Humane Religion Magazine
November - December 1996 Issue
THE FORGOTTEN BEGINNINGS OF CREATION AND CHRISTIANITY
By Carl Anders Skriver
Written by a man who was an Evangelical Lutheran Church minister, this book was first published in German, the author's native language. It was translated into English in 1990.
Although a cleric-in-good-standing for 25 years, the Rev. Skriver did not view either Christianity or biblical interpretation in the self-serving way of religious leaders who would rather maintain the status quo than understand the truth of our spiritual heritage.
And it was not only in the realm of religion that Rev. Skriver refused to accept self-serving dogmas or creeds. He wrote that "it is not the earthly fatherland, with its national interests and acts of violence by the police or the military, which is the Christians' country. Their country is God's Kingdom of peace and justice." A German resident, he rejected the political views and activities of Nazi Germany and was arrested in 1943.
Skriver survived his imprisonment and continued his work until 1983, when he died at the age of eighty. The inner reform of the Christian religion, which would bring it into conformity with the way of life that was actually espoused by Jesus, was his lifelong passion.
He saw Jesus as a revolutionary whose actual teachings were meant to awaken his followers to the truth of the nonviolent way of life ordained by God and contained in the first creation account of Genesis. A way of life in which animals and humans lived at peace with each other because they were created by the same God who breathed the divine Spirit of life into all creatures.
According to the accepted ideology of human beings, the massacre of animals is not an atrocity.
But this truth has been perverted by generations of Christian "scholarship." It is scholarship that not only ignores the sanctity of all life--it encourages the violation of that sanctity. Skriver wrote:
"For almost 2000 years Christian scholars have drawn false and terrible conclusions from their Biblical studies. They have concluded that animals have an inferior soul or no soul at all. The animal has no life after death. The animal has no right to life and no right to protection. Because the animal is not allowed to have a soul, it can be unscrupulously hunted, bred, murdered, slaughtered, and vivisected. They say that the animal is part of 'creation',and by that they mean animals are surrendered to humans to do with them as they wish. The animal is treated simply as an object to be used for whatever end he wishes. If someone wants to describe an atrocity against humans one says 'people were slaughtered like cattle.' But according to the accepted ideology of human beings, the massacre of animals is not an atrocity."
Skriver traces this history of the inhumane treatment of nonhuman beings from the time of the Fall in Eden. He draws a parallel between the killing of animals and the killing of human beings. It was Adam's son, Abel,who first killed another creature—a lamb. And this act of violence was followed by his own murder at the hands of his brother Cain. Throughout the ages, the slaughter of men and the slaughter of animals has been inextricably linked together.
He also wrote about those who opposed such ungodly behavior and says of the Latter Prophets of Israel, who proclaimed a millennial world of peace between all species: "the greatness, the radicalism, the freedom of thought, and the courage of the prophets cannot be admired enough."
Skriver understood that the millennial world which they prophesied—a world of peace and plenty in which all species live in harmony with each other— could not exist as long as human beings continue to prey upon other creatures. Not only do we covet the fur, tusks, and feathers of other beings as decorations for the body, we also crave their flesh, to feed upon. Uncounted millions of animals live tormented lives and die, unmercifully, because men have refused to live the kind of life they were instructed to live in Genesis 1:29: the life of a vegetarian.
The author traces the decision to live as carnivores—and the deadly repercussions this brought upon human society—from biblical times to the present era. He also traces the activity of the many individuals and groups who understood that love, compassion, and peace on earth for all creatures, necessarily demands a nonviolent diet.
Not only does Skriver write about our relationship to animals from a biblical viewpoint, he also draws on such diverse sources as Plato, Laotse, Pythagoras, Buddha, and Zarathustra. He brings to this work a scholarly background that includes his expertise in biblical theology as well as a familiarity with ancient languages and other cultures. His University degrees include a doctorate that was awarded for his thesis on Vedic literature. He wrote it in Sanskrit.
The Forgotten Beginnings of Creation and Christianity is
well-written, the material well-organized and the research scholarly. It is 175
pages and contains a regular index and an index of scriptural references. The
cost of the book is $11.95 plus postage and is available from