Unless you have been living under a rock the past 10 years you have heard of Pastor Rick Warren. He is the founding Pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. He was thrust onto the national stage and embraced by millions as their pastor after the overwhelming success of his book The Purpose Driven Life.
Recently, Pastor Warren made a decision that many folks do when they realize their health has spiraled out of control. He wanted to get fit, but how? He chose to make lifestyle changes rather than to diet. In my opinion that is great. However, in his book, the Daniel Plan, his approach leaves me a bit confused.
In the Bible, Daniel needed to gain weight and maintain good health, not lose weight. His choices proved that not eating from the kings table was a matter of discipline and an exercise in faith. Daniel was confident that his God would sustain him.
Additionally, the Daniel 1:1-17 passage, which is the premise of the book, describes a vegetable-only — what we would today call a vegan — diet, not merely a plan to ‘eat healthier’ or avoiding eating junk food. Surprisingly, meats are included throughout the book, so again, I’m left a bit confused…why call it The Daniel Plan?
At any rate, readers are encouraged to carve out 40 days and dedicate them to adopting a healthier lifestyle. Many of the tips like getting more rest and incorporating exercise seem like common sense. The Daniel Plan instructs people to rely on “God power” rather than just willpower to eat healthily. His theory is that guilt only motivates people to follow diets in the short term, but “grace” lasts longer.
One of the points that did resonate with me was that Pastor Warren believes most people fall into one of two categories when it comes to our physical bodies. “We either idolize the body, and there are people who do that and it’s all about how you look, or we go to the other extreme and we say, ‘We don’t care about that,’ ” he says. It’s health’s higher purpose that Pastor Warren says distinguishes his plan from other diet books. “It’s not so much what you eat; it’s what eats you,” he says. “It’s the stresses, the unreached goals, the broken heart and the grief.” Now that, I can agree with.
I may not have anticipated so much if I hadn’t already read other titles that held more fast and true to what is believed to be the way that Daniel would have eaten. Readers should take their goals into consideration. If one is simply looking for a guideline for adopting a more “sensible” diet this may just be the book for them. However, the individual that is looking for spiritual depth, a deeper understanding of The Daniel Fast and fasting in general, should look elsewhere.