Systematic Vegetarian Theology
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Reasons and Suggestions for having Vegetarian - Vegan Biblical Commentary
We need to have more discussion on this Veg-Christian E-mail Discussion Group, and from others concerning the relationship between Christianity and vegetarianism and veganism.
Several members of the Veg-Christian List suggested that we have such a discussion. If you have other questions or comments that you feel should be part of this discussion, please submit them to Veg-Christian@all-creatures.org
Commentary - Michael Shaw (8 August 1998)
Dear Bible Based Veggies,
I was thinking. What if for now we put aside any argument over Biblical status, and focus on something we can all work at together.
Why don't we put together a systematic argument for vegetarianism based on the Bible alone.
We can use original meanings of words, such as showing how in Timothy when Paul speaks out against eating meat, that the King James has actually changed that Greek word, which really means certain foods rather than meat. (This does not question the authority of the original Hebrew and Greek, only the translation of English version).
An example of the systematic argument could be....
original diet was vegetarian Noah not commanded to eat meat, just allowed Prophets spoke of future time when all would be peaceful God said Thou shalt not murder God also said, to kill an ox was the same as killing a man Thus, to kill an ox would be murder No sign of Jesus eating meat at Passover etc etc etc......
Perhaps we can work on this together. If we can come up with a system, then it may help us when dealing with our fellow Christians who have yet seen any reason to become vegetarian.
We should take advantage of the combined knowledge on this list...
What say ye?
Commentary - Maynard S. Clark (8 August 1998)
I like Mike's approach, but I would like to post my POSITIVE ALTERNATIVE, and I'd wager (I don't bet, really) that the fundamentalists and the Evangelicals will, in the last analysis, use my model.
It goes like this:
We live in the late 20th century. We have science, for better or worse. Some of the benefits of science are knowledge and technical expertise. Science is in part a result of a world view of stability and relative uniformity, that allows us to study the world in systematic ways that will yield reliable knowledge that can be used in the future, at future times.
Historically, Biblical world views, despite accounts of miracles, have contributed to a sense of both social stability AND to the belief that one can have a meaningful encounter with the material world that will yield useful knowledge and some degree of understanding about Creation, which includes, but might not be limited to, the material world.
Our present position with regard to knowledge is that plant-based diets are healthful for human beings, however much they might or might not have been followed in the past centuries, by which people, and for which reasons.
The Bible counsels us again and again that wise people are people of knowledge. (People who don't read or know the Bible might not know that such is the Bible's counsel, but Christians and Bible readers should benefit from it. The Bible is wonderful, and, although others might vent themselves irrationally, we know that we can get great personal value from reading and studying it. We don't need to argue about it to value it.) We are also counseled, in addition to being people of knowledge and facts, to "above all, get understanding." Our predicament as human beings is our responsibility for our bodies, and our bodies' impacts on the material world.
The insights of the various sciences, including nutrition and ecology, help us understand, not only our material involvements, but how those involvements fit together and impact our physical wellbeing, our attitudes, and our abilities to contribute historically both to others and within this physical world. We are counseled to uphold and maintain our families, and to work with them to become stable, productive people in the world. Education is CRUCIAL for vegetarian Christians to become who we ought to become. There are various sources of that education. Christian resources offer us great educational resources, Secular sources are also incredibly useful, and any research that is done by others can be seriously considered. Christians "build worldview."
Christians contribute to their understanding and the understanding of the Christian community, but that worldview needs to be informed by the understandings of the Christian community throughout the ages. No understanding is infallible, but the search for truth can and should be pursued, for a Christian theist, with God, and Trinitarian Christians teach that the Holy Spirit is the believer's partner in the search for truth, understanding, and moral character. The more faithful modern Christians are to Biblical understanding, the more complete, coherent, and illuminating will be their understanding, and they will find many "dynamic links" to the Word of God. (Check out the Christian's Webster.)
We TESTIFY that the insights of the Bible point us towards faithful living as herbivores, and that understanding puts us much more in harmony with the Creation, and with the Creator. (Others might say that there are health and spiritual benefits in vegetarian living.) We can share a great deal of appreciation for the awe and majesty of the material world when we are not bent upon destroying it. God is great. God is good. Other people throughout the planet, throughout the ages, have been able to look and be awed with the mysteries of materiality - scientists, sages, philosophers, saints, ordinary folk, youth, seniors, etc. We share that with them. Objective involvement can be prayerful, and thankful. We ought NOT to destroy our world. We ought to appreciate it.
In this context we need to faithfully discharge our obligations to ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our community, our broader societies, our nations, and our planetary biosystem.
Christians can give others "a clue into their consciousness," but some understandings are experientially lived. We cannot convert, but we can testify. That same principle applies to communicating about the wonderful blessings of plant-based diets.
We should be both faithful AND consistent. Health benefits are more likely with plant-based diets. We ought to live in ways that will support out health, and the health of others. That is loving; that is real.
We ought never to support anything that degrades the life of another - either directly, or through attitude or
We see "inklings" of this kind of consciousness in other faiths, and, oddly enough, even though there is conceptual dissonance, there are times when faithful people in other faiths are more allied with our real directions than unbelievers who share backgrounds with us. We ought to maintain our integrity. We do not need merge with others by virtue of our recognition of common goals. We share real common goals with everyone, but tragically, sin has marred our awareness to such an extent that we often do not understand who we are and what our real goals and long term best interests are.
Even "pagans" (whether they profess that term or not) can have rational insight, and those values we share with others can be appreciated on the basis of the Creation, even if others don't share that perspective.
We have objective grounds for a scientific appreciation of the benefits for ourselves AND others for a plant-based diet.
We are people in dialogue, but most of all, we are a blessed people.
How do you like those apples?
Commentary - Jim Parrish (13 August 1998)
I had never heard of the Genesis diet till I became part of the Veg-Christian list. I even learned about the Daniel Diet during a class on the Book of Daniel. I thought, "All right, Daniel knew the right way to eat!" But then it was explained that he didn't do it for purely health reasons. At least the side effect was good health. These two examples of vegetarianism are good illustrations of the Bible pointing towards eating a vegetarian diet. The longevity of the men and women in the early chapters of Genesis and Daniel are two non threatening ways of broaching the subject to other Christians. This avoids the emotional knee jerk that comes with the animal rights and environmental reasons. These are both good reasons in there own right, but might be introduced later as a person begins to understand more about vegetarianism and its benefits, and then be more open to discussing these aspects. It really depends on the individual and how well we know them, that we determine the best way to introduce vegetarianism.
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