For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

Based on an article by Joe Crews with little editing by Me.

    There is a very important common theme running through this chapter. Almost every verse relates to the subject of judging, a problem which was most malignant in the early Christian church, even as it is in the modern church today. In order to understand the counsel given by Paul in Romans 14, we must first recognize the parties involved in the judging and the issues over which the judging was taking place. There were two main groups in the early church -the Jewish Christians who had been converted from Judaism, and the Gentile Christians who had been won from heathenism. These two groups did not get along very well. They were constantly judging each other. Now let’s notice what the division was all about. The Gentile Christians judged the Jewish Christians because they were eating meat which had been offered in sacrifice to idols. To the Gentile convert, such food was unfit to be eaten. Even though he was now a Christian, he could not forget how he once offered food to idols, and in his mind the eating of such food was connected to idol worship. The Jewish convert, on the other hand, had no such compunctions because he had always acknowledged only one God, and naturally felt no guilt about eating the meat which had been sacrificed to idols. It was sold in the market place at a cheaper price, and the Jewish Christians considered it a desirable bargain.

                Now let’s read the first few verses of Romans 14 concerning the brother who was weak in the faith. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” Romans 14:1-4. Can we, by comparing other Scrip- tures, locate the weak brother? Can we also locate the problem which created the “judging” situation? Yes, we can. Paul had to deal with it at considerable length in 1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Corinthians 8. Notice his description: “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. … Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. … But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-9, emphasis added. Here we locate the weak brother of Romans 14:1-3. He was the Gentile Christian who felt that it was sinful to eat the meat which had been offered to idols. Paul agreed with the Jewish con- verts that there was nothing wrong with the food, since there is only one God after all. But he advised that the food not be eaten in front of the Gentile believers lest it be a stumbling block tothem. Compare this language with Paul’s counsel in Romans 14:13: “Judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” In 1 Corinthians 8:11, 12, Paul asks this question: “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” Compare that statement with this one in Romans 14:15: “Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” Also read Romans 14:21: “It is good er to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Obviously the accounts in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 are referring to the same problem.

          Identical language is used in describing them, and the same judging was taking place in reference to the problem. One more point needs to be clarified. The meat in question was not “unclean meat” in the biblical sense. The question only revolved around food that was “esteemed” unclean by the Gentile Christians because it had been offered to idols. Actually, the heathen did not offer swine or other unclean animals in their sacrifices, as Acts 14:13 establishes. So when the Jewish Christians bought the food which had been offered to idols, it was not wrong in itself, as Paul pointed out. It became wrong only when it offended the “weak brother,” or the Gentile Christian, who esteemed it to be unclean through association with the idol. Some of the Gentile believers were so strong against it that they abstained from meat altogether and ate only herbs for fear they might eat some meat that had been offered to idols.

                           In Romans 14:1-3, Paul urges the Roman church to receive such people and honor their conscience. It was not a moral issue and should not be permitted to divide the church. By examining these apparent contradictions in the Bible relating to diet, we have also discovered the root of much theological confusion in today’s religious world. A simple understanding of the circumstances behind the writing enables us to grasp the words and phrases in their original format and to recognize the beautiful harmony and unity of Scripture. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother tooffend. 1 cor 8:13 compare this with But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died…. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. rom 14:15,21 Besides this Paul is talking about normal meat (Pure meat) For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. rom 14:20 He is not talking about the unhealthy and impure meat which we are eating now.

Understanding Ellen White’s message on Meat eating

Ellen White gives the below reasons for why we should not eat meat.

I have never felt that it was my duty to say that no one should taste meat under any circumstance. To say this . . . would be carrying matters to extremes.I have never felt that it was my duty to make sweeping assertions. Letter 76 (June 6), 1895.  I advise every Sabbath-keeping canvasser to avoid meat eating, not because it is regarded as sin to eat meat, but because it is not healthful. 

Again and again I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design,–that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat-eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it.
Two reasons one it is unhealthy and the other God is asking as to go back to the original diet. (I ll be posting an article on this. Is Going back to original diet Biblical? Thorough out the Bible we can see the principles of going back to the blue print.) She writes to say no one should taste meat under any circumstance is carrying matter to extremes.
But Ellen White struggled for many years to leave flesh diet even though she believed and preached it. We should remember this message is from God not from Ellen White.

Since Ellen White ate meat they use this as a reason for rejecting her as a prophet and her message. Let us remember Ellen White is not our example.  Even after coming to the knowledge of  truth it takes time to leave some Old habits. Essential thing is a heart willing to obey. God helps us to obey His principles.

There is real common sense in dietetic reform. The subject should be studied broadly and deeply, and no one should criticize others because their practice is not, in all things, in harmony with his own. It is impossible [in matters of diet] to make an unvarying rule to regulate everyone’s habits, and no one should think himself a criterion for all.  MH 319, 320.

In a letter to a non Adventist she writes.

I am happy to assure you that as a denomination we are in the fullest sense total abstainers from the use of spiritous liquors, wine, beer, [fermented] cider, and also tobacco and all other narcotics. . . . All are vegetarians, many abstaining wholly from the use of flesh food, while others use it in only the most moderate degree.

Ellen White applies the term vegetarian to those who habitually abstained from eating flesh food, yet were not necessarily total abstainers. So Ellwn White is not a hypocrite in teaching vegetarian diet and sometimes eating meat.
It took time for her to leave meat eating. Other wise she took meat when other food is not available or the meat (butter) is from healthy animals.

