What do I think of Micah Chung’s approach to Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
“He did his dissertation on a theology of food.”
So said my boss at the seminary post office to me about Micah Chung and his dissertation. At first, I wasn’t really interested. Being on the spectrum, often for me food can be a necessary evil. I hate going to social gatherings that involve food. So far I’ve gone to three crawfish events here in the area and I’ve been miserable at all of them.
Then one day, Micah came to the post office and after some chatting, I found myself intrigued and I asked him to send me his dissertation if he was fine with that. He was. Now a dissertation is normally around 200 pages long, but I still managed to finish it in a week’s time or so, a little bit less actually. I normally try to read a chapter a day of these works. This had only four chapters, but I had to split the third one into two days.
As it starts, for awhile, you wonder if you’re really reading something about food. Instead, you’re talking about models of Scripture. What this means is you come to the Scripture and you treat it a certain way that is metaphorical. This does not mean the content is metaphorical.
One major way of understanding Scripture is as light. This is easy to understand why. Scripture is light in the Psalms when it says that His word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. We see Scripture as a light removing the darkness from our eyes so we can see Christ clearly.
Yet as Chung goes through his dissertation, he gets to the idea of treating Scripture as food. He says this is more powerful than light in the sense that even a blind person can read Scripture and yet not understand light. However, blind people do have to eat. Everyone does. Without food, all of us will die.
Food also includes intimacy in it. You take something in and it becomes a part of you. There’s also trust. We buy our food at the grocery store and don’t even think about it. Maybe someone poisoned it. As I write this, I think about an episode of Monk that did involve someone wanting to kill his wife by poisoning a favorite treat of hers and made sure to poison other treats of the same kind so no one would think she was targeted. Is that likely to happen to you? No, but the thing is we don’t even think about the hypothetical. (Keep in mind, this is how Muhammad died.)
We also have to consume food regularly and in the same way, Christians need to consume Scripture regularly. Scripture needs to be digested and ruminated and thought about in order to live a strong Christian life. Then someone needs to not just take in sustenance, but put it to use, such as living a Christian life.
Of course, there are parts where the parallel breaks down as no model will ever be perfect. If you take in Scripture and don’t do anything with it, I don’t think you will suffer anything like obesity. This is one point where I think the model needs some tweaking. After all, have we ever heard of someone taking in too much Scripture? On the other hand, we all know about people who take in too much food.
I also found myself wondering about what we call junk food. If Scripture is our food, is there anything that does constitute junk food? On the other hand, if something is normally considered junk food, such as say atheist writings attacking Christianity or material from cults, could there be cases where it has a benefit? As an apologist, I think it beneficial that I do read such material. Do note please that Chung nowhere says these are junk food, but I am speculating about if they are.
I also wonder where other books fit in. It has been said that the man of the book will be a man of many books. Where do other writings fit in, including Chung’s own dissertation? Are these supplements? Would these be garnishes that add flavor to the text?
Overall, I think the theory is highly convincing, but I do still have some questions, which is good. It would be a problem to read a dissertation and not have questions as every dissertation needs further research still. I look forward to hearing what others have to say about Chung’s work.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)