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Feedback archiveFeedback 2012

Are we allowed to eat all animals today?

Published: 1 September 2012 (GMT+10)

Today’s feedback answers questions from a number of people on the topic of diets, mainly addressed to Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s article Why Bible history matters, Creation 33(4): 18–21, 2011. He responds to the main points of several letters.

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As my bookshelf can attest, I greatly appreciate Jonathan Sarfati’s work,

Glad that you find it helpful :)

so I was surprised to see him use a mistranslation of Mark 7:18–19 (in Creation 34(2), “Clean and unclean animals”, Feedback section), not to mention the fact that it was used out of context. A study of these verses in the Greek originals will show that “Jesus declared all foods clean” is nowhere to be found! Despite the fact that nearly all translations have this phrase (the KJV being a notable exception).

Sorry, this is simply not correct. The standard New Testament critical apparatus1 gives the clause καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα (katharizōn panta ta brōmata) the top ranking of A, found in the main early codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus, several other uncials, many minuscules, families 1 and 13, and part of the Byzantine family.

morguefile.com

In fact, the only major dispute is about the inflections on the first word (the lemma is καθαρίζω katharizō = cleanse or purify). I.e. it’s about whether this statement was said by Christ, or was a parenthetical insertion by Mark—not whether it was part of the original. CMI does not believe in so-called red-letter Christianity but in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, so this statement is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) either way.

Reliable tradition says that Mark wrote his Gospel under the supervision of Peter. The gospels (and Paul’s letter to the Galatians) portray Peter as being rather slow on the uptake, and in Acts 10, God had to sent him a vision telling him to kill and eat ‘unclean’ animals. So it’s possible that Peter reflected on his time with Jesus, and realized that he should have understood it from what Jesus taught. And since Peter missed this message when Jesus said it, he told Mark to make it clear so no one else would miss it from then on. The great 19th century Hebrew Christian scholar Alfred Edersheim, in his detailed multi-volume The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, says:

But never before could they [the Rabbis] perceive the final inference which St. Mark long afterwards derived from this teaching of the Lord, “This He said, making all meats clean.” Yet another time had Peter to learn that lesson, when his resistance to the teaching of the vision of the sheet let down from heaven was silenced by this: “what God hath cleansed, make not thou common.” Not only the spirit of legalism, but the very terms “common” (in reference to unwashed hands) and “making clean” are the same. Nor can we wonder at this, if the vision of Peter was real … Peter, who has had that vision, is telling through St. Mark the teaching that underlay it all, and, as he looked back upon it, drawing from it the inference which he understood not at the time: “This He said, making all meats clean.” [Meat in the KJV meant “food”, cf. Genesis 1:30 “every green herb for meat” (KJV).]

The context is also clear: we can’t be defiled by anything we eat, since that goes into the κοιλία (koilia, stomach), and then expelled into the ἀφεδρών (aphedrōn, latrine). It does not have contact with the καρδία (cardia, heart), which in the Bible usually means the intellect and inner being rather than emotions as it does today (see Logic and Creation). Jesus then goes on to explain that it’s the cardia that is the source of the evils that genuinely defile a man, i.e. nothing to do with the food that comes into the koilia.

My colleague Lita Cosner, a scholar in New Testament Greek, provides the following information:

19c The syntax clearly marks out καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα as a parenthetical editorial comment, since there is no masculine singular subject within the reported speech to which it can relate (hence the emendations found in some MSS, representing attempts to ‘correct’ the syntax by those who failed to recognise the nature of the clause; see Textual Note). The subject therefore is Jesus (the subject of λέγει, v. 18a), whom Mark thus interprets as ‘cleansing all food’ in the sense of declaring that it is no longer to be regarded as ritually ‘unclean’. This is, as we noted above, a natural, indeed inevitable, deduction both from the principle stated by Jesus in v. 15 and from its further elaboration in vv. 18b–19b where the progress of the food is shown to have no effect on the καρδία. The revolutionary significance of this declaration, and its relevance to the relations between Jews and Gentiles in the early years of the Christian movement, have been considered in the introduction to this pericope as a whole.2

