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Abusing the Bible and the Body
Is "The Genesis 1:29 Diet" Truly God's Way?
by Andy Bustanoby
(C) May 9, 2007

When I wrote my blog, "Holy Confusion," I thought I was done with the subject. Then I read "God's Way To Ultimate Health" by Dr. George H. Malkmus of Hallaleujh Acres.

On May 5, 1995, Rev. Malkmus received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Literature from Louisiana Baptist Seminary for his work in Biblical Nutrition. Whenever I read a supposedly authoritative book, I always want to know the credentials of the author. There is a lot of dishonesty about credentials nowadays. Just this morning, I discovered a "university" that offers a complete doctorate degree package for only $549 with free shipping. The package includes the following documents:

          1 Original Accredited Life Degree
          2 Original Transcripts
          1 Award of Excellence
          1 Certificate of Distinction
          1 Certificate of Membership
          4 Education Verification Letters

The reason I raise this issue is that an impression left by the book is that all the writers have great credentials in health and nutrition. But when I read the book, I wondered how a highly educated person could say what is said. And when it's not published by a legitimate publisher, it raises another red flag.

Furthermore, when statements are made by legitimate medical doctors, they are twisted to support the thesis of "God's Way."

Doctor Ruth Says . . .

Doctor of Nutrition Mary Swope writes a preface and in it talks about a pastor who was under heavy criticism for his child-like faith. The pastor said, "A man with an experience with God is never at the mercy of a man with a theory or a doctrine." Dr. Ruth agrees and says, "I believe that. And I believe it applies to this book today."

This is exactly what I lament in my blog "Holy Confusion!" It is experience over doctrine; it is experience interpreting doctrine rather than doctrine saying what our experience should be.

She then goes on to write her support of what is called "The Genesis 1:29 Diet":

As we look at the contrast between a diet recorded in the Scriptures in Genesis 1:29 and what our scientists, including the medical profession, offer us today as the alternative, I believe a prudent person would do well to opt for the treatment which is least likely to harm him or kill him. That makes sense. It is obvious that there is a major difference between the Genesis 1:29 diet and the typical American diet, including what trained nutritionists offer as a choice (God's Way, p. xviii).

Perhaps those who have read "God's Way" will say, Wait a minute. There's a forward by a Dr. David A. Darbro, M.D. Shouldn't we pay attention to an M.D.?

Dr. Ruth poo poos the idea that M.D.s have anything worthwhile to say about nutrition:

The idea that nutrition doesn't matter to U.S. physicians has its basis in fact. The average doctor in his four years of medical school receives about 2.5 hours of study in nutrition. Controlled illness through drugs verses health and wellness through proper diet has, therefore, been the tragic result of this (Ibid.)

Yet, strangely enough, two paragraphs later, she quotes Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.). "His statement, 'Food is your best medicine and the best food is the best medicine' is timeless" (Ibid. p.xix).

And, as though that turn-around is not strange enough, she quotes the famous M.D., Charles Mayo:

      We are all afraid of germs . . . but what we should be afraid of is
      lowered resistance which comes from within . . . normal resistance
      to disease is directly dependent upon adequate food . . . .  It
      never comes out of pill boxes . . . adequate food is the cradle of
      normal resistance, the playground of normal immunity, the workshop
      of good health and the laboratory of long life (Ibid.)

Let's see if I understand Dr. Ruth. An M.D., who gets 2.5 hours of medical training in nutrition, shouldn't be trusted on the subject. However, Dr. Mayo should be trusted because he agrees with her about food. Sure, Dr. Ruth. Dr. Mayo must have had the Genesis 1:29 diet in mind when he said this!

Well the fact is that the Genesis 1:29 diet has been looked at and found deficient. You can find this report at Michael Donaldson, PhD., found nutritional deficiencies in 141 Hallelujah vegetarian dieters:

     *  Too high in carbohydrates
     *  Too low in protein
     *  Low in energy (calories)
     *  Completely missing two Essential micronutrients and low in seven
     *  Requires eating voluminous amounts of vegetables (over a gallon
        per day) if properly done [i.e., if you maintain 100% dedication
        to the diet]

Dr. Ruth, you talk about experience being superior to theory or doctrine. Let me tell you about the experience of a woman I know who was on this diet for just three weeks, and it just about did her in physically and emotionally. As a good Christian, she was faithful to following what is said to be "God's way." She didn't cheat. Dr. Donaldson found that most of the Hallelujah vegetarians actually ate animal products during the week. A whopping 58% of the Hallelujah vegetarians (82 out of 141) ate animal products even though many of them were health ministers.

But, back to my story. After three weeks, not only was she drained of energy from lack of calories, she was exhausted from shopping and juicing the voluminous amounts of vegetables and fruit she was required to take. Emotionally, she was going downhill. She couldn't understand how this could be if the Genesis 1:29 diet was God's way! Thank the Lord for Dr. Donaldson's report. It brought her sanity back.

Dr. George Speaks

The Reverend Doctor George H. Malkmus has much to say about the diet. By the way, in fairness to Dr. George, I have attempted to verify that he has sound, earned credentials. But Hallelujah Acres has not responded to my inquiry.

My focus in this essay will be on his alleged biblical support of "God's Way" diet. I find his misuse of the Scripture matches anything I've seen in my forty-seven years as a pastor, counselor and author. This includes every cult you could possibly name that uses the Bible to support its doctrine.

Dr. George's "Statement of Faith" by itself is enough to support what I say. Let's look at it.

The thesis of the Genesis 1:29 diet is found in Genesis 1:29 which says, "'I give to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food.' And it was so" (NIV).

For some reason the reference given is Genesis 1:31. This must be a mistake because it's the Genesis 1:29 diet--green plants.

