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Update Newsletters
24 September 2006 Issue

1. New CVA Feature -- Weekly Blog
2. Assistance Needed for Survey
3. Teaching Children to Be Kind to Animals
4. Activist Feedback
5. Christianity and Violence: Jesus Made to Be Sin

1. New CVA Feature -- Weekly Blog

Go to http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/blog/ to view the first CVA blog. Future blogs will be posted on Mondays.

2. Assistance Needed for Survey

As the CVA prepares the next edition of our booklet Honoring God's Creation, we are seeking to determine how readers receive our message. Is our message clear and compelling. If you might be able help us administer this survey (e.g., on college campuses or to family and friends), please contact cva@christianveg.org. Thank you.

3. Teaching Children to Be Kind to Animals

The Bible calls us to raise our children in the love of God and following the teachings of Jesus. One of Jesus' main teachings was compassion toward our neighbors. The animals who share this planet with us are our neighbors and we are called to respect and treat them kindly. Ambuja Rosen is an award-winning journalist in Ashland, Oregon, who specializes in writing about animals, and has visited classrooms to teach students to be kind to animals. She wrote a great piece entitled “Teaching Children to Love All God's Creatures.” Ms. Rosen brings to attention that Oct. 4th is St. Francis Feast Day and refers to him as a great example to follow in order to teach kids about how to treat God’s creatures. She provides excellent ideas for classroom activities and recommends some books appropriate for this subject. To read her article visit http://www.ocp.org/en/TLC/2007/1/16980/php.

4. Activist Feedback

Ginger, who is currently tabling for the CVA at the Morgan County Fair (9/21-30) writes: I would like to thank everyone involved with the Christian Vegetarian Association for making it possible for me to be involved with this group. After many years of searching, I stopped attending conventional churches because of the pervasive level of casual, unexamined, unquestioned violence that I continually encountered. I feel very positive about participating in CVA activities. Other than an ongoing religion-oriented research project and the ongoing project of my own spiritual development as a Christian, CVA is effectively my only Christian involvement at the present. I'm very grateful for it. Thank you for the wonderful things that you make possible.

Upcoming Featured Outreach Opportunities:

10/6-7 OK Oklahoma City Women of Faith Conference
10/6-7 CA Sacramento Promise Keepers
10/13-14 OR Portland Women of Faith Conference
10/13-14 AZ Glendale Promise Keepers
10/14 IN Ft. Wayne Third Day Christian Rock Concert
10/21 MA Boston Boston Vegetarian Food Festival – TABLE
10/21 CAN Winnipeg Newsboys Franklin Graham Festival
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.

5. Christianity and Violence

Jesus Made to Be Sin

[This series reflects my views and not "official" CVA positions. It is being archived at http://www.christianveg.org/violence_view.htm. ]

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Humans have always divided people into sinners and righteous individuals. “To be sin who knew no sin” makes such a distinction impossible. In truth, none of us is either purely a sinner or purely righteous.

Was it God’s intention to make Jesus so that Jesus would be sin? I think God created Jesus to be the one who we humans made into sin. Humans would heap sin upon Jesus, just as humans have heaped sin upon many scapegoats. God was responsible for making Jesus to be sin only insofar as God knew that this would happen, because this is the fate of prophets (see chapter 12). I do not think that God’s ultimate desire was that Jesus would suffer and die; God offered Jesus this tragic destiny because God wanted to end scapegoating violence. Therefore, I regard God as involved in Jesus’ death insofar as God empowered Jesus to fulfill his destiny to expose the scapegoating process through Jesus’ teachings and actions, but God did not orchestrate the crucifixion. When Jesus exposed the scapegoating process, he scandalized both the Jewish and Roman authorities, making his crucifixion inevitable.

Further insight about how to interpret 2 Corinthians 5:21 can be found in Galatians, in which Paul wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (3:13). Here, Christ is a “curse,” similar to the 2 Corinthians 5:21 passage in which Christ was a “sin,” but Galatians 3:13 additionally notes the way that occurred – through the law. Earlier (Galatians 3:10), Paul had written that anyone who does not keep all the law’s prescriptions is cursed. What was Paul’s view of the law?

In Romans, Paul wrote that the law is “holy and just and good” (7:12) and that the law “which promised life proved to be death to me” (7:10). How did Paul resolve this apparent contradiction? He wrote, “Did that which is good [the law], then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin” (7:13-14). In other words, the law is good, but human sinfulness perverts the law and makes the law an excuse for sinfulness. Indeed, Paul’s own sinfulness had prompted him to use the law as an excuse for his zealous persecution of Jesus’ disciples.

Therefore, I think that the cause for Christ becoming “sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) was the corrupting power of sin (which comes from humankind and not God) on the law. How does Christ becoming sin allow us to “become the righteousness of God”? According to a Girardian view, once Christ revealed the scandal of “sacred” violence – that the violence comes from humans and not from God – we could be become righteous disciples of Christ and servants of God. We could receive the Law as the source of loving relationships that God intended, rather than as a tool for victimizing innocent individuals.

I think this understanding of 2 Corinthians 5:21 provides helpful ways of looking at other passages that have seemed to favor satisfaction atonement theories. For example, 1 Corinthians 15:3 reads, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” Although Paul does not clarify to which scriptures he refers, many people have assumed that he was thinking about the Levitican sacrificial code. However, one may also see Jesus’ death as having parallels to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. This perspective, which accords with narrative Christus Victor, suggests that humankind’s sinfulness led to Jesus’ death.

Similarly, a narrative Christus Victor framework (see last week's essay) dovetails with a Girardian reading of 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to god”. The Jews, who had regarded themselves as faithful and righteous, had collectively murdered an innocent individual, which illustrates how humankind has always been drawn to the scandal of scapegoating. This knowledge helps us recognize our propensity to participate in victimizing innocent individuals, encouraging us to reject the attractions of scapegoating violence and drawing us closer to God.

God calls us to establish relationships grounded in love, not collective violence. However, in order to love, we need to be able to forgive. While this can be very difficult, Jesus’ teachings offer us assistance.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

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