” list, but the implications of this go beyond our diets. It goes to one of our most hotly debated issues today, the issue of abortion.

To show this implication, let us go back to Tertullian. Tertullian was a very influential Church Father who lived around 200 A.D. He wrote a book, The Apology, where he defended Christians against the criticisms of his day. Some of the criticisms were horrendous, and one of those was that Christians were said to eat little children. As Tertullian says, “Monsters of wickedness, we are accused of observing a holy rite in which we kill a little child and then eat it.” First Tertullian attacks the claim as a rumor without any confirmation (Chapter 7), and then appeals to natural feelings and will which would not allow it (Chapter 8). Then in chapter 9 he points to the pagans themselves and shows where they practice the same or similar thing in different ways (and describes a bunch of horrible pagan practices). Finally, he points to the actual practices of the Christians, which, of course, are as far from the accusation as possible. Says he,
“Blush for your vile ways before the Christians, who have not even the blood of animals at their meals of simple and natural food; who abstain from things strangled and that die a natural death, for no other reason than that they may not contract pollution...To clench the matter with a single example, you tempt Christians with sausages of blood, just because you are perfectly aware that the thing by which you thus try to get them to transgress they hold unlawful. And how unreasonable it is to believe that those, of whom you are convinced that they regard with horror the idea of tasting the blood of oxen, are eager after blood of men; unless, mayhap, you have tried it, and found it sweeter to the taste!”
 As Christians we are so pro-life that we don’t even eat animal blood! He also states,
“In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fÅ“tus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed.”
To counter the accusations of the pagans he points to the (then) obvious fact that Christians are pro-life and even oppose abortion as murder, so far are they from eating children.

Christians value life, and because we value life so much, the death of Jesus is all the more powerful. Because of sin we are doomed to die, but because He shed His blood and life for our sin, we may have new and eternal life. Thus, there is the one way in which we do something similar to drinking blood, and that is in Communion.
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29)
While blood may be a gruesome and serious topic, it is one that is very powerful and full of significance. We don’t eat it because we value animal life. We protect human blood and life as Christian governments should shed the blood of the murder who sheds the blood of man, the image of God, even the small image. And we "drink" and live by the power of Jesus’ blood that was shed for us sinners who deserved to die that we might have life with Him who is “the life.”

-Peter Bringe