The Lamb of God
The radical premise of Christianity, too often forgotten in our anthropocentric age, is that it is the the world
, and not simply humankind, that is redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This means that the eschatalogical hope expressed by Isaiah that the wolf will dwell with the lamb and that the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord is not an idle wish that we might be nice to animals and nature. It is that all creatures and the earth itself will be transformed by lovingkindness into lovingkindness. Such a radical promise should challenge Christians to question whether the Biblical mandate of humankind's dominion over the animals and the earth should continue to lead to cruelty, exploitation, and indifference.
Norm Phelps, in The Dominion of Love
presents a clear-eyed analysis of how we need to read the Bible carefully and thoughtfully to extract a message that challenges us to reflect on our actions toward others, including non-human animals. He also has another book The Great Compassion
, which examines Buddhism from such a perspective.
The late Rev. J. R. Hyland, author of God's Covenant with Animals
, believes that looking at the Bible as a book that documents the growth of spiritual consciousness of the Israelites and the Jewish Christians helps us understand Christianity as a living creed that can bring about change. In The Lost Religion of Jesus
Keith Akers persuasively shows that the original Christians believed that Jesus' message demanded communal living, pacifism, and vegetarianism, a message that was diluted and perverted when Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire.
Finally, in Creatures of the Same God
, the Rev. Andrew Linzey examines among other things how ecotheology can too easily look over our obligations to the individual animals in our care, and how we need to bring animals back into the theological discussion in general.
In all these books, the central message is that we need to reinvigorate the notion of care for the most vulnerable that lies at the heart of the Christian endeavor, something that extends also to animals and the natural world. After all, Jesus said it best of his care for Jerusalem: "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings?"
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