Mark’s parenthetical declaration that “all foods [are] ‘clean’ (v. 19) thus reveals his understanding of Jesus’ position on the matter of clean versus unclean foods. This declaration takes precedence over the dietary regulations of both the oral and written laws (e.g., Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). Again in Mark, the teaching of Jesus is supremely authoritative, superseding the Torah itself. Similar to the earlier pronouncement on the Sabbath (2:27–28), in presuming to render a definitive judgment on a matter of divine revelation, Jesus assumes the role of God.3

But even if this translation was accurate, it is anachronistic to put a modern definition of “food” back into the historical setting of when these words were spoken. “Food” for Jesus’ audience was defined in Leviticus 11, so in context, He would have to have been referring to the earlier discussed issue of the erroneous Pharisaic tradition of unwashed hands transmitting ritual impurity to Biblically clean food (i.e. pork, shellfish etc would never have been thought of as “food” at the time in that culture).

Mark was writing to Gentiles, not Jews, so would have treated this as all foods. As modern Hebrew Christian scholar Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum says in his Israelology:

To claim that the word “food” is only applicable to the kosher foods of Leviticus 11 and not to unkosher animals is incredible and not validated by any word study of the term. Juster [another Messianic Jew] obviously feels that the dietary code is still mandatory and so must find a way around this term by limiting the term “food” to refer to kosher food only. What is declared clean only refers to what Pharisaic tradition declared unclean and has nothing to do with the food of Leviticus 11! However, this is an unlikely view. It would have been defensible if it was found in Matthew’s parallel account because he did write to Jews. Mark wrote to Romans who would not have been familiar with such fine distinctions and would have taken Mark’s comment to be a statement concerning food in general.

The same argument applies to Colossians 2:16, a key passage supporting Christian liberty in diet:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

Peter’s dream of eating unclean foods was about teaching the Gentiles the message not about diet. That verse is taken out of context when the explanation for the dream is given only a few verses past the “permission” to eat anything.

—it should not be assumed that a modern definition of “food” was in mind here. Acts 10:10–15 was also quoted—but in Acts 11:1–18 Peter explains the meaning of the vision: rather than speaking of food, the vision had unclean animals representing non-Jews, and the command to eat these animals represented God’s command to not withhold fellowship with the Gentiles.

The command not to withhold fellowship (Acts 11:1–18) makes sense only if ‘unclean’ food is also allowed (Acts 10:10–15). The alternative makes no sense: ‘Eat these unclean foods, as a symbol for fellowshiping with Gentiles—but don’t really eat this food but still fellowship with Gentiles.’ The reality of the symbolic command is important for the reality of the command it symbolized.

This is indeed the meaning, but the command not to withhold fellowship makes sense only if “unclean” food is also allowed. The alternative makes no sense: “Eat these unclean foods, as a symbol for fellowshiping with Gentiles—but don’t really eat this food but still fellowship with Gentiles.” The reality of the symbolic command is important for the reality of the command it symbolized.

I would say that some of the Mosaic laws were more about health and could stand, whereas some were more about tradition and were done away with the fulfillment by Jesus. We still bury the dead, export waste out of the living areas and should be treating our bodies as the temple. Eating unclean foods is very much still against the Biblical teaching for healthy living, ask any dietician or doctor.

I agree that pre-Flood, the distinction between clean and unclean animals was, in practice, only relevant to what could be sacrificed. But it should not be downplayed that this clean/unclean distinction was identical to the distinction between creatures that were later stated to be considered to be food or not. Those that were not food (e.g. pigs, shellfish) are now known by many nutritionists today to have physiologies that were not designed to efficiently expel toxins, are more prone to parasitic infections, etc, and therefore should be avoided in favor of meat from non-carnivorous animals that have complex digestive systems (like cows and sheep). The separation between clean and unclean meats for food was not arbitrary. It was Gods wisdom and concern for our health—and His reasoning still holds true for us today.

