Tomorrow, June 10 beginning at 12PM ET, The Englewood Review of Books will engage Scot McKnight in a Twitter conversation about his recent book FASTING, which is part of Thomas Nelson’s “Ancient Practices” series, edited by Phyllis Tickle.
On June 10, The Englewood Review of Books will engage Scot McKnight in a Twitter conversation about his recent book FASTING, which is part of Thomas Nelson’s “Ancient Practices” series, edited by Phyllis Tickle.
Just in time for the season of Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday (this year February 25), Thomas Nelson has just released the newest book in its “Ancient Practices” series: Fasting by Scot McKnight.This volume offers both a deeply rooted theological case for fasting and a firm caution against the dangers that fasting poses to one’s health, if done excessively or without an understanding of how the human body works.
Here at Englewood Christian Church, the only practice we have of fasting is to fast during the day on Good Friday, a fast which we promptly defame with our gigantic potluck dinner that follows our evening prayer service.I’ve tried fasting on my own a few times, particularly on retreats, but to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, fasting is a practice that I’ve found difficult and therefore one that I’ve pretty much left untried.I recognize the biblical and historical significance of fasting, but have never really been part of a church community that valued fasting as a significant practice.
It seems to me that at least part of our hesitancy toward fasting here at Englewood is the ways that we’ve seen fasting being done in theologically appalling ways.At the book’s outset, McKnight names one such erroneous and detrimental way that fasting is practiced, to which he will frequently return over the course of the book: viz., fasting in order to produce results.Such a practice of fasting, which McKnight calls an instrumental view of fasting, is not a healthy spiritual discipline, but rather a “manipulative device.”McKnight argues instead that fasting is a responsive practice, saying that fasting is a body’s natural response to grief.He does not deny that sometimes results do come from fasting, but he is adamant that for the people of God, the why of fasting should be a response to grief and not a means to an end – however good that end might seem.McKnight is also careful to point out that avoiding chocolate, coffee, television or some other enjoyable habit for Lent can be helpful as a sort of abstinence, but should not be called fasting.