What The Bible Says About Healthy Living: Three Biblical Principles That Will Change Your Diet And Improve Your Health, by Rex Russell, M.D.
It is perhaps little of a surprise that this particular volume I read (a very short book of only about 120 pages or so, including its amusing appendices) was once part of my congregation’s local library some years ago. This is precisely the sort of book that one would expect a church with strong concerns about clean and unclean meats and general health in accordance with biblical laws , and even though the book is not perfect it is still a very worthwhile one. In fact, as a reader, I was struck by the way that my own dietary habits are not so far removed from the advice as the writer as I had thought. Now, my own consumption of sugar is definitely not something this book approves of, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that many of my other eating habits are far more praiseworthy, at least in this author’s eyes, and that is something to appreciate given the longstanding struggles I have had with my own health and with my own ability to digest foods. It is quite possible that many readers will be able to say something similar themselves, that they eat better than they may realize simply by trying to follow some basic rules.
This particular volume is composed of twelve chapters in three parts with three additional appendices along with endnotes and an index. The first part of the book opens with a discussion on the importance and difficulty of eating right in a world gone wrong, and then looking at the health benefits that come from obedience to God’s food laws. The second part of the book gives the three principles of healthy eating in the author’s mindset: eating the foods God created for us, not altering God’s design, and not letting any food or drink (or absence thereof) become our god. The third part of the book then contains six chapters applying those three principles to grains and nuts, fat, meat, sweets, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, and beverages. The author manages to avoid fad diets and stick to some pretty reasonable guidelines that avoid extremes and that manage to encourage light alcohol consumption, something likely stated in the negative way it does because of widespread concerns within the American Christian world about drinking at all, so the author feels uncomfortable going to a full moderationist perspective.
In general, there are only a few minor faults that I can find with this book that do not hinder its value as a short guide to health. One fault, its pandering to the anti-alcohol biases of many contemporary Christians, is one of them that has already been mentioned. A related fact is that the author is not willing to express a belief that we should obey God’s food laws on spiritual grounds. The author wants to preserve himself from accusations of judaizing while also pointing out the validity of God’s laws concerning food and drink. It is a shame the author feels it necessary to be so timid in his recommendations, because the book as a whole is a sound one and one that deserves to be taken seriously. Naturally, those who do take God’s food laws seriously will have no difficulty enjoying this book fully and endorsing its message without the timid hedges that the author uses in order not to lose his mainstream cred. Some readers, it should be pointed out, have no such mainstream cred to lose.
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