Many people, animal welfarists particularly, have turned away from Christian churches, because they believe them to be insensitive to the needs of Creation. In Christ all things are created and in Him all things are to be redeemed, but humankind, in its fallenness, has abnegated its God-given responsibility for a loving care of Creation and has instead instituted a self-centred tyranny. Thus animals suffer such legal abuses as factory farming, vivisection, bloodsports fur/skin trading, etc. As these abuses have escalated in recent decades, the churches have remained largely silent. They have indeed failed to address Creation issues, though this situation is now changing and individual Christians are at last recognising the responsibilities of stewardship which we must bear.
Not only do Christian animal welfarists have a responsibility to care and advocate for animals, but we also have a responsibility to help restore lapsed Christians to Christ and to help reach secular animal welfarists with the Gospel. In so doing, we are often challenged on our beliefs on various biblical issues, such as Creation, the Tree of Knowledge, the Predatory World, On Vegetarianism, Animal Souls, Redemption etc. What follows are a few of my own thoughts on these issues, which I hope may be of some help.
Although I must confess to inadequacy on the subject of Creation, I don’t believe that anybody knows what they are and the precise details don’t worry me too much. Scientists and archaeologists speak confidently, but on the subject of evolution, Julian Huxley, the famous evolutionist, said of his own accepted theory, “No one would bet on anything so improbably happening”. Again on the subject, it is claimed that Sir Arthur Keith, anatomist and anthropologist, once said, “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is Special Creation, and that is unthinkable”.
Special Creation is exactly what Genesis 1 tells us about and, whether we view the Biblical account literally or metaphorically, I am prepared to accept this as the truth. This account is in accord with my own beliefs about the loving nature of God and the fallenness of Creation. In a dark and predatory world, the writer of Genesis had the extra-ordinary and divine insight to see that the Creator of this same dark world is Love, but that His Creation is marred by an evil influence alien to His purpose.
In her article, ‘Through The Cross To The New Creation’ from my book, ‘Animal Welfare: Through The Cross’, May Tripp writes,
“One of the most popular of the ubiquitous detractions of Christ which abound in the media today is that which seeks to discount the first ten chapters of Genesis. Whilst this, at first glance, looks to be fairly harmless and fits very neatly into an acceptance of Darwin’s theory of Evolution, a closer examination will note that, by throwing out these early chapters of Genesis, the concept of the Fall has been successfully removed. The logical extension of this removal has then taken away our need of redemption, our need of a saviour – our need of the Cross. Not only have the early chapters of Genesis, the concept of our separation from God and the concept of the Fall, been removed, but most of the Truth of the Gospel has been negated. The Cross has then become an unhappy failure instead of the sacrifice which has reconciled us to God, our Father in heaven.”
I tend to favour The Gap/Restoration Theory interpretation of the Genesis narrative, which suggests that there are two Creation events in Genesis 1. The first is described in a one-sentence statement at Genesis 1v1 and occurred billions of years ago, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. The second occurred relatively recently and was accomplished in 7 days, and very detailed, beginning at Genesis 1v3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light”. This is why the Bible at Genesis 2 v 4 says, “These are the generations (plural) of the heavens and of the earth when they were created”. And this could possibly account for the dinosaurs and the Ice Age.
Kathy Dunn, writes in her blog post, ‘Calling All Christians’,
“There is a theological perspective (a Warfare Worldview perspective and Gap/Restoration Theory) that argues the world is older (as science denotes) than the original translations of Biblical text understood: God restored the earth just prior to our (animals and mankind’s) Creation; mankind was created and given the job in the Garden of Eden of ‘guarding and protecting’ the Creation from the evil that had previously ravaged this world. If these theories are correct, in re-reading Genesis, we get a new perspective, which adds continuity to much of the rest of scripture and also unfolds for us a new understanding of some difficult scripture. It especially sheds light on what was and is supposed to be our role as overseers of the earth and animal kingdom. We were created in our good God’s Image as co-workers with Him (1 Corinthians 3 v 9) over evil, to ‘rule and subdue’ evil (Genesis 1 v 28).
Ultimately I think, as Greg Boyd says, whether you believe in the Young Earth Theory; or in Evolution; or in some other view; the important thing that we all can agree on is simply the fact THAT God created the world and all life – not HOW He did so.
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