Christianity and the Rights of Animals

Wipf and Stock Publishers
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Christian concern about how we treat animals has increased strikingly in recent years. More and more Christians are deciding that our attitudes toward animals must change. Here is a book that presents, for the first time, a comprehensive and well-argued theological case for the rights of animals, and offers a challenging critique of our existing insensitivity toward animal life. Everyone who cares about the rights of animals, particularly clergy and ministers who are constantly being asked for answers on the issue, will welcome this new and important book.
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About the author

Andrew Linzey has been described as "the greatest living writer on theology and animals" by Bishop John Austin Baker. He is the director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and a member of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oxford. He has written or edited more than twenty books, including Animal Theology, Creatures of the Same God, and Why Animal Suffering Matters. He is also the author of Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care and the coeditor of Animals and Christianity: A Book of Readings, both published by Wipf and Stock.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Wipf and Stock Publishers
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Published on
Mar 3, 2016
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Pages
220
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ISBN
9781498291958
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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For centuries Christians believed that God granted humanity dominion over the animal kingdom, meaning that we had a moral right to kill, manage, and eat animals including wildlife. Recently, however, environmental and animal rights activists have assaulted this traditional perspective. They argue that dominion as expressed in meat eating and hunting has resulted in species extinction and environmental degradation. Christian Animal Rights (CAR) activists suggest that the church must reevaluate its traditional beliefs in light of the fact that God's original creation was free of human on animal violence. God, they argue, did not want man's dominion to be expressed through trapping, killing, and eating of animals. These violent activities only came about after the Fall, as God condescended to our hardness of heart. CAR activists point to Christ's sacrificial work of reconciliation as a model for modern Christian behavior: as Christ sacrificed for us, we should avoid eating meat and hunting as ways we can participate in Christ's non-violent work of reconciling creation to himself. In this book, Stephen Vantassel investigates the biblical, ethical, and scientific arguments employed by the CAR movement concerning human-wildlife relations. In this regard, the book engages in practical theology by addressing several important questions: How should Christians treat our wildlife neighbors? Has the Church been wrong in its understanding of human dominion? Does God want Christians to avoid hunting, trapping, fishing, and adopt a vegetarian lifestyle? This book provides answers to these questions by detailing a theology the author calls, Shepherdism.
"I don't know why you're spending all your time on this. They're only animals--for heaven's sake " That was the reaction of one of Andrew Linzey's fellow students at King's College, London, when he was studying theology in the 1970s. Since then, the now Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey has been arguing that animals aren't only anything, but rather that they matter to God, and should do so to us.

In this collection of essays, Linzey counters with his customary wit, erudition, and insight, some contemporary (and perhaps surprising) challenges to animal rights--from ecotheologians, the Church, and politicians. He contends that far from the sometimes shallow judgments of those who think animals unworthy of theological consideration, the Christian tradition has a wellspring of sources and resources available to taking animals seriously. Instead of being marginal to the Christian experience, Linzey concludes, animals can take their rightful place alongside human beings as creatures of the same God.
There is a long forgotten spiritual tradition that two children, both named Jesus, were born in Bethlehem to two sets of parents named Joseph and Mary. This tradition is supported by the different accounts of the nativity and life of Jesus Christ in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Although the Church chose to ignore this tradition, something of it survived in early Christian art and symbolism. The full tradition was preserved only in the literature of esoteric sects such as Gnosticism, which remained outside the official teachings of institutionalized Christianity.

How we treat animals arouses strong emotions. Many people are repulsed by photographs of cruelty to animals and respond passionately to how we make animals suffer for food, commerce, and sport. But is this, as some argue, a purely emotional issue? Are there really no rational grounds for opposing our current treatment of animals? In Why Animal Suffering Matters, Andrew Linzey argues that when analyzed impartially the rational case for extending moral solicitude to all sentient beings is much stronger than many suppose. Indeed, Linzey shows that many of the justifications for inflicting animal suffering in fact provide grounds for protecting them. Because animals, the argument goes, lack reason or souls or language, harming them is not an offense. Linzey suggests that just the opposite is true, that the inability of animals to give or withhold consent, their inability to represent their interests, their moral innocence, and their relative defenselessness all compel us not to harm them. Andrew Linzey further shows that the arguments in favor of three controversial practices--hunting with dogs, fur farming, and commercial sealing--cannot withstand rational critique. He considers the economic, legal, and political issues surrounding each of these practices, appealing not to our emotions but to our reason, and shows that they are rationally unsupportable and morally repugnant. In this superbly argued and deeply engaging book, Linzey pioneers a new theory about why animal suffering matters, maintaining that sentient animals, like infants and young children, should be accorded a special moral status.
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