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Creation Matters: Image That

• Greg Boyd

What does it mean to be “made in the image of God?” Most people think it’s some unique attribute of being human – like our ability to speak, or to love. And while that may be part of the picture, there is much more to it. The living God breathed his life into us, brought us into his temple, and invited us to rule and reign with him by being living examples of his character and love to all creation!

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In ancient near-east culture, the phrase “made in the image of” was not uncommon. Often it was applied to statues of their gods. When these statues were made, the sculptor was to let the gods work through them to sculpt some attribute of a god. Then there was a “mouth-washing” ceremony, which often happened in temples that faced east or in gardens or rivers, in which the spirit of that god was “breathed into” the mouth of the statue. From that point on they believed that the god inhabited that statue, so the people would “feed” the god through rituals and ceremonies, and the god would then hopefully take care of the people. These statues were said to be “made in the image of” their gods.

So are we supposed to be statues of God?! Actually, in a manner of speaking, yes! The author of Genesis 1 describes God speaking everything into existence – except humans, who he came down and formed out of the earth. Then the text says he “breathed” his spirit into us, and put us in a garden with rivers in the east. This would have communicated to the ancients that God was saying, “this is my temple – I’m present here, and I created you to inhabit you.” It was a big twist on their understanding of “being made in the image of” – God sculpting and inhabiting us instead of the other way around!

But more than that, God is a “living God” – an intentionally redundant phrase that communicates that we are not just lifeless statues when he inhabits us. This is a very important aspect of being made in the image of God – we have a God who lives and moves, and we are to do the same! A living God needs a living representation of him, and we are to mirror his capacity for life, love, faithfulness, passion, etc. As Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive”, and now is the time to be fully alive! This is the time to manifest God’s character, to care for the poor, to serve – to image the God who is living and fully invested in his creation!

The second way the phrase “in the image of” was commonly used was in describing kings and pharaohs, who were believed to be inhabited by gods. This is why people bowed down and worshiped them – not because of their political power… Thus, being “in the image of” was THE highest title that could be bestowed in ancient times, and the Genesis account ascribes that title to ALL human beings! We are to be kings and queens in God’s temple, ruling and reigning over all by reflecting his image – his love and character – to all creation!

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Topics: Calling, Creation, God's Will

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Focus Scripture:

  • Genesis 1:26-31

    26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

    27 So God created human beings in his own image.

    In the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

    28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

    29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

    31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

    And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

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37 thoughts on “Creation Matters: Image That

  1. David says:

    “We are either training folks for reigning. Or we are relinquishing our inheritance of the earth and the fullness thereof to a defeated devil. We are called to disciple nations not prepare for evacuation. The abundance of grace has been given to us to reign in life. Let us be about the business of advancing the Kingdom.”
    – Lynn Hiles (via social media)

  2. Vince says:

    Wow. That started off odd, and got worse. I’ve been listening to WH sermons for a couple of years now, and this is way off. Now we are to believe that Greg has the corner on where the creation story comes from? Using other ancient Mid East creation stories to say Genesis creation came from the other cultures? Really? Many would say the opposite is true, with the realization that there is no reason to believe that the date of writings equals the date that oral tradition began. You know, like Greg talks about when he correctly defends the accuracy of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. We see other religions, like Gnosticism, take portions of the gospel accounts and place them in their belief systems. If some of those Gnostic writings predate some of the earliest manuscripts of books in the bible, should we conclude that they are the source?
    That was okay, but then, lets see: the second part starts off okay with the “We should, as image bearers, put on display the attributes of God:
    1. Love (excellent), 2. Christ like character (wonderful), 3. Serve poor, feed hungry, clothe naked, visit prisoners (definitely)…that is the “first way”. I think he should have stopped right there…
    The second way: As image bearers we are required to recognize our responsibility to treat plants and animals in the right way: 1. Recognize that if we don’t treat the earth correctly, it’s going to backfire on us (is that just the church, or should we begin a campaign to let everyone know how important this is.) 2. Use less energy (please define further – No more a/c? No houses over ?sq. ft?, what temp do we set our thermostats on?) 3. Make sure food choices impact the earth and animal kingdom in a positive way, even if we have to pay double for our meat and vegetables. (what if that means we’ll have to reduce our support for feeding the hungry and clothing the naked? What should come first in our budget? Should we be concerned with starving animals as well?)

    This is either a real conviction, or a conviction from a person with a lot of extra cash around to do everything they want to do. I hope it’s the first thing. Either way, it doesn’t address most of the people because it doesn’t address the difficult choices and priorities between part one, which is clear in the bible, and part 2, which is far less clear.

    So Paul, who ate meat that was sacrificed to idols, without batting an eyelash, never mentioned it would be a good idea to pay more for meat. As a matter of fact, it seems the reason the meat from the idols would be his choice was because it would have been less expensive. Jesus, who most likely ate meat (I’m sure it would have been mentioned if He didn’t), lacked the conviction to mention that we should be considerate of how our meat is slaughtered in the sermon on the mount? Thanks Greg, for having the conviction that God lacked. Get real. This doesn’t look like Jesus. Jesus was concerned with people. People who were sick and He gave us the ministry of reconciliation. He did not leave us with the call to be kind to animals. He left us with many commands, and the calling to observe all of them. Where does he mention anything about caring where your food comes from? OH YEAH…in the SERMON ON THE MOUNT! He says DON’T worry about what you will eat or what you will drink! I think I’ll go with Jesus on that. I won’t worry. He is God. He makes the rules.

    Then part three (my distinction), where it really gets fun. Last year (or was it the year before), we were talking about giving up our rights for others. Being like Jesus, who did not use His position, even though He had every right to, so that we could see the love that God has for us. Greg says women and minorities should FIGHT for equality! Sorry Greg. Not looking like Jesus there. Back to the sermon on the mount for you. If someone mistreats you what should you do????? I’ll let you fill in the blank.

    FYI. I wasn’t bored with the anabaptist principles that were coming through in your teachings for a long while. I wasn’t bored with the continual focus on living a self sacrificial life with Jesus in control. What is happening brother? Go lock yourself in a room and spend some time with God. Maybe all this book stuff is messing with your head. The problem is that it messes with our heads also if you teach with a messed up head. I’ll be praying.

  3. Dan says:

    You didn’t really mean what you wrote, did you, brother Vince?
    Please tell me, you knew Greg wasn’t talking about women, minorities etc. ‘fighting’ physically.
    You don’t care about animals and plants, and you even criticise Greg for doing so? Come on, brother, read your Bible first.

  4. Dave Pritchard says:

    Vince –

    More Prautes……
    Less Tarasso……

    My Good Friend!

  5. Vince says:

    Thanks Dave. I got a little worked up there. I should form this into questions so you guys can clarify these things:

    1. Did Greg say that the Genesis creation account is likely borrowed from other creation accounts in the ancient mid east, based on age of the written texts found in that area?

    2. Did Greg say that when God “breathed into the man” that this was actually the author copying the “earlier” accounts of the neighboring cultures’ creation stories?

    3. Did Greg say that the creation account of God forming Adam and Eve is actually a retelling of the pagan “mouth washing” rituals of other ancient cultures which existed nearby?

    That’s what I heard, and the reason it bothered me is that it seemed logical at first, but upon further study, it is clear that there are more logical explanations for the similarity of the creation accounts. What bothers me even more, is that, in last week’s sermon, Greg admonished the listeners to make sure that their views on the creation account in Genesis should not be so specific as to create a barrier for someone to hear the Gospel, and that the point of the “Genesis” account is that God created, not how God created. Then this week Greg gets very specific, and quite frankly, dealt with his opinions in a way that came across as more fact based than they really were. If I let my wife, or some others I know who may not be ready for such speculation hear this, it could really bend their faith! Let’s face it, it’s not a far jump from what Greg was saying to fully discredit the entire biblical narrative. Honestly, that would be perfectly acceptable, if there wasn’t credible arguments against the speculation that the pagan creation accounts preceded the Genesis account and that those accounts are actually taken from the “Genesis” account.

    I don’t think that Greg was telling women and minorities to fight physically, Dan. Not at all. So please clarify:

    1. Did Greg tell people to fight for their rights as women and minorities in the work place? If so, how does this line up with Jesus’ teachings about persecution? How should we respond when we are persecuted? By not listening? By not allowing their rules/customs to stop us from achieving our “dreams”?