Next to this reference is Genesis 3:22. Why this is given, I don't know because it actually argues against Genesis 1:29 being man's ongoing diet. In 1:29, the reason why nothing but green plants was their diet is that it was supplanted by everything else they needed from The Tree of Life.

In Genesis 3:22, man was barred from having any more of the Tree of Life. This may explain why, when the human race was restarted with Noah's family after the flood, that meat was added to man's diet:

"Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything" (Gen. 9:3 NIV).

Man is not, however, to eat meat with blood in it (Gen. 9:4). Blood and blood sacrifice were to have a special meaning under the Mosaic Law. But meat was now added to the diet.

The Body As the Temple of God

The Statement of Faith goes on to say:

We believe that the body is the dwelling place or temple of God. Yea, the Holy Spirit literally dwells in the body of each believer (1 Cor. 6:19-20 NIV).

The context of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is clearly dealing with sexual immorality, not diet. Those who "proof-text" their explanation of their theories commonly do this. Both the immediate and larger context of the Bible is ignored. Observation of context should govern interpretation and application.

God's Natural Laws

The next statement says:

We believe that health is natural and normal and will be our portion if we will but observe God's Natural Laws in our daily walk through this life (Gal. 6:7).

The verse given from Galatians says, "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." How does Dr. George make this statement based on this text?

Again, he doesn't consider the context. It has to do with not walking in the flesh (sin nature) but walking by the power of the Spirit. It has to do with the spiritual life that results to doing good to all. The context has to do with what we are doing for others, not ourselves!

God Does Not Want Us To Be Sick

The next statement says:

We believe that God does not want us to be sick. The Bible tells us in III John 2 that God wishes "[above] all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."

The Bible says nothing of the sort. John prays that his friend Gaius may enjoy good health just as he has enjoyed spiritual health. Why should John pray for Gaius health if those who are walking in God's way should not suffer ill health? To Dr. George, it sounds like good physical health is a measure of good spiritual health. Gaius, then, should not need prayer for his health!

Sometimes God does not answer a prayer for good health because He uses it for trial--trial for our spiritual growth. Read Romans 5:1-5 and James 1:2-4. This "exception" to good health is not for the glory of God but for the growth of the believer.

Such was the case with Paul's infirmity that he speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. God let Satan give him a "thorn in the flesh" (probably eye disease) to keep him from being conceited. He prayed three times for relief, but the Lord said His grace was sufficient. God's strength was made perfect in weakness.

Or, what shall I say about Paul's words to Timothy: "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses" (1 Tim. 5:23).

In spite of this, Dr. George writes:

"Beverage alcohol in any form is a destroyer, an addicting drug and a killer. Alcohol poisons the body, damaging the brain, heart, nerves, lungs and liver to mention only a few" (God's Way p. 71).

And in a brief chapter on the hazards of alcoholic beverages, Dr. Walker [author of Water Can Undermine Your Health] notes alcohol is the only substance which can pass through the walls of the stomach directly into the bloodstream and to the brain. This has noticeable immediate and long-term ill effects to the brain, eyes and equilibrium. "Of all the beverages best left alone, alcoholic beverages are Number ONE" (Ibid. p.180).

I don't use alcohol not because God forbids it. All things not sinful may be lawful, but as Paul puts it, they may not be expedient. Also, be careful that you're not brought under the power of anything--including crazy diets!

Our Bodies Are the Temple of God

The Statement of Faith ends with a quote from 1 Corinthians 3:

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

Here, once again, we have a failure to read a verse in context resulting in "proof-texting"-- taking a verse out of context to prove a point. Paul talks about our body and sexual immorality in chapter six, but he is not talking about our human body here. He is talking about the church, God's building, God's temple. Stay with me and let me give you a short exposition of these verses in context.

In the larger context, Paul is dealing with factionalism in the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 1:12). It is producing an unspiritual ("worldly") spirit in the church.

3:1-4 You are quarreling over who's going to be followed in the church--Paul, Apollos, Cephas?

3:5-9 We are all God's servants. We are all working God's garden, planting and watering, but it is God who makes things grow. We are builders of a building. You Corinthians are God's garden, God's building. Paul, Apollos, Cephas and other leaders are all involved in tending this garden, in building this building called the Corinthian Church.

3:10-15 I, Paul, laid the foundation here in Corinth. But the church is not my doing only. Others have built on that foundation. If what you build on the foundation of Christ is gold, silver, precious stones, it will stand God's test. If it's made of wood, hay, stubble, it will perish with the fire of God.

3:16-17 Don't you know that you yourselves, [all of you Corinthians] are God's temple?

3:18-23 Don't be deceived by the wisdom of men. It is foolish and futile.

Now let me give you my paraphrase starting at verse 21:

"So then, [here is Paul's conclusion to the factional problem] no more boasting about men! All things are yours [they belong to you Corinthians; everything we have built is you and belongs to you]. Paul, Apollos and Cephas have all been part in doing what Christ has called us to do--tending a garden; building a building called the Corinthian Church. Stop boasting about men, but boast in your God. You are in Christ, and Christ is in God."

I have emphasized "God's garden and God's building" in verse 9 to point out that contextually Paul is not talking about the human body, as in chapter six. He's talking about a garden and building that God has called all the leaders to work at--the tending to and building the people of Corinth.

I certainly believe that the body and health are gifts of God that should be taken care of. But if we are going to promote caring for the body and health, and be believable, then we can't do it by "proof-texting" the Bible and making it say something that is not there.


I am dismayed that the deficiencies in the Genesis 1:29 diet discovered by Dr. Donaldson have not been addressed by Hallelujah Acres. But I'm more than dismayed by this misuse of the Bible. The Reverend George Malkmus has yet to answer for that in God's time.

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