Indeed, that is a common apologetic argument. Many of the cleanliness laws had a great health benefit (see The first book of public hygiene). All the same, in my article, I showed that ritual purity is far more likely, to symbolize the separation of the Messianic People from the surrounding pagan nations until the Messiah came to break down this wall (Ephesians 2:14). For example, lobsters have legs but live in the sea, so they violate the ritual land-water boundary. On the other hand, poultry is ritually clean, but is a very common source of food poisoning (as a victim of salmonella poisoning, I have personal experience).

Dr Sarfati’s reply also stated that God’s allowance for eating animals after the flood in Genesis 9:3 was without distinction [as above in my first comment above], but this cannot be correct—if Noah and his family had taken God’s statement here to mean something other than “every clean moving thing that lives shall be food for you”, then some of the unclean animals, which only existed as pairs at that time, could have been made extinct. Given that so much effort had just been made to preserve the unclean animals through the flood, it makes more sense to understand God’s instruction here as applying within the context of clean animals only (i.e. those that are not harmful for us to eat).

Ah, so that explains the extinction of the dinosaurs ;) Seriously, this doesn’t follow. The very fact that there were seven pairs instead of one pair would mean that these “clean” animals were more likely to be eaten.

On a related issue, some Christian vegetarians have argued that the command was only temporary because of the scarcity after the Flood. But the real scarcity after the Flood was vertebrate animals, so if the command was applied then, it must be fine now that animals are much more plentiful. That the command was not temporary was shown by Christ’s example about 2,500 years later. Christ’s example also shows that meat-eating wasn’t one of the things God allowed the Jews to do because of their hardness of heart. He also shows that it can’t be wrong to eat a sentient creature, or that meat-eating is unhealthy, since there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that lambs were less sentient or unhealthy back then.

The Bible never says we can eat any animal, challenge you to find that. In fact, Noah took 7 clean animals and only a pair of each unclean animal.

But this clearly had nothing to do with diet, since it was not until after the Flood that God gave man permission to eat animals (Genesis 9:3), and without distinction. Jesus Himself celebrated the Passover which included roasted lamb (John 2:23, Matthew 26:17–29), and after His resurrection he ate fish. So there is nothing sinful about eating meat today. Certainly God created animals and humans to be vegetarian (Genesis 1:29–30), and Isaiah 11 and 66 allude to a quasi-Edenic future where animals and humans again will be vegetarian. But until this time, the example of Christ allows meat-eating for Christians today.

Actually, allowing the eating of any meat makes sense of biblical history. Only in the later Mosaic Law did God implement commands to eat only clean animals, with very specific animals named as well as guidelines. This was necessary because they had been eating all animals without distinction, as God allowed Noah to do.

Actually, allowing the eating of any meat makes sense of biblical history. Only in the later Mosaic Law did God implement commands to eat only clean animals, with very specific animals named as well as guidelines. This was necessary because they had been eating all animals without distinction, as God allowed Noah to do. Also, the Jews have long taught that Gentiles were obliged to obey only the Seven Laws of Noah:

  1. Do not worship idols
  2. Do not murder
  3. Do not steal
  4. Do not commit sexual immorality (including adultery and homosexual acts)
  5. Do not blaspheme God
  6. Do not eat flesh from a living animal (i.e. with blood)
  7. Establishment of courts of law, implied by the command to execute murderers in Genesis 9:6

Many commentators understand Acts 15:29 as James in the Jerusalem Council as telling the other Apostles that all they should ask the Gentiles to do was follow the Noahide Laws (alluding to 1, 4, and 6 of the above list), rather than all the Mosaic laws (other commentators argue that these were typical practices of idolators of the day, which the Gentile Christians needed to avoid). As James, despite his reputation in extra-biblical sources as very pious and strict Jew called “James the Just”, said, “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” by imposing the Kosher food laws.

