Frank L. Hoffman Interviewed by Best Friends Animal Society
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Frank L. Hoffman Interviewed by Best Friends Animal Society - 14 Oct 2006
1. The predominate theme in your responses was the debate over Dominion and whether the animals are here for our pleasure or protection? What do you believe?
FLH: Since the Biblical reference to the granting of dominion over God’s creation to human beings is found in Genesis 1:26, 28, we need to look at the intent of this creation passage.
Immediately after the granting of dominion, God gave both humans and other animals only plant foods to eat (Genesis 1:29-30). There is not even the slightest hint of humans or other animals eating one another’s flesh or wearing their skins.
Then God looks back upon everything He had made and decreed, and said that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Clearly there is nothing to either indicate or allow any harsh treatment of any living being. Dominion was intended to be kindly and protective rule, and one that subdues any evil force that might lead to the destruction of God’s created harmony.
Animals were most definitely not created for the pleasure (exploitation) of humans. They were created to be our companions.
2. Many of you pointed out that Christian teachings are divergent on whether us humans, the earth and the animals are created "by God and a part of God" -or- "by God, but apart from God". Question: Does either perspective better support the values of kindness, compassion and mercy to animals?
FLH: The divergence of doctrinal opinion is more or less a positional one, which comes from the perspective of people looking at something.
Both humans and other animals were created as living souls (Hebrew: neh-fesh khah-yaw). From Genesis 2:7 we learn that Adam became a living soul through the breath of life from the Holy Spirit, and since there is no distinction in the Hebrew text between the neh-fesh khah-yaw of humans and of other animals, we come to the understanding that we all share in this creative force of God.
If God created us all with the same kinds of feelings and emotions, it doesn’t make any sense that God would approve of the way most animals are treated in this world.
In Matthew 5:7, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (NASV) The dictionary definition of the word “mercy” includes “relief of distress” and “compassion shown to victims of misfortune.” “The merciful” (oί ελεήμονες – the same in New Testament and in Modern Greek) are those who not only empathize in thought but also in action.
A truly merciful person cannot limit mercy to only a select group of people or only to certain other animals. A person cannot be considered merciful if he or she cares about humans but participates in the abuse and killing of nonhumans, either directly or indirectly. And, one cannot be merciful, unless he or she is also kind and compassionate.
3. My favorite theme is the discourse over the dogma of Revelations. What is our duty to Creation while awaiting the rapture: are we heretofore meant to steward, conserve, protect and apportion the earth while we await the rapture? Or are we supposed to be engaged now in building the Kingdom "on earth as it is in Heaven"?
FLH: Jesus commanded us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48), and then went on to teach us to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) And we know from passages such as Revelation 21:4 that there is no death in heaven; therefore, it only stands to reason that we should be doing everything in our power to end the suffering and killing that is running rampant in our world today.
Jesus also tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) Paul picks up on this in Romans 8, and in verses 18-23, he tells us that the whole of creation is anxiously waiting for these children of God to free it from the corruption to which it has been subjected. Born again Christians are supposed to be these peacemaking children of God; yet with few exceptions, they are just the opposite.
Mary (my wife) says that the Christianity of Jesus Christ has been hijacked by the hard of heart.
There seems to be no way for a true Christian to be self-centered and destructive to any part of God’s creation, for such actions would exclude them from being a follower of Jesus Christ.
4. Many of you offered your own personal perspectives about the roles of animals in your own lives. One of my favorites is from Diana L, offered in the postscript at the end of this note. Question: In your own words, where do the animals fit in your world view?
FLH: Animals are a wonderful and precious gift from God. They bring joy to my heart, whether they are domestic companions or those who live in the wild. Every encounter brings a thankful prayer. It seems like almost every day God gives us a glimpse of His peaceable kingdom, as described by Isaiah in 11:6-9. When a deer or a rabbit or a family of foxes allow me to get close and take their pictures, or we see a dog and a fawn lying down together, and a cat and a mouse or rat living in peace together, it is proof that God’s peaceable kingdom is to be for the here and now.
Furthermore, the Jewish sages believed that when the peaceable kingdom began to became a reality, that was when Messiah would come.
God gave us all the animals of this world to be our loving companions, and not just a select few. Where would the beauty of the wildflowers be without the pollinating efforts of bees and other insects? Where would the joy of the outdoors be without the singing of the birds, and the sightings of other wild animals? A great deal of it would be lost.
God knew what He was doing when He created the animals; so who are the humans who seek to use, abuse, exploit, and destroy them? They certainly aren’t the peacemaking children of God we are called to be. Animals are to be a loving and living part of our lives, now and forever.
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