On Monday we learned that pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren was releasing a new “faith-based” diet book. The book is apparently derived from The Daniel Plan, a program which will “transform your spiritual, physical, and emotional health.” Ordinarily, such holistic transformation is beyond the scope of the typical weight-loss plan but how many plans can lay claim to “founding doctors” Rick Warren, Mehmet Oz, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman? [The Merritts almost came to blows at our Thanksgiving meal as we debated the relative greatness of America’s founding fathers (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, & Madison). Once this gift is unwrapped we’ll be doomed to repeat this ordeal over Christmas as we argue about the relative prestige of the founding doctors. Thanks for ruining Christmas, Pastor Rick.]
Some brief thoughts:
1) Disclaimer: my cynicism and/or concern about this book isn’t about content (I haven’t read the book).
2) Gluttony is an “acceptable sin” in many Christian circles and a pastor serves his people well when he exposes it to the light for the good of the church.
3) To say that a program is “founded in faith/on biblical principles” often has more to do with branding than anything else (blame it on the Christian media complex). The unintended consequence is the creation of a kosher market to meet the demand of felt needs under the banner of spirituality (see #4).
4) “Christian” weight loss plans tend to focus on felt needs rather than ultimate needs. I take it that, under normal circumstances, gluttony has less to do with eating habits, loneliness, etc. and more to do with unbelief and/or the “inbred slothfulness of our nature.” Lewis cut to the root of the matter when he called us “half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.” The real problem isn’t that we desire food too much but that we desire God too little.
5) I can’t shake the notion that a pastor has far better things to do with his time than to collaborate on a diet program with Dr. Oz. At the end of the day I think this is my biggest hang-up. Maybe I’m wrong but I can’t imagine men like Paul, Augustine, Luther, Wesley, & Edwards sitting down to pen a treatise on dieting. Somehow they found better things to do & the church has been better for it.
Not a censure but a sigh.