Christ Loves Creatures,
A thesis by: Norma Carol
- Edited Internet Edition -
IMPLEMENTATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Findings of Literature Review
What has been established in the extensive literature review listed in the Bibliography and portions thereof cited within this paper, are these simple truths:
- God created man in his image.
- God created animals on the same day as people.
- God gave both people and animals souls.
- God saw all his creation to be very good.
- God gave dominion of creation to men and women and the responsibility of tending the garden.
- God made the same covenants with animals that he did with people.
- God has a personal relationship with people who choose one and with all creation, which does not choose.
- God cares about people first, as noted in Jesus’ remarks about the sparrow.
- God included his saints and all creation in his salvation plan.
- Believing Christians are Christ’s ambassadors on earth and have an obligation to love animals and the earth the way God does and, at the very least, treat it with agapé love.
I believe these truths should be preached and it can be done without giving up a conservative view of Christianity. Speaking of animals with love and compassion does not make one a Liberation Theologian or a pantheist treehugger.
Imagine yourself and some of your friends sitting in the back yard, engaged in casual conversation. Suddenly Christ walks through the gate. He drops to one knee and scoops up a handful of earth. He moistens the soil in his hand and forms it into the shape of a creature, one that has never been seen before. He draws it close to his face and breathes upon it, and a miracle takes place before your eyes. The lump of soil springs up a living creature; a new creation is added to the living. Then Christ turns to you and places it in your hand, and suggests that you give it a name and provide it with care and love. As quickly as he came, his shadow has passed through the gate, and he is gone.54
Sadly, in a study done by Kellert and Berry and noted in Redeeming Creation people who attend church the most often have:
the most dominionistic and utilitarian attitudes toward the creation around them…the church has imparted an attitude that God’s creation exists for them to dominate and use for their own purposes.55
This is not to say creation care is never preached. There is a wonderful compilation entitled, "The Best Preaching on Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creation". Studying such a collection can open the eyes of, and inspire, preachers to share the fully what it means to be a Christian.
Worship is also affected by our lack of knowledge concerning creation. The Psalms are worship hymns, and if we look at Psalm 148, we see we are not alone in that worship! Concerning today, Eaton relates:
We were amazed to reflect how congregations that had sung the psalms,…had for centuries failed to take the words seriously and see the universal circle of creatures singing all around them. On their lips were lines about the praising sun and stars, winds, waves, whales and trees, all animals and birds. But they were more likely to regard it all as some poetic fancy than as a vitally important reality. And a sermon to correct them might not have been given for hundreds of years.
So we burned to cry out that now it was high time for the self-centered, self-important generations of humans to awake to reality and enter the world of true worship and praise. For in the kingdom of God all living things dance and sing in their own manner to the glory of God. Through bond of each with the Ever-Creator all living things relate to each other in love and respect. Only in the spirit of reconciliation every fellow-member of the congregation of the universes could we humans offer praise pleasing to God.56
Lastly, Green Cross tells us "The creatures give glory to God" by quoting Revelation 5:13. And the implications of this Scripture are: 1) The creatures also sing in the heavenly choir and give glory to God, and 2) Silenced voices of praise represent avoidable tragedy.57
In the last Chapter, only a few of the ways the world treats God’s creation have been casually examined, and they are happening with the blessings of Christians. What I have heard most often is that Christians "don’t want to hear about it" because then they would either not eat meat or get upset. Are these legitimate reasons for not wanting to fight evil? Satan is thrilled every time one of God’s creatures is tortured for the ill-gotten (and frequently with unreliable results) sake of people, when wanton destruction of rainforests is allowed for monetary gain, when people overbuild so much that road kill is a common sight, and when exploitation for entertainment abounds.
Fortunately, some Christians care. There is the Evangelical Environmental Network, The Reformed Church in America’s Office of Social Witness and Worship, The Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Justice and Care of the Earth Task Force, and others. Even the Quakers are involved on their websitewww.ivu.org .
There are people who preach the news and/or author books about creation: Philip Yancey, Andrew Linzey, Howard A. Snyder, and Calvin DeWitt, to name a few. There is hope if the message is placed in the pulpits around the world and not just talked about among those who are already enlightened. It seems the paradigms of pastors must be changed first, because without leadership the issue can stagnate.
Additionally, there are numerous web sites, the best I’ve found so far arewww.all-creatures.org , www.bible.com , and www.christianveg.com .
Just as only some Christians take evangelizing seriously, only some take creature care seriously and will never be involved in anything after being saved. However, the good news of ecumenical efforts are encouraging. The more groups, the more success since "united we stand". That is one reason CLCt is so important.
Recommendations, Implementation, and Achievement of Goals
CLCt promotes vegetarianism as a boycott to cruelty and respect to God’s creatures with the knowledge that the Bible is specific both that we should not eat meat and we should eat meat. When the boycott becomes effective and animals are treated with respect, that recommendation could change. I say this with the knowledge that readers may think, "Isn’t eating meat ‘Use’ while this thesis is purporting ‘Care’?" No, it is not purporting "Use" because the Bible is specific both that we should not eat meat and that we should eat meat!
