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4.9 out of 5 stars
Animal Theology
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on April 16, 2008
EXCELLENT BOOK! First of all please get the masterpiece Animal Gospel which a MUST buy for ANYONE interested in animal rights, which is written by the same author. This author is a British priest and theologian and his life's mission IS animal rights (besides being a priest for human beings). Both these books are outstanding and Animal Gospel being the ULTIMATE argument in defense of animals. (Also please see "Why Animal Suffering Matters" by the same author that takes the argument to the next level.) This book sometimes gets technical in its theological theme, but it is much more than theology--Linzey is all about reason and justice, and you really have to read the passion for reason and justice and the tremendous insight that this theologian has for animals. It is Reverend Linzey who says that animals deserve PRIORITY and major consideration in our society (he goes beyond Singer in both this book and especially in Animal Gospel) because they are the most vulnerable in our society. This is even beyond PETA that goes by Singer!!! Incredible!!!

Linzey jumpstarted the animal rights movement and EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT Christian or are sour to the Christian treatment of animals, these books--ESPECIALLY Animal Gospel will give you plenty of extra insight and AMUNITION with which to go out into the world and take the tremendous challenges much better than by reading lay books alone. Don't be fooled by the Christian label (except for Animal Theology that DOES indeed have it's Christian imprint) because there is SO MUCH INSIGHT TO USE EVEN if you are shy or repelled by Christianity and animal rights in the same sentence. Reverend Linzey gets to the very root of value when it comes to WHY people view non-humans as inferior which leads to the use of animals for experimentation. He gets to the very root of the horrors of bioengineering and our blase acceptance of engineered mice or other animals, and so much more that is VERY suitable for the non religious person or those from another religion that want to avoid Christian theology. You practically have all the arguments spelled out for you. He explains (why) this problem needs to be addressed with the lawmakers rather than waste TOO much time convincing the vivisectors. Can animals be USED at all, he asks? That's a really tough question because upon what criteria do we base any judgment? According to Reverend Andrew Linzey, animals can be used ONLY if THEY BENEFIT--which eliminates the vast majority of ways we use animals in our society. Now really, isn't this great?

This book is an astonishingly intelligent argument for animal liberation. Animal Gospel, Animal Theology AND Why Animal Suffering Matters are MUST buys for those interested in pursing the fight against animal abuse in medicine and for animal liberation. For the younger folks out there, please believe me. When I was young (still a teenager) and it was basically me against the medical institution or establishment (that's how I felt), I didn't have all this amunition as you have today. Please use this gift of opportunity and EDUCATION by way of these blessed books, organizations such as PCRM and many other organizations that WEREN'T AROUND when I came face to face with calous doctors who antagonized me and supported vivisection. It was me against Goliath, but I stood firm in my convinctions. Now you have ALL this extra HELP, education, knowledge, AMUNITION, organizations, highly educated and HIGHLY intelligent people who are joining in the animal rights movement, even His Holiness The Dalai Lama, etc. Take advantage of all this opportunity to fight injustice. You are not alone as I felt I was back then.

Andrew Linzey has touched me very profoundly. Back then in the 60's and with the horrors that went on in the medical schools in Italy right under the nose of the Church, I, in a way, withdrew from pursuing the fight because I felt it too huge to tackle even if some organizations already existed. He has put me to shame in a way because ironically, it is a Priest of the Christian faith, a faith I had lost faith in, that had so much to teach me about courage in facing the impossible, the whole Medical Institution and SO MUCH MORE even if it is painful facing up to cruelty and indifference. I finally went to a protest against the immense suffering of elephants & their abuse in circuses the whole 10 days, and I was able to face the very painful indifference & cruel remarks of people with much more courage. I had to do it for the elephants and not back down. Then we walked with them (supporting them) to their trailers all the while in tears (holding each other for support) because they were so broken and so very sad. This author will be your teacher helping you to go to the NEXT LEVEL of animal rights.

You can use this book as secondary to Animal Gospel, but you would be surpised how much more insight this book has for anyone fighting for animal liberation and fighting to end suffering on all ends of the spectrum.

One tiny gripe: He mentions animal sacrifice to God alone and not to humans. Animal experimentations are unGodly sacrifices--that's a very good point. However, this total argument is only half right by my opinion. Please get the book, Power vs. Force and that will explain the low level of human spirituality when it comes to animal sacrifice.

Don't let this book pass by! This author is DEEPLY COMMITTED to the animal liberation movement and some words like humanocentricity are used by him to explain the selfish egocentric mentality of human beings in our world with regard to other beings that share the same planet with us.

