does Jesus use meat eating in his parables, such as "and bring the fatted
calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry" (Luke 15:23), and "Again
he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, Behold, I
have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything
is ready; come to the marriage feast.' " (Matt. 22:4)?
parables of the Lord do not necessarily endorse every aspect of the protagonist.
For example, the Parable of the Stewart, Luke 16:1-8. The Parables point
to spiritual truths using earthly examples. Some early Christians recognized
in this passage about the Prodigal Son a reference to Christ's own death.
The Greek of this passage literally is "And bring the wheat-fed calf, sacrifice,
and eating, we may make merry" Luke 15:23. Here the feast may be Eucharistic.
The case of the Parable of the Marriage Feast no doubt also symbolizes
something spiritual, assuming the reference to the oxen and calves were
originally in the text. Some early Syriac manuscripts of Matthew lack this
passage. St. Gregory the Great held the oxen in this passage referred to
the Old Testament Patriarchs, while the Calves referred to those of the
New Testament, while their sacrifice referred to their martyrdom. It seems
likely, whatever is the right interpretation, that animal food was used
in the parable not only because it was commonly used by many people at
that time for feasting but also that, since animals are living souls, they
are an appropriate parable symbol for the living sacrifice of the Lord
and the faithful.
God give more permissive food laws to Peter in Acts 10?
Acts 10 is about Gentiles
being accounted equal members in the Church and does not seem to be an
account of the Lord abolishing the food laws of Moses. A literal rendering
of this passage is:
came on him, and he is beholding heaven open and a certain utensil descending,
as a large sheet, with four edges, being let down on the earth, in which
belonged all the four footed animals and reptiles of the earth and the
birds of heaven. And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter! Sacrifice and eat!"
Yet Peter said, "Far be it from me, Lord, for I never ate anything common
and unclean!" And again, a second time, a voice came to him, "What God
cleanses, do not you count common!"
Now this occurred
thrice, and straightway the utensil was taken up into heaven. Now, as Peter
was bewildered in himself as to what the vision which he perceived should
be, lo! the men who have been sent by Cornelius, asking the way through
to the house of Simon, stand by at the portal....Now Cornelius was hoping
for them, calling together his relatives and intimate friends. Now as Peter
came to enter, Cornelius, meeting with him, falling at his feet, worships.
Yet Peter raises him, saying, "Rise! I myself also am a man." And, conversing
with him, he entered, and is finding many come together. Besides, he said
to them, "You are versed in the fact how illicit it is for a man who is
a Jew to join or come to another tribe, and God shows me not to say that
any man is common or unclean."...Now Peter, opening his mouth, said, "Of
a truth I am grasping that God is not partial, but in every nation he who
is fearing Him and acting righteously is acceptable to Him." Acts 10:10-35.
It doesn't seem likely
that in this passage the Lord is abolishing food distinctions. Jewish Christians
continued to follow most of the Mosaic Law long after this. As Christianity
spread to the Gentiles, Paul received by revelation that the Mosaic Law
did not apply to his converts (at least not his Gentile converts). This
is not a case of God being more permissive, but more inclusive. The Gentiles
were not commanded to make clean/unclean distinctions (though they were
commanded not to eat blood). This clean/unclean distinction goes beyond
contact with certain animals. It included such things as menses, semen
and certain diseases. It was the nation of Israel that was told to make
clean/unclean distinctions. So the difference is now "the nations are to
be fellow-heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of the promise in
Christ Jesus, through the good news" (Eph. 3:6).
In the past, many church
leaders have cited Acts 10 as textual proof that kosher rules were abolished.
This seemed necessary because many Christians in the 4th century were still
keeping many Mosaic rules, and this seemed a handy text to use. But while (in my opinion) Christians are not under Mosaic Law, Peter's vision wasn't about what foods to eat, no more than he was personally commanded to perform animal sacrifice on unclean animals.
Another text currently
used to suggest that nonkosher flesh is a special part of Christianity
is given with the common modern rendering of Mark 7:19 "'since it enters,
not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?' (Thus he declared all
foods clean.)" RSV. From the time of the English Revised Version this has
been the way most English bibles have this text. Actually, the Greek doesn't
say "Thus he declared all foods clean", but "purging all the foods". The
grounds for the ERV rendering is the use of the Greek masculine word for
purging or cleansing "kaqari,zwn" of the WH text, whereas most earlier
translations followed the Majority text reading of the neuter word "kaqari,zon".
The common assumption since the time of ERV is that it refers back to the Lord Jesus as the subject that doesn't appear in the immediate context. The nearest possibility is kai. le,gei auvtoi/j from verse 18, which is 35 words away."
is correct, it might be part of a contracted (elliptical) phrase, a phrase
in which the obvious is understood but not expressed. In succinct
form, the idea contained in these words could be: "--cleansing all the
foods [occurs by this means]." Through digestion and elimination, the foods
which one eats (whatever foods these may be) are purified from any dirt
or other impurities which may have attended them. Also, the masculine "kaqari,zwn"
may refer to the masculine to.n avfedrw/na: "and goes out into the sewer,
(which) purifies all the foods." Both of these possibilities makes more
sense, in my opinion, than the ERV rendering. However, none of this is
to deny that for the Christian "all things are pure". Though ritual purity is not a part of the Gospel of Christ, flesh is not the food originally made for man to eat. Many Christians seem to make a simplistic equation
in their minds between Christian Liberty and eating certain kinds of flesh.
Almost as if the Gospel came so people could eat pork chops and ham. Whether
something is specifically prohibited in the law or not, it may not be good
for us. The food the Lord made in the beginning for us was vegetarian.
As we become more affluent, and meat production has become even more harmful
to animals, the poor, and the environment, increasingly Christians have
discerned the wisdom of returning to our original diet. They have found
what a blessing there is in following what was our Father's plan from the