Jesus put his approval on the law and the prophets in Matthew 5:15–20.

Matthew 5:18—“not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”—can’t be teaching that all the Mosaic laws are still in force today, because it would prove too much, e.g. that we should be sacrificing animals for sin in the Temple today! No, Jesus fulfilled the Law, in the same way He fulfilled Isaiah 7:14 by being virginally conceived. This virginal conception prophecy is no longer in force today, meaning that we should not look for anyone else to fulfil it. But if this had been abolished, then no one would ever have fulfilled it. Similarly, Jesus was the fulfilment of the Mosaic Law by being the ultimate sacrifice for sin, which can now take sin away rather than merely cover it as the animal blood did (Hebrews 10). And because we are now no longer under the Levitical Priesthood, we are no longer under the Kosher food laws. In any case, we are not signatories to the Sinaitic Covenant, as explained in Is eating shellfish still an abomination?

This passage also endorses the inerrancy of Scripture, which is a different thing from current applicability. A “jot” was the Greek letter iota ἰῶτα ι which in the Hebrew alphabet was yod י. The “tittle” was the smallest stroke of a pen that would distinguish letters like ב (beit) and כ (kaph), or ד (dalet) and ר (resh).

Related Articles

Further Reading

References

  1. The Greek New Testament, 4th Ed., edited by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo Maria Martini and Bruce Metzger, Deutsche Biblegesellschaft/UBS, 1993. Return to text.
  2. France, R.T., The Gospel of Mark: A commentary on the Greek text (291–292). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002. Return to text.
  3. Edwards, J.R., The Gospel according to Mark. The Pillar New Testament commentary (213). Grand Rapids, Mich; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Jack C., Australia, 16 August 2012

I agree with the substance, reasoning and conclusion of the article. However, I came to the same conclusion from a slightly different angle. The Levitical/Mosaic Laws were not really designed by God to aid mankind to reach a state of sinlessness and hence salvation. He must have known no person could ever comply with such laws perfectly (except for Jesus of course) simply because mankind was doomed ever since Adam and Eve committed the first sin, and they immediately suffered a spiritual death. Even the Pharisees who were supposed to be about the closest anyone could get to perfection by the Mosaic Law committed many sins when they aided in the death of Jesus. The main reason He provided the Law to us was to provide a measure for us to distinguish good from evil so that we knew what we were doing. So, God had to provide another way to salvation and the restoration of our spiritual life that was lost from Adam and Eve. That other way was through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. More to the point of the matter, the sacrifice of Jesus paid for all our sins so they are no longer held against us. The Gospel clearly spells this out. Given our sins are no longer held against us, breaking any part of the Mosaic Law, including the dietary law is of no consequence. The only real sin that will still be held against us and prevent us from obtaining salvation is the refusal to believe and accept the reason why Jesus was sacrificed in the first place. Arguably, breaking the Ten Commandments is of no consequence too given everyone breaks at least one of them from time to time. Having said all that, once a person does accepts and receives the free gift of forgiveness provided by Jesus, such a person embarks on a righteous road on which one can’t help but to sin less and less, but still never reaches perfection in this world. So, whether one eats “unclean” meats or not is certainly of no consequence in terms of salvation, but it may be wise to avoid them as much as possible only for health reasons. I do but I won’t refuse prawns or pork chops if they were served to me at a friend's dinner, for example.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

All the same, we are under the Law of Christ, and if we love Him, we should obey His commandments (John 14:15, 21, 15:10). Acts like murder, theft, and homosexual behaviour were wrong both before and after the Law of Moses, as well as during of course. But eating the forbidden foods was morally wrong for the Israelites under the Mosaic Law, but not wrong before Moses, and not wrong for anyone now.

