Last month I predicted six Bible verses that your pastor wouldn’t teach on next year, including the story of the healthy-eating prophet Daniel. Little did I know that Purpose-Driven Pastor Rick Warren has not only been preaching Daniel 1 to his congregation, he started the Daniel Plan: God’s prescription for your health.
The good news? A famous pastor has finally shed light on the church’s elephant in the living room: congregations are filled with unhealthy, obese parishioners who are told that what they eat doesn’t matter.
This MSNBC Video shows a great interview with Warren about the plan. With quotes like, “for God’s sake get in shape” and “if it grows on a plant, eat it; if it’s made in a plant, don’t,” I thought for sure he was on track, especially since his program’s name is based on the biblical prophet who made wise food choices and saw good results. Warren accurately proclaims that “body stewardship” is essential, especially to fulfill the “purpose” God has for our lives.
Warren’s well-rounded plan addresses diet, exercise and emotions. It also includes community, a key part of life change often omitted from wellness programs. The encouragement and accountability that this provides helps people get better together. As a result, his congregation has lost over 12,000 pounds since the diet program started.
The bad news? I was saddened and surprised to see that, unlike the biblically-based Daniel Fast, the Daniel Plan isn't focused on God and His Word.
Although it is peppered with Bible verses, the website’s resources are mostly secular. Some tips are in line with biblical eating, like focus on eating fruits and vegetables. Others, however, perpetuate gross myths about our Designer’s diet plan, like encouraging low/no-fat dairy products (instead of whole milk as God designed) and avoiding egg yolks (also God designed). The real kicker: Warren's Daniel Plan not only includes meat (which the prophet Daniel did not eat), it permits unclean fish (like scavenger oysters, shrimp and lobster), something no biblical prophet would have eaten.
More importantly, while Warren’s motivation seems to be bible-based, his solution is driven by mainstream, secular professionals who do not seek God or the Bible's wisdom, even for tricky topics like food addictions, stress and mental health.
The Daniel Plan may be a great start for many, and I am thankful that it is waking up greater Christianity about the need to address these issues. Without the Bible’s wisdom, or the power and strength that comes from seeking the Creator, however, man’s ways will eventually fall short of God’s.