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From: Robin (0-1pool130-80.nas4.slidell1.la.us.da.qwest.net)
Subject: God prescribed a vegetarian diet
Date: February 3, 2003 at 4:14 pm PST

In Reply to: another one about Jesus being an omnivore... posted by balance808 on February 3, 2003 at 11:54 am:

for Adam and Eve but as you say, after the Flood, God gave permission for Noah and his descendents to eat the flesh of animals but prohibited them from eating the life of the animal--its blood--with the flesh. As for the Sixth Commandment, the Hebrew word which the English Standard Version renders as "murder" refers to the deliberately act of taking the life of another human being. It also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence. However, it does not apply to the act of killing an animal. Therefore, we cannot interpret the Six Commandment as applying to the slaughter of animals for their flesh, skins, and any other part of them as much as we might like to do so. We cannot turn to the Bible and find a prohibition against killing animals. We can find passages that enjoin us to treat animals with kindness and equate such kindness with righteousness. We can find passages that condemn cruelty to animals and equate such cruelty with wickedness. We can also refrain from eating the flesh of animals because the Bible does not require that we eat their flesh.

When Paul was referring to our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, he was concerned about how we might defile that temple through sexual immorality. Paul's teachings that diet cannot bring us close to God and therefore it is not necessary for a Christian to observe any particular dietary regulations like the Jewish ones is consistant with Jesus' own teaching. Jesus taught that is was not what we ate that defiles us but our own hearts. For example, it is the evil in our own hearts that leads us into sexual immorality by which we defile ourselves. On the other hand, if we maintaining good health enables us to be better servants of God and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet would enable us to maintain better health, then it makes a great deal of sense to adopt such a diet.

Other translations of the Bible beside the King James Version do not include any reference to "honey comb" in Luke 24.42-43. In the English Standard Version (ESV), a word for word, phrase for phrase translation of the Bible, the text is rendered "They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took and ate it." The translators of the ESV had many more Greek manuscripts to use in translating the New Testament than did the translators of the King James Version and their translation is much more reliable. The translators of the King James Version had only twenty-five such manuscripts. In the Greek "it" is not a seperate word. The Greek text is "kai lambano phago enopion autos." The "it" is part of the English rendering of "phago," or "ate it." Even in the King James Version rendering of this passage the "it" refers to the "piece" of broiled fish and of honeycomb" and not just to one or the other.

In the English Standard version Isaiah 7.15 is rendered , "He shall eat curds and honey WHEN (my emphasis) he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. Isaiah 7.16-21 goes on to say "For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father's house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah--the king of Assyria. In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they will all come and settles in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures. In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired beyond the River--with the king of Assyria--the head and the hairs of the feet, and it will sweep away the beard also. In that day a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, and because of the abundance of milk they give, he will eat curds for everyone who is left in the land will eat curds and honey." When Isiaih 7.15 is read in the context of these passages, it clearly is part of God's warning to King Ahaz, and has nothing to do with Jesus' diet.

Discussion of whether Jesus and his disciples actually celebrated the Passover seder at the prescribed time is not relevant to what Jesus ate, anymore than it relevant to a discussion of the connection between the Last Supper and the Lord's Supper. A number of books on the latter topic by the way raise some of the same questions as you do. From the Synoptic Gospels it is clear that Jesus wanted to celebrate the Passover with his disciples and made the necessary arrangements to do so. Lamb was integral part of that meal. Both the Synoptic Gospels and Paul associate Jesus with the Paschal lamb. Whether the meal itself occurred exactly on the Passover does not nullify these associations. Here again I must point out as I pointed out in my post below, Jesus did not prescribe a particular diet for his disciples. To have done so would have been at odds with his message which is one of grace, God's unconditional favor toward humanity. Prescribing a particular diet puts a price tag on grace. It ceases then to be grace. Jesus' message was not one of vegetarianism. This, however, does not mean that being a Christian and being a vegetarian are incompatible. Jesus' attitude toward food was that what we eat does not make a difference in our relationship with God. It is "adophora," a matter indifferent to our salvation. In this regard he differs from the Pythagorians who believed that if they avoided certain foods, they could draw closer to God. Jesus chided his disciples for their preoccupation with food, urging them to focus their hearts and minds on more spiritual things. Jesus himself accepted the hospitality of a variety of people to Pharisees who were scrupulous in observing the Jewish dietary code to tax collectors and "sinners" who may have adopted the eating habits of the Gentiles, serving pork at their banquets along with other kinds of meat. Jesus joined his actions with his words. He not only taught grace but practiced grace. If he had refused to eat with these people or had been picky about what he ate, his actions would have nullified his message of grace. If his eating habits had been noteworthy or significant to apostolic teaching, they would have been mentioned in the Gospels and John, James, and Peter's letters.

"Proof-texting," having an idea and then going to the Bible to find a text which appears to support that idea but which may have no real bearing or relevance, is one of 100 ways of misinterpreting the Scriptures that Norman Sire identifies in his excellent book SCRIPTURE TWISTING, available from Intervarsity Press. So we need to carefully evaluate any Biblical "proofs" someone else presents in support of their views. Roy B. Zuck's BASIC BIBLE INTERPRETATION: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO DISCOVERING BIBLICAL TRUTH (available from Chariot Victor Publishing)is also an excellent book on hermeneutics which can be read and understood by the average lay person. It outlines helpful principles for understanding and applying Scripture, principles based upon the Bible itself.

As it being illogical and hypocritical for Jesus to eat the flesh of animals, how so? It would be illogical and hypocritical for him to preach and teach grace and then insist upon abstinence from animal flesh as a condition of salvation. In doing so he is no longer teaching and preaching grace but rather what Christian theologians refer to as "work righteousness"--abstinence from animal flesh being a "work." What Jesus teaches and preaches is trusting in him and in the one who sent him--God. Christianity is not a set of rules although it has its ehtical and moral imperatives. Christianity is first and foremost a relationship with a Person--Jesus. Jesus himself is not just the messenger of grace, God's unconditional favor toward us, he is the fullest expression of grace. In receiving Jesus, the New Testament tells us, we receive God.




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