Viral among my LCMS friends recently was a YouTube video clip from non-denominational preacher Joel Osteen in which he spoke about the dangers of some foods (like bacon) prohibited in the Old Testament. To be fair, it is obviously an edited clip so we do not have the benefit of full context here. And, to be fair, some of the issues raised about the nature and quality of the food are to be taken seriously. Nobody would argue that bacon, for example, is a food so healthy that one should eat it every day.
The above being said, if the the entirety of the message is consistent with the clip then the man is preaching as the Word of God a dangerous distortion, for to suggest that it is against God’s will to eat pork, for example, is to display an ignorance of the Scriptures and theological implications of the incarnation.
In Mark 7.19 the Gospel tells us that Jesus “thus declared all foods clean.” In Acts 10 Jesus reaffirmed this to Peter, telling Peter to go ahead and eat the foods that had been prohibited before the New Testament. Peter reacted strongly to this, at which The LORD replied, “Do not call anything unclean that I have made clean!”
Again, I refrain from utterly condemning the preacher here, for I do not have the full context, (The recent Shirley Sherrod incident should teach us—as it has taught President Obama—about being careful with context in internet videos.) but—for me—among the many other issues this raises is the importance of a good theological education for pastors. Now, even a good theological education can’t keep one from error, but (again, if this one is true) this one is one of those seemingly elementary errors that has serious theological and practical implications, for this error throws people back on to the keeping of “The Law” for salvation (see my earlier post from today.) and to do that is to TOTALLY UNDERMINE the essence of the Christian faith.
Friends, bacon is clearly not a health food, but it is not forbidden by God. Guard and protect your body by avoiding gluttony of all sorts, but don’t be afraid to enjoy the good things of the creation that have been declared “clean” in incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus.
On that note, here’s some country fried bacon from “Chicago’s must-try dishes” in the Chicago Tribune on-line: