Weekly Newsletter - September 24, 2014
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. CVA Caps
  2. Book Review: Is It Christian to Hunt? by David Gerow Irving 
  3. Essay: Who Has a Soul?
  4. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. CVA Caps
 
We have adjustable caps with the caption: Ask me: What would Jesus eat? They are available for only $6 postpaid. To inquire or order, contact [email protected].


2. Book Review

Is It Christian to Hunt? by David Gerow Irving (65 pp, available at http://www.booksandmusicbydavidirving.com or at Kindle.com)
 
This short, very well-written and thoughtful book makes a convincing argument that Christians who take their faith seriously shouldn’t hunt. Irving notes that hunting in its various forms (including trapping) involves pain, suffering, and death. Meanwhile, for nearly everyone in the United States, hunting is not necessary and in fact the flesh of wild animals is generally harmful to human health.
 
Irving considers those Christians who have defended hunting. He notes that their arguments rely almost exclusively on the Hebrew Scriptures. Yet Jesus, in fulfilling the law, announced a new commandment, that we love each other. Jesus’ message of love, compassion, mercy, and peace is totally at odds with the ethic of hunting. What is striking is that Christian hunters defend their pastime using selected passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as those that seem to endorse eating animals and animal sacrifices. They tend to ignore passages from the later prophets that condemn animal sacrifices. Further, they do not embrace other ancient Hebrew laws and practices, including polygamy, child sacrifice, slavery, subjugation of women, and the murder of all of the inhabitants of cities the Hebrews conquered when they obtained the Holy Land. Moreover, these same Christian hunters embrace the New Testament when articulating how people should treat each other. Indeed, many Christian hunters show significant compassion and concern for each other, and even for some animals, though they have few qualms about injuring and killing wild animals while engaging in an activity they misname as “sport.”
 
We should be grateful to writers like Irving, whose books include The Protein Myth, for providing the arguments we need to show that oppression and abuse of nonhumans fundamentally violates Christian ethics.
 
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.


3. Essay: Who Has a Soul?
 
People often regard the soul as a nonphysical entity that has potential to outlive our physical bodies. Skeptics have argued that there is no compelling physical evidence for the existence of the soul. However, I think it is unlikely that physical experiences, reports, or measurements will help us ascertain whether or not a nonphysical soul exists. Part of the problem is that we are physical entities, so for us to say something exists means that it exists physically, yet we posit the soul as a nonphysical entity. I assert that, if humans have souls (whatever the soul is), there is good reason to believe that nonhumans have souls as well.
 
The writer of Ecclesiastes seems to agree, writing:
 
I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men that God is testing them to show them that they are but beasts. For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth? (19-22)
 
This accords with Genesis, in which humans and animals have the same essence, nephesh. Yet, translators in Genesis have called nephesh “soul” (King James Version) or “being” (Revised Standard Version) for humans (2:7) and “creature” for animals (2:19, KJV and RSV). Evidently, one reason many Christians today believe that only humans have souls is related to the bias of translators.
 
I think there is very compelling evidence that humans evolved from other animals, a conclusion shared by many but not all Christians. An implication of evolutionary theory is that humans are among the members of the animal kingdom. If humans have souls and nonhumans do not, when in the course of evolution did the soul appear? I don’t see any reasonable answer to this question, suggesting that if humans have souls, nonhumans do likewise.
 
If having a soul does not seem to distinguish humans from nonhumans, on what other grounds might human exceptionalism and human favoritism be grounded? Many have pointed to the biblical passage that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). I will consider this next week.
 
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.


4. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Godly Living Versus Worldly Living


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