Book Review: Fasting

By: Scot McKnight
Thomas Nelson, Feb. 2009
Review By: Eric Wood

Fasting– the title of Scot McKnight’s offering to “The Ancient Practices Series” leaves no doubt as to the subject matter of the book. McKnight does a fine job of dealing with the concept of fasting and bringing to light a few challenging concepts.

The book opens with McKnight briefly tracing the practice of fasting from the Scriptural accounts all the way to the current generation. The author then lays his cards on the table with his definition of fasting: “Fasting is the natural, inevitable response of a person to a grievous sacred moment in life” (page xviii). McKnight spends some time in supporting this proposal, laying out a formula for right fasting (A à B à C). A is the sacred moment experienced – be it revelation of God’s glory, of our sin, of social injustice or whatever. This experienced sacred moment leads one naturally into “a response (B), in this case fasting.” Only after the proper relation of B to A does fasting produce a result, C (xix). All too often, people approach fasting looking only at B and (mostly at) C, without regard to a sacred moment.

Another key element that McKnight brings to this work is the notion that Christians have seemingly drawn a distinction between body and spirit. The author makes an attempt to reveal this as untrue and unholy. He shows fasting as a “whole-person” worship response to God.

McKnight then spends the bulk of the book discussing the various forms of fasting. Drawing from Biblical accounts and using modern parallel illustrations, the author couches each form in terms that shows the bodily response to the spiritual question and sets each within the formula that he laid out in the introduction.

This was a good book for a quick survey of Biblical fasting. For deeper study into the subject, I’d recommend a different source. That being said, this work will provide plenty to consider on the topic of fasting and has challenged me in my conviction to the discipline of fasting.

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