Animal Padre's
Christians Against All Animal Abuse
"Christ’s redemption is for the whole of creation!"

From Autumn 2010 Issue

Congratulations To Professor Andrew!

Clergy who have not made a place for the animals through their prayers, praise and preaching are not only lacking in Christian love but also very seriously lacking in their knowledge of Holy Scripture as well as extremely limited in their theology. Few, indeed, have reached the theological and academic status of a colleague in our great cause such as self-effacing Andrew Linzey. He was a lecturer at Mansfield Theological College, Oxford; was awarded a Lambeth DD from Archbishop George Carey and would, surely, have been an ideal candidate for the episcopacy? However, such a recognition is hardly to be expected from present day blinkered and humanly chauvinistic clergy. At least, not upon a modern day professor so dedicated to furthering animal welfare!

I’m delighted to know that the RSPCA has conferred Andrew recently with a just reward, honour and rightful respect for the pioneering work he has undertaken within the academic world covering past decades. Such books as his should not only find a place within every English speaking theological college, seminary and hall of divinity, but need to be an integral part of student studies. Sadly however - as things stand - most students read little more than what their course tutors recommend and such tutors - in common with their principals! - are barely in the kindergarten stage as far as Christianity and biblical references to God’s animal creation are concerned. Even the many Bible colleges that exist seem to be blinkered to the many references, direct or indirect, that relate to the ‘lower’ creation over which we are to have a Christ like dominion.

From the early 1970s I became aware of Andrew Linzey’s concern for a rightful place in Christendom for the animals. This was due to an Oxford Unitarian college principal’s daughter – a fellow animal activist - then based in Bradford. Indeed, two decades were to pass before I met Andrew in person; and this was on the occasion of Vickie Moore’s memorial service in Liverpool. The Anglican cathedral was full for the service and Andrew gave a most moving message concerning this delightful lady who’d received fatal wounds through jumping into a Spanish bull ring so as to take video close ups of the many darts that had been inflicted upon this now demented beast. Yes, a creature which had suddenly turned in its frenzy and had tossed her several times with its horns.

Noticing Andrew engaged in conversation with two or three more enquirers after the service, he suddenly spied me and said: “Here’s the man who can answer all your queries concerning the animals: the Reverend James Thompson here!” Well, I was quite taken back. How did he know me? We’d never met! Regrettably, I was hardly to find the answer because a bout of M.E had drained me of all energy. Things were caving in on me around that period of time; and if I hadn’t got into the freshness of the air outside, and away from the masses, then I sensed I would have lost consciousness.

Yes, our paths had met but once ‘as ships that pass in the night!’ However, such a blessing lingers and in our respective missions we seek - along with all other animal activists worthy of the name - to complement each other’s calling. In the New Testament some groups said ‘I am of Peter’. Others said ‘I am of Paul!’ However, provided Christ’s mission was furthered such rivalry was to some degree pardonable though not commendable. Well, I sense a similar state of affairs exists amongst Christians who seek to further animal care, rights and welfare.

The fact is that God entrusts His work of grace to earthen vessels of a fallen humanity. It is part of human nature that trail blazers love to receive adulation for their efforts even if its sometimes at the cost of a prison sentence! Their followers may equally make them their idol, while castigating rivals. All activists, however, of true spiritual maturity will prefer to look for efforts of co-operation to those of contradiction; for signs that are complementary to those that conflict. Indeed, I couldn’t ‘for the likes of me’ rattle a tin for Animal Aid or PETA in the High Street, but I compliment sincerely those who can! It is contrary to my nature to become a mole in a vivisection laboratory in order to discover, first hand, what barbaric practices go on there; but I complement to the hilt those who do such a heroic work for our cause. The fact is that God has given each of us gifts to use for the benefit of the animals, and they are far more often complementary rather than conflicting tasks for us to fulfil. As Andrew Linzey’s top gift – and he has many - has been ‘via the scholastic pen’ then my own might well be considered as via ‘the wooden spoon’?.

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