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Unread 03-18-2005, 09:40 AM   #1
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Eating meat sacrificed to idols?

From Iranaeus' Against Heresies, Book I, Chapter VI, section 3: "Wherefore also it comes to pass, that the "most perfect" among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that "they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."(5) For instance, they make no scruple about eating meats offered in sacrifice to idols, imagining that they can in this way contract no defilement. Then, again, at every heathen festival celebrated in honour of the idols, these men are the first to assemble; and to such a pitch do they go, that some of them do not even keep away from that bloody spectacle hateful both to God and men, in which gladiators either fight with wild beasts, or singly encounter one another."

Here he not only calls eating meat sacrificed to idols a sin, but places it in the context of watching gladiatorial matches, participating in idolatrous festivals, and, later, sexual immorality. Paul's two sections in Corinthians on the subject are hard for me to reconcile, so I am wondering what the historic opinion on this has been. 1 Corinthians 8 seems to say, basically, that since the idols aren't real gods, it's not a sin to eat the meat sacrificed to them. However, chapter 10 seems to say that because there are demons being worshipped in actuality, we shouldn't partake of the meat, as to do so is to partake of the altar (comparing it to the Eucharist and Old Testament sacrifices).

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Unread 03-18-2005, 01:07 PM   #2
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Who do we assosiate with?
Christ as we are Christians.
Who dos eatting meat that was decicated to idols (real gods or not) assosiate us with?
The idol.

I think that its a matter of seperating yourself (thus litearly being made "holy") from anything that would dedicate yourself to an idol. If the meat was dedicated to an idol, even if it were just an image, eatting it could in other ppl's eyes (even though not in our own) assosiate us with that belief.

To be in the world and not off the world is a difficult task. The idols of this modern age can be money, greed, lust, whathave you, if you take your money and spend it sumptiously then you might be dedicating yourself to material wealth...?
My 2 cents.
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Unread 03-18-2005, 05:51 PM   #3
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Here he not only calls eating meat sacrificed to idols a sin, but places it in the context of watching gladiatorial matches, participating in idolatrous festivals, and, later, sexual immorality. Paul's two sections in Corinthians on the subject are hard for me to reconcile, so I am wondering what the historic opinion on this has been.
Historically it has always been "liberty but not license".

Romans 14 is the best yardstick-- any meat served inthe agoras of old were from the sacrifices at the pagan altars. even the "restaurants" serving meat served the meat from the temples.

Paul said we are free for the earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof. But if a brother who has weak faith see you eat meat offered in idolatry- He could get offended and sin. So paul instructs us to be free-but be discerning to not put a stumblingblock in a weaker brothers way.
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Unread 03-18-2005, 05:53 PM   #4
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I've wondered about this for awhile too. Muddying the water:
Acts 15:28-29:
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."
See 15:19-20 as well.

I really don't have a great answer but from the way I understand it, these were laws in the early Church that gentiles had to follow; over time, they faded out since the context of these laws faded out. However, this again raises the question of the how cultural and universal certain statements are in the Bible.
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Unread 03-19-2005, 12:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Historically it has always been "liberty but not license".

Romans 14 is the best yardstick-- any meat served inthe agoras of old were from the sacrifices at the pagan altars. even the "restaurants" serving meat served the meat from the temples.

Paul said we are free for the earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof. But if a brother who has weak faith see you eat meat offered in idolatry- He could get offended and sin. So paul instructs us to be free-but be discerning to not put a stumblingblock in a weaker brothers way.
What about 1 Corinthians 10 though?
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Unread 03-19-2005, 12:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
I really don't have a great answer but from the way I understand it, these were laws in the early Church that gentiles had to follow; over time, they faded out since the context of these laws faded out. However, this again raises the question of the how cultural and universal certain statements are in the Bible.
Yeah, but I think the Acts passage actually works against such an interpretation. As you seem to recognize, the Apostles are adding a "burden" to the Gentiles because of the sensitivities of the Jews, not laying out everlasting commands.
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Unread 03-19-2005, 11:12 AM   #7
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Yeah, but I think the Acts passage actually works against such an interpretation. As you seem to recognize, the Apostles are adding a "burden" to the Gentiles because of the sensitivities of the Jews, not laying out everlasting commands.
Yeah, personally, I think these commands are ones that were given for the sake of unity in the Church ('do not offend your brother' sort of command). It is not a universal law but it was binding on the gentiles of that time so that they would not cause their Jewish brothers to stumble. Over time, when the Church became essentially gentile, these commands faded out.

And again, this raises the never ending question of universal vs. cultural commands; the most comfortable answer is that everything is universal since that is black and white. However, it is commands like these which lend credence to the fact that some biblical commands were only binding on that time and place (although the principle behind the command is binding for all Christians at all times).
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Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opnions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although 'they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion
(St. Augustine The Literal Meaning of Genesis I.19.39)

Note: (due to confusion) Augustine here is writing against those who interpret Genesis "literally" (i.e. 6 day creation)
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Unread 03-19-2005, 05:11 PM   #8
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What about 1 Corinthians 10 though?
Well here is the most pertinent part of the passage.




5Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

26For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.

27If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

28But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:

29Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?

30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Paul inverse 25 says whatever is sold in the market--eat it then in vse 28-29 he says if someone says its offered to idols-don't eat for conscience sakes.

Once again liberty but not license and care for the heart of others.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 06:28 AM   #9
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meat offered to idols

An elder of our church had an elder of an a church he used to go to come to a cell group when the man visited Indonesia. This subject came up and he gave a really good explanation I thought.

We need to follow Paul's whole thought through. Paul's objective is to argue against eating meat offered to idols. But he starts out by agreeing with the point some of the Corinthians were making. Idols are nothing. But if we read the whole context, Paul does give reasons why eating meat offered to idols is sinful.

1. By partaking, one can cause a brother who is not convinced that idols are nothing to sin. This is a sin against Christ.
2. By partaking of meat offered to idols we can cause offense to unbelievers as well. ('Offense' has to do with making someone stumble/sin.)
3. By partaking of meat offered to idols on can have fellowship with demons.

So while Paul agrees that offering meat to idols does not make the meat evil, for the earth is the Lord's and everything in it, he does not promote eating meat offered to idols. Instead he says to flee idolatry. The only exception Paul makes is that if you buy meat you do not have to ask if it was sacrificed to idols and if someone offers you meat and doesn't say it was offered to idols you are free to eat it. If the meat is offered to idols and you don't know, you are eating with thanksgiving because the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. If you know, though, you should not participate.

We need to interpret Paul's comments in chapter 8 light of the longer argument he is making that continue through chapter 10. Chapter 9 goes into a side argument on the issue of freedom and laying down freedom on the sake of others.

We also need to keep in mind that the apostles and elders in Jerusalem-- including Paul and Barnabas-- believed it was the will of the Spirit to tell Gentiles to abstain from meat offered to idols. Jesus _threatened_ those who promoted eating meat offered to idols and fornicating in the book of Revelation, and I don't see Christ doing that much in other scripture, so it must be a pretty big deal.

Christians can buy meat without asking if it was offered to idols and we can eat what is set before us with thanksgiving. Otherwise, we are to flee idolatry.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:30 AM   #10
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Where does He do that in the book of Revelation?

Interesting thought, though.
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