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Update Newsletters
3 September 2006 Issue

1. Comment Regarding CVA's Ministry

2. Regarding Seventh Day Adventists

3. Leafleting Feedback

4. The Aug.-Sept. Issue of Vegetarian Friends

5. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence

1. Comment Regarding CVA's Ministry

Brett writes: Your mission is most excellent, especially when 30.5% of Americans are obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2002. We are up against obesity, a terrible disease. Not only is the condition damaging to peoples' physical bodies, in raising risk of heart disease and diabetes, but emotionally injurious in lowering self-esteem. My mom was a teacher for over a quarter century in East St. Louis High Schools. She said making remarks about the mentally disabled and other races is now not accepted, but people are allowed to make fun of others' weight. It's open season for fat people, she said.

[Editor's note: The American Dietetic Association's review of vegetarian diets concluded that they reduced the risk of obesity and diabetes, as well as heart disease and certain cancers.]

2. Regarding Seventh Day Adventists

There has been ongoing discussion in this e-newsletter about whether or not SDAs would likely be more receptive to our ministry. Jenny writes: My children have all attended the Seventh Day Adventist Academy in Lilydale (Australia, and I have had no luck whatsoever in getting any compassion shown for animals. I've sent the videos Peaceable Kingdom and the Witness, along with accompanying school lessons, to the principal, who wasn't interested in showing it to students. When my son's class studied animals, I urged his teacher to show the special Compassion in World Farming school video I had specifically gotten for her (no luck there). School humane education packs I had sent to the school by Animals Australia were never used or seen (in both primary and secondary schools). My letters urging the principal not to acquire 'pet' rats for the science room fell on deaf ears, as did my appeal not to have a firework display because of the terror it caused local animals.

3. Leafleting Feedback

Leafleting at Christian Concerts in the Park in Decatur, AL, Ginger writes: I distributed leaflets today for two hours and went well - almost everyone was willing to accept the leaflets and a few people were genuinely interested.

I am working with our local health food store in Decatur - Gloria's Good Health - to see if they will permit me to distribute leaflets at some of the educational events that they sponsor from time to time. Also, my friend (a vegetarian) is a lay pastor at one of the United Methodist Churches here in Decatur. I have asked her to look at the leaflet and speak with the minister about permitting me to distribute copies to the members.

To find out about all upcoming leafleting and tabling opportunities in your area, join the CVA Calendar Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group.christian_vegetarian/. Read the home page, and then join. You will then be able to log in anytime to identify upcoming events in your region. Contact Paris at christian_vegetarian@yahoo.com if you might be able to help.

4. The Aug.-Sept. Issue of Vegetarian Friends

http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue24.html includes:

The Editorial "By the Waters of Babylon," which reflects on the feelings of exile from their religious communities that many animal activists feel as a result of the resistance to their Concern for animals.

A Letter from Bradius Maurus III in Poland comments on a recent three-part editorial regarding possible life after death for animals.

Among Angela Suarez's Recipes we have one for a delectable, low-sugar marzipan treat.

Our Pioneer for this double issue is playwright and social critic George Bernard Shaw.

The Poetry section includes Christina Rosetti's "Lord, Purge Our Eyes," a brief prayer that we may be open to the Divine Presence in nature and all things.

Gracia Fay Ellwood, Editor

5. Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence

Atonement Theologies, part 2:
Satisfaction Atonement and Moral Influence Theories

[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions.]

In 1098, Anselm of Canterbury’s Cur Deus Homo offered a satisfaction atonement theory that maintained that humankind’s sin had offended God, and Jesus’ death was necessary to satisfy God’s honor. Human sin had upset the moral order, and Jesus death was necessary to restore order to the universe. The Protestant Reformers modified this theory with the notion that Jesus’ death was necessary because divine law required that sin be punished. Humankind’s sin, which relates back to Adam and Eve’s “Original Sin” in the Garden of Eden, had created an imbalance of good and evil in the universe, and punishment was necessary to restore order. Jesus submitted to and bore the punishment that all humans, as sinners, should have received.

The moral influence theory posits that Jesus’ death was a loving act of God aimed to show us that God loves humankind so much that God was willing to give up his most precious possession, his son, for humankind. This dramatic, loving act would get sinful humankind’s attention and leads us towards a more righteous path.

On closer inspection these atonement theories are problematic. If one asks, “Who killed Jesus,” the Christus Victor theory (essay [previous]) posits the devil. However, if God permitted this to happen, then one might reasonable question God’s goodness. The satisfaction and moral theories intentionally removed the devil from the equation, but difficulties remained. If one blamed the mob, the Roman authorities, or the high priests for Jesus’ death, then one would come to the awkward conclusion that the evildoers were actually doing the will of God.

In fact, if humans killed Jesus, it would make little sense to see Jesus’ death as atonement for humankind’s sins, because this would mean that sinful humankind was saving itself by killing an innocent person. In other words, murder would somehow deliver humankind from sin. Therefore, it appears that, if humankind’s salvation derived from killing Jesus (whether to satisfy God’s honor, to relieve humankind from the burden of Original Sin, or to show humankind how to live righteously), then God must be responsible. So, these theologies suggest that God either killed Jesus or desired Jesus’ death. This seems to portray God in an unattractive light and seems to conflict with God’s previous declaration, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; see also Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22).

God’s responsibility for Jesus’ death is particularly problematic for a moral influence atonement theory. In essence, this theory holds God orchestrated the death of one child (Jesus) in order to save the rest of God’s children (us sinners). Would we ever approve of a parent who had one innocent child killed in order to teach a lesson to the sinful siblings?

Getting back to Anselm’s satisfaction theory, it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate God’s honor from God. Therefore, saying that Jesus’ death satisfied God’s honor is tantamount to saying that God desired Jesus’ death to satisfy God’s own honor.

Those new to this series may wonder how satisfaction atonement theory relates to the frequent blood sacrifices in the Hebrew Scriptures and Paul’s statement “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). I have been suggesting a view of God as loving and compassionate and not desiring sacrificial violence, and I refer readers to essays 19 and 20 regarding the Hebrew Scriptures and essay 108 regarding Romans 6:23 at www.christianveg.com/violence_view.htm.

Next week, we will further explore difficulties with satisfaction atonement theories. I will argue that these theories have predisposed Christians to perform acts of violence and injustice, though this was probably not the intent of most of those who have developed or have espoused satisfaction atonement theories.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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