    That’s what I got out of what Greg was saying. He also said it’s our responsibility as image bearers to not be held back. I don’t think this lines up well with God’s image, because God continually takes punishment when He doesn’t deserve it, and in that way His image of power, which is self sacrificial love, shines through even to the ones (us) who were hurting him. Please help me understand how Greg’s admonition to women and minorities looks like Jesus dying on a cross for the the very people who are crucifying Him. After all, isn’t that what we are called to do also?

    I’m not sure how you decided that I don’t care about animals. So here’s the question:

    1. Did Greg say that we should only buy meat that is raised in a better environment, and killed in a way that might be considered “humane” even if it means we need to pay more for it?

    Here’s how I take that: I took an old friend out to a fast food place for a bite because he wanted to talk to me about a problem he was having. I knew this would lead to a conversation about Jesus, and so did he. I bought him lunch, and I’ll bet that meat was probably not in line with what Greg believes we should buy. Did I even consider it? Nope. I considered my friend and I wasn’t even thinking about where the meat came from. My point is that neither did Jesus, and neither did Paul. Why should I? My other concern was that how do people who can barely afford food buy even more expensive food? How do Greg’s ideas about where we buy our food play into their lives? Are they doing something contrary to God when they buy hamburger at the local market? Please explain?

    I guess that’s enough from me. I don’t even know why this is being discussed in a teaching. There are people dying. I mean REALLY dying. We are called to, on behalf of Jesus, reconcile them to God. We do this by learning to show the self sacrificial love of God that is most clearly demonstrated by Jesus dying on the cross for us. First we demonstrate that love to those around us, then to our home groups (churches), then to the world around us. How did this message further that cause in any way? Please explain, because in many ways, Greg’s teaching has solidified the fact that there is only one thing that matters, and that is the expantion of God’s Kingdom.

    Please forgive my New York way of expressing myself. I don’t mean to come across as a trouble maker, or as ungentle (yes Dave, I looked up those cool words). I just want to be a part of a movement that doesn’t get caught up in the silliness and stays focused on the truly important issue of bringing others to the knowledge of Christ.

    Love you guys.

  6. Jill says:

    The difference between animals and humans is that animals change themselves for the environment, but humans change the environment for themselves.

    Vince: Please research how animal agriculture is destroying the planet. When you research it there is so much information from many resources. This isn’t about eating meat, it’s how our selfish nature is burning up our planet, of which God wanted us to care for. I wish humans would stop worrying about their meat being taken from them and start to look at the choices we make. And for starvation: The amount of food we feed the livestock is enough to feed 10 billion people. The waste (manure) from the animals being fed this crazy amount of food is millions more tons than human waste; and this is destroying our water. This doesn’t even touch on the gases, etc. to run the factory farms or the hormones and antibiotics that are pumped into the animals to ward off diseases (of which you are consuming when you eat your meat). There are many people jumping on board to learn and educate themselves on these things. Please explain to me how this doesn’t relate to the creation God made.
    Lord, open up the eyes of your people to care for the land you created. AMEN!

  7. Jill says:

    Comment and question for Vince-

    I can’t speak for Greg, but I think having a hamburger with your friend and working on his salvation is completely fine. I think Greg is looking at the bigger picture and making Kingdom choices.

    Scenario/question 1: Let me ask you this: There are many animal welfarist/Activist that do not know the Lord. They are hard working, compassionate people who put themselves in the trenches of the goings on in the animal kingdom, and witness horrifying things. They have a hard time accepting God because they can’t believe He would allow this, and worse yet that humans turn their noses at the work they are doing, and what they stand for. If one of these activists was curious about your love for the Lord and wanted to go have lunch to talk about it, how would you handle it? Would you listen to them and what they have to say?

    Scenario/Question 2: Do you think they’ll be meat in Heaven?
    In the garden of Eden it appears that all creatures lived in harmony and food was seed, plants, etc. I feel like heaven will be the same. I can’t imagine that the slaughter and abuse of animals will be going on. In Matthew 6:10 “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” are words that should be thought of before every single choice we make. I think the more we can get used to living like we envision heaven, the more kingdom we become.

    I hope to hear from you…thank you.

  8. diana says:

    Thank you for such honest back-and-forth dialogue about Greg’s messages. It is truly refreshing that there can be ‘wrestling’ with what our faith is growing into BEing/DOing.
    What I heard from Greg is that the ancient writer of this text used the ‘context’ of the culture of that age/time to help the peoples’ of that age/time (and beyond) to relate to and understand how THE TRUE LIVING GOD of Israel is not the same as the god(s) that they were worshiping. What I also heard is that this LIVING GOD is truly interactive with HIS Creation in the present moments of life (unlike the ancient peoples’ ‘created’ gods). Next I heard that this LIVING GOD images humans uniquely to be set-apart from the rest of his Creation and He does this with/for a purpose. And my life journey challenge is to, through my daily surrender to what Christ accomplished for me on the cross, grow in my understanding and application of what this “made in the image of God’ means. And this “made in the image of God” Biblically means more than what most of us ascribe it to mean. So, I am on-goingly challenged to dig deep into God’s Word, prayerfully, with an openness to hear God’s Spirit reveal His Truth and BE changed for His Kingdom’s glory. Grateful to God that His Ways and His Thoughts are not our ways or our thoughts BUT by the power of His Spirit there is revelation.

  9. Vince says:

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for the thoughful points! Here’s my answers:

    Scenario/question 1: Let me ask you this: There are many animal welfarist/Activist that do not know the Lord. They are hard working, compassionate people who put themselves in the trenches of the goings on in the animal kingdom, and witness horrifying things. They have a hard time accepting God because they can’t believe He would allow this, and worse yet that humans turn their noses at the work they are doing, and what they stand for. If one of these activists was curious about your love for the Lord and wanted to go have lunch to talk about it, how would you handle it? Would you listen to them and what they have to say?

    My answer is YES! I would listen to them, and I’ll bet I’d learn a lot about the horrible things that they have seen, and I’m sure that would inform and influence me. They’d express their genuine concern for the earth, and I’d learn where they are coming from. I’d hope to be able to communicate to them that it’s not God’s choice that those things happen, and that God is grieving with them! I’d also want to express God’s concern for them, and what He did to make it possible for them to have a relationship with Him. Hopefully he/she would be curious and begin to consider what a relationship with Him would be like. That is the ideal context that would make me interested in spending God’s time to hear and learn about the envirnonment.

    Scenario/Question 2: Do you think they’ll be meat in Heaven?
    In the garden of Eden it appears that all creatures lived in harmony and food was seed, plants, etc. I feel like heaven will be the same. I can’t imagine that the slaughter and abuse of animals will be going on. In Matthew 6:10 “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” are words that should be thought of before every single choice we make. I think the more we can get used to living like we envision heaven, the more kingdom we become.

    That’s a tougher question: My first answer would be that it doesn’t matter to me whether there’s meat or not. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it will be like to be with Him and I’ve never thought of that before! I guess you might be right. There’s probably no meat. I’m still not as sure as you are because Jesus and Paul ate meat here, and if anyone were examples of wanting His Kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, it would have been Jesus, and even Paul.

    You know how Greg always says that we should see the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus on the cross? That the bible is not a recipe book where we can just pop open to a verse to defend our point? How about demonstrating how Jesus, or any of the New Testament authors conveyed the need to consider these issues? I’m not saying it’s not there, but I would think it would be much more prevalent if we were supposed to spend all this time on it, right?

    Jill, I’m sorry that you think I don’t care about the earth, or how animals are treated. All the animals that I come in contact with are treated very well. They are fed, loved and cared for. I don’t prioritize animals over people, however, and to be honest, I don’t even consider them equal. If I had to choose between saving a person or an animal, it would be no contest. You do make an excellent point about starvation that I’ve never thought of. If we didn’t eat meat, there would be a lot more food? That is something to really consider! It not only would save money, but it would feed those who are in need. I promise I will research that. Meanwhile, I will have to insist that we have a job, and that job is very specifically described in 2 Corinthians 5. I want to dedicate my life to that, and to teaching others that through my example. 1 person at a time. I hope you will forgive me if I’ve offended you. Greg always talks about “Minnesota nice”. New York is not such a place, and I get myself in trouble sometimes with my direct approach. I promise I’m working on it!

