Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 69

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 2 2016 FOOD AS A SYMBOL OF GRACE, OR WHY THE EUCHARIST ISN’T KIT KAT BARS AND DIET PEPSI Brad Harper∗ I want you to dialogue with me. I’m not a scientist of food. I’m a theologian, so my job is to think about this theologically. What I was doing this week was going through the story of the Bible and thinking about the question, what does food symbolize in Scripture? What does it represent? This is because food in the story of the Bible is not ever seen as something that is simply to provide for our lives to go on living, to keep our bodies alive. It is always seen as something more, representing a lot more things. So what I’m going to do is walk through the story of the Bible and look at the different things food symbolizes beyond being able to stay alive physically. I want you to comment on it, to ask questions. And as we get through this toward the end, as we think about all the things that are represented and symbolized by food, I want to ask you then to help me think through, how do these ideas of food as theological symbols shape the way we address the issue of food? For us as Christians, how should it shape the way we think about food within our congregations? And how should it affect the way we think about food outside our congregations in the broader world in our community? That’s what you’re supposed to do with theology. Theology is never supposed to be an end in itself. It should always be something that says, how should we then live? How should this change my life? From the very beginning of the story of the Bible, food has been symbolic of moral and theological issues of life. Particularly food has been representative of God’s grace and community among the people of God and the world. And in this seminar we will look at bib lical images of food culminating in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, and discuss how these ideas might affect the inner life of the church and its engagement in culture. So there are several different categories of food as symbols here. DOI: ∗ Brad Harper is Professor of Theology at Multnomah University; 66