With all the concern these days about diet, about carbs and protein and what is or is not good for you to eat, there are lessons we can learn from our diet that carry far beyond its effects on our weight and health. Let me give you an example from another daily activity that Christians should engage in, Bible study.
Bible study, like the carbs that influence our thinking in dieting, comes in two basic varieties: simple and complex. Simple carbs include sugars and starches, two things known to cause flabby weight gain and numerous health problems when they become our regular diet. They are easy to like, hard to stop, and invariably destructive. Everyone concerned with nutrition will tell you that you need to drastically limit your consumption of sugars and starches for optimum health.
Simple Bible studies such as the common sharing sessions that make up most home Bible study groups, like simple carbs, are easy to enjoy. They give you a quick sense of satisfaction, but like their dietary examples tend to become addictive. In the long run, however, simple Bible studies are not good for you. They fill you will the illusion that you are doing something significant when you are not. This is similar to the problem Paul (or whomever was the author for you Biblical critics) discusses in Hebrews 5:11-6:3. It is true that my comparison breaks down if you look at this too literally since the author of Hebrews uses milk as his example of simple food, but I think the overall intention fits within my analogy of simple carbs, simple food, simple Bible study.
On the other hand, complex carbs and the requisite proteins are digested more slowly and have a much higher nutritional value. They provide balanced energy throughout the day as well as the necessary building blocks for robust health. All modern diets agree that high quality carbohydrates and proteins should make up the bulk of your daily diet.
Like complex carbs and high quality proteins, in-depth Bible study gives us more to chew on and digests slowly. Just as these substantive foods engage our whole digestive system and are used to rebuild our entire body, in-depth study engages our entire spiritual life, delving deeper into the truths of God as well as our own strengths and limitations. In-depth Bible study is as necessary to grow spiritually mature as complex carbs and proteins are needed to help you grow physically mature. In addition, just as these nutritionous foods help to maintain our health and vigor, in-depth Bible study helps maintain our spiritual health and vigor.
There is nothing wrong with a simple study now and then, just like simple carbs such as sugars and starches taken in moderation won’t seriously hurt your health and they both can be enjoyable. But without including complex carbohydrates and proteins in our diet and complex in-depth Bible study in our spiritual lives, we will find ourselves headed for serious trouble. So, a word to the wise: protect your health and your spiritual life by watching what you eat and how you study. If you attend a home study group that uses the sharing method of Bible study, then suppliment that simple effort with the in-depth nutrition of a serious study, even if you have to do it by yourself. God demands it. Remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” I like the emphasis in the first part in the original King James version, “Study to show yourselves approved.”
I know this is completely tangential to the post, but almost no one thinks Paul wrote Hebrews. It has little of the signs of his writing, and it’s the only anonymous epistle in the NT. All of Paul’s letters, including those doubted by some scholars, have his name. There’s no consensus about who did write it. Barnabas, Apollos, and others have been suggested, but there’s no reason to think God wants us to know, or it would have said who wrote it!
Yes, it is tangential. The Eastern Church has always regarded Paul as author, but it is not that important as long as its authority as scripture is unquestioned. I guess I was just being playful, because I usually just say the author of Hebrews…