  10. M85 says:

    Vince, the verses “do not worry about what you eat or drink” (Matthew 6:25-34) spoken by Jesus are about provision, i.e. God will provide food and clothing for us and we should trust Him to do that. It is NOT PROMOTING INDIFFERENCE IN REGARD TO FOOD CHOICES. It is so clear from the context.

  11. M85 says:

    Vince, your words seriously grieved me…

  12. kathy d says:

    If the world were vegan, all could be fed. Check out the statistics. Instead, there are countries living in extreme poverty while the West feeds a majority of it’s grain to animals in order to eat the animals. Industrialization brought about the advent of factory farming. When Paul and Jesus walked on the earth, factory farming did not exist. Neither did fur farming as we know it today, zoos, circus, canned hunting, foie gras, and any number of industries that exploit animals, all for mankind’s insatiable taste for comforts, entertainment, and to satisfy his hunger for the hunt and to control his environment to suit his own needs. It is really unprecedented. Those living in biblical times lived very differently than we do today on the earth; it is highly unlikely they treated animals as we do today even without the industrialization. Read about Kosher laws. “Kosher” was not about a certain diet or style of cooking as it can mean today; it was about a set of standards. In those standards were strict adherence to rules of care for the animals and rules about how an animal was slaughtered. Quote: “The method of slaughter is a quick, deep stroke across the throat with a perfectly sharp blade with no nicks or unevenness. This method is painless, causes unconsciousness within two seconds, and is widely recognized as the most humane method of slaughter possible.” -Judaism 101: Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws (http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm). So we can see, God went to great length to try to protect his animal creation, since he conceded in allowing us to eat them because of the hardness of our hearts (see Gen 8 and 9).

    Jesus and Paul ate meat? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It isn’t quite clear. And it really doesn’t matter. Today’s climate is a whole lot different than that of their day. Eating meat today has consequences that would not even have been, nor could have been, thought of then. Antibiotics did not exist, nor any other number of chemicals that are fed to animals just to keep them healthy enough living in the deplorable conditions the industry keeps them in order to maximize profit, nor did the machinery exist that makes it possible to slaughter hundreds per minute (unbelievably cruel….). The population of the world then – between 800,000 and 1.4 million I think ? – a whole lot different than 7 billion and rising to 9 shortly. Check out the ‘J’ curve in regards to population.

    Jesus told us to put on love above all, to be merciful as our Father is merciful. The father’s love is indivisible. Making man in his image means were were given a grave responsibility, not a license to rule as tyrants. The point Greg is making does challenge the status quo – that tendency of mankind to place himself above all on the earth as the proud powerful tyrannical ruler. I’m sure God’s intent for us was far from the picture of what it has become. God made us and placed us in the garden to exercise power under the less powerful, to come under those that are weaker. Love (which is God) sacrifices itself for the weaker; we are called to do the same.

    We started off as vegetarians – all were, animals included. The garden of Eden is the ideal; it was the will of God expressed in how mankind would live on the earth. One day, we will “no longer hurt on his holy mountain” and the “lion shall lay with the lamb, a little child shall lead them.”

  13. Vince says:

    I agree with you Kathy. I would also like to add that if all the churches sold their property and met in houses, everyone on earth could be fed. If all the wealthy people sold their possessions, everyone on earth would be fed. If all the world’s leaders decided it was important, world hunger would cease immediately. There are many things which would end hunger, including the one you shared. As for Paul, 1 Corinthians 8:13 proves he ate meat. He also has some interesting things to say about what food we can and can’t eat. Read Romans 14.

    This is way too much about things barely related to the gospel. It is sad that animals are treated poorly. It is sadder that people around us are living without Jesus in the center of their lives. I choose to reserve my passion for people. I will continue to treat my animals with love, and hopefully others will see that and learn. I side with Paul in choosing the least expensive meat possible, so that more of the resources God has entrusted to me can be used to advance the Kingdom! Thank you everyone for your insights on animals and the environment. I wish I could see the seemingly vital role where I buy my food plays in reaching as many people with the gospel as possible, but I don’t right now. I promise I will continue to study the topic and pray that God will help me see the importance of this. Love you!

  14. Dave Pritchard says:


    I thought this might be one of those, “Grab the popcorn, sit back and watch the comments” kind’na days – Ha! Look, sometimes we all have bad hair days! [Well, not so much for me anymore] but fair enough – just pour your self a glass of Chianti and have a rethink about this. As you know, in prehistory there’s a lot of oral osmosis going on and whether one tradition borrowed or adapted from another can be speculative. Creation accounts are like recipes for chili, everyone thinks theirs is best. And like chili, some of these ideas come back on you and affect others – Ha!

    Some theologians and anthropologists are reasonably certain though that some cultural reciprocity did occur on specific levels. For example, it’s fairly accepted that the Palaeo-Hebrew alphabet was originally derived from a Proto-Sinaitic script, which later merged into a Proto-Canaanite alphabet, which then became a Phoenician variation. I’m sure a lot of argent Hebraists would disagree with this summation, but nevertheless there are obvious similarities. That fact alone says something to the exchange factor of cultural currency at the time.

    Another later example would be structural similarities between lets say the Mosaic Covenant and Hittite Suzerainty treaties, etc… I’m absolutely not discounting “Divine” intervention; that’s how God often reaches us, but this process is usually coupled with [cultural introjection] of some sort. So potentially in some ways, the “Creation story” is a “Mash-up” to put it in the modern vernacular. This is alarming yes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean its not true or ad hoc. Having a integrated “Progressive Revelation” approach to these matters does helps. At the moment I’m more of a “BioLogos Guy” but that could change – I’m open to variation on this journey and the beauty of a culminating verisimilitude in this life where really all of Nature is an incredible metaphor for the spiritual realm [and the Spiritual Warfare] in which we will fully inhabit someday upon its inversion and transformation – cant wait!

    I can’t speak for Greg, but if you were to plot his sermons on an X & Y axis and graph their linear progression, I’m pretty sure you’d find some above and some below [some to the right and some to the left] of the Christocentric median. But let’s be brutally honest though, he can be a precocious provocateur at times and pushes us to retrace our assumptions and predilections – but that’s what a good Pastor does!

    Whenever one comments on the “Vegan – Non Vegan Dialectic” it can be like lighting a fuse and running. I just think we all would benefit from reciting Romans 14:3 a few times – “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” But as Kathy d aptly points out – it may not be that simple! Is anything in this life……….?


  15. Jill says:


    Thanks for answering and your honesty. You wrote:

    I don’t prioritize animals over people, however, and to be honest, I don’t even consider them equal. If I had to choose between saving a person or an animal, it would be no contest. You do make an excellent point about starvation that I’ve never thought of. If we didn’t eat meat, there would be a lot more food?

    My response:
    I don’t think myself or activists are prioritizing animals over humans; that’s precisely it. Humans are supposed to be the animals overseer and care for them. We are failing miserably.

    Also, you wrote:

    You know how Greg always says that we should see the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus on the cross? That the bible is not a recipe book where we can just pop open to a verse to defend our point? How about demonstrating how Jesus, or any of the New Testament authors conveyed the need to consider these issues? I’m not saying it’s not there, but I would think it would be much more prevalent if we were supposed to spend all this time on it, right?

    My response:
    Our selfish greed is worse then it was and multiplied because of our population . Kathy’s comment sheds a lot of light on that. Just think of the one time Jesus got angry; it was in the temple where he overturned tables. Part of that was people exploiting animals for money. This is still true today only a billion times worse.

    I also read your response to Kathy. You wrote:

    I would also like to add that if all the churches sold their property and met in houses, everyone on earth could be fed. If all the wealthy people sold their possessions, everyone on earth would be fed. If all the world’s leaders decided it was important, world hunger would cease immediately. There are many things which would end hunger, including the one you shared.

    My response:
    You are correct in that there are many things that could end world hunger, BUT, it’s not at the expense of another “feeling being’s” life. Animals are feeling beings that don’t deserve this. Our planet is suffering the consequences of these choices, so I don’t see how you can say this is “barely” related to the gospel? How could Jesus’ example of LOVE, HOPE & COMPASSION, not include this brutality?