Jack C., Australia, 16 August 2012

In response to Jonathan Sarfati’s response:

Sin is sin, whether we commit murder or fail to obey any of the numerous Mosaic laws. Sin is punishable by death under the old covenant. The scriptures say so. Hence, we are all doomed under the old covenant; no exception. That’s why Jesus had to be sacrificed to pay for and forgive our sins, and so provide an opportunity for those who desire to be saved, regardless of the sin committed. Otherwise, his sacrifice was in vain (Galatians 2:21). You can’t have it both ways. Not everyone will accept this free gift of forgiveness. That's why God gave us a free will. He wants free willing people to follow him. Otherwise, he could have created robots, which would not suit his purposes.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Instead of free will, it seems more accurate to say that Adam and Eve had the power of contrary choice that was lost at the Fall, as explained in my book Refuting Compromise (see this extract).

The Bible also disagrees that all sins are equal (not that you were necessarily claiming that). Jesus spoke of an unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:22–32), which, whatever this means, must be worse than a forgivable sin. He also told Pilate, “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). The Apostle John contrasted “a sin not leading to death” with “sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16–17), and surely the latter is worse than the former.

CMI contributor Rev. Dr Peter Barnes wrote a helpful article Are All Sins Equal? which provides even more evidence. He concludes:

Rather than declare that all sins are equal—which violates both common sense and Scripture—we ought to recognise that any sin cuts us off from God. It is misleading to say that God is equally opposed to each of our sins, but it is true to say that He utterly opposes all of our sin.

Mark B., United States, 18 August 2012

Dr. Sarfati, I much enjoy reading your mind stretching articles. Thanks. This however was a little too much for my pea brain: “Published: 1 September 2012 (GMT+10)”

Jonathan Sarfati responds

That’s understandable confusion, and no reflection in the slightest on your intellect. That date is the official publication date for the front page, but the article is on the site before that.

Jack C., Australia, 1 September 2012

I find the argument by some who profess that the Levitical dietary laws are now in force for everyone miss one very important point. Where in the scriptures does it say Gentiles as well as Jews must obey them? I can’t find one single reference where it does. In fact Acts 15 describes the fact that the Pharisees, elders and apostles had a heated debate on this matter and others, and concluded that Gentiles need not follow the Law of Moses (and need not be circumcised) which clearly meant the Gentiles need not follow the Levitical dietary laws. The whole point of the NT is that the Jews and Gentiles were to accept Jesus as the true Messiah, not the extend the dietary laws (or the Law of Moses for that matter) to the Gentiles. Certainly there are health benefits associated with the avoidance of “unclean” meats. One could also say the same with chicken these days given the various outbreaks of diseases associated with chickens, which happens to be classified as a “clean” meat. So, one could say not only are the Levitical dietary laws were never meant to be extended to the Gentiles, they are really no longer sufficient to the Jews! The whole point of the laws were to differentiate Jews from Gentiles at the times before Jesus for a number of reasons. They are no longer relevant as in the eyes of God, Jews and Gentiles are the same in terms of salvation suitability. The purpose of the Law of Moses, which includes the dietary laws, is to expose us for what we are, sinful people, and the only way to escape the associated penalty of death as prescribed in the OT is to believe and accept that Jesus suffered the perfect sacrifice and was resurrected, allowing us to receive, if we so desire, the free gift of forgiveness of our sins and salvation. The more people realise all this the better and happier they will be.

