Christ Loves Creatures,
A thesis by: Norma Carol
- Edited Internet Edition -
The most important literary source used in research, demonstrating both points of view—that animals are on earth for use by mankind and that animals are not things but sentient beings who deserve respect and rights—is The Bible. First we will look at the use of animals, then the rights of animals.
ANIMALS ARE SOLELY FOR MANKIND’S USE OPINION
I must admit I was brought up to believe this viewpoint, and I have met few pastors who proclaim otherwise. What I am attempting to do here is to express what background the Bible could possibly have to instill such an opinion. Please keep in mind that the "Use" opinion includes belief that animals have no soul, do not go to heaven, act solely on instinct (therefore do not love or feel emotion), have little value other than serving mankind, and are to be eaten.
Let’s start "in the beginning". In the Garden of Eden, animals were first made to be "helpers" of Adam (Genesis 2:18, 19)6, and they were brought to him by God to be named (2:19, 20) and to be ruled over (1:28d). Taken without biblical interpretation or commentary, and taken out of context without considering other surrounding chapters and passages, these remarks certainly sound like humans are free to do whatever they please with animals. Of course, this was before the flood when God provided plants as food for man and creatures (1:29-31).
Moving on to the results of Noah’s Flood, we find that:
The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything (9:2, 3).
The act of animal sacrifice is another area associated with justifying the "Use" position. The Torah (Leviticus) has specific types of sacrifices and specific animals allowed for them, all of which are to counter pagan rituals.7 Some were eaten, some partially eaten, and some totally burned. Sacrifices were used as atonement for various sins of different degrees.
The New Testament also has several passages interpreted in support of the "use" position. For instance, in Acts Jesus told a hungry Peter (while in a trance): "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat…Do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (10:13, 15).
Looking at 2 Peter 2:12 we read: "But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish." Taken alone, this certainly sounds like animals have no hope.
Another passage is found in 1 Timothy 4:4, 5: "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." Here is a second example of being authorized to eat meat as long as we are thankful for it. I do not question or challenge this.
However, it is interesting to note that God did not say to subject livestock to, and raise livestock in, a death camp environment.
Scripture most quoted to me when I address the issue of livestock abuse is
1 Timothy 6:17d. For some reason meat eaters, fur wearers, and uncompassionate consumers I have spoken to seem to think this partial passage means that animals are here solely for the pleasure of mankind. The passage actually relates to the love of money.
Following are a few people who document their "Use" position.
Aristotle. Andrew Linzey summarizes this viewpoint simply
…humans alone have a rational capacity. Animals are thought to ‘have the power of locomotion’ and yet in none but man, ‘is there intellect’…animals have no other purpose save that of serving human beings. Aristotle arrives at this conclusion from the rather weak argument that since all nature has a purpose, and animals must have a purpose, too, ‘it must be that nature has made all of them for the sake of man’.8
Aquinas. Unfortunately, the philosophy of Aquinas agrees with that of Aristotle:
Dumb animals and plants are devoid of the life of reason whereby to set themselves in motion; they are moved, as it were by another, by a kind of natural impulse, a sign of which is that they are naturally enslaved and accommodated to the uses of others.9
Augustine. Augustine seems to have his own interpretation of the creation story:
Creatures…only exist through Him [God], but they are not of Him. If they were, they would be identical with Him, i.e. they would no longer be creatures. Their origin is, as we know, quite different: they have been created and so were brought out of nothingness by Him. Now a thing which comes from nothing participates not only in being but in non-being as well; hence, there is a kind of fundamental deficiency in a creature which in turn give birth to the necessity of acquiring and, consequently, of changing as well.10
Calvin. In his Commentary on Romans, John Calvin comes to a mixed conclusion on 8:21 concerning the redemption of all creation. While he believes Paul to mean that creatures and inanimate creation will have "their own manner in a better state", he also states:
Some shrewd but unbalanced commentators ask whether all kinds of animals will be immortal. If we give free reign to these speculations, where will they finally carry us? Let us, therefore, be content with this simple doctrine—their constitution will be such, and their order so complete, that no appearance either of deformity or of impermanence will be seen.11
Calvin’s comments seem conflicting. For animals12 to experience their own manner of redemption and achieve physical perfection seems to indicate an afterlife. And could that afterlife not be in conjunction with humans—we who shared creation? To state that animals are not immortal contradicts Calvin’s remarks concerning animals and their awareness of the resurrection noted under the "Care" opinion in the next section.