    I thank God there are many people waking up to this. I do think the snowball is rolling, praise God. I appreciate that Greg speaks up about it from time to time, because not a lot of pastor’s do. It does bring a lot of controversy, but I think that is OK. It’s a way to grow and learn.

    I did include some links for you to look at Vince. I hope you do. The first one is more of a statistical one. The second one is very “New York” style, very candid and brutally honest. The third one includes a 4 minute video that’s very good. There are hundreds of more sites and many that show the behind the scenes treatment of animals.

    God Bless!


  16. Chris says:


    I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Jesus and Paul did eat meat – which, to my mind, means eating meat is not a sin.

    I am also compelled by the argument that prior to the fall, all creatures ate plants and it is likely that in the new creation it will be the same. So as new creations, we can get a head-start (so to speak) on our eating habits now.

    Ultimately, I believe this is something that Christians can disagree on in good faith.

    That being said, the nature of the meat industry is quite ugly and in so far as eating meat would perpetuate the grotesque suffering of those animals, I would definitely encourage people to not participate in eating meat from that industry.

  17. kathy d says:

    Chris, thanks, yes, whether they ate meat (“meat” in the ancient world was a word often used for “food”) or not this is something that Christians can disagree on in good faith. 🙂 And like you say, the nature of the meat industry is quite ugly and in so far as eating meat would perpetuate the grotesque suffering of those animals.

    Vince, encourage you to consider what “cheap” food (and by this if you mean cheap “meat”) really means. Consider the true cost of the way meat is raised in the U.S. alone, there a lot of statistics out on this (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/29/farmageddon-cost-cheap-meat-lymbery-review).

    As those who were handed the earth and entrusted with it as God’s stewards (one meaning of the word steward = one who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs), he is holding us accountable for what we do with it. We may have handed it over to Satan’s rule in Eden; however, now that we know what we know about our history and purpose, Christians need to start showing up in this issue. He told us to put on love above all, and this also means toward his creation. He also in Proverbs 31:8 told us to: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” So often in scripture God talks about justice. He wants us to love justice as much as he does and to stand up for those being treated unjustly, and this would include the animal kingdom.

    We know from modern studies that cruelty to animals is the 1st step toward cruelty toward other humans. We also know that large industry today exploits people groups, and the big-ag industry is not an exception, in fact, they may very well lead the way. Cheap labor, deplorable conditions, very little oversight, and the industry itself has the backing of big-government; so much eye turning and looking the other way is going on despite all the hype from animal welfare. It is a powerful industry.

    Vince, you mention reaching others for the gospel. Did you know that there is a huge group of people that the Christian church virtually cannot reach because of it’s indifference in general on animal welfare? These people flock to false teachings that are friendly to their cause. In fact, I would suggest that it is highly likely that these people also are being used by God to try to care for and save the animal kingdom he loves and move us further on toward his peaceable kingdom, largely because his church does not get in the trenches with them and do so.

    There is a lot of places to search online for information on the subject of animals and the environment; however, there isn’t much Christian material available. A stewardship theology is GREATLY needed. Andrew Linzey is one place I will point you to in getting educational material on this subject. He has written several books that are eye openers – very very good material. ACC – Animal Christian Concern in Great Britian has a book by the same title depicting their work done in the UK within the church to move them toward compassion with regard to creation (can be found on Amazon).

    Another book, written by Matthew Scully, is called “Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call To Mercy.” Matthew Scully was a speech writer for the 1st Bush Admin. If there is any book I’d suggest people start with to get a well rounded education on what is happening in our world when it comes to the environment and animals, it is this one.

    There are three of us that write on a blog called Shepherding All God’s Creatures (http://shepherdingcreation.com/resources/); we have a resource page where there is quite a lot of good material posted for people to explore these issues (and all of the above can be found there).

    I think that like with all things in our lives, keeping an open mind to the leading of the Holy Spirit is paramount. He will lead on these issues as he will on any other we give him the room to do so in. God Bless.

  18. Vince says:

    Thanks everyone for this awesome interaction. I can’t help but wish I was there to give all of you a big hug! I most DEFINITELY would not be eating meat if I came there! I read through everything, and I wish I was better a communicating, so I’ll give it one more try. I realize how easily you might think my issue with Sunday’s sermon was eating meat and Genesis. After all, I brought it up! I was pretty fired up when I wrote that first comment, and to be honest I wasn’t exactly sure why. I think I’m more clear on things now.

    The main reason I didn’t really enjoy the sermon on Sunday is because I don’t care. I don’t care whether the universe if 14 billion years old or 14 days old. I don’t care whether you eat meat or don’t, and I don’t care if the Genesis account of creation is completely accurate, or just another great example of God coming down to our level to reach us. It’s not important to me.

    Now before you get all bunged up, I should clarify: I’d like to have some knowledge of all of those things, so that I can also relate to every person I run into, and have a better chance to have a conversation with them and maybe God can work through that to add another citizen to His kingdom. Other than that, however, I really don’t care about taking a stand one way or the other. The irony of my position comes from the fact that up until a few years ago, I had very strong opinions on just about everything! Then I ran into, while looking into open theism, Greg Boyd on youtube. God used Greg to open my eyes to a lot of things, specifically in the areas of national pride, political pride, and spiritual pride. The Holy Spirit convicted me and I turned it all over to God. What He gave me back was so much easier to manage! He has changed my relationships, my ability to talk to people, and my heart for people. He has been removing all the obstacles, and Greg’s teachings have played a large role in that.

    Greg has quoted 1 Cor 2:2 on many occasions where Paul states: “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”. I have really taken that to heart. It has become the only thing I’m truly adamant about! So here we are this Sunday, and Greg is trying to communicate how valuable we are and our responsibility as image bearers of God, etc. My spirit didn’t have a great reaction to that. Actually my spirit saw that as something that could carry me away from the prime directive (to know nothing but Jesus, and Him crucified). I had a negative reaction. I envisioned many people’s faith being bent over this information and all the distractions that would come. This morning, it came to me: I do NOT feel special because God breathed life into a statue (or whatever). Even if that’s a cool thing, I don’t feel a sense of responsibility as an image bearer to do anything. It’s just too small a thing to impress someone who has been convinced of their value because that same God who breathed life into the statue, came to earth to demonstrate my value to Him. He suffered and died for my mistakes, and paved the way for me to have unlimited access to God! THAT makes me feel special. It also makes me want to be just like His son. To learn what He wants me to do and allow Him to work through me to get it done. That’s what I care about! That’s ALL I care about! I won’t waste my zeal on the things of this world. Those things are there. I’ll have to deal with them, to the extent that they bring glory to God, but I’m very serious about this ministry of reconciliation He has COMMITTED to me. I want to be a fantastic ambassador for Him! He deserves so much more than all of me, but it’s all I have so it’s His to do with what He pleases.

    I realize that you all probably feel the same way. It’s just that God has given me this zeal again! I haven’t been this fired up in a long time, and He used Greg to show me how to keep it. It is the consistent focus on God’s gift (Jesus crucified for ME) that has brought on this zeal and has sustained it. The transforming power of the love of Christ has turned me around, and I’m SO PSYCHED! I just don’t want to get distracted, and it comes as an extra shock when Greg is the source of the distraction! I know he’s got his mind on finishing that book, and maybe this was even part of it, and it helped him to air it out, but it sent me off on a tangent that got my mind of Christ crucified for me. I thought it might have done the same to others, but apparently, based on all of you setting me straight, it was just how it affected me.

    Okay. So again, thanks for helping me work through this, my precious brothers and sisters! Can’t wait until Tuesday so I can be encouraged by WH again!

    Love you guys!!!!

  19. kathy d says:

    Vince, you write so well, and communicate just fine! And it is understandable. I can see your points clearly, and where you don’t want anything to throw you off the track of being God’s best example and ambassador you can be! Worthy goals, my friend!

    I also understand where you don’t want the ways of this world to get you off track. If you can, think of animals as part of God’s kingdom, not part of this world, for they truly are part of his kingdom! His earth, his environment, his animal creations! And they were indeed entrusted to us as God’s ambassadors to care for them and show them the love of the Father. It might look differently than that of us being ambassadors to other humans perhaps, but nonetheless it is important that we are that to them; they need to know the love of the Father just as we do! If we are to eat them, as is allowed, we aught to find a source that treats them as the Father would want us to treat them during the process of raising them and slaughtering them. They have needs given them by the Father for shelter, love, food, water, sunshine, fresh air; they play and romp and have relationships with each other, other species and with us. Each has their own language, and no two personalities are alike, no matter what the species (if you haven’t spent time around animals, find a local hobby farm where you can get to know a few!).

