In Which We Talk Some More about the Apocalypse and Veganism

John: Because of my verbosity, allow me to interact with your comments in a new post (If you are new to this discussion, the original post and comments may be found here).

1. Heaven’s Already Here: Admittedly, I stated this poorly (the need for clarity was trumped by my desire to reference an early nineties pop song). The assumption was more that the new heavens and new earth are here, being sanctified and purified along with the Church (this is where Josh’s article at The Cedar Room comes into play). I did not intend to say that Heaven is a template for the New Jerusalem.

2. The dominion mandate is a means (through grace) of sanctification: This is related to the first point. The world is cursed, and the world is being sanctified. That certainly includes us humans and our personal sanctification and the Church’s corporate sanctification. But it also includes the rest of Creation. Taking dominion does not mean that all non-human creation is a great big ball of resources. Taking dominion is sanctification. Sometimes this means breaking things down to build them up aright (particularly after the curse). Pruning looks like violence, but it is actually nurture. However, cutting down a healthy tree just because you have the authority to, is not taking dominion: it is abuse of authority, and indeed accomplishing just the opposite of taking dominion. There are of course other factors involved here as well, but equating “taking dominion” merely with the power or ‘permission’ to ‘use’ creation is to denature and ultimately destroy the sanctifying purpose of the dominion mandate.

This “creation as mere resource” approach is what I was attacking with my Prince Albert reference.
A good part of your comment was about establishing permission to eat animals. I’m with you 100% here. However, having permission is not the same thing as having achieved the goal. My question was more about where we should be heading in terms of sanctification.

3. In Glory, the Lion will lie down with the lamb…tigers will eat grass…etc.: If I remember correctly (sorry, I don’t have a Bible on me at the moment), that section ends with something like “they shall not kill in all my holy mountain”. That seems clear enough. Death is the enemy, not just for us, but for all of Creation (I suppose that could be a point of debate).
Peter’s dream about animals had to do with gentiles in the covenant. However, the metaphor means what it means because in some sense it is true in itself. In this case, I’m with you that this dream also meant that those in covenant with God could now eat that which had previously been declared unclean. The type changed because the nature of the archtype had changed.
If the statements about not killing in the New Earth are litteral (and I think we must see it that way, otherwise the metaphor makes no sense), then the implications for what we eat are quite obvious. Unless they get that meat tree thing working.

I agree with you, I think I may miss steak. But I also think I may miss sex with my wife. This is a longing for the shadows and types, which is understandable since the archtype is not yet. We will not be married or given in marriage in Glory, not because marriage will disappear, but because it will be fulfilled. My marriage to my wife is a type and shadow of our corporate marriage to the Christ. How does this work practically for my libido? No idea. But I have faith that the fulfillment will be apparent.

Will they kill in all His holy mountain? Certainly not. What I’m wondering is: Do we wait for the resurrection of the dead for this change, or should it be part of the sanctification of the creation that we are to be about now?
The argument could be made that, while we have not come to our wedding day with Christ (and so I should keep sleeping with my wife), Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice has already been made, and thus the sacrificial imagery of killing and eating animals has been fulfilled.

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11 comments on “In Which We Talk Some More about the Apocalypse and Veganism

  1. maybe edit the tentative thesis to “the church should be pursuing vegetarianism.

  2. Nathan Northup says:

    It should be noted that when God wanted to make the point that the New Covenant included Gentiles as well as Jews, he told the Apostle Peter to eat meat.

    We might also want to observe that while under the Old Covenant God ate the sacrifices of bull, goats, and sheep along with his bread and wine, Peter Leithart has poignantly commented that with the New Covenant God has included seafood to his menu. (“A House for My Name”)

  3. Nathan Northup says:

    I offered the last comments not for the sake of dropping information onto the table, but to toss these components into the mix along with your ideas Ben about the direction in which the NT points us.

    I appreciate the notion of taking steps in the direction to where we want to eventually end up. Along these lines, do you think that the NT portrays the wedding banquet of the Lamb as a table liken to the menu of Daniel and his pals while they were in exile?

  4. Nathan Northup says:

    Regarding the “no marrying and given in marriage” in the resurrection, I often wonder, and I confess, hope, that the meaning of this is not that the union established on earth is eradicated, but that in the resurrection there is no longer people who will be getting married. (I will grant right now that my hope is probably just immature dreaming.)

    While I understand that the context in which Jesus gave us these lines had to do with a fairly unfortunate hypothetical woman, the point that the Saducees were trying to make was that the resurrection is absurd. Why do we think that Jesus answered these fools straight forward? Wouldn’t it fit his character to answer them according to their folly and not answer their question directly?

    Saducees: 7 men and 1 woman. Whose wife will she be in your false dream of a resurrection?

    Jesus: Fools. In the resurrection there will no longer be any more weddings.

    Saducees: That does not answer our question.

    Jesus: Sure it does. Of course there is a resurrection.

