Category Archives: Christians, animals and the environment

Back to Eden

In the midst of much international conflict and generally what seems like depressing news, it is always encouraging to read something positive and uplifting. The Back to Eden film project is one such bit of encouraging news. It is a very practical documentary about gardening with extraordinary results mixed with reflections on God’s Word that combines for a very encouraging, almost two-hour video. If you are into gardening or have thought about it, but do not know where to start, set aside some time for this video. You will be treated to some good ideas for how to grow your own fruits and veggies as well as have your soul encouraged in the Lord.

Compassionate eating? Christians and vegetarianism

KEDS Dean of Students, Dr. Stephen Vantassel has a very interesting piece in the Evangelical Review of Society and Politics which should be of interest to students, especially those with a concern for animal welfare and ethical food production. Does the compassion of Christ really suggest that Christians should reduce animal suffering by abstaining from meat? And does the Bible have anything to say about factory farming? Dr. Vantassel, with Dr. Kloosterman, evaluates the claims made by Mark C. Halteman, (Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and Professor at Calvin College, a prestigious evangelical college in the U.S.), in Compassionate Eating published by the Humane Society of the United States.

They demonstrate that Dr. Halteman’s arguments calling Christians to increased adoption of vegetarianism lack logical necessity and fail to give due attention to all the available data. Vantassel and Kloosterman conclude that if there is a convincing argument in favour of vegetarianism, Dr. Halteman has failed to make it.

Was Jesus an Environmentalist?

With all the conversation about creation-care amongst Christians, one has to ask, “Was Jesus an Environmentalist?” It isn’t a silly question, one would hope that if Christians are going to engage in an activity as part of their Christian obligation, it would make sense to ask if Jesus would support the behavior?

In one sense, the question of environmentalism is anachronistic. People in Christ’s day had enough trouble just staying alive, let alone worry about whether a specific species was going extinct. But on another level, we can inquire and gain some insight on how his behavior should be a model for ours? For example, many people worry about whether they are recycling enough or feel guilt about the bottled water they bought because they were thirsty.
Consider Christ, he killed a fig tree simply because it didn’t bear fruit when he wanted it (Mk 11). Does this exemplify behavior of someone who is supposedly calling us to environmentalism?Christ killed a tree simply to make a point. Is that right? Couldn’t he have just made his point in a more environmentally responsible way?

I think a couple of points should be considered. First, Christ is Lord of Creation. He can do with his property as he wished/s. Second, since Christ was fully human, it means we too can destroy elements of God’s creation in God’s service. That may shock some people, but it is true. When you eat an animal, you destroy God’s creation but no moral stain obtains. The key is to judge oneself accurately and truly, by asking, “is this destruction to God’s glory or yours?”  While that is a humbling question, we should also consider that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Stephen Vantassel is a tutor at King’s Evangelical Divinity School and author of Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009)

Protecting the Environment

One of the fundamental debates of the environmental movement is over what is the best way to protect the environment. This question concerns the macro-level. Should we put land into the public trust by making it the property of the government along the lines of Yellowstone Park? Or should we encourage private ownership?

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Is Trapping Like Fishing? Part 2

One of the major arguments used against trapping relates to the number of non-target animals alleged to be harmed during the practice. The argument suggests that it is one thing to harm an animal that one wanted all along, but if the number of unwanted animals that are harmed is so high, then the means to capture the target animal may be too costly (in moral terms) to justify its continued use.

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Is Fishing Different from Trapping? Part 1

Animal rights protest industry activists know how to exploit the public’s ignorance and prejudices. One of the most successful ways they do is by using the political tactic of divide and conquer. By attacking trapping, animal rights protest industry activists can frequently gain support from sportsmen and sportswomen in opposing trapping. The irony is that these sportspeople think that hunting and fishing are somehow more humane than trapping and therefore immune from the animal rights activists ire.

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