    Studies of animal sentience has come a long long way since the 1900’s, it is amazing the things we have learned about animal sentience! Here is a great blog where you can find information well written about the subject: Dominion In The Image of God. Another great source is the National Geographic channel, or Public Television – the Nature show – great shows there!!

    Vince it is a wonderful thing that Greg is speaking out on behalf of the Lord of creation. After all, Jesus IS Lord of all creation, but when looking at the world today, at industry and how we exploit the earth, one is hard pressed to see it!!

    All creation praises God (there is a ton of scripture on this! just one little link I found: http://eco-bible.org/wiki/All_Creation_Praises_God). Creation also groans because of the effects of sin (Rom 8:). Don’t let it throw you off! He is one of the only pastors that does speak out on it, and Christian leadership voices are SO needed in these issues.

    Think about church. We learn so much about how we are to live from truthful teachers about the Word and life and life in the kingdom to come. Well, we should also be learning truthful teaching about how to care for and love God’s creation! Life isn’t all about mankind! Though we are the pinnacle of his creation, our purpose in Eden was to care for the earth and animal kingdom, and it still is! We are to Image and model truth in all we do, how we treat everything! It is not a burden given us, it is a privilege!

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your story! I also know it can be hard to approach the gospel from this new perspective. Evangelicals and others haven’t taught this way, it is new in a way – but we don’t need to feel threatened by it! We can rejoice! There is a sort of wholeness that is being taught at WHC. It is good for us, and it is good for God!

    I am so very glad you found WHC and Greg’s teaching, he is a fabulous teacher. And the theology of this church so lines up with scripture, renders what I’ve studied thus far of it coherent; I’ve read a few of Greg’s books, too, which have also helped render scripture coherent! If you like to read, he has written some great stuff! Keep on the path of faith, Vince!

  20. Ros says:

    If we think about the distress endured by food animals, especially today, it’s only natural that we should turn to the life of Jesus in an attempt to prove whether or not meat eating should stop. Sadly, flesh eating is an aspect of our fallenness. Following the Fall, God did regretfully accept that wayward mankind would eat meat, but a choice for the Kingdom of God however, must still be a choice of love and not of slaughter. The Kingdom of God allows no room for the attitude of destruction which is inherent in slaughter. I believe, it’s written deep in the heart and conscience of all of us. The Kingdom of God upon this earth would reflect the non-predatory harmony of the original Creation.
    In some ways, it would have made things easier for us if Jesus had given us a list of Do’s and Don’ts to reinforce the Ten Commandments, especially “Thou shalt not kill”, but that would also have been an extension of legalism, which had already ensnared the conscientious Jews. And, it is not possible to legislate CHOICE. The only Commandment given by Jesus was , “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13 v 34). Within that spirit of love, and love is INDIVISIBLE, we have to make ALL our choices; we have to choose light rather than darkness, we have to choose the Kingdom of God, a non-predatory Kingdom where there’s no room for slaughter. But wherever we fail, then we may take our failures in penitence to the Cross.
    Jesus placed all emphasis on attitude, and He anticipated that His followers would grow in understanding and love, through the Holy Spirit, and that our attitudes would change in the fullness of time within a closer relationship with God (John 16 v 13).
    It’s important that we attempt to live according to the values of God’s Kingdom and it’s important that we turn to Christ in penitence to ensure that our failures will be forgiven.
    Mankind will not turn from fallen attitudes until our hearts have re-turned to God, the God we see depicted in selfless love upon the Cross.

  21. Vince says:

    I’ve spent the last 2 hours reading and watching some of the information you’ve sent me. That’s as much time as well spend on this subject. I will consider all this as I walk with Him. Honestly, if I had room for another cause right now, it would be discrimination against minorities, but for now I think the answer to that, and all other issues is to stay in the moment and surrender my life to Jesus each moment. At this point, I’d remind you to be infinitely more passionate about bringing lost people to Jesus than you are about the issue of animals and meat. Jesus came to give us life, and too many don’t know that! That’s the race I want to run right now, in this moment! Love you! Have a great weekend!

  22. kathy d says:

    Ross, thank you, very well said.

    Vince, it is okay. As the Lord leads. The truth is, we are infinitely passionate about reaching those who don’t know Christ! That is part of the whole point of our passion. SO many are lost to false teaching because the church as a whole is hard hearted about taking the gospel message through to the WHOLE creation! How we live on the earth and treat God’s creatures is every bit a part of our faith walk in attracting others to the message of the gospel.

    It is okay that you are where you are. You have taken some time to look into these issues, that is fabulous! Many people even though they may be sympathetic to this cause, are not going to join our ranks as welfarists in the sense that some of us in this message chain are called to do. This is a calling from God, it truly is. And part of that calling, at least as He has called me, is to bring the message that all of God’s people can make a difference for God’s creatures, just by looking at their own life-style – their consumption of animal products and how they are produced, how we shop as consumers, our carbon foot print – and making changes in life-style. If that is the take away in this conversation from my point of view, that will be fantastic success!!

    And these life-style changes are available to all of us today here in the West; we have options at the grocers and in any venue, really, in what, where, and how we buy. In the kingdom of darkness, money speaks power; where we put our dollars will dictate our values and thus what is produced and what from.

    There are small farms popping up all over to serve those wanting to opt out of their part in the cruelty of farmed animals (CSA’s are a good option, Community Supported Agriculture). Reading labels is something a person can do, learn what the ingredients are. Don’t buy fur or animal skin products – lots of man made materials exist that are fashionable. Buy at thrift stores. Drive less, take transit, ride bike. Think about what we really need in this world rather than what we want or may think we need and don’t; another words, live simpler!

    I think a lot of Christians think animal welfarists are extremists. Some are, especially some secular animal welfare movements. There were those in Christian circles that thought the same thing at the time of Martin Luther King and the equal rights movement between peoples of color and white people. The point is, the dynamics are one and the same! There are some Christian voices rising today, such as Linzey’s, Scully’s, Matthew Halteman, Charles Patterson, joining the ranks of Shaftesbury, Wilberforce and Arthur Broome (whom all campaigned with great dedication for animal welfare); however, mainstream Christian practice in evangelical circles has yet to truly recognize the issues these people raise as warranting their attention. Unlike issues of race, where the victims are people, because people don’t place an appropriate Christ-like value to animal life, issues of injustice to animals and the earth amongst Christians has a more difficult time getting attention.

    Vince, please don’t feel overwhelmed. I have been conscious of this possibility for awhile now. You are in a great spot with your faith, I can tell, and you love the Lord and want to follow Him with all your heart and to Image Him and learn about following Him!! At the same time you have been open to learning about this subject. And I praise God for you that you have been!! If you haven’t heard of these two books (take your time with all of this and the resources, listen for the Holy Spirit in all of it, He is the lamp unto our feet).

    These two books I read while taking classes at WHC called Discover Kingdom and Exploring Missional Discipleship Church: Renovation of the Church by Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken; and, The Great Omission by Dallas Willard. They are not about animals nor do they have anything to do directly with the issues we’ve been raising in this message stream. They are about the issues facing the church in large part as a result of the reformation period and Christendom. A third book is The Naked Anabaptist by Stuart Murray.

    Lastly, there is a link to Walter Wink’s “Third Way”, a fabulous article, here: http://shepherdingcreation.com/2014/03/01/an-eternal-treblinka/

    Vince, a great conversation you sparked! Lots of good things shared and we’ve all gotten to know each other a little bit, sharing issues that matter to the kingdom, while lifting each other up at the same time we may have challenged each other — very good stuff! 🙂 Blessings!

  23. kathy d says:

    Oppsss, two things I seen I want to take a moment to expound on.

    “I think a lot of Christians think animal welfarists are extremists”: this is in large part a reaction to the evil of our day that those lost to darkness do not know how to handle without Christ. These voices are screaming precisely in part because the faith that proclaims the one and only Living God who made all these creatures aren’t listening or getting in the trenches with them, learning about the world from their perspective and taking seriously what they see that Christian’s in many cases won’t look at. This is also a phenomenon of the darkness in our world itself – it is a complicated issue of which there isn’t the space to go into here. The thing I encourage Christians to do is not judge them! Get to know why they are screaming – they have good reason to!