Message to young people: LEARN, STUDY--get yourself an education, learn how to fight the tremendous injustices done to our fellow beings, become the President of the United States, congressmen, senators, lawmakers, bookwriters, lawyers (look how Gary Francione's education serves in his arguments for animal rights--see his books), even doctors (now you can sail through medical school without vivisection thanks to PCRM and Dr. Neil Barnard) and go out and DO GREAT WORK FOR NON-HUMANS WITH COURAGE! It is because Dr. Neil Barnard is a doctor that he was able to form a union with other doctors and REALLY MAKE A HUGE difference in eliminating vivisection from about more than 90% of medical schools in America! My little voice meant nothing. In my youth, I spent too much time waiting for a prince. Yeah right. Now I can't believe I wasted all that time in ILLUSIONS when I should have concentrated on education and the plight of animals in real desparate need of liberation. There is no prince or princess--look at what happened to Princess Diana. All is illusion and everything changes and passes--read Buddhist teachings and the book Power vs. Force that has a section on romantic "love." The only thing that is constant and real is the need for these animals to have someone come to their rescue and help them get out of the deep hell they are in. They are waiting for YOU to help them. Please don't make my mistakes. Dedicate your lives starting from your youth to help these animals out of real hell. That is the only thing that is real.
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VINE VOICEon March 27, 2007
Just add an "L" to "ANIMA" and you have...."ANIMAL"

And actually, aren't we humans "animals" too? Sure! We're mammals!! Nothin to be ashamed of! And we, who are (well, SHOULD be!) the benevolent caretakers of the world, resonate with all of creation, animal, vegetable, mineral (interesting that Jesus once said "These Stones will speak!" -- if stones can do it, then why not animals, who have more of a soul (IMHO) than a Stone.)

This is a great book. Thought-provoking, has many "AHA!" moments.

When we realize that our existence is TIGHTLY woven around the existence of every other God-created being on this earth, then perhaps one day (soon I hope) the word Man"KIND" will actually mean exactly that!!!

And let's face it -- Adam and Eve were NOT thrown out of the Garden of Eden for anything the animals had done! (let's ignore the snake, who was actually Old Scratch in disguise)

So "Be kind to animals -- for you NEVER know when you may be entertaining Angels Unawares".

I recommend this book for ANYONE, even those who do not profess any religion.
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on May 14, 2015
Great book.
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on August 11, 2014
Very well researched.
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on August 22, 2011
Andrew Linzey is a Church of England priest and theologian is also a long-time animal rights activist. His book presents a strong challenge to Christians who think of animal rights as a concern confined to the likes of PETA and Peter Singer, and who see concern for animals as peripheral to the gospel at best and anti-Christian at worst.

What sets Linzey's approach apart from secular animal rights theorists like Tom Regan is that, for Linzey, rights are grounded in God, not in anything inherent to the subject of rights (human or animal). He calls these (in a rather unfortunate neologism) "theos-rights." By this he means that animals exist for the sake of God, not for human beings, and consequently we must reject a purely instrumentalist view of animals that subordinates them to human purposes. "Creation exists for its Creator" (p. 24). And God, as Christianity conceives of him, is for Creation. In his overflowing grace, God's will for creation, including animals, is for flourishing and well-being. "The notion of `theos-rights' then for animals means that God rejoices in the lives of those differentiated beings in creation enlivened by the Spirit. In short: If God is for them, we cannot be against them" (p. 25).

Linzey argues that just as Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep, we are called to exhibit costly and sacrificial love in our relationships with others, especially those who are powerless and at our mercy as animals undoubtedly are. This is what he calls "the moral priority of the weak." What makes humans unique and how we image God, he says, is that we are the "servant species;" like Jesus was can live in service to others rather than seeking our own advantage.

This implies that we should eliminate or mitigate the harm of those practices which inflict unnecessary suffering on animals for the sake of human ends. Linzey is pretty radical in what he thinks that entails, calling for an end to meat-eating, animal experimentation, hunting, and genetic engineering. Linzey is no utopian, and he realizes that we can never be "pure" in that we are inevitably enmeshed in systems and practices that inflict harm. So self-righteousness is not an option. And he is aware that such a change in our lifestyles would involve some measure of sacrifice. But he thinks that Christians are called to live in a way that anticipates the advent of God's peaceable kingdom where predation and suffering are abolished. This eschatological vision recognizes that the creation as it is fails to reflect the creator's intentions in many respects.

One thing that makes Linzey difficult to dismiss is that the theological basis for his arguments are thoroughly Christological, Trinitarian and orthodox. A belief in the Triune God who works to redeem all of creation through the incarnation of the Son and sending of the Spirit and whose will for that creation is peace forms the context for the whole argument. Nearly everyone will quibble with some of his conclusions. One minor complaint I might make is that Linzey isn't always clear to what extent he sees this as an aspirational ideal for Christians, or a ethic that can be instutionalized in the wider society. At any rate, I find it difficult to disagree with the main thrust of his argument. Surely the degree of suffering we inflict on our fellow creatures, often for trivial reasons, is not something that should sit easily with professed followers of the Good Shepherd.

This book does delve into some dense academic arguments at times. For a more personal and accessible version of Linzey's basic argument I also highly recommend his 'Animal Gospel,' which is a kind of companion volume to this book.
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on May 8, 2015
“Animal Theology” by Andrew Linzey does a great job of arguing for animal rights from a Christian perspective. The author admits that historically Christians have defined dominion as the right to use and destroy nature and have had little respect for animal lives or any other part of creation.
Animals had rights in Christian doctrine only as they could be defined as possessions.
But Linzey reinterprets the gospels and puts considerable research into the study, so Biblical teachings come more in line with the modern thinking on ecology.
Linzey writes that in Genesis 9 when God gives permission to eat flesh and blood, it is a temporary right to meet an emergency as there was little protein to be had then in the Mediterranean. This is the time of the flood and it reminds me of the American Indian belief that mankind was vegetarian until the Ice Age when we were given permission to temporarily eat meat, but just until the food emergency of that time passed.
In one chapter Linzey compares meat eating to vampirism, and writes about the dilemma faced by a vampire in one of Anne Rice’s books. Louis, the vampire sees the evil in killing, but knows he must do it to survive. Is meat eating still necessary for survival among humans? Probably not.
In other chapters Linzey discusses hunting and medical experimentation on animals. His examples are easy for the layman to follow.
As a vegetarian and antivivisectionist, I have heard these arguments before. I am also a student of pagan religions. Christianity usually compares badly to the gentler nature religions.
We can’t undo the vast destruction of rain forests, or the extinction of entire species. We can’t undo the damages done by coal, oil and factory farming, We can, however, take a closer look at our ethics, and understand how and why we went wrong. Ignorance of God’s law is no excuse. But instead of bemoaning our history, we must take steps to correct it.
It is about time a Christian theologian discussed protecting instead of owning creation and using it for profit.
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on December 30, 1999
Linzey approaches animal rights from a Biblical Christian perspective. He points out that in the garden of Eden Adam and Eve were totally vegan, as were all the animals. This therefore represents an ideal state of creation, which one day it can return to ("The lion will lie down with the lamb.."). Meat eating was allowed after the flood because of sin, and should be regarded as an emergency necessity rather than part of God's overall plan. If meat eating is not necessary for health (as it isn't in much of the world), then animals should be left alone. Linzey also refutes those who say that God gave us "dominion" over other living things, pointing out that the Bible points to Christ as an example of how "dominion" should be exercised. Christ used his superior ability to help human kind and to sacrifice Himself on our behalf, not to rule over us like a petty tyrant. I have always thought this myself, but it will certainly give me more confidence when arguing against evangelical fundamentalists to know that my opinions are backed up by an Oxford Professor of theology.
Linzey goes further than Singer or Regan in our duties to animals. He agrees with Regan that we differ from other animals as moral agents (though he doesn't use the term), since we are created in God's image. He then goes on to say that just as God became a servant for us, that the "image" we are created in is the image of a servant, not a dictator. Thus, far from using our privileged status with the Almighty as an excuse for tyranny over our less fortunate animal friends, we are obliged to show animals not equal consideration, but MORE consideration than ourselves, simply because we are the stronger species, in the same way that parents always should put their childrens' interests above their own.
In conclusion, I found the book to be worthwhile, and would recommend it to anyone interested in animals rights and Christianity. Unlike many books on animal rights, it was free form anger or condemnation against those doing the exploitation . The author succeeds in loving the sinner while hating the sin.
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on December 29, 2009
This is a superb book that simply points out that the God that created the heavens, earth, and humans, also created pigs, chickens, cows, armadillos, spiders and salamanders. From here, Linzey argues that Christians must have some sort of relationship with these creatures that tells the world that we think God created them, and that they are good, and that they have some sort of implicit good within themselves beyond what we take from them. They are our covenant partners (biblical language) that only become food, medicine, and clothing for us after the fall. This is a significant theological point for any of those people wanting to provide an example of what it means to live as a witness to the peaceable kingdom. This is a great place to start reading about what it means for us to think about discipleship in light of other creatures on this planet.
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on August 14, 2000
This book is one of many works by Prof. Linzey which grapple with the meaning of Christian faith and human relationships with other animals. In some respects, Prof. Linzey is quite traditional in his understanding of Christianity--that God is creator and redeemer, for instance, or that all are saved through Christ. However, he adds something unique (though not inconsistent) to his discussion of theology: "theos-rights," a concept emphasizing the fact that creation exists for God, not for humanity. From this, Linzey is able to show how Biblical texts and doctrines should point us toward a identifying with animals as God's creatures--not as objects to dominate over. This book is well written and an eloquent statement on behalf of Linzey's lifetime as a Christian theologian--and it pushes true Christians to become more God-centered, rather than self-centered. For those who might wish for a book that is less academic--but certainly as well written--try Linzey's "Animal Gospel."
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on February 5, 1999
A great read for anyone interested in religion and animal rights. It's a wonderful reference for spirituality and AR discussions.
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