We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christian Diets

So-called “Christian” diet plans have not been a topic I thought of writing about because they don’t normally have doctrinal teachings.  However, as I have looked at some over the years, I have noticed how often the Scripture is abused so support the author of whatever diet is being promoted.  Due to a request by a reader, I decided to write this general overview of some well-known diets and examine them in the light of God’s Word.

Let me start by explaining what the Bible says about the foods mankind is to eat.  I will not include the dietary restrictions given to the theocratic nation of Israel because such restrictions were for ceremonial reasons, and were cancelled by Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament (Mark 7:17-23; Acts 10:13ff; 1 Tim. 4:4-5).

In the beginning, God gave man - and the animal kingdom as well - a diet of that which comes from plants, be it vegetable, fruits, nuts, grain, roots, etc. (Gen. 1:29).  But after the Flood, God gave man meat for food, in the form of fish, birds, and “everything that lives and moves” (Gen. 9:3)

Throughout Exodus, and the remainder of the Pentateuch, God tells Israel that He is taking them to a land of “milk and honey.”  Throughout the Bible milk and honey for food is considered a blessing.  John the Baptist subsisted on honey and locusts.  In Luke 11:11-12, Jesus discusses about whether fathers would give something bad for food in response to a son’s request, and He contrasts “egg” with “scorpion,” with the implication that eating the egg would be good.  In Isaiah 10:19 an analogy is given which uses men gathering abandoned eggs from a bird’s nest, but nothing is intimated about that being wrong.

So now let’s take a look at what various “Christian” diet plans say.

The first one to look at is the “Hallelujah Diet.  The author of this one is Rev. George Malkmus.  The first problem I have with this diet is Malkmus’ claim that it is “God’s Way.”  Now, in order for anyone to be able to truthfully say something is “God’s Way,” it has to be demonstrated clearly from Scripture, or it has to be by direct revelation.  Since the Scripture is fairly limited in this area, and I doubt if Malkmus has had a direct revelation, I would say the claim that his diet is “God’s Way” is false.


Of course, as with so many who teach their “____” as “God’s Way,” and who then have a whole industry selling products based on their claims, Malkmus is no different - he has a whole line of expensive dietary supplements and other products.

The home page of the company offering the Hallelujah Diet, offers a course called “Biblical Nutrition 101,” by Rev. George Malkmus (which essentially explains the “why” of the Hallelujah Diet).   Overall, the diet program is based on vegetarianism, which may or may not be good, depending on the program itself.  I’m not going to address all the outrageous and unproven health claims found in the document, but for those interested in that subject, an examination can be found at “Quackwatch.”  I will concentrate only on Malkmus’ biblical claims.

While it is correct in its claims as to God’s original diet for mankind being fruits and vegetables, as noted above, Malkmus neglects the fact that God later included meats, and his whole diet is based on the premise that meats were never to be a part of mankind’s diet. 

I found some abuse of Scripture with this course, such as on page 9 where the author uses Galatians 6:7 in reference to consequences of improper diet.  Another passage abused on p.12 is Hosea 4:6 being applied to our supposed ignorance of a proper diet.  Then we jump to p.13 and the author states that God didn’t intend for us to be sick, and his “proof text” is 3 John 1:2!   “Refined table salt” (Lesson 8) is bad because Gen. 2:7 tells us how man was made - breathing life into dead minerals; and salt is a dead mineral without life, etc.  In Lesson 11 the discussion is about the need for oxygen “so that we can experience life to the fullest.” After all, didn’t Jesus say that He came so that we would have abundant life? (“proof text” being Jn 10:10)  In Lesson 12 he opens his “concluding thoughts” citing 1 John 4:1, and then proceeds to tell us what the world says about religion and health - implying that these are what John is referring to.  And the final “proof text” to support his thesis is Dan.1:15-20.

There is nothing in the “course” which backs up the author’s claim that it is “Biblical Nutrition”: just because he cites Bible verses and refers to creation, that doesn’t make it “Biblical Nutrition.”  My guess, though, is that there are hordes of Christians claiming this diet is from God.  Again and again the author emphasizes Gen. 1:29 with claims that eating anything else is not good for us, yet if that is the case, then why did God give mankind meat to eat?  The issue is moderation, not abstention.  

I found a Calvinist KJVO site which did some examination of this diet vs what the Bible teaches.  While I can’t recommend this site, the one page about Malkmus and his diet gives a lot of “food” for thought for those who want to pursue such a diet because it is supposedly “God’s Way.  The site calls the “Hallelujah Diet” heresy, which I think is a false charge in itself.  Aberration?  Yes.  Heresy? No.

Weigh Down Workshop. This course by Gwen Shamblin was considered to be a fairly good diet program, but churches soon discovered how much heresy was being taught as part of the “workshop,” and they began booting Shamblin’s course out as quickly as possible.  So Shamblin ended up with her own cultic group called the Remnant FellowshipMidwest Christian Outreach is just one of many ministries exposing Shamblin as a heretic.

Rick Warren’s “Daniel Plan.”  Again, most commentators I’ve read on this plan think it is a fairly sound diet and health program, but there are grave problems with the consultants Warren used to develop it - and who supposedly inspired it - who are proponents of Eastern religious beliefs.  Erin Benziger also addresses this.

I’m sure there are many more such diets, but one that I’ve come across which has become faddish, even with some Christians, is veganism.  Veganism is vegetarianism taken to a more bizarre level, in that vegans refuse to eat animal products.  There are, of course, degrees to which different vegan groups or individuals apply this, but milk, eggs, and honey are examples of what they shun.  And some at the extreme end refuse to even USE products of animals, such as silk, wool, or leather.  

