Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


Is Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan An Exercise in “Selfish” Bible Reading?

Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is on a mission to help people lose weight. With the release last week by the Centers for Disease Control of the latest statistics on obesity- 55% of people in my state of Georgia are now “overweight” or “obese”- I am sympathetic with Warren’s latest enterprise. But is Warren modeling a faithful reading of Scripture by using an ancient biblical story as a diet plan? I don’t think so.

Lately, as I make my way through Rachel Held-Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood- (stay tuned for my upcoming review in the online ecumenical publication, Sermons That Work)- I’ve been obliged to reflect on the nature of “biblical authority.”  This is a term that we evangelicals lovewe have been known to throw it around to support all sorts of agendas.

But, if it is true that all of Scripture is, in the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17,  “God-breathed,” and “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work?,” what does it mean to take the Bible seriously?  What does it mean to read the Bible faithfully and ethically?  What does it mean to interpret the Bible in such a way that it impacts how we live in the 21st century- so that it truly is God’s “living,” “breathing” Word for us?

This morning fellow saint and sinner Paul Dover sent on this helpful critique by Rob Goodman for the likes of celebrity pastors like Rick Warren- and (I might add) Mark Driscoll- who mine the Bible as if it were a nutrition guide or sex manual.  Such approaches are in no way new to the evangelical world.  Before Warren and Driscoll (my addition, not Goodman’s), there were Bruce Wilkinson’s Prayer of Jabez and Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, Goodman notes.  He goes on to invite a more “ethical” approach when reading Scripture, one that asks us to view stories in Scripture for what they are- narratives that demand empathy for the characters and sensitivity to their contexts.  Ultimately, reading the Bible faithfully and with respect for biblical authority means being willing to “love the stranger” in these stories, Goodman writes; it means being willing to relinquish the selfish tendency to impose our own agendas on Scripture, be they a trimmer figure or a hotter sex life, so that we might encounter the Bible on its own terms.

Is the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego really about what to eat in order to lose a few pounds and squeeze into that size 4 dress hanging in the closet?  Is the Song of Songs really about how to spice up one’s sex life with some new moves in the bedroom (a la Driscoll)? I don’t think so.

 

 



  • Mike Spencer

    You mian the Bible isn’t about believing that the Bible is about everything? You mean it’s not an instruction manual for life? How can this be…

Previous Posts

Mental Health Break—Sprawl II
My favorite band these days is Arcade Fire, and I've featured the Canadian indie rock group before at this intersection between God and life. The lead singer studied Kirkegaard in college and their songs, like this one, are often subtle but brilliant critiques of the least aesthetically pleasing thi

posted 12:58:15pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

I Can't Breathe and the Widow's Cry—A Guest Post
Fellow saint and sinner Saskia de Vries is a neuroscientist in Seattle, Washington and has posted before at this intersection between God and life. She, like so many of us, is grappling with the tragedies of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the larger systemic problem they seem to reveal—namely,

posted 2:10:09pm Dec. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Advent and Emptiness, Via Louis CK and the Prophet Isaiah
I've been making my way through the book of Isaiah. This morning's reading was from chapter 6, where the prophet Isaiah receives his call to go to the people of Israel and proclaim God's judgment of a people who have wandered away from God's purposes for them. Isaiah asks how long God's people will

posted 11:45:39am Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Advent Resurrection
It may seem strange to pair Advent with resurrection. Usually resurrection comes more naturally at Easter. But at heart the labor pangs of all creation giving birth to the Christ child are a longing for a new start. Advent is a longing to be born again. Neuroscience now teaches that every minu

posted 2:47:38pm Dec. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Birthday Cred—Ecclesiastes Via David Foster Wallace
Today I'm still (barely) on the left side of 40, and bea

posted 11:01:03am Dec. 01, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.