A member of ours used to show up at our house about 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve to deliver a turkey. Earlier that morning the turkey had been eating its breakfast. By the next morning, after our breakfast, it would be in the oven becoming our dinner. We were having a farm-to-table Thanksgiving.
Across America, the farm-to-table movement continues to grow. People look for the freshest fruits, vegetables, and meats. We have grown suspicious of highly processed foods with unknown additives and preservatives. We are not sure where the food has really come from either in terms of location or producers. Is the food safe? Is the food healthy? Is it really food?
Let’s get food that is fresh, local, and pure: farm-to-table.
We should do the same with biblical theology. Let’s make sure that we are getting safe and healthy theology that really is biblical theology. The best way to do that is “farm-to-table”with local and reliable producers. By this, I mean personally reading your Bible and being involved in a local Christian congregation.
Podcasts and posts proliferate. Ancient and historical texts abound. Scholars search and then produce profound tomes. Certainly, these are not all bad, but they are more like processed food than farm to table. Their ingredients are uncertain. Their origins and perspectives are unclear. Some are like junk food. Some are very tasty but limited in nutritional value. Some are harmful, eternally so.
Of course, such things are not useless. There is a place for boxed macaroni and cheese in our lives. What would life be like without a Snickers Bar or the ability to throw a frozen pizza in the oven? Getting a taste of Italian or Chinese or Mexican food by going down the International aisle at the grocery store instead of going to the airport to get on a plane enhances life’s experience. To listen to a podcast, read the ancients, or sit at the feet of a scholar can provide benefit and a richness to our faith life. But like farm to table, like shopping in the fresh food section of the grocery store, the more your faith is rooted in reading the Bible for yourself and joining weekly or more with your local congregation, the better your diet will be.
Check your theological diet. Are you relying on podcasts and articles (not counting this one!) as your primary source of Christian nutrition? Are you consuming the scholars and the ancients in a way that leaves you too stuffed to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Bible itself? Are you sampling online worship throughout the world and not worshiping with fellow congregants and a local pastor who knows you?
If you are feeling sluggish and unmotivated, it may be your diet. You may be consuming too much of the wrong things and not enough of the best things. Let’s return to what has been a center of health in the Christian Church from the beginning: personally engaging in the Word of God within the context of a local community of believers.
God bless you as you gather for Thanksgiving. Offer up thanks to God for His manifold goodness. Enjoy a meal of fresh food as foretaste for That Meal: “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6).
NOTE: Like physical health, spiritual health is not an end in and of itself. It is a means by which we are better able to engage the world around us.
This article first appeared on Rev. Davis’ blog, towardsignificance.com, on September 29, 2023.
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