Paul R., New Zealand, 1 September 2012

It’s clear that the dietary laws along with many other laws were given to make Israel a distint nation, when God established them as a nation. Nothing in God’s word even suggest they were for health reasons. Any scientific arguments for health reasons are based on questionable science, going by anything I have come accross. I find it inconsistent that those who say that Christians should keep the O.T. dietary laws but don't hold to the other laws such as those that concern clothing. Lev 19:19, Deut 22:11

Mark J., Australia, 1 September 2012

Very interesting discussion. Both Jonathan Sarfati and Jack C make their points very well. What seems to be unanimous is the fact that we have a freedon in Christ which includes diet. I have one question for Dr Sarfati. What is your understanding of the command by James in Acts 15:29 to not eat the meat of strangled animals. The apostle seems to put this on level of importance with avoiding promiscuity and not serving idols, both of which are very relevant issues today. However there is almost no reference to this other issue today. This would seem to be the one dietary exception to Mark’s statement that “All foods are now clean.” Why do you think that this was given such prominence and do you know of any examples of this being an issue today. God bless. Mark—Coffs Harbour

Jonathan Sarfati responds

James provided a ruling, not only so Gentiles would not be unduly burdened by the Mosaic Law, but also that there could be fellowship between Jews and Gentiles in the universal Church they were building. Hence there were only four requirements:

  1. No meat offered to idols. Idolatry was especially grievous to Jews. Paul later said that the meat itself was harmless because the idol had no power, but don’t flaunt this freedom if it causes someone to stumble (1 Corinthians 8). So there is no contradiction between James and Paul—both value fellowship even if it means not exercising some freedoms.
  2. No blood. Indeed, the wider permission God gave to Noah forbade eating blood (Genesis 9:4). This was perfectly understandable given the teaching throughout Scripture, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” (Leviticus 17:11).
  3. No strangled meat. This seems to be all about maintaining Jew–Gentile harmony, since Jews were very much against this, just as they were against blood.
  4. No fornication. This was not a common problem for Jews, but sexual immorality was rife in the gentile world. Even some Gentile Christians still had this vice—Paul later had to write sharply to the Corinthian church to correct this (1 Corinthians 5).

Lea S., United States, 1 September 2012

My good friend, who is one of the fathers of the modern Messianic Jewish movement, says the sacrificial and ceremonial laws are no longer required for Gentiles, as noted by the Jerusalem Council, but the moral law is still valid. I personally keep what I call a biblically kosher diet (no pork, shellfish), because I think it’s better for you. I do not believe God ever intended for us to eat those foods. (Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should always do something.) I agree with the previous poster that the way they digest and process food, and the food they eat is not healthy. Shellfish, for example, are scavengers. They eat all the refuse in the ocean. (And for the comment that you can get sick from poultry, I believe that has more to do with our modern food processing system, than with the poultry itself.) I do not push my personal beliefs on others. This is something I decided to do for myself. I do not believe it is commanded that Gentiles keep all the ceremonial laws.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Well, there is no such thing as the “modern Messianic Jewish movement”. Dr Fruchtenbaum and I could also be called “Messianic Jews” and would disagree with this ‘father’.

The problem is, the Jews didn’t differentiate between moral, sacrificial, and ceremonial laws, but regarded then as a unity (the message of James 2:10). All 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law were moral to them, in the sense that it was immoral to disobey any of them.

They were all intertwined with the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system. So when that was replaced with the Melchizedekian priesthood of Christ and His perfect sacrifice, “there is necessarily a change in the law as well” (Hebrews 7:12).

As pointed out in the article, we are still bound by laws given to Noah and by the New Testament, which include many commands of the Law of Moses as well. We apply this to the issue of homosexual behaviour in Gay ‘marriage’ and the consistent outcome of Genesis compromise.

Note also, the sin with by far the most grievous cosmic consequences would be classified as a ‘ceremonial law’ since it involved a forbidden food (see Genesis 2:17, 3:17–19).

Deciding to keep the kosher laws for yourself is part of your freedom in Christ (Romans 14:6).

Josef L., United States, 1 September 2012

Amazing feedback, Dr Sarfati. And one that is very relevant for today. I often see skeptics attempt biblical justification for homosexuality by claiming if Christians are against homosexuality then they should follow the food laws. I hope this feedback equips Christians in answering these skeptics.

