Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Book Review: Fasting by Scot McKnight

by Scot McKnight
Thomas Nelson, 2009

“Fasting” by Scot McKnight is the fourth in “The Ancient Practices Series” edited by Phyllis Tickle. McKnight has a very limited view of fasting. He considers the term “fasting” to be appropriate only when talking about not eating at all or subsisting on just liquids. What most of us today consider fasting, that is, eating less food or refraining from certain foods, McKnight categorizes as “abstaining.” This is unfortunate because I think that will make this book appeal to a very narrow group of people.

McKnight does do a good job of explaining Biblical fasting, especially that the reason for it was in response to a “grievous sacred moment,” whether that be grief or repentance for sin. He emphasizes that fasting should never be done as a means to an end, but always in response to a life event. He describes the various aspects of fasting, such as fasting as body turning, fasting as body plea, fasting as body grief, fasting as body discipline, fasting as body calendar, and fasting as body contact. He is intent on focusing on fasting as uniting body and soul. He also describes some of the problems associated with fasting and health issues to consider.

I really wanted to like this book, but I don’t think that it achieved its purpose. If the intent of this series on ancient practices is to convince people of the value of them, this one missed its mark. Its focus is too narrow and McKnight is too critical of the reasons why people might try fasting or abstaining (which I feel does have great value).

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