Early Methodists and Other Animals : Animal Welfare as an Evangelical Issue, The 2015 Fernley Hartley Lecture, David Clough David Clough

, par Estela Torres

Early Methodists and Other Animals : Animal Welfare as an Evangelical Issue The 2015 Fernley Hartley Lecture
David Clough

[Thanks to you all for coming. I’m grateful for introduction, and the invitation to give the lecture. I confess to not knowing a great deal about Fernley or Hartley, but I do treasure an indirect family connection with the latter. [slide] My grandfather, the Revd James Leonard Clough, trained for the Primitive Methodist ministry at Hartley College, Manchester, and represented the college at the 1932 Uniting Conference in which the Primitive, Wesleyan and New Connexion branches of the Methodist Church rejoined. My grandfather died in 2011 aged 101 and in the 78th year of his ministry. I’m glad to have this opportunity of remembering him.]

‘Nature, the world, has no value, no interest for Christians. The Christian thinks only of himself and the salvation of his soul...The practical end and object of Christians is solely heaven.’1 So wrote Ludwig Feuerbach in his 1841 treatise The Essence of Christianity, advocating the adoption of atheistic humanism. One might say that from then until the latter decades of the twentieth century, Christians seem to have made a concerted effort to prove Feuerbach right. 135 years later, in 1976,
in the ground-breaking book, Animal Liberation, on the ethics of human treatment of animals, the atheistic utilitarian Peter Singer made a similar claim to Feuerbach’s. The human oppression of animals through research experimentation, factory farming, and the slaughter of wild animals for sport or fur ‘can be properly understood only as the manifestations of the ideology of our species — that is, the attitudes that we, as the dominant animal, have toward the other animals’,2 which has its most problematic roots in Christianity, with with its belief in human uniqueness and the immortality

1 Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, trans. George Eliot (New York : Prometheus Books, 1989), 287–8.

2 Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (London : Pimlico, 2nd ed. 1995), 185.

of the human soul.3 It seems to me that both atheists and Christians have largely accepted Singer’s judgement. I have attended animal studies conferences at which atheists have argued that the only way to advance the cause of animals is to eradicate religion. I have had fellow church members question my interest in animal ethics on the basis that God gave humans the animals for our use. I have met ex-Christians who have left the church because of the divinely mandated human domination of animals they found advocated there, and others who see Christian attitudes towards animals as a major obstacle to faith.
It seems timely, therefore, to issue a reminder. In 1822, after a number of unsuccessful efforts, the UK passed the first legislation globally prohibiting cruelty towards animals. William Wilberforce, the Anglican evangelical who was politically active in campaigns and legislation on many social issues, including slavery, was one of the sponsors of the 1822 bill, together with Thomas Fowell Buxton, a Quaker. The leading proponent of the bill was Richard Martin, an Irish Catholic MP.

Two years later, in 1824 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed, which became the RSPCA with the permission of Queen Victoria in 1840. The founding meeting was called by the Revd Arthur Broome, an Anglican priest who later gave up his church to work for the charity. It was attended by Wilberforce, Martin, Fowell Buxton, among other Christians, and Lewis Gompertz, a prominent Jew, was another of its founders.4 Feuerbach was wrong about these Christians, at least, and they seem to have escaped the ideological dangers Singer diagnosed in Christianity : the campaign to provide legal protection for animals has its origins in Christian

3 Singer, Animal Liberation, 191.

4 James Turner, Reckoning With the Beast : Animals, Pain and Humanity in the Victorian Mind, vol. The Johns Hopkins University studies in historical and political science. 98th series ; 2 (Baltimore ; London : Johns Hopkins University Press c1980, 1980), 39–41.

concern for cruelty towards them, and evangelicals were prominent among those campaigning for this new status. In this lecture, I want to go back a few decades further, to look at some of the sermons that were formative of these evangelical attitudes, before reflecting on their implication for the engagement of Methodists, evangelicals, and other Christians with concern for other animals today.

I. Wesley on the future of animals

In 1781 John Wesley preached a sermon on Romans 8.19–22 entitled ‘The General Deliverance’. He quotes from the King James version that the ‘earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