Theology of Food?
So the main question encircling this entire digital publication is what is the meaning of food. I personally have a very distinct opinion about said meaning, and if you peruse the various pages of this site you will see this article in three separate locations. I am presently a theological studies major, and my professor once said that everyone is a theologian; not everyone knows this, and it all depends on how good of a theologian each individual is. I believe this is also true for food. Everyone has an opinion about the meaning and purpose of food, but not everyone knows it or gives much thought to it. But I gaurantee, if you sit down and ask your friend, your grannie, your rich great uncle whom left you copious amounts of cash in his last will and testament, what they think about food, they’ll tell you – simply enough, everyone has an opinion. About everything. If they don’t, they’re lying.
So even though I have set out on an ongoing quest to discover the elusive meaning of food, I have my own opinions about it. As a Christian and an individual who studies theology, I have come to the initial conclusion that food is a hub for community. The meal is present throughout the four gospels, not to mention the rest of the Bible and Jewish mythology, and is associated with Jesus’ incredible involvement with the rejects of the day, such as prostitutes, tax collecters, etc. Take a look at Matthew 9:10: “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” And in Matthew 14 you can read the incredible story about Jesus feeding five thousand men – that number does not include the women and children present. Additionally, the Jewish Passover meal in Exodus carries loads of meaning and representation, which connects to just another minor example, a very inconsequential meal (hope you’re picking up on the sarcasm here), the Last Supper. Jesus, on the night he was betrayed… you know the story. He gathered with his disciples and had an insanely important meal. But it wasn’t an atonement theory that Jesus gave them – no Christus Victor, no Penal Substitution, not Calvinist or Orthodox or any other doctrine – it was a meal, a time of community.
I believe that Biblically and theologically, the meal has so much significance, carries so much meaning. And this meaning and significance has driven me to believe that a theology of food can be developed, and that this theology can have so much more impact on people in today’s contemporary and increasingly postmodern ideology. Modelling the actions of Christ with emphasis on community and the meal, I think that community can be developed through and around the meal, and this theology and community is so much more applicable to life and ministry than some notion of Greek philosophical metaphysics and inane debates over doctrine. Indeed, it is necessary to discover more about God and actually learn about what you believe – I believe to not do this is the epitome of ignorance. But let’s not overintellectualise it, because if theology doesn’t change relevantly anything or make a difference, it is useless theology.
That’s about it.