Should all animals kept for human consumption be freed for their own sake and happiness? Or can their killing for meat and consumption be a “priestly act” through God’s permission, as Karl Barth puts it.
This week we will cover the first half of the final chapter of Christopher Southgate’s “The Groaning of Creation.”
Please answer one of the following questions:
- In Section 7.2, what do you make of Andrew Linzey’s stance on a “priestly ministry or redemption” and its relationship with Romans 8:19-21? Do you think that his view of the Fall weakens his position on “eschatological vegetarianism”? Do you believe that vegetarianism was God’s original for creation all along? Why or why not?
- In Section 7.2, do you believe, as Andrew Linzey does, that predation is an “unnatural” evil? Do you believe that predation will be taken away somehow in the future, that “it is possible and credible to believe that by the power of the Spirit new ways of living without violence can be opened for us”? Or will it remain the same for the rest of creation’s existence? If we stop eating meat would we “witness… a higher order of existence, implicit in the Logos, which is struggling to be born in us. By going to go the way of our ‘natural order,’… by standing against the order of unredeemed nature, we become signs of the order of existence for which all creatures long”? Do you agree with this statement? Explain your reasons.
- In Section 7.2, consider Karl Barth’s view of the killing of an animal as a “priestly act of eschatological character.” Do you side more with Barth or more with Andrew Linzey’s position? Do you agree with Barth that there is such a thing as a “good hunter, honourable butcher and conscientious vivisectionist?” Why or why not? Which view aligns most closely, if at all, to Romans 8? Do you agree that our treatment of animals (particularly those on farms) for mainly consumption is an ethical, moral, or even spiritual problem? Why or why not?
- In Section 7.2, is it possible to be in an “I-Thou relationship” with a farm animal (in particular those that are bred for consumption) as one would with a pet cat or dog? Or are these relationships fundamentally different? What is an “I-Ens” relationship and what does it entail? Is it possible to have a servant relationship with animals that one intends to kill?
- In Section 7.2, do you agree with Southgate when he states that “if every animal that is born is loved, cherished, and suffered with God-and given by God, in this life or the next, full opportunity for flourishing-then human breeding and rearing of animals can be seen in a more definitely positive light”? However, if there is no redeeming afterlife for animals, would it have been better for them not to have existed and suffered? Or is there some intrinsic worth and meaning to their lives and existence, no matter how short and unfulfilled its existence may have been?
- In Section 7.2, do you agree with Southgate’s interpretation of Acts 15:29 in regards to Gentile Christians avoiding food sacrificed to idols, strangled animals, and blood? Could that interpretation be applied today in people’s mass commercial consumption of meat and poultry (and even fish)? Or does it apply to animals that have been slaughtered humanely? Or is vegetarianism the only real eschatological and redemptive means for aligning with God’s ultimate intentions?
- In Section 7.3, Southgate introduces theological argument against the eating of meat by appealing to God’s sense of justice in that “the keeping of animals for meat deprives humans and wild animals of supplies of fresh water” and other environmental concerns, such as meat production’s carbon footprint and contribution to global warming. Consider all the economic and environmental impact meat production involves, is this a compelling argument for reducing the consumption of meat in order to heal the world? Has all this injustice happened because we commodify animals? Does our inhumane treatment of animals for food display how far removed we have become from God’s image and as stewards of creation? Why or why not?
We will go over our responses this Sunday.