Chrysostom. Colossians 1:19,20 is the most convincing passage for the salvation of animals. Yet, in his Homilies on Colossians, John Chrysostom simply skipped over 1:19, 20!13 Although I do not know his motives, I consider this oversight to be avoidance of the subject.
There is some dispute concerning Colossians 1:23. People of the "Care" opinion state that "creation" – ktisis – refers to ALL creation, those of the "Use" opinion do not. The "Use" view is supported by Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary that states the meaning of ktisis, in 1:23 "has special reference to mankind in general".14 Chrysostom skipped 1:23 in his Homilies as well.
From the above quotes, it is obvious that education concerning this viewpoint stems from ancient philosophers and a few Church Fathers, moving forward in time. "Use" continues to be taught in the pulpit and within church administration today.
In reality, the vacuum left by the church’s failure to address the creation has provided an issue which helped give birth to the New Age movement. Biologist Richard Write calls this the "Cyrus Principle." Wright contends, persuasively, that as the Persian (and pagan) king Cyrus was used by God to accomplish his work, so the disobedience of Christians in the care of creation has led to God’s use of unbelievers to carry out these commands.15
When I was doing a project in "Formation of Christian Ministry," I interviewed a pastor at the church I was attending. He was very helpful with questions asked and worked with me to help set up a basic "ministry" such as CLCt. Yet, to paraphrase, he stated that this to help me but the ministry was in no way a part of or condoned by the church. (To be fair, another pastor was more encouraging, saying I should take it global, while warning I would experience opposition.) Another example within the same church is the preaching of the senior pastor that animals have no soul and do not go to heaven, as relayed to me by a lady who heard the sermon.
I had a first-hand experience with the problem of ignoring creation within a denominational church. While the Senior Pastor believed in my calling, the Board did not. One member was afraid of pantheism and others did not see such an outreach fitting under any current ministry umbrella. This type of selective witnessing needs to be addressed, and it is great to report that some churches have.
Most pastors I have spoken with believe in and support my ministry. Others do so because they know it is from God, but they still have the conflict of not necessarily agreeing with it. Yet others have actually laughed and tried to bait my answers. I just keep on following God’s lead.
6.All biblical quotes and references are NIV. Return to text
7. Antonelli, Judith, S. In the Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on theTorah. (Northvale: Jason Aronson, 1995), 233-246. Return to text
8. Linzey, Andrew. Animal Theology. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 17, 18. (Hereinafter, "Animal Theology"). Return to text
9. Ibid., 13 with a note referring to "Aquinas, in AAC, p. 125; see Aristotle, The Politics, pp.78-9 (1, viii) for the similarity," 158. Return to text
10. Gilson, Etienne. The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine. (New York: Random House, 1960), 143. Return to text
11. Torrance, David W., Torrance, Thomas F. (eds.) Calvin’s Commentaries: The Epistles of Paul The Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians. (Grand Rapids: Paternoster, 1995), 174. (Hereinafter referred to as "Calvin’s Commentary".) Return to text
12. CLCt is not covering the future of inanimate creation, although the order of creation will at times overlap. Return to text
13. Schaff, Philip (ed.). "Chrysostom: Homilies on Galations, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon" in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Volume 13. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), 275. Return to text
14. Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996), 137. (Hereinafter, "Vines".) Return to text
15. Van Dyke, Fred, David C. Mahan, Joseph K. Sheldon, and Raymond H. Brand. Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship. (Downers Grove: InverVarsity Press, 1996), 133. (Hereinafter, "Redeeming Creation".) Return to text
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