ReviewsAnimal Gospel - Christian Faith as Though Animals Mattered
Linzey (Hodder & Stoughton, 1998)
Rightly described by its author as a "pastoral, evangelical sequel"
to his earlier "Animal Theology" (SCM Press, 1994), this is a profoundly
sincere account combining cogent argument with personal testimony.
In 17 chapters followed by a "notes and acknowledgements" section, it
is divided into two parts, each of which begins with an overview chapter
(one and nine). Part one, entitled "The Gospel for Every Creature",
points to a theology of animal treatment in view of their general
historical neglect by Christians, while part two, entitled "Disengaging
from the Works of Darkness", describes contemporary misuse of animals as
"unenlightened" and culminates with two final chapters which present
hope for the future together with pragmatic procedures to bring this
As an ordained Anglican priest, as Professor of Theology and Animal
Welfare at Mansfield College, Oxford University, and as a leader in the
non-violent, legitimate Animal Rights movement, Andrew Linzey writes
from heart, head and hands-on experience.
Whatever one's prejudices or previous lack of sufficient thought on
these issues, no one reading this book with an open mind and heart can
fail to be challenged and enlightened by it. While most may find
compelling his theologically-underpinned arguments against
sport-hunting, fur trade and any forms of cruelty to animals, many are
likely to find his claims for vegetarianism as a universal ideal a step
too far for them this side of the new heaven and new earth (providing
that meat-producing animals are raised in welfare-friendly environments)
and yet, and yet... this book leaves one thinking "Should we not be
modelling the new kingdom now where the wolf lies down with the lamb etc
and might this not involve at least a stronger move towards a
Linzey backs vegetarianism, using Genesis 1. 29-30; he does not deal
here eg with Peter's sheet vision (Acts 11. 4-10), with Jesus' story of
the fatted calf (Luke 15, 30), with Jesus' fish breakfast with his
disciples after the resurrection (John 21. 9-13)...
Whether or not you already share Linzey's heartfelt belief in the
integrity of all creation in Christ, this book will challenge you to
think more deeply about the practical outworkings of this; the Church is
challenged to change. Andrew Linzey's sincerity and commitment merit a
fair and widespread hearing. This book's compelling readability and
warmth make that prospect likely. Read it - but be prepared for the
disturbance that the integrated Gospel brings!
Reviewed by Dr John Wibberley in the Methodist Recorder
Reproduced with thanks.
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