    2nd, right after the two books towards the end of the message – “They are not about animals nor do they have anything to do directly with the issues we’ve been raising in this message stream. They are about the issues facing the church in large part as a result of the reformation period and Christendom”: …issues facing the church of which animal welfare is one. And the issues need to be brought into the conversation along with all the others we talk about and wrestle with in our faith to apply Biblical principles to and grow in Christ-likeness in! Ministries need to be born that specifically address them and help people see how God is truly calling all of us to be better stewards of what He created.

  24. kathy d says:

    This message is for Greg, I don’t know if you’ve read any of this – should you have time, would appreciate any insights from you. If not, that’s okay. As the Lord leads.

    Want to thank you, also, for your messages about creation. I know this is a tough subject, and I’m sure there are “crucifying” moments for you when you do speak up about them. Also this is to encourage you to not give up doing so. The world needs leaders willing to come forward and bring stewardship issues into the mix of other concerns facing the church! Thanks again, Greg.

  25. Julie says:

    Regarding Vince’s negative comments about Greg tying Genesis to other Creation accounts, I took Greg’s point to be that there are parallels between the language and imagery in other accounts and Genesis because it was the shared language of the time. Greg simply showed how this culture understood what it meant to be made in the image of God and the language they used to express it. He then showed that the language of the time was used in Genesis so the people of the day could understand how the God of Genesis was different from the gods they were worshiping.

    I don’t think Greg was saying the Genesis account was borrowed from other cultures. Instead, he was showing how Genesis used what other cultures thought to create a context in which the difference between the living God and pagan gods could be understood .


  26. kathy d says:

    Julie, very well said! And, that is exactly how I also understand this part of Greg’s sermon. He’s taught on this before I believe? Since his people were already mixed up in the surrounding cultures, he uses what they understood in order to try to reach them and draw them away from these cultural norms.

    At the same time, I’ve heard him also teach that there is an irony in other cultural views, at how related they all can be in ways to the true creation story. Which goes to show us how all people at some level are being called to Christ and how the truth of creation permeates other cultures at some level, albeit warped in ways and mis-leading in others; from what I understand about them they all have a good vs. evil story.


  27. Peter says:

    In regard to the message of the previous week Tracy and I highlighted at the outset some of the work of Professor John Walton and particularly his recent book (copyright 2010), “The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate” (it is also noted that both Greg and John (and others) contributed to the book, “Four Views on the Historical Adam”).

    With posts on this topic maybe reaching their end, it is interesting to provide some insight by John Walton, first in relation to science on this matter (John is not anti-science but would be against scientism – scientism is belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints.),

    “Our scientific worldview has gradually worked God out of the practical ways in which we think about our world. When science can offer explanation for so much of what we see and experience, it is easy for our awareness of God’s role to drift to the periphery. It is not that we believe any less that he is active, it is just that we are not as conscious of his role. The result is a practical (if not philosophical) deism in which God is removed from the arena of operations.”

    John also focuses on the creation as a Cosmic Temple. This is not intended as some new age terminology, but the dwelling place for God. This extract goes some way to explain it,

    “Genesis 1 can now be seen as a creation account focusing on the cosmos as a temple. It is describing the creation of the cosmic temple with all of its functions and with God dwelling in its midst. This is what makes day seven so significant, because without God taking up his dwelling in its midst, the (cosmic) temple does not exist. The most central truth to the creation account is that this world is a place for God’s presence. Though all of the functions are anthropocentric, meeting the needs of humanity, the cosmic temple is theocentric, with God’s presence serving as the defining element of existence.”

    With this in mind and the issue of animal welfare, John’s following quote is pertinent to the whole matter,

    “Once we turn our thinking away from “natural world” to “cosmic temple” our perspective about the world around us is revolutionized. It is difficult to think of the “natural world” as sacred (because we just designated it “natural”). When the cosmos is viewed in secular terms, it is hard to persuade people to respect it unless they can be convinced that it is in their own best interests to do so. If it is secular, it is easy to think of it only as a resource to be exploited. We even refer to “natural resources.”
    But when we adopt the biblical perspective of the cosmic temple, it is no longer possible to look at the world (or space) in secular terms. It is not ours to exploit. We do not have natural resources, we have sacred resources. Obviously this view is far removed from a view that sees nature as divine: As sacred space the cosmos is His place. It is therefore not His person. The cosmos is His place, and our privileged place in it is His gift to us. The blessing He granted was that He gave us the permission and the ability to subdue and rule. We are stewards.
    At the same time we recognize that the most important feature of sacred space is found in what it is by definition: the place of God’s presence. The cosmic-temple idea recognizes that God is here and that all of this is His. It is this theology that becomes the basis for our respect of our world and the ecological sensitivity that we ought to nurture.”

    As Tracy and I have found it to be, a great book with some wonderful insights on Genesis 1.

  28. Peter says:

    For those who have not caught up with the following regarding last Sunday’s message, directions are on WHC Twitter to get to that message,

    Woodland Hills @Woodland_Hills · May 26
    Sermon is ready, but we’re experiencing difficulties with our site! In the meantime, you can listen in by visiting https://goo.gl/lgvxer .

    Click on or input the above link and you will get to sermon options.

  29. Vince says:

    Okay. I’ve read 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 to get a better grasp on this. It seems like we are made for the purpose of having God inside us. God bought our bodies for the highest possible price, so now our bodies are no longer ours. God owns our bodies, and created us so He can live in us. So we are temples where He resides. So that sort of takes the image bearer thing into the new testament, right? So what we put into, and do with, and what comes out of our bodies is what is being put into,done with, and is coming out of His body for the world to see. The world doesn’t see our heart or soul, they see our bodies, so we are encouraged to allow God to shine through our bodies so He can fill more empty temples, right?

    This makes what we eat what He eats. That’s where your point about what we eat is important if we are sending the wrong message with our choices. That and what we say, because what we say is what He is saying as far as the world is concerned. I think I’m getting closer?

  30. kathy d says:

    Vince, you absolutely are!!!! Getting closer, that is! Fabulous insight.

    Greg has explained, I think it was in either “God at War” or “Satan and the Problem of Evil” (books) that part of His plan for taking back the earth (His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven) is through us – the Indwelling Spirit working through us. So, yes, it is important that we display His character in all we do. We allow the Holy Spirit to guide is, we become “transformed by the renewing of our minds” and put on display God in us. What you said, Vince, is well put!

    Animals are also important in their own right because God made them. They are His property. We are their stewards.

    I like what Peter wrote above; I am going to read the book he refers! Thanks, Peter, for sharing what you wrote!!!

    This part here, Vince, I think explains further the reason how we treat animals goes far beyond us – beyond us being the “Temple” in what we put into the Temple, though that of course is extremely important. It is simply bigger yet than that! Quote (from Peter’s post above): “But when we adopt the biblical perspective of the cosmic temple, it is no longer possible to look at the world (or space) in secular terms. It is not ours to exploit. We do not have natural resources, we have sacred resources. Obviously this view is far removed from a view that sees nature as divine: As sacred space the cosmos is His place. It is therefore not His person. The cosmos is His place, and our privileged place in it is His gift to us. The blessing He granted was that He gave us the permission and the ability to subdue and rule. We are stewards.

    At the same time we recognize that the most important feature of sacred space is found in what it is by definition: the place of God’s presence. The cosmic-temple idea recognizes that God is here and that all of this is His. It is this theology that becomes the basis for our respect of our world and the ecological sensitivity that we ought to nurture.”

    This earth, space, the cosmos as we know it, and His body (the church) is the Place of His presence. The animals and all that He made in the earth are His and the earth itself was meant to be His dwelling place! He wanted to dwell among His creations; we being made a in His image, to be His viceroys in caring for what He had made! We are simply a part of that dwelling place, a privileged bunch, who through Christ, have gained an inheritance and are called “Son’s and Daughters” of the Most High!

