A Biblical Assessment of Andrew Linzey’s View of Animal Rights -- By: Stephen Vantassel

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 12:1 (Summer 2003)
Article: A Biblical Assessment of Andrew Linzey’s View of Animal Rights
Author: Stephen Vantassel


A Biblical Assessment of Andrew Linzey’s View of Animal Rights

Stephen Vantassel a

Introduction

Since Peter Singer’s landmark work Animal Liberation was published in 1976, the issue of humanity’s moral relationship to animals has become a hot topic.1 Not surprisingly, Christians have begun to re-consider the issue of animal rights.2 Christian Vegetarians, as they call themselves, have begun to proclaim their “humane” lifestyle as a logical extension of the redemption found in Christ. In light of the trends, I believe it is now necessary for the Church to investigate again what Holy Writ has to say about humanity’s relationship to animals as it compares with so called Christian Vegetarians and Christian Animal Rights Activists.

Permit me to define some terms. Animal Rights is the belief that animals as individuals have the same rights—or at least similar rights—as those believed to belong to humans. These rights would include the right to life, liberty, and the freedom to live their lives undisturbed by humans. This belief is in contrast to the doctrine of animal welfare which states that humans can eat, hunt, trap, fish, and ranch animals as long as the animals are treated responsibly. Vegetarians are people who refuse to eat animal flesh, but will eat and wear animal

products such as cheese, milk, and wool that don’t require the death of the animal. Vegans, however, refuse to eat or wear any product developed directly or indirectly from animals, including products tested on animals. Christian Vegetarians, despite some variety, believe that the Christian principle of godly stewardship strongly supports, if not requires, the adoption of a vegetarian lifestyle. They believe vegetarianism fulfills God’s will for humanity’s stewardship in four essential ways. (1) First, they argue that vegetarianism was God’s original plan in creation. (2) Second, vegetarianism, by reducing animal death, model’s Christ’s compassion for creation. (3) Third, vegetarianism exemplifies godly stewardship of the earth by living more simply, in that vegetarians consume fewer resources. (4) Finally, vegetarianism manifests better individual stewardship in that vegetarianism is a healthier lifestyle. 3

As you can see, the topic of Christian vegetarianism is varied and requires an assessment from both a theological and scientific standpoint.4 I should point out that the connections between veget...

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