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ANIMAL GOSPEL - a review
Animal Gospel

Astrid Goddard reviews
       Animal Gospel: Christian Faith as Though Animals Mattered
                 by Andrew Linzey  [London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1998;  pp.212, £6.99]

Andrew Linzey is a Christian Theologian of international repute. He is an advocate of animal rights and holds the world's first post in Christian Theology and Animal Welfare at Mansfield College, Oxford. He has written numerous books and articles including Christianity and the Rights of Animals, Animal Theology, and Animal Rites.

The author presents his "own vision of the Christian gospel and how it can illuminate our understanding of our relationship with animals". This is a very personal and frank account of how and why Andrew Linzey feels that the Christian Churches as a whole have tended to fail the animal kingdom.

He leads us by intelligent and reasoned argument, through the historical neglect or even abuse of animals by the churches, and points to the way ahead, making an excellent case for the inclusion of animals in the daily practical concerns of the church, and also in the liturgy.

To quote a couple of paragraphs which sum up what the whole book is about: "Commentators, and especially Christian ones, frequently lapse into a kind of moral parochialism when it comes to discussions about animals, as if God only cared for one of the millions of species in the created world.

"This in turn has led us to a practical form of idolatry. By 'idolatry', I mean here the deification of the human species by regarding human beings as the sole, main, or even exclusive concern of God the creator. The treatment of animals often appears a small issue to Christians, but if the doctrine of God the creator is taken seriously it means, at the very least, that an estimate of our own needs and welfare is not the only basis on which we should judge our relations with the animal world."

The vision towards a cruelty-free future, and one in which animals have a place in the Christian world-view, is again summed up in a prayer written by Henry Vaughan, which expresses the author's views:
  O knowing glorious spirit, when
Thou shalt restore trees, beasts and men,
when thou shalt make all new again,
destroying only death and pain,
give him amongst Thy works a place,
who in them loved and sought Thy face.


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