Q. I am a Christian Pastor(Reformed Baptist) and i have been puzzled about the blatant exegesis that we often involve ourselves in. I specially think about the belief that the Unclean Food Lists of the OT have been nullified. Now the basis for this declaration is sited as being from Mark 7: 19 and Acts 11:5-11. Looking at these passages closely I find that the first (Mark) is concerned with Ritual defilement and I find that when our Lord declared all foods clean, he was referring to the fact that no food can defile you spiritually- thus the explanation that it enters the body through the mouth and then is excreted. The other reference in Acts was to declare to Peter, a Jewish Christian, that he was not to refuse the good news to the Gentiles (who did come to him with a request to preach the good news to them after that vision!!) as God had chosen to reveal His salvation even to them.
Now how can we in good Christian conscience twist these texts to say that we can eat anything and everything?
A. You’re right, the context of these passages is ritual defilement. In addition to the two passages you cited, Paul made several comments about food, also in a spiritual context.
One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:2-4)
And later he said, As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food (or nothing) is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. (Romans 14:14)
His point was that food consumption is an issue to be guided by the individual’s conscience, and neither the one who eats everything nor the one who doesn’t has a right to criticize the other. Whether you eat everything or abstain from everything you’re not sinning.
That leaves us with the physical ramifications. It’s no secret that if we all followed the Jewish dietary restrictions outlined in the Torah we’d all be a lot healthier.