Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Fasting' by Scot McKnight

FastingFasting by Scot McKnight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must admit first off that I truly admire Scot McKnight and all that he's done to teach Bible and theology. One of my all time favorite books was "The Jesus Creed." In addition to content, his writing style is very easy to follow and conversational, and this book on fasting was no different. The most memorable part of his presentation of this discipline is how he defines fasting. The definition that he gives is "fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment." He explains that for many Christians today, our focus has been on the wrong thing when it comes to fasting. He illustrates his point with the A->B->C model. A= sacred moment; B= Fasting; and C= Results. For many Christians today, and I would add for every other book on fasting that I've read so far in my life, the focus has been solely on the B->C connection. In other words, we fast TO GET something. McKnight argues that this mindset is flawed, [arguably] unbiblical, and risky. It's flawed and unbiblical because the examples proved throughout Scripture, always come about as a response to some situation that they are faced with (i.e. Jonah 3.4-10). It's also risky because there are some times when the results we are fasting for don't come. If fasting is only done to get something, and then we don't get it, how discouraging and damaging might that be for a person's continue discipline of fasting. Instead by focusing on the A->B relationship, all of those issues disappear.

In connection with other teachings from Jesus, as Christians if we are truly seeking God's Kingdom first and we pray and truly desire for God's will to be done here on earth as in heaven, then when we look around and see just how far things are from that reality, we should experience a 'grievous, sacred moment.' Since we are beings comprised of BOTH inner and outer parts (soul/spirit and body), the grieving practice is not 'complete' without both parts participating. Thus our inner selves feel sorrow, frustration, and longing for God's Kingdom to come, while our outer selves grieves through the discipline of fasting. I agree with McKnight that for some reason many Christians today have tried to separate and divide the human being into two, separate things. Some even go as far as to say the whole person is really just the inner part and the body is just a shell (which sounds dangerously close to Gnosticism to me). In reality the two parts of part of a whole, and both are needed for the whole person to be whole.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I read it in two days, so it's not that difficult of a commitment to read. It certainly is going to be my 'go-to' whenever someone asks me about fasting!

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