Just a quick one this time. A thought. What are the implications of Paul's line on eating food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8 and 10) to the ban on eating meat with blood in it? Both were forbidden to Gentiles in the Acts 15 Apostolic Decree so perhaps we can extrapolate from Paul's thoughts about idol meat to his thoughts on blood meat.
Of course, it depends in part on what you think Paul's position on idol meat is. I tentatively hold the following view.
- Paul did not allow Christians to eat idol meat that was obviously idol meat (i.e., from the temples or the altar of demons).
- But Paul said that if the meat was of uncertain origin (i.e., from the market or served at a meal at someone's house) then Christian may eat without asking questions. Obviously, if the host says, 'Did you know that this is idol meat?' then the Christian should abstain.
The food, said Paul, was not inherently problematic to eat - the idols are nothing. But its symbolic association with false gods was problematic and Christians should not knowingly partake in it.
So, on this interpretation, Paul did uphold the decree but his application of it in this specific context was somewhat 'liberal'. How might that apply to the blood ban? Here is a tentative suggestion:
Eating meat that you know has blood in it would remain forbidden (black pudding would be a Christian 'NO NO'!). Not because there is anything inhenrently bad in eating blood but because abstaining symbolically represents a recognition that all life belongs to God and not to us.
But eating meat that for all you can tell has no blood in it - especially if one is a guest at a meal - would be fine (even if, in fact, there actually is blood in it).
This would be a somewhat 'liberal' application of the decree.