I’m not going to concern myself with veganism practiced by unbelievers, but I am going to address the claims Christian vegans use to support their diets, because the claims abuse Scripture and get to be quite cultic.  In fact, one of the claims about veganism is similar to claims by Bill Gothard with his various dietary restrictions - unsubstantiated claims of health benefits (in addition to known health benefits).

As with the Hallelujah Diet, one of the immediate claims is that the only food man was intended to eat was outlined in Gen. 1:29.  Of course Gen. 1:29 makes no mention of using animals for milk products, or using honey from bees.

If the reason for vegan diets is because of concern for how the animals are treated in “animal factories,” then that is an ethical belief rather than a biblical belief about food, especially when all animal food products can be procured from farms where animals are given humane treatment.

In an article at “Today’s Christian Woman,” the author makes a convoluted argument to claim Mark 12:31 is applicable because how food choice affect your neighbor!  And, of course by supporting the meat industry you are obviously NOT heeding the call to heal the sick and help the poor (Matt. 10:8; Gal. 2:10), an idea the author got because of what she read in a book by Peter Singer - who is one of the worst people to accept any kind of teachings from!  Then the author uses Hosea 4:3 as an analogy to the “bloodshed and devastation that factory farming has on the people, the animals, and the land.”  Again, everyone can get their products at non-factory farms.  The author is another one who uses Dan.1:15 as a “proof text,” which has nothing to do with veganism or vegetarianism.

Scan the Internet looking for “Christian vegan” and you will find those who claim animals are on a level with humans in creation, and that proper stewardship does not include eating them.  Peter Singer’s philosophy about animals compared to humans has apparently been adopted by too many non-discerning Christians!

I found a Christian vegan blog in which the author makes the point about Gen. 9:3 being after the Fall, but that doesn’t explain why God would intentionally give mankind food which would be to his detriment; does her God say, “Here, have a little of this poison” and then laugh as man gets ill from what God gave him? But the author doesn’t even mention that God gave “milk and honey” as blessings! 

In a serious abuse of Scripture, the author cites Heb. 10:7-8 where God was not pleased with animal offerings!  SIGH!  Do I really have to explain that it wasn’t because the offerings were animals?

The blog author tells her readers that they need to “stop the suffering in this world.”  Do sheep suffer when we shear them for wool?  Do bees suffer when we eat their honey?

I didn’t find one site that told Christians to seek out farms which treat their animals humanely, rather than promoting the ethical claim which says we should show compassion as Christians.  It was never once pointed out that there are indeed farms who are not part of the system they decry.

It was interesting how many sites on Christian vegetarianism and veganism were by either members of,  or those connected with, Seventh-day Adventism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses (even sites that quoted the JW “New World Translation” as support).  There are even claims that Jesus was a vegetarian!  (I found a good response to that at “got Questions?.org)

Here’s the point of this article:
If you want to be a vegetarian or a vegan, that is your liberty as a Christian.  If you want to live on such diets because of the inhumane treatment of animals by “factory farms”, etc, that’s all well and good.

BUT, even though God designed man originally for eating from the plant kingdom, God did indeed give man stewardship in the use of the animal kingdom for food.  Nowhere does God denounce eating meat, nowhere does He denounce drinking milk or eating honey, nowhere does He say the use of sheared wool is wrong, and nowhere does God say eating eggs is wrong.  The principles are established directly opposite of such claims as demonstrated in the first four paragraphs of this post.  

Instead of condemning those who use animal products from places which aren’t ethical about proper treatment of animals, do some research to find farms who do things properly and tell people where to find them!  

Above all, STOP abusing Scripture to promote your dietary desires.  The claim that something is “God’s Way,” is nothing less than spiritual abuse!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

Well said! I'm glad you covered this topic. It is one that is often under the radar, but can be very destructive and put believers into spiritual bondage.

As you referenced, 1 Tim 4:4-5 - (actually going back to verse 1) - a lot of what is erroneously being taught as "God's way" is actually the doctrines of demons!

Other scriptures that apply:

Romans 14, in its entirety
1 Cor 8, in its entirety
Matthew 6:25-34
Colossians 2:16
Matthew 15:16-20

In Christ, we are free. Free to eat. Free to give. Free to love. Free to serve. (Not free to continue in sin, though!)

Another book that contains error - Dr. Jordan Rubin's The Maker's Diet. I skimmed it years ago and a few incorrect things immediately caught my eye. One being Dr. Rubin maintains Levitical law as being the "Biblically correct" way to eat/live. As you said, Calvary freed everyone from these ceremonial restrictions, which, when in effect, were for OT Israel only, never for the gentiles anyhow. Another issue with TMD - some of Rubin's recommendations, including supplements, are very expensive, more so than most average people could afford.

-Carolyn

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Carolyn,

I forgot all about "The Maker's Diet." Haven't heard about that one for years!

But, it certainly is one of those cultic diets pretending to be from God. Thanks for the reminder.

Sarah said...

Brother Glenn, may I repost this on my website [reflectionsfromthewall.net] ? With your name (as author) and link to your blog attached to it? This is an excellent article, brother!

Carolyn, yes that Makers Diet is a sham INDEED. Thank you for the reminder that he is Hebrew Root-ish. I tried that diet a few years back and gained a lot of weight, since it's high carbohydrate. I had to go on a diet to lose weight from THAT diet, lol.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Sarah,

Thank you - and yes, you man repost anything on my blog :oD

Anonymous said...

Glenn, and Sarah, you're welcome. :)

-Carolyn

Joe said...

The minds of way too many Christians are overflowing with too many vain imaginations. But because they are "Christians" and have a thought, they conclude the thought must be from God.

Any part of God's word that does not fit their agenda they reject and they twist the rest to fit.