  31. Vince says:

    I think the “why” of all of this can get lost in the details, so I would defer to Paul’s continual encouragement to reach as many with the gospel as possible. God needs us to “go to them as they are” to win them. To become a slave to all to win the more to Christ. To be “all things to all men” is what God wants us to be so that He can use us to bring people to the knowledge of His marvelous love. To the meat eaters, become a meat eater, to the vegetarians, become a vegetarian, etc. Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Do whatever is necessary to relate to everyone. Don’t be adamant against or for any issues so you can relate to everyone and bring Jesus to everyone possible!

  32. kathy d says:

    Vince, are you by any chance watching the series “AD: The Bible Continues”? It is quite interesting. I can’t attest as to how completely accurate it is or may be. I’m not a Bible scholar, just a wantabe. And for the most, as I watch I am able to follow along while finding the scriptures in the series. What is interesting to me is that the episodes give me pause to think about what it would really have been like for the apostles back then given the climate of the culture and the political unrest. They also come up against the age old Jewish tradition of Jesus’ own people, that had for centuries been keeping what they thought was God’s word, following the laws that they thought God had set down for them. And they were desperately looking for a Messiah who was going to solve all their political and social issues for them.

    So when these people (apostles) claim to have seen the Messiah, that it was the Jesus that they had killed, there is total uproar and upheaval. Much is at stake, for the empire of Rome, surrounding areas like Samaria, as well as for the Jerusalem and the Temple. What is interesting is how the apostles do not become all things to all people. Rather, their lives are transformed by this Jesus whom most of the world around them rejects. They defy the culture that surrounds them in the name of Jesus. And Jesus certainly was not all things to all people, not in the sense that people wanted Him to be. But Jesus would become everything to people, if they accepted His Father’s Kingdom, and rejected the kingdoms of the world. This was at the heart of the apostles message. There is a cost to the follower.

    You are right, Vince. We shouldn’t let food or anything else become a stumbling block to those outside the church. However for those of us who claim to follow Jesus, with one another, are to be uniting and putting on love above all, toward one another, the earth AND the animal kingdom, and to defy the culture that surrounds us, and stand apart from it. They will know we are Christians by our love, not just of each other, but for ALL He has created. We are to represent the coming Kingdom in ALL it’s glory. Animals will certainly be part of that Kingdom, God delights in His animal kingdom! And we are to protect them and stand up against all that does not display Christ’s character, especially in the treatment of “the least of these.” Animals are in a category of those who cannot speak for themselves, who are vulnerable to us like children, the elderly, the poor, the downtrodden, and the Bible is clear that we are to speak up for them. We are especially not to take part in the atrocities committed toward them. This is not Jesus like character.

  33. Vince says:

    Hi Kathy,

    Okay, so I wish you would clarify a few things for me. First, when you say “What is interesting is how the apostles do not become all things to all people.”, how do you work that along with when Paul says “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”?

    Also, when you say “They will know we are Christians by our love, not just of each other, but for ALL He has created.”, that sort of comes across like you are not satisfied with Jesus’ own words in John 13:34-35. Jesus did say “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” You added “not just of one another, but for ALL He has created”. Why didn’t Jesus make that clear like you are. In other words, why did Jesus say that “all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”, if there is more needed for all men to know that we are His disciples?

    One last thing: When you said “are to be uniting and putting on love above all, toward one another, the earth AND the animal kingdom”, what makes you feel comfortable, once again, adding to the point that the author is making? Colossians 3 is all about believers and their relationships with believers. How did our treatment of animals get into that? Do you feel Paul meant to add “AND the animal kingdom”? What makes you think so?

    Although I am not comfortable with adding to Jesus’ or Paul’s words out of context, I still do agree that there is a place for the proper care of animals in our lives. I do not find an equality between animals and humans anywhere in scripture. Animals should not have precedent over or equal to humans with regards to our time or money. Our job is to reach people with the Gospel (2 Cor 5). There is however, a clear thought that if being concerned for animals will allow me a better opportunity to relate to those who also have those concerns, then that is a really good reason to “go to them as they are”, and show a greater interest in what concerns them, in order to win as many as possible!

  34. kathy d says:

    Hi Vince, sorry it took so long to reply. Thanks for writing.

    I did a little study on what was happening in Corinth at the time of Paul’s letter. Corinth was an affluent city, a trading port, and known for its idolatrousness. It was known also as a religious and cultural melting pot of which the major influence was the imperial cult. Corinth was heavily influenced by the Roman cultural values, a materialistic society where value was placed on one’s goods and achievements. The materialistic society had an effect on the attitude of the Christian church. Wealthy members of the church started to compete for followers and the ones who held worship in their homes had a lot of influence on fellow members. The church at Corinth did not seem to be separated socially, and this could be because the church was still living by the secular culture. Too much of “Corinth” was in the church.

    The purpose of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was to explain how adamant he was about making his own living and not getting support from the church, to the extent that he would rather die than accept help. ( 9 vs. 15) He does not want to receive any credit for the things he is doing because he believes he does not deserve them. (9 vs. 16) Paul’s intention with this letter is to share what he is doing and why he is doing it. He feels called by God and is not only preaching the gospel so others may receive the prize, but also so he will not miss out on it.

    Paul is defending himself, at first, in his letter. He has been harshly judged. Paul is showing those who do not believe in him as an apostle, why he is, and who he is helping. People did not believe he was a real apostle because he did not take the support (money) given by the church. And the Greeks did not agree with Paul working and making his own money (manual labor). They viewed men who do manual labor to be worth less than people like businessmen and soldiers.

    Paul set a very good example for us in this letter. He stands up for what he is doing. He knows that he has the same rights as anyone else, but he sacrifices everything to serve Christ as he was called to do. He turns down all support from the church so he can provide for himself. His reward is seeing all the people that are now living for Christ and through this he will receive the final prize too because he is living how God has called him to. He recognizes that he cannot be preaching these things and not be practicing them himself.

    Paul also sets an example of how to truly reach out to people, first, through practicing what he preaches, but also through relationships. He lives among these different groups (it’s a port city, a melting pot of cultures and peoples) and gets to know them, to understand the cultural content in which they are coming from, and has a better understanding of who they are and their ways of viewing things. Paul believes he is called to reach the Gentiles – learning their cultural viewpoints would have been imperative to reaching them for Christ. Paul says of himself, “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Gal 1:11-14 He said God was pleased to reveal “his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” V16

    This is what Paul is talking about when he says he becomes all things for all men. He learns about their culture. He learns to speak their language in order to draw them out from their pagan religions and cultural mindsets. He learns to be a Gentile or a Jew, whatever may be appropriate at the time to draw people to Christ.
    In bringing the Gospel to others, it makes sense that we would especially pay attention to how we are living so that we can be an example to the surrounding peoples of what the Kingdom of God is about, what it should and will one day look like (to the best of our ability through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit).

    A whole lot of scripture instructs us to be set apart from the surrounding cultures and norms while we invite others to Christ. I think Christendom has largely corrupted what it means to bring people to Christ. A Billy Graham experience, though people may truly experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit which is true with probably most any endeavor like this to bring people to Christ, isn’t what scripture nor the early church founders had in mind. This sort of experience does not build discipleship nor does it teach people how to live in a Kingdom manner.

    In regards to John 13:34-35, and men will know us by our love for one another – I really don’t know why animals are not specifically included, Vince. It would make sense that he does not mention them actually, as they neither had the infrastructure, technology, nor industrial know how we do today that imprisons and exploits them, reducing them to mere commodity and utility. Its highly unlikely they abused them the way we do and it was not an issue for them in the ways that it should be to Christians today. The fact that he does not mention them does not mean we should not include them in what it means to be seen as a Christian (by our love) today. Animal exploitation and abuse is a huge issue for us. I don’t see the argument that this would be adding to scripture to include them.

    We are “putting on love.” We never take it off, no matter what or whom the subject matter is. Love is “patient, kind……It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered… Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor 13:4-8.

    Just as we are supposed to practice our dominion with one another as power under, we are supposed to practice our dominion with animals as power under. This does not mean equality. We can eat them, God gave us permission and we already know why. He also told us to be merciful, and expects us to treat them with kindness throughout their life span, providing for them what they need to thrive. If we are going to eat them, at the time of slaughter, a quick slice to the throat and in 3 seconds they are unconscious and feel no pain (kosher slaughter laws were mentioned earlier on in this conversation). This DOES NOT take place today for nearly 100% of animals raised for food and clothing. They live in sheds crowded together in their own filth, never see the sunlight or feel the rain, live in fear, pain, and suffering; their slaughter is a living nightmare just as their entire lives are.

