Rick Warren open with an anecdote about being physically exhausted from Baptising an overweight congregation “since [his] church baptizes the way Jesus was baptized”. He goes on to calculate the collected weight of people he lifted that day, and then makes uses wordplay to prove a point - “I actually felt the weight of America’s health problem in a dramatic way”. Then, following the realisation that he was also considerably out of shape, stood before a church of thousands and publically repented for being ninety pounds overweight. The congregation applauded. Over 12,000 people applauded, and then signed up that day to join Rick on a course to get healthy.
Sitting at the intersection of faith books and healthy living books, Christian Diet books offer a blend of practical dietary advice and inspiration messages from the Bible. On their covers you may not find any immediate indication that they are Christian books. Often presented with bold text on a single colour background, and featuring images of people enjoying healthy lifestyles, these bright books waste no time in showing you what they’re all about. Crystal clear in their titles, you’ll find books with catchy names such as:
Each one a signpost their own route to better living. But why are there so many Christian books about dieting in the first place? Especially when there are, running parallel to books about healthiness, just as many books about healing?
Few verses have been used in as many different contexts as John 10:10. “...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The reason is that everyone has their own idea of what a full life looks like. From achieving success to finding salvation to losing weight, it is a verse that has motivated millions - and functions the raison d'être of a great number of Christian Diet books. The idea is that to live the best possible life you need to be your best possible self.
Healthy eating, diet and exercise are, then, more of a Biblical calling than a simple lifestyle choice.
Why is that on tv, whenever you hear someone describe their impeccable chiseled body as a temple, no one asks who it is they are worshiping?
A loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:19, treating our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit is most often used in the debate around whether it is acceptable for Christians to get tattoos or piercings. But in the world of Christian Diet books, healthiness is now act of worship.
A recent seismic shift in humanity has been the overtaking of deaths from overeating over deaths from malnutrition and starvation. A muddied improvement at best, this collective change is something altogether new for humanity. Books like ‘Winning The Food Fight’ champion themselves as helping you achieve ‘Victory in the Physical and Spiritual Battle for Good Food and a Healthy Lifestyle’ make the calling to fitness a Spiritual one. To honour your body is to honour God, and any honouring of God is classified as an act of worship. This, above all, is what makes the great many of these Diet books Christian. Their calling is show as a spiritual one, a means of respecting God’s creation by looking after it.
Christian Diet books do, outwardly, resemble the behemoth industry of healthy living books. The offer plans with numerical day goals, clear-cut lists of changes to make, simple steps, and the promise of a holistic path to wellness. Eat happy, be happy. But what separates the two group into Christian and non-Christian is motivation. Secular editions promise self-esteem and the vague ‘better life’. Christian books, however, do offer something altogether more substantial: a way of worship, a promise from God, a promise to God. Yes, they may seem cheesy (well, if cheese were permitted on these plans, which it probably isn’t), but there is no denying that these books have had an impact.
While their titles may at times be hard to swallow, the world of Christian Diet books is showing no sign of slowing down just yet.
To see the range of Diet and Health books available, be sure to dig through our Diet and Health department.
January 11th, 2018 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon