Monthly Archives: December 2009

Dialogue with Animal Protectionists?

One of the hallmarks of contemporary culture is the naive notion that dialogue can conquor all disputes. You hear this sort of nonsense all time, i.e. If we could communicate better we would be able to resolve our differences. The fact is dialogue only works with people who share a sufficient number of values to allow compromise (unless of course, one side capitulates). A classic counter example to the belief that dialogue can resolve all disputes, is the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Does anyone really believe that both sides don’t understand each other?

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There are many sideways ‘swipes’ at the Christian faith which go on in the media throughout the year. But Christmas really seems to bring out the worst in third rate comedians who think they’re being funny or original in mocking the Christmas story. So often in recent years (2009 being no exception), I’ve heard the sneering jibes made about ‘the baby Jesus’, and unsavoury humour about the Virgin and child, delivered in that deprecating way which will jar on the hearts and minds of all true Christians. But I find it impossible to be judgmental; heaven knows, I once ridiculed Christ myself. Read more »

Criminalization of Food

A December 7, 2010 Metro Reporter sub-headline reads “Gino D’Acampo, the winner of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, and fellow contestant Stuart Manning are facing criminal charges for animal cruelty after cooking and eating a rat on the TV programme.”  I have noted for sometime that the end result of animal rights legislation would be the criminalization of all kinds of human activities. It appears the slide toward moral devolution is occurring faster than I anticipated.

According to the story, these two contestants were hungry and decided to kill a rat and eat it. It seems the idea of the show is to put celebrities into difficult situations and see how they behave and interact with other contestants. For killing the rat, the two contestants have been charged with animal cruelty, which in Australia (where the filming occurred) can be a few years in prison (according to a Dec 7, 2009 AP article, Sydney).

I suspect the officials charge is over the killing of the rat was unnecessary and being recorded could be a kind of animal snuff-film. At the very least, we must commend the officials for not being biased against rats as animal rights protest industry activists wish. But I am concerned with the direction this kind of prosecution can go, in addition to being concerned that charges were brought up in the first place.

I believe these types of prosecutions will become more frequent in the years ahead. Animal rights protest industry activists will use them to test how far they can implement the elements of their religion. Let’s just say that sometimes the slippery slope argument (i.e. if this happens this result is inevitable) is a fallacy. But I must say that the predictions of those, like myself, regarding the end desires of the animal rights protest industry are beginning to become true. Thus the slippery slope argument isn’t always a fallacy.

Stephen Vantassel is a tutor of Theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School. He specializes in ethics (particularly environmental ethics and political commentary).

Copyright 2009. Stephen M. Vantassel.

Happy Hannukah

With the Festival of Lights upon us, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Hannukah. I think this is a celebration that Christians can enjoy too as it occurred after the victory over the Selucids that gave the Jews the freedom to worship the Lord in freedom.

Stephen Vantassel is tutor of theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School

Copyright 2009.

PETA’s Banned Turkey Prayer Ad

Whatever one thinks of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), you have to tip your hat at their ability to market themselves and their propaganda. Their use of sexuality, shock language, movie stars, and protests provide an effective campaign that regularly gets the attention of the media. One of their more recent attempts to raise the public’s consciousness about the plight of turkeys was through a television advertisement. The ad shows a family sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner (with turkey of course) and the little girl is asked to give thanks. The child begins (I am paraphrasing) by thanking God for turkeys and the feces they contain and how their heads get stomped. You can view the 30 second video for yourself at

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Indebtedness and Sin?

n the United States, several Christian ministries that focus on financial stewardship teach that Christians should strive to eliminate debt. Broadly speaking, they assert that the Biblical record strongly discourages indebtedness because it limits the freedom of the Christian to fulfill God’s plan. These ministries suggest Christians should strive to pay cash for purchases (avoid credit cards), live below one’s means, and pay down debt as quickly as possible. Additionally, they strongly encourage tithing arguing that it is an important part of our service to Christ. So what could be wrong with these ministries?

In one sense, absolutely nothing. These ministries have helped thousands of people put their financial house in order. The fact is, indebtedness can be a reflection of greed of needing to consume more than can be sustained by the means God has provided. But there is another side, perhaps an unintended side effect of these ministries. Sometimes adherents to their doctrine of debt-free-living, begin to think of debt as a form of sin and therefore radically change their lives to pay down debt and/alternatively establish a nest egg.

Let me be clear, debt is not a blessing. If Christians can reasonably avoid it, great. But I should point out that debt in Biblical times was not the same kind of burden as debt is today. The economy in the ancient world was agriculturally based. One couldn’t count on next  years crop being good enough to pay off this year’s debt as bad weather can destroy the entire crop. In addition, protections for bankruptcy didn’t exist. When you were broke, you lost everything; even your children could be sold into slavery.

I recently heard a sermon where the minister commented on the get rid of debt idea. He said something that I found quite thought provoking. He said, we need to be careful that our desire to eliminate debt is not a cover for our own greed. Where we accumulate and accumulate so as to protect ourselves from ever having to go into debt. Also sometimes the desire to be debt free eliminates our ability to spend money to help the weak now.  He argued that if we really believed in getting debt free then we should be able to do so in about two months. All we have to do is sell the house and downsize, sell the car and downsize etc. etc.

I think his point is well put. As in all things, we should strive for balance which is why we must pray for wisdom (cf. James 1). Ask yourself, is your debt crushing you? weakening you? or is it completely manageable with a reasonable review of your life situation? If changes are in order, change them. Then proceed to live accordingly as you serve God.

Stephen M. Vantassel is a tutor at Theology at Kings Evangelical Divinity School

Copyright 2009 Stephen M. Vantassel