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Christians Against All Animal Abuse
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From Spring 2008 Issue

A Pagan Cross Or A Sacrificial Lamb

Christianity needs to get its priorities in correct order of priority: the godly and humble Francis Of Assisi needs to be of more influence than the proud and ‘scholastic’ Thomas Aquinas who denied a soul to all but man! And the emphasis on Jesus being worshipped in the form of a sacrificed herbivorous gentle creature – a lamb – may well need more prominence than that of a ‘God Man’ nailed to the wood of a tree’, especially when one cannot be sure as to the actual form it took!

Enlightened biblical theology will appreciate that whereas Jesus took upon Himself manhood for our salvation, that at the last He appears in the form of a loving, gentle animal. Yes, and in this latter figurative form we find our blest Redeemer worshipped by the four representatives of the animal kingdom: These latter - leading the Sanctus (holy, holy, holy!) before the throne in Heaven – are then followed by twenty-four human representatives: the elders who possibly represent both the Old Testament patriarchs and the New Testament apostles. (See Revelation chapters 4 & 5) - It’s truly a book shrouded by allegory; and is open to varied interpretations!

Indeed, that a chauvinistically motivated early church father – Iraneous of Lyons – should have misinterpreted part of the above passages of holy writ so as to pander to the vanity of a fallen humanity was quite unforgivable. He quite wrongly – and in opposition to others of his day - referred to the four animals of this Apocalypse as figurative of the four gospel accounts and, in so doing, revealed that a text taken out of context can end up as a pretext! But then Iraneous - followed by some later theologians - was hardly any less guilty than were much later interpreters of the Bible in Britain. Indeed, I refer to those recent scholars of the latter part of our past century! In the Book of Revelation the four animals already touched upon are clearly misinterpreted by them as ‘four living creatures’.

But thankfully, I come across one notable exception. It is the modern Catholic version known as: the Jerusalem Bible; and to my mind it outshines all the others. For it not only consistently interprets the Greek word ‘zoon’ for animal - rather than imply a fierce beast ‘therion’ as does the King James - or indeed as a ‘living creature’ as do the contemporary Protestant versions, but its literary style is quite beautiful.

However, I appear to have got sidetracked! What ever our preference, we also need to see the Saviour not only portrayed in the depiction of a man nailed to a cross of one form or another, but at least, equally so as a sacrificed herbivorous animal. For Christ’s mission was, and is, to redeem the whole creation; and to have interpreted His redemptive work as confined to a Puritan style elect of humanity – all else to be damned – is, to my mind, a blasphemous distortion of the Gospel we’re called to ‘proclaim to every creature under the heavens’..

The Wesley brothers of the Methodist 17th century Spiritual Awakening were encircled by drab, legalistic expressions of ‘Reformed’ Puritan theology, which made the self assumed elect feel smug, and left all others untouched and mostly uncared for. Yes, it was in such a spiritually dry and dead state that Methodism began to shine as a heavenly beacon. The Wesley brothers of Epworth believed in and preached a far more embracing message to the masses. Indeed, they even expressed it in song: ‘For all, for all, my Saviour died. For all, for all, was crucified!’ Their gospel referred to more than humanity’s plight, and their hymns repeatedly exalted ‘the Lamb who was slain’. Little wonder, then, that some branches of Methodism – along with John Wesley himself – began taking up a vegetarian life style. Yes, and long before it became the respectable food option it now holds in people’s lives today!

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