Monotheism, part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Monotheism, part 2 

Last essay, I discussed the importance of a monotheistic faith that attributes one essence to God. I think that essence is love.
Though the Hebrew Scriptures often describe God as wrathful, a recurrent theme is God’s love and concern for both the chosen Hebrew people and the rest of creation. The New Testament more clearly depicts God’s loving nature. John asserted, “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). How is God equivalent to love? This question continues to challenge Christian theologians. I think “God is love” means that God is about compassion, caring, and mercy. Christian faith also teaches that God still makes judgments about right and wrong, and we disappoint God when we fall short of our potential.

However, I do not believe that a loving God, knowing our frailties, condemns or hates sinners. John wrote, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God is light, but there is darkness in the world, in part because we no longer experience life as resembling a Garden of Eden in which all creatures coexist harmoniously. Humans have allowed their own acquisitive desires to supersede God’s loving desire for all creation, and humans have attributed their own violence and scapegoating to the divine.
Although the Bible points to God being about love, Christians have widely disparate images of God. A likely reason is that people tend to see God in ways that provide comfort and reassurance. Consequently, people often think that God’s desires align with their own preferences, which helps people believe that they are morally upright and justified in God’s eyes.
Those eager to wield power, such as dominating husbands, authoritarian parents, or tyrants, often envision God as a ruler who governs sternly and sometimes brutally over his subjects. Alternatively, those who seek to live peacefully and cooperatively tend to regard God as kind, loving, and compassionate. I find the latter image of God far more appealing and better supported by Scripture. However, I do not think it is possible to reconcile “God is love” with a God who endorses abusing humans or animals. Indeed, only a dark, callous God would countenance cruelty to animals, and it is hard to imagine such a God leading humanity, much less all creation, to reconciliation and peace. I would expect that worshipping such a dark God would harden people’s hearts and reduce their ability to resist the temptation to scapegoat humans and animals. 

Go on to: Thoughts on The Better Angels of Our Nature, part 1
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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