MED Christianity

Last year, I read Timothy Ferris’ new book, The Four-Hour Body. He’s a fan of the idea of the minimum effective dose (MED): “the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.” He applies it to things like time in the gym, surprising the reader with phenomenal muscle gains and fat loss with just 2 30-minute workouts per week. “Why waste your time on anything beyond what it takes to produce the desired result?,” is the unsurprising question/message from the author of The Four Hour Work Week.

I know Christians who seem to practice a sort of MED Christianity. One of them, an evangelical friend of many decades, put it pretty starkly. He’ll leave “jewels in the crown” (an evangelical metaphor for celestial rewards) for others; he just wants to “get into heaven.”

I can understand that if only because it used to be my own inchoate attitude:

  • Human beings have a problem: God is angry with them and has half a mind to send them to hell.
  • You need to do, believe, say, or pray whatever it takes to deal with God’s anger problem so he won’t do that to you.
  • If you go for that sort of thing, you might even want to go above and beyond, vying for “jewels in your crown,” but it really isn’t necessary. Or as W.H. Auden put it, “I like to sin. God likes to forgive. It’s an admirable arrangement, really.”

But is there really a Minimum Effective Dose of Christianity, such that you’re wasting your time on anything beyond what it takes to produce the desired result?

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)

“All” doesn’t sound at all minimal. “Minimal” doesn’t sound at all like love.

“Minimal” sounds like somebody who’s buying fire insurance. And I don’t think God is fooled.

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Standing advice on enduring themes.