In Which We Wonder about the Relationship between the Apocalypse and Veganism

Buddha posted a great little think at The Cedar Room today entitled “We Are Already There…(etc.).” All good stuff. Take a minute to read it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we are to care for the Creation lately, both flora and fauna. I have a few disparate thoughts banging around in my head, and I’m wondering: Are there any Scriptural arguments against Veganism (or at the very least, vegetarianism)? While I find most secularist arguments (ok, all) in favor of veganism to be arbitrary and absurd, most conservative Christian arguments against veganism/vegetarianism sound like arrogant reactionary bluster plagiarized from Rush Limbaugh or maybe Prince Albert’s speech at England’s 1851 Great Exhibition.

The argument goes a little something like:

3:05…Restate my assumptions:

– Heaven’s already here.

– The Dominion mandate is a means (through grace) of sanctification.

– In Glory, the Lion will lie down with the lamb, kids will play with cobra’s, tigers will eat grass, etc.
Implication: We won’t be eating steaks.

– Add to this John and Nathan’s comments here (particularly the bit about the Wolf of Gubbio) and…

Ergo:

The Church ought to be moving in the direction of Veganism.

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12 comments on “In Which We Wonder about the Relationship between the Apocalypse and Veganism

  1. “And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'” (Acts 10:13)

    “Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.” (John 21:11)

    “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake….” (1 Corinthians 10:25)

    If veganism is the diet of the new creation, then I think we’re going to have to wait ’til the current creation passes away before we start fiddling with the freedom to eat God’s good gift of meat.

  2. All well and good. However, sanctification happens over time, and that’s not a function of us being slow to get in line with the Platonic Truths.
    I don’t think proof-texts that mention the good guys eating meat is where the fight is.

    Consider assumptions one and two (and really, read Nathan’s thing on the Wolf of Gubbio: It’s too weird).

    Maybe the nature of sacrifice is relevant here.

    blessings,

  3. Abra — I’ll start slipping you clandestine pork chops if Ben goes too far with this! ;-)

    Ben — I don’t understand about sanctification and Platonic Truths (prolly ‘cuz I don’t know what you mean by Platonic Truths…always feel free to assume ignorance on my part!). Could you ‘splain me better?

    I did read the wolf of Gubbio thing (though not all of John’s and Nathan’s comments). Yep, it’s weird. A lot of stories about St. Francis’s life are weird. So weird I don’t necessarily believe them, and wouldn’t base my faith and practice on them. Jesus’s life, however, is the one I want to model mine on.

    I didn’t mean to just prooftext, but to sketch life in the New Covenant. Eating meat is good and pure and joyful and yummy. I can’t see that changing without some further revelation, which I think will have to wait for the new creation.

  4. John says:

    I’m not sure I grant any of that argument, Ben.

    Heaven’s already here. Not sure what this means. You mean the place? In Heaven, people may not eat (no bodies) or they may eat manna (angels’ food), but there are no animals in heaven right now.

    But though heaven is a blueprint for earth, I doubt it’s a blueprint in this regard, unless the New Heavens and the New Earth will contain no animals (like heaven right now), which I don’t grant on the basis that God likes animals and intended the earth, but not heaven, to have animals.

    The Dominion mandate is a means (through grace) of sanctification. You’ll have to unpack the implications of this for me further. I take the dominion mandate to include the permission to kill and eat animals, but whether that’s permament the dominion mandate doesn’t say.

    When did killing and eating animals start? It sounds as if it started for men in Genesis 9, though some argue that that’s just a response to the temporary situation in the ark when Noah wasn’t permitted to kill and eat animals.

    Certainly God (sinlessly) kills animals to get skins for Adam and Woman, later named Eve. Abel offers sacrifices, which are food for God, so even if man isn’t eating animals at this time, God is.

    Cornelis VanderWaal argues that you don’t offer things as food to God that you don’t eat yourself, and so it’s likely that Abel was eating animals by this time.

    He also points out that the dominion mandate in Psalm 8 must necessarily include killing and eating animals (since that’s part of how we have dominion today), but it’s also providing an exegesis on the dominion mandate in Genesis 1, which suggests that dominion back then including permission to kill and eat animals.

    I’m not dogmatic, but I’m open to that idea. I have no problem with animal death before the Fall, and therefore I have no problem with animal death in the new earth.

    In Glory, the Lion will lie down with the lamb, kids will play with cobra’s, tigers will eat grass, etc. I suspect that this isn’t the new earth after the final resurrection, but rather the new earth we’re living in right now. I don’t know if these descriptions are literal or just symbolic. Even if they are literal, I’m not sure what the implications are for man’s eating.

    Implication: We won’t be eating steaks. Well, I sure hope you’re wrong. God created cows to have meat that tastes good. He created chickens to taste good. That’s part of His purpose in creation.

    And he tells us in Paul’s letter to Timothy that all creatures (and given the context, I suspect meat is particularly what’s in mind) may be eaten and are not to be rejected if they’re received with thanksgiving.

    In the new earth, when we finally get our bodies back, I hope someone can fire up the barbecue and put some steaks on.

    But even if we can’t, that doesn’t mean we should stop eating meat now. After all, there’s no marrying and giving in marriage in the resurrection. But that doesn’t imply that we shouldn’t be marrying and giving in marriage now.

  5. Hey…maybe in the new earth we’ll have meat trees!

    Or maybe not. ;-)

  6. I think I speak for everyone when I say: rad.

  7. Not for me. I’m far too old to use the word “rad”! ;-)

  8. Valerie: You’re never too old to say ‘rad’.

  9. Valerie,

    On the Platonic Truths bit: My point was that historical instances of ‘good guys’ doing something (and even being praised for it/ required to do it) doesn’t mean that that action or the principle behind it now constitutes a Static Truth for All Eternity.

    On the Wolf of Gubbio bit: First of all, as you know from reading your Bible, weird does not make something less likely to be true. However, the historicity of the account wasn’t so much what I was after. The idea of sanctifying the animals was. Couple this with what Lewis said about animals (I think John commented something about that in the same thread) and you have my point on that score.

    On pork chops: Abra doesn’t like ’em, for what it’s worth. Slip her a shrimp cocktail if you really want to undermine my headship ;) (le snap).

    Thanks for your comments on this, by the way (and the meat-tree link). I find the subject fascinating, and I appreciate the feedback. Cheers.

    in Him,

    Ben

  10. I enjoyed the exchange, too. Such things quickly get too far over my head, but that’s why we keep John around…to rush in where we lesser mortals are to dumb to tread.

    Shrimp cocktail. Got it. Good thing, ‘cuz I probably couldn’t cook an edible pork chop if my life depended on it.

    See you Sunday, D.v. (Sorry we missed you last week, since one of the readings was all about your blog. But maybe you caught the Gilgal passage where you worshipped.)

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