This study is the result of a conversation I had with a (Seventh-day Adventist) church elder about health reform and the church potluck. My position was, and still is, that our church potlucks are a ministering opportunity and thus the food placed on the potluck table should exemplify every known principle of health reform regarding food choice and preparation. It is my position that (Seventh-day Adventist) church members who contribute to the potluck should be educated as to what is most healthful, which I believe, according to the Spirit of Prophecy, is a selective vegan diet. A corresponding standard as to what foods are placed on the potluck table should be clearly defined and applied for three main reasons: first, so that nothing harmful to health is given to people; second, so that stumbling blocks are not erected for people who are being drawn to Christ; and third, so that no temptations are placed before people who may be seeking to follow the health message and who may be struggling in their efforts.
If foods that exemplify the health message are served, the potluck is an excellent teaching and edifying opportunity. Church potlucks will be an example of integrity, and a unified witness for the everlasting gospel by demonstrating that we glorify God in our food and drink. The door to a wholesome lifestyle that honors God is opened wide and made desirable to newcomers when delicious, life-supporting food is experienced, in many cases, for the first time. In addition, meaningful and practical support is given to those who are already making such changes in their eating and drinking.
The elder that I spoke with held the position that my view takes the health message to an undesired extreme, and that by doing so I’m likely to harmfully offend people. He believes that I need to be more balanced. “Balanced,” according to the elder, means no set standard beyond drawing the line at pork. He believes that it is a stronger witness to be gracious and accepting of all foods, except pork, than it is to possibly offend someone. He believes it is wrong to openly counsel people in a specific direction, or to talk about the health message from the pulpit, in order to spare people offense.
And so it is, with my position being challenged, that I set out to learn how the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy define the meaning of an extreme approach to health reform, and the meaning of a balanced approach to health reform. I sought to answer the questions of how the health reform is tied to the gospel message, and whether or not the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy taught that we should adopt a strictly vegan diet.
I am grateful for this study. What I understood by conviction, I now understand by conviction and the Word of God. The discoveries of this study support my position. The health message is a gift from God to prepare a people to meet Jesus when He comes. It includes clear standards of right and wrong in food and drink. It is to be openly talked about. It is bound by God to evangelism. It ought then, I believe, to have a more intentional and demonstrative place at our church potlucks.
– This article taken from the introduction of “Let’s Talk About the Health Message – History & Research”
Donna Hernberg offers cooking classes and health seminars to Seventh-day Adventist churches in North America. For more information how you can bring this seminar to your church please use the contact page.