Genesis 1:29 is clear that man and animal are to be vegetarians. On the other hand, after the fall and flood, God says to eat meat in Genesis 9:3. Christian vegetarians state "this permission is a concession to a practice already in place rather than a new ideal".58
Acts 10:13 also says to "kill and eat". Some theologians claim Acts 10:13 has nothing to do with eating meat, but gives Peter the message that the Gospel is open to Gentiles as well as Jews, no person is "unclean" enough not to receive the message.
Some Christian vegetarians claim Jesus was a vegetarian. One example presented is in reference to Matthew 14:13-21:
It should be noted that some scholars contend that the Greek word of "fishweed" (a dried seaweed) has been mistranslated in this story as "fish". It is certainly true that dried fishweed would be more likely in a basket with bread and fishweed remains a popular food among Palestinian peasants like the people to whom Jesus was speaking.59
John Wesley had an his opinion on the subject: "By ‘extraordinary strictness and severities,’ I presume your Lordship means the abstaining from wine and animal food; which, it is sure, Christianity does not require."60
The answer that makes the most sense to me is that vegetarianism is a matter between each Christian and God. If one chooses to be a vegetarian, it is to His glory that His creation is loved and respected. If one chooses to eat meat, then it would be to His glory by—at the very least—making sure what is being eaten comes from family farms rather than factory farms, preferably those owned and run by Christians. This will take research. It is important to eat meat from animals that lived a life as close to a natural one and that the slaughter was quick and as stress free as possible (although if the family farmers ship to slaughterhouses the stress free angle is impossible). Here is a quote supporting my view:
Today, many ask if it is a sin to eat meat. The Bible makes it clear that we can eat meat, even as Jesus ate meat when He was on earth…
Some may say, however, that when Jesus ate meat, it was before the modern-day pollution of meat…
One reason some vegetarians have chosen not to eat meat is because the exploitation of animals is very troublesome to them. Is the exploitation of animals…displeasing to God? Of course! God loves His creation…If your conscience bothers you about eating some of the commercially-raised meat, don’t eat it. However, if it doesn’t bother you…eat it as you feel led.61
My view is, again, that if one is going to eat meat, do so in the least cruel manner! My conscience is one of compassion that says to "go vegie"!
CLCt is being founded to be one in the united creature care front. As part of the ministry, the following recommendations will be stressed:
- Adopt pets rather than buying them in stores. Read about various animals as pets and their respective breeds in order to bring home the best temperament for your lifestyle.
- Be aware of cruelty and act on it. Write letters in support of humane treatment. Seek to end research, testing, hunting, animals in circuses, roadside zoos, breeding within conventional zoos, cockfights, farm factories, and more. Even if one subject touches a Christian’s heart and he/she acts on it, getting involved regularly, a difference can be made.
- Learn which companies are animal friendly with regard to testing and byproducts used in their products. NAVS has every angle of this information covered in a book called "Personal Care for People Who Care".
- Search for Christian organizations that share viewpoints for action and fellowship.
- Seek out secular groups to assist in their work, thus shedding the light of Christ on the organization.
- Be educated about creation.
- There will be more recommendations as the ministry grows.
Implementation of CLCt is planned as follows:
- Set up the organization under the auspices of the State of Florida.
- Get a website in place.
- Prepare presentations.
- Reach out to churches to invite CLCt to integrate creature care lectures, classes, and/or Bible Studies within the curriculum.
- Be a guest speaker.
- Eventually a publicist may be hired for nationwide outreach.
- Write articles for Christian and secular publications.
- Support other Christian groups and integrate with them for support, growth, and continued education.
- Support secular groups and work side by side in a joint mission.
The goals to be achieved are:
54. Redeeming Creation, 140. Return to text
- Educating Christians to action: This will be done through outreach operations as described above.
- Fight the enemy as he continues to destroy God’s general revelation: This will be done through the education process and advocacy activities.
- Be Christ’s Ambassador to the secular, hopefully bringing them to salvation: This will be done through direct contact and interaction. As the secular see examples that Christ does love creatures, that Christians do care about that love, and creation does not have to be worshipped in order to demonstrate that love. It is my prayer they will want what I have and be willing to hear and receive the Gospel.
55. Ibid., 132. Return to text
56. Eaton, John. The Circle of Creation: Animals in the Light of the Bible. (London: SCM Press Ltd.,1995), 108, 109. Return to text
57. Author not cited. "Scripture: The Word on Animals and Endangered Species" in Green Cross: A Christian Environmental Quarterly, Vol. 2 No. 1. (Wynnewood: EEN, Winter 1990), 15. Return to text
58. "Does the Bible promote Vegetarianism?" in The Rock websitewww.rockinauburn.com . Undated, 1. Return to text
59. Giron, Denis. "Vegetarianism in the Bible" in wwww.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/2105/essays/veggybible.html. Undated, 6. Return to text
60. Wesley, John. "Quotations Archive" in www.all-creatures.org from his "letter to the Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London, in The Letters of John Wesley Edited by John Telford, 1931. Return to text
61. Aiken, Mercy. "What Does the Bible say about Vegetarianism?" in Christ Unlimited Ministries www.bible.com . (Undated), 2. Return to text
Go on to Part 4
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