Click here to watch ‘Mercifully Eating’ featuring pastor Greg Boyd:
Why pastor/author Greg Boyd became a vegetarian…
Blog post 1:
“I often get asked why I became and remain a vegetarian, so in the next couple of blogs I’m going to explain myself. My goal is not to convert anyone to vegetarianism. In the New Testament this is considered a personal decision that cannot be made into a doctrine (Rom 14:6). At the same time, I hope my reflections are a catalyst for thought on our call as Kingdom people and our responsibility to animals. . . My pledge not to harm creatures raised their value in my mind and this in turn allowed me to see their intrinsic value. Animals are not just food, and insects are not just inconveniences. They are works of art by the eternal Creator and they have their own intrinsic, sacred worth. But I couldn’t see this worth very clearly when I thought of them primarily as food and inconveniences. Becoming a vegetarian and committing to complete non-violence has significantly deepened my capacity to experience the sacred beauty of God’s creation. This experience brings with it a new dimension of delight and joy over creation.”
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Blog post 2:
“Scripture teaches that God originally gave vegetation and fruit to “everything that has the breath of life in it” – including humans, “the beasts of the earth,” the “birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground” (Gen 1:29-30). People often fail to notice that the only food God originally intended humans and all other creatures to eat was vegetation. The fact that humans now eat animals and many animals eat each other was not part of God’s original plan for creation. It’s rather the result of the fall.
This is confirmed when we compare God’s post-flood covenant with Noah with the Genesis 1 creation account. To Noah and his sons the Lord says:
Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it (Gen. 9: 1-4).
The command to Noah is very close to the command given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1. But now the animal kingdom has “fear and dread” towards humans and humans are for the first time allowed to eat animals instead of “green plants” alone. This implies that the fear, dread and violence that presently permeates creation was not part of the original creation that God pronounced “good” (Gen 1:31).
What also confirms this perspective is that when the Kingdom comes in fullness at the end of the age, God’s original vision for a non-violent creation will be restored. In that day, Isaiah says,
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Infants will play near the hole of the cobra; young children will put their hands into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:6-9).
Along the same lines, Hosea paints a picture of a future era when God will make a covenant of non-violence that includes the animal Kingdom:
In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety (Hosea 2:18)
There was no violence in the beginning and there will be no violence in the end. There is violence now only because humans, the landlords of the earth, rebelled against God and allowed the Powers of evil to corrupt the creation.
Now, the most fundamental job of followers of Jesus is to manifest the reign of God. I take this to mean that we’re called to put on display now what the world will look like when God fully reigns over it in the future. In theological terms we’re to be “the eschatological community.””
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Blog post 3:
“One of the clearest signs of the dignity and value God ascribes to animals is that he sometimes makes covenants with them. When God forged a new covenant with Noah after the flood, for example, he included animals. The Lord said the rainbow was “the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you [Noah] and every living creature with you…” (Gen. 9:12, cf. 16-17, emphasis added). So too, as we saw in the last blog, the covenant of non-violence God says he’ll make in the coming Kingdom epoch includes the animal kingdom (Hos. 2:18).
Now, the final act of creation, according to the Genesis narrative, was the creation of humans who were created to be God’s co-workers (I Cor 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1) and co-rulers (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10) carrying out his will “on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). Our original mandate in the Bible centered on carrying out God’s loving dominion over the earth and the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:26-28; Psl. 8:4-8). We are entrusted and commissioned to reflect God’s care for animals by how we ourselves care for them.
This original commission was never retracted by God. Carrying for animals is still one of our most fundamental benchmarks for how we’re doing as a species. And by that benchmark, I think it’s obvious we’re failing pretty miserably.”
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“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” – Pythagoras (6th century BC)
“A society’s moral progress is best judged by its treatment of animals.” – Gandhi
“The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but, ‘Can they suffer?’” – Jeremy Bentham
“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.” – Leo Tolstoy
“The righteous care for the needs of their animals..” – Prov. 12:10