  5. nathan,

    an inability to conceive of a rich banquet without meat (though to me a powerful argument) does not mean that this will always be the case as we are further sanctified.
    i suppose the argument could be made that the blessing of a broader menu was/is appropriate for where we were then and, perhaps, where we are now. the question is, ought that to always be the case? or can one argue that our working out the sanctification of the world ought to involve moving away from killing animals? i’m going to go read the creation account in genesis again. see where i’m at.

    your last point is just plain weird. which is not an argument against its validity.

    blessings,

  6. john,

    re-reading through your comments on the original post, it seems that a point of argument might be whether God’s actions (killing animals, for instance) are examples of eternal and timeless principles or not. though not an argument one way or the other for a progression away from eating animals, i would want to argue that God’s actions and statements are often not embodiments of timeless truths. set me straight.

  7. Kelly says:

    Popped over here from Valerie’s blog, and just thought I might add a bit for you to think about.

    I haven’t read enough of your blog yet to know whether you have any experience raising animals for food, but this is something my family is beginning to do. We started with dairy goats because we wanted raw milk, which is illegal to sell in Virginia, and our property is too small to support a cow. After that we added hens for the eggs, and then we added several chickens that were bred especially for meat.

    All this has happened just over the last year and we’ve learned a few things, primarily that we don’t intend to raise animals strictly for meat any more, as we did with the one batch of meat chickens. Instead, we intend to go back to the older, traditional way of raising animals for eggs and dairy and only eating meat as a sideline to that.

    One reason for this is that we’ve found that as we’re eating healthier, more nutrient-dense foods, we don’t actually need as much meat as we used to in order to feel satisfied. But more important than that is stewardship. When you’re raising animals for milk, butter, cheese, eggs, etc, you will have animals that you need to cull from your flocks and herds for various reasons. Traditionally, these are the animals that wind up on the family’s dinner table. Also, when you’re making butter, you end up with a lot of skim milk that is only fit for fattening hogs, in my NSHO (we only drink whole milk – it’s so much healthier than skim, contrary to popular information).

    Of course, rather than an argument for a modified, hugely scaled back meat-eating diet, it may serve to promote veganism, but golly, I love our animals, and if people ever quit raising chickens for eggs they’ll die off the face of the planet since they’re too dang stupid to take care of themselves, bless their little hearts.

    :-p

  8. kelly,

    i’ve not had the pleasure of raising animals for food although, growing up in idaho, i have had plenty of friends, family, and neighbors who did (and thus first hand experience with that delightfully dimwitted creature, the Escaped Chicken).

    i like what you said about eating the culls rather than raising animals specifically for meat, which is certainly a good step in developing our stewardship and care for the creation.

    what i’m wondering is, what should the end result of sanctifying the creation look like? i’m all for taking generations to get to the end result rather than demanding theoretical ‘perfection’ now, but i’d like to know where we’re going. or at least talk about some of the possibilities. having a target to work toward and so forth. thanks for stopping by.

    blessings,

  9. P.S. –

    i’m with you on whole milk. and while i’m a big fan of pasteurization, particularly on large dairy farms, i don’t understand the appeal of homoginization. that’s gross. is it just for marketing, or is there some pseudo-health concern motivating the practice? does any commercial company make unhomoginized milk?

  10. Kelly says:

    On homogenization, my understanding is that it’s just efficiency – the milk zings through the tubes of the milking machines so rapidly that it homogenizes it – IOW it’s not a separate process. That info may be obsolete though – it’s what I was told back in the 80s about the early mega-commercial dairies, which I don’t think should exist in the first place and then we wouldn’t need pasteurization – but that an issue for another day, I guess. ;-)

    There’s a grocery over in Maryland that sells lots of local produce, and they carry about three brands of pasteurized, unhomogenized milk from smaller, local dairies. You could probably ask your local health food store if they know of a brand.

    Waitaminnit! You are in Maryland, aren’t you? Lessee, the three brands are Rocky Creek Creamery, Shenville Creamery, and South Mountain Creamery. The store we got them from was somewhere this side of Waldorf (we live just off 301 about three miles from the Potomac River bridge), but I don’t remember where now – I’ll ask Mike when he gets home tonight.

    RE: sanctification and what we’re aiming for – I’ve honestly never thought about it exactly like that before, even though our move to a more agrarian lifestyle is very intentional – we’re trying to be better stewards ourselves and felt that this was the only way we could do what we thought we ought to be doing.

    But we’ve assumed that animals will always be a part of our stewardship, whether for food or for labor – we’ve just never been into pets, really. We do have a cat, but she’s to keep the mice at bay. We hope to have a dog, to keep the foxes out of the henhouse (which happened just a month or so ago, devastating our flock). My hubby would love to have a mule or a horse to plow with, but in the meantime, we have a wether (a castrated goat) that my oldest son has been training for draught, and is able to haul water to the pasture for us.

    ISTM that if you’re going to domesticate animals at all you’re going to have both culls, and castrated males – something that I don’t think is quite in the spirit of the Resurrection.

    I’m just thinking out loud here. Honestly, before reading this post I never thought much about working towards Heaven here on earth in quite the way you’re talking about. It’s been very good to think about and I thank you for your posts – and Valerie for linking you!

  11. […] Rights v. Duties II Apocalypse and Veganism I Apocalypse and Veganism II Veganism and the Fulfilling Lives of Chickens Veganism and the Fulfilling Lives of Cows I Veganism […]

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