Christian Guide to Body Stewardship

New Textbook Combines Exercise and Theology

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by Tessa Landrum, Student Public Relations Writer

Dr. David PetersonDr. David Peterson, assistant professor of kinesiology at Cedarville University, has written a new textbook on physical fitness, “A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise.” This new title is being piloted in a Cedarville classroom during the fall semester.

Peterson, a retired U. S. Navy aerospace and operational physiologist and former competitive powerlifter, tailored the textbook to meet the specific needs and interests of Cedarville students. “In my experience, most students come into the class already knowing the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly,” said Peterson. “What they lack is the guidance on how to do it.”

“A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise” addresses this need by starting in Scripture.

Peterson invited two professors from Cedarville University’s School of Biblical and Theological Studies to discuss the relationship between body stewardship and theology. Dr. Jeremy Kimble, director of the Center for Biblical Integration and associate professor of theology, and Dr. Trent Rogers, interim dean and assistant professor of Greek and New Testament, joined the project to co-write the first chapter.

According to Peterson, Kimble and Rogers have previous experiences that equipped them to speak on the matter. “Dr. Kimble was originally a physical education major and Dr. Rogers has set a world record on the bench press,” said Peterson. “Not only are they experts in biblical integration, they know a thing or two about diet and exercise.”

Kimble and Rogers’ contribution articulates a biblical theology of the body. “We saw an opportunity to open up the first chapter with a robust look at Scripture and theology in relation to the body and fitness,” said Kimble.

“The Bible does not say much directly about physical fitness,” said Rogers. “But God is very concerned about how we use our bodies, so we wanted to begin by establishing certain foundational theological ideas about what it means to be embodied as part of God’s good created design.”

Peterson added that looking at physical activity through a biblical lens is necessary for a proper understanding of body stewardship. “When we use Scripture to frame our thoughts on appearance and exercise, we can better establish our priorities and put the things of this world into proper context,” said Peterson.

While chapter one details a theology of the body, the rest of the textbook addresses issues such as nutrition, weight management and exercise programming. A meal planning guide and step-by-step instructions for adjusting nautilus equipment are just two examples of the practical application Peterson included in his 228-page work.

“The goal of the new textbook is to provide students with specific and tangible recommendations on how to eat healthier, sleep better, cope with stress and exercise more efficiently,” said Peterson.

However, body stewardship is about more than physical fitness for Peterson. It is ultimately an act of worship. “I think the fundamental purpose of the course, not just the textbook, is to encourage students to be good stewards of the bodies God has given them,” said Peterson. “The course is meant to encourage students to accept and love their bodies as they use them in various ways to worship our Creator.”

“A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise” is available through Cedarville University’s Digital Commons.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in Health and Physical Education program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.