    The factory industries that bring us animal foods, animal clothing products, vivisection, animals in entertainment and sport, for the most part exploit other regions or countries peoples to do so; they exploit the earth and natural resources. They are industries who are arm in arm with our governments and principalities, full of greed, gluttony, lust for more and more power and money; they create insensitivity toward those whom God made us responsible for (the vulnerable, poor, those who have no voice which include animals), and cause untold misery, violence, pain and suffering, to not only animals, but also people, particularly the poor and uneducated. This is not a model of Christ-likeness.

    There is nothing Christ-like about participating in what these industries do to bring us that meat or any of their products by buying it. When we do, we promote what they do by supporting it. There are alternatives, especially here in the West. Now some places around the world this may not be true, and if I were to go there in order to try and reach people for Christ, I may need to eat from the plates of what the culture provides. This is not the case in (most of) America.

    Jesus died for our sin; he also died to redeem and to reconcile all things to Himself and to defeat the devil’s work. His work on the cross largely was done to re-establish the created order. Part of saying ‘yes’ to Christ is becoming a people who will manifest God’s purpose for creation.

    I am convinced that this is a topic that all of us as Christians ought to be gravely concerned about. Our first mandate in the garden BEFORE the fall was to care for the animals and the earth. This alone speaks volumes about what our place on earth, part of our purpose, was to be about, and still is. It points us in the direction of the created order that Christ died to restore. He wants in part to restore it through us. He wants Shalom back in the Garden for all of His creation.

    One thing Christians don’t seem to consider when doing hermeneutics with scripture first of all is that rarely if ever is animal life included in their considerations, even though they are part of the covenant relationship between us and God (a little lower than us – deserving special care actually because they are); rarely if ever are the differences in scope of the population of the planet considered in the comparisons; nor is the ignorance of ancient people as to animal life in general considered in comparison to all we know about animal life today; industrialization, modern technology, and modern infrastructure is not factored in, which has changed the globe entirely. During the time of Paul, there would have yet existed a relationship with the land and the animal kingdom. Much of the animal kingdom during their day would have been wild, the earth sparsely inhabited

    My suggestion to all Christians is to really do a thorough study as to what is going on in our industries that bring us all the products we have today. Go to the Prayer List page on Shepherding All God’s Creatures blog, take a look at all the circumstances in which we pray, and this is not a comprehensive list; then do a little research into each category as to why we pray about all this; ask what does God think of all this. Make educated choices. The planet is our home, but it is also the animal kingdom’s home. And the “Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” first and foremost. What gives us the right to destroy them and their habitat entirely for our use?

    “Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”
    ― Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

    Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight…. Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering. –

    It is us that need saving, not the creation; and it is for the creation sake in many respects that we need saving.

  35. Vince says:

    I really enjoy your perspective! Thanks for taking the time to write all that. Most of what you said I agree with. As for Corinth and Paul’s methods, I would add that, although Paul does live there and mix in with the church there, he also recognized and demonstrated the importance of going to complete strangers and explaining the gospel to them. He would normally start in the synagogues, reasoning with the Jews, to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. He would also go to the town meetings, marketplaces, and wherever else people were. He would tell people he had never met about Jesus. I don’t know why you or anyone else thinks that most Christians liken sharing the gospel with Billy Graham type witnessing. My experience with Christians is they don’t like the idea of witnessing to strangers. They prefer to become friends first, and even prefer to wait until they are asked before they will share Jesus with someone. While that is one way, it is far from the only way. Greg has said on more than one occasion that in his experience, no one has ever been saved with a tract. That may be his experience but that’s just not true at all. I’m not speculating. I have used a tract as a tool many times with perfect strangers to share the gospel in restaurants, airplanes, college campuses (when I was a lot younger), and public places. Paul commands us to demonstrate and talk about God’s love for us. It doesn’t matter how hard teachers and others try to skirt this point, all of scripture is clear. We must tell others, in season and out of season (when it makes sense and when it doesn’t). Peter says we are a “royal priesthood”. Royal priests were to proclaim God publicly with boldness! Every person who has a relationship with God, started that relationship at some moment. The first “I do” happened at some point. God used Billy Graham to give us so many opportunities for follow up and discipleship! The Body of Christ needs evangelists, and needs us to evangelize also! That way us workers can help those who are babies grow up to become workers, who can help more babies, etc.

    As for the animals, you make some good points. Just realize that there are a lot of people right here in the US who can’t afford to buy more expensive meat. Lots of single parents who don’t have time to find the right kind of meat. Some don’t feel that it would be wise to buy more expensive food if it will reduce the amount of support they can give to a ministry God has placed on their heart.

    I’ve really enjoyed learning from you, sister! Press on! Love you!

  36. kathy d says:

    Thanks Vince, you make excellent points about sharing Christ. I think what you say has a lot of truth in it – it is difficult to share the gospel amongst people we know let alone people we don’t know – I find this to be so myself. I actually like the way the Jehovah’s Witnesses go around in twos or threes witnessing. Personally, I think that is a good model for Christians to adopt.

    As far as animals go, I know this to be true, there are people who cannot afford to buy expensive meats. Vince, it is time that people, not just Christians, understand that eating meat at all is what is doing the harm. People who “can’t afford expensive meat” would do well on a diet that switches out meat entirely and gets their protein from non-meat sources, and there are a ton. Beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, leafy green vegies is another, I’ll include a link to some vegan food pyramids. It is actually cheaper to eat in this fashion. There are mock meats; however if those are too expensive, then people can eat them sparingly, as a treat, or not at all.

    And there are a TON of nutritious, tasty, and easy recipes, there isn’t any need to feel we would be deprived. Just saying that, as many of us may think that, I have myself when I first was introduced to this subject, says a lot about our culture. I am not judging any person; that being said, I do believe we we should be critical towards the culture and society in general.

    We have become a people of gluttonous proportion. The facts are everywhere that raising meat to eat, our entire agricultural model, is unsustainable. I am convicted that God is not going to heal our land until we get a handle on this problem. If we learn one thing (and of course there are many) from the OT it is that God tries to heal our land and people continuously turn from him so he must relent and allow us our own way and our consequences.

    Were the majority of people to adopt a vegetarian diet, especially those who CAN (which is the majority of people in the US) less people would go hungry here in the US and everywhere in the world, there would be less pollution to the earth and waterways. Vince, please read this short fact sheet (link below), it is relatively recent enough to get the picture. I like that it is laid so that a person can read it well and it gives basically just the facts.

    So when we Christians, or anyone, argues for meat in their diet the way it is done now because it is “cheaper”, let’s get the facts straight and see the true cost of eating “cheap” meat, or any meat for that matter. We in America are a nation growing more and more obese, with more and more health problems contributing to the rising cost of health care so more and more people cannot afford that, too, while in other countries people starve (and even here in our own country more and more are going hungry). We are a church who has married the culture and the church needs to “come out of her.”

    Vince, I’ve greatly enjoyed the conversation and learning from you, as well. Yes we are brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen! Here are those links, and Ive added two short (4 min) videos that are EXCELLENT – not graphic at all, just sums up the facts of our situation and present condition quite well.

    Blessings, Vince.



    Food Pyramid: http://www.chooseveg.com/foodplate

  37. Jill Hoschette says:

    Wow! I thought I’d come and catch up with the discussion of this sermon and I see it has continued. It also seems as though it has come full circle with tons of detail encompassing that circle. I love philosophy and going extremely deep, but also love to simplify when things get too crazy. We are called to become more like Jesus throughout our life; to move towards what we believe the new Kingdom will be like (on earth as it is in heaven). Under no uncertain terms what-so-ever will the food industry be like it is today, first and foremost meat eating. Please read this one stat sheet and tell me our sins with the way we have done life the last 200 years isn’t coming back “big time” to bite us in the behind. The world (especially America) needs to take a look at this. We need to start recognizing this NOW, and stop playing ignorance to it. Yes, go evangelize; spread the gospel with All your actions. Lord; I pray all of your people wake up to your “whole” creation; to recognize all area’s that need fixing; to live like your Son Jesus in all we do, AMEN!

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