Processed Foods and the Word of God?
(I know the title sounds weird, but stick with me!)
Humans are the only creatures I can think of who aren’t built to eat raw, totally unprocessed foods. We don’t graze — we don’t typically pull grubs and bugs out of rocks and trees once we’re past toddler stage — we don’t typically eat raw meat right out of our kills. I think of the conversation between Samwise and Gollum about the proper way to prepare a meal.
Even if it’s just scrubbing potatoes or searing a rare steak, our bodies don’t function as well without at least some processing.
Just like we all eat processed food, we all receive and consume the Word of God through a process, or a filter, or a lens. I think it likely that only God has the ability to receive unprocessed truth, and the wisdom and power to handle it (and Open Theists might question whether even God does, in fact, operate this way). When it comes to reality, including Scripture, I don’t think any of us gets to “eat it raw.” Campbell’s modern idea that we can, should, must come to Scripture as if no one has ever read it before, and just “take the Word straight” no chaser, with no interpretation — that’s just not how we operate, as the postmodern critique has accurately shown. Objectivity is at best an illusion; at worst, a cover for our own interests.
Everything we see and hear and experience becomes understood only in relation to other things we’ve seen, heard, and experienced. Once you’re used to a certain level of processing, or a certain style of processing, that is how it is — that is your paradigm, your worldview. And it is painfully hard to reshape once it is set in stone.
Too many believers have been eating pureed Scripture for so long that their system is shocked and they experience terrible digestive problems when someone dishes up the Word to them in thicker, healthier forms. So few believers have truly experienced what the prophets did:
Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
(Jeremiah 23:29 ESV)
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
(Ezekiel 3:1-3 ESV)
So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.
(Revelation 10:9-10 ESV)
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,
(1 Corinthians 3:1-2 ESV)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.
(Hebrews 5:12-6:1-3 ESV)
Solid food, neither raw, pre-chewed, or pureed, is the mature goal of those who would eat and live on God’s Word. “And this we will do if God permits.”
in HIS love,