Since the camp meeting at Brighton (January, 1894) I have absolutely banished meat from my table. It is an understanding that whether I am at home or abroad, nothing of this kind is to be used in my family, or come upon my table. I have had much representation before my mind in the night season on this subject. {CD 488.1}

We purchase butter for cooking purposes from dairies where the cows are in healthy condition, and have good pasture. Counsels on Diet and Foods p. 488
“Two years ago [1894] I came to the conclusion that there was danger in using the flesh of dead animals, and since then I have not used meat at all. It is never placed on my table. I use fish when I can get it. We can get beautiful fish from the saltwater lake near here. I use neither tea nor coffee. As I labor against these things, I cannot but practice that which I know to be best for health, and my family are all in perfect harmony with me. You see, my dear niece, that I am telling you matters just as they are.”

A few weeks after the duck eating experience in the Rockies in October 1873, Elder and Mrs. White were in California and she on February 15, 1874, reported that since they had been in that state they had dropped meat entirely, having “bought meat once for May Walling while she was sick,but not a penny have we expended for meat since.”–Letter 12, 1874, p. 1

Now as to my own experience: Meat seldom appears on my table; for weeks at a time I would not taste it, and after my appetite had been trained, I grew stronger, and could do better work. When I came to the Retreat, I determined not to taste meat, but I could get scarcely anything else to eat, and therefore ate a little meat. . . . {7MR 349.3}

   “Not a morsel of meat or butter has been on my table since I returned.We have milk, fruit, grains, and vegetables. For a time I lost all desire for food. Like the children of Israel, I hankered after flesh meats. But I firmly refused to have meat bought or cooked. I was weak and trembling, as every one who subsists on meat will be when deprived of the stimulus. But now my appetite has returned, I enjoy bread and fruit, my head is generally clear, and my strength firmer. I have none of the goneness so common with meat eaters. I have had my lesson, and, I hope, learned it well. . . .
“In regard to our diet, we have not placed butter on our table for ourselves for years, until we came to the Rocky Mountains. We felt that a little butter, in the absence of vegetables and fruit was less detrimental to health than the use of much salt or sugar, sweet cake and knickknacks. We do not use it now, and have not for many weeks.”–Letter 1, 1873, p. 12
Often while there [at the Rural Health Institute, St. Helena, Calif.] I was compelled to eat meat because there was nothing else that I could eat.At times I would be so faint and dizzy for the want of good wholesome food that I fairly reeled through weakness. [The cook] has not made it her study to prepare wholesome dishes in order that flesh meat as a food may become less and less necessary.–Letter 4, 1884, p. 3. (To Brother and Sister Maxson, February 6, 1884.)

Is going back to original diet – Vegetarian diet Biblical?

 Spirit of Prophecy never says anything which is not in harmony with scriptures.  Is Going back to original diet Biblical? Through out the Bible we can see the principles of going back to the blue print.

  • Divorce is not in God’s original plan.

Though He allowed it He calls them to the original plan for marriage. Matthew 19 3The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

  • Polygamy is not in God’s original plan.

But Patriarchs like Abraham, Jacob and David did it. But in New testament God calls them to original plan of monogamy. To David Nathan says.. And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.2 Samuel 12: 8 (He has given wives to David) But he calls back to the original plan. Ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee. If any be blameless, the husband of one wife Titus 1:5,6 (Margin) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 1 Timothy 3:12 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach 1 Timothy 3:2

  • Meat Eating is allowed because of man’s lust. But God calls back to original diet.

But after the fall, men chose to follow their own sinful desires; and as the result, crime and wretchedness rapidly increased……. They delighted in destroying the life of animals; and the use of flesh for food rendered them still more cruel and blood-thirsty, until they came to regard human life with astonishing indifference. PP 92

 The human family has been growing more and more self-indulgent, until health has been most successfully sacrificed upon the altar of lustful appetite. The inhabitants of the Old World were intemperate in eating and drinking. They would have flesh-meats, although God had given them no permission to eat animal food. TSDF 62

The people who lived before the flood ate animal food, and gratified their lusts until their cup of iniquity was full, and God cleansed the earth of its moral pollution by a flood. After the flood the people ate largely of animal food. God saw that the ways of man were corrupt, and that he was disposed to exalt himself proudly against his Creator, and to follow the inclinations of his own heart.  4aSG 121

Further Ellen White writes in the same passage “He did not prohibit their eating meat” As Ellen White writes since they were already perverting their diet with meat He allowed them to eat but only animals which will be healthy to eat i.e., clean animals. Now in Isaiah 65 He tells that He wants to go back to original diet. 17For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (this is not the new heaven which and new earth which comes after 1000 years) 20There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed. (see there will be death and sinner. In new heaven which and new earth which comes after 1000 years there won’t be death and sinner) 23They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. (There won’t be Child birth in new heaven) Now see this… 25The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. If god wants Wolf and Lion to go back to vegetarian diet what about humans….

    Again in Isa 22: 12And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: 13And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die. 14And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts. Bible say it is an iniquity to eat flesh when God wants us to afflict ourselves to receive the sealing of God. Read Lev 23. 27-29, isa 22.12-14, Eze 9.4-8 & Rev 7.3-4. In Isaiah God calls this as iniquity. Now is the day of atonement when God wants Adventist to sigh and cry for the Adventist church and the world.