by C Michael Patton
While in the fitness industry for eight years before seminary, I came across all kinds of fads and silver bullets loaded in the guns of many well meaning people. How does one stay in shape? How does one rid excess fat from their body? What is the best workout plan? Everything from magic pills that “block” fat to exactly what time you should work out. But my favorite was one that suggested eating mustard, claiming that it speeds up your metabolism for the next four hours by a certain percentage.
True or not, that is not the issue. Here is what I found to be fascinating: often people would take these “new discoveries,” promote it to everyone they know, and it would become the basis for their hopes of physical well-being. People would be so willing to set aside fundamentals for fads. Sometimes they would quit going to the gym altogether and just eat mustard.
I did my best to make these fads become 99% transparent. In other words, I did not want people to be looking for the easy magic cures. There were three things that I preached with ultimate conviction:
1) Cardio: People need to keep their heart rate up consistently for at least 30 minutes a day, five or more days a week. This involves running, walking, bicycle, elliptical, treadmill, or whatever you can do for a long period of time that keeps your heart rate moderately high.
2) Resistance Training: People need to keep their muscle mass up. This is healthy for many reasons, not the least of which being that it keeps your metabolism vigorous. This is accomplished through weight training. You know, lat pull downs, curls, push-ups, pull-ups, leg press, squats, and the like.
3) Caloric Intake: Simply put, if you want to maintain your weight, you eat as many calories as you burn each day. If you want to lose weight, you eat less calories than you burn each day. It is not really rocket science.
Those are the three fundamentals. So long as people were doing those, I was happy. When people left those for the fads, it was destructive.
In theology, it is very similar. There are some basic fundamentals that define Christianity. There are some things we believe that are at the very heart of our faith. As well, there are also “faddish” doctrines. And, like with exercise, these faddish doctrines have the tendency to grab people’s obsession. The megaphone of truth begins to shout “Eat more mustard! If you don’t eat more mustard, you will die!!”
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