A S., Canada, 2 September 2012

The Dietary Laws were clearly about distinction (Leviticus 20:22–26). It’s sad that secularist and homosexual activists do not see this and try to use it to say that Christians are “hypocrites”. The Dietary Laws were just a “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:16–23). In this day and age it’s the Holy Spirit that makes us clean and “distinct”! And that is through Jesus Christ. This had to be shown externally in the OT through Dietary Laws, Clothing Laws, etc. What great joy it is when you actually read the whole Bible and understand it when you put everything together unlike the Atheists do. If the Dietary Laws were still in effect today we as Christians wouldn’t be able to truly Witness to Unbelievers as we have to go into the world to do so and that may require a sit down/dinner chat with an Unbeliever. Remember, the Dietary Laws of Leviticus 11 didn’t only speak of eating but also the touching of “unclean foods” and also the touching of whatever those foods touched. Thank God that Jesus has broken down the wall so we can fulfill the Great Commission! God Bless all those who replied to this article and Jonathan Sarfati. I’m glad that there is a mutual understanding on this issue.

Jonathan M., Canada, 2 September 2012

The Bible does say that he made all foods clean, but it does not say that he made all foods healthy. Arguing that God takes no interest in our health and that abusing our health is not sinful puts us in an akward position. Christians ought to hold that God is reasonable and His laws exist not as arbitrary tests of allegiance but because He loves us and wants what is best for us. The Bible also says that there are greater and lesser sins. Therefore, once we do accept that abuse of our health is a sin, then the question becomes a one of magnitude. God expects us to do our best to be healthy, anything less is sin. Although the ceremonial aspect of these health laws may no longer exist, their practical health aspect should still be recognised and followed when possible. …

The China health study confirmed that the best diet for avoiding cancer is a vegetarian one. Now, on the scale of all possible sins, the transgression of these health laws surely lies near the bottom, and will vary with circumstance. What may not be sinful for one person to eat in one circumstance will be sinful for another. I think God expects us to read His word assuming that He is reasonable and that His precepts are for our good. Especially in our western culture of obesity, Christians should be searching the scriptures for divine health principles in order to help people and teach them about a God who cares about their body, their happiness, and their soul.

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Again, the above presupposes that the Kosher laws were all about health benefits. I have argued that they were to symbolize separation, and any health benefits were secondary. To give another example, I doubt that cotton-polyester shirts have any health problems, but mixed fabrics are forbidden under the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 22:11). This clearly fits better with the concept of separation, now ended by Christ.

A vegetarian diet is most definitely not commanded by Scripture ever since Genesis 9. People are free to be vegetarian though. See Animal cruelty and vegetarianism.

Other dietary issues are ‘wisdom issues’ and not something on which CMI can take an official stand. But we do take Colossians 2:16 seriously:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink …

Sue L., Australia, 4 September 2012

If Jesus was coming to dinner would it be OK to serve Him snails, slugs, snakes, cockroaches, spiders? What about bats, rats, mice, lizards and the old favourite flies, yes big juicy blow flies! You’ve got to be kidding to think that all creatures are there to be eaten!

I challenge you to eat these only for your regular diet for one year and see how healthy you are.

You know the saying “put your money where your mouth is”! well “Put the food where your mouth is.”

As for me, I’ll eat what God said is clean!

This is a genuine challenge not a prank!

I dare you to take up the challenge!!

Do you have the guts? or will you just laugh me off as a nutter and squirm out of the challenge?

And I dare you to open this up to all comers!!

Sue

Jonathan Sarfati responds

Remember, my argument is that we have the freedom to eat all animals, not the obligation. Nor should we force our own eating preferences on others (Romans 14:6). I would not offer a ham sandwich to an Orthodox Jew or meat to a vegetarian. In return, a good host/ess would not feed me broccoli (proof of God’s curse on the ground, heh heh ;).

I will also eat what God said is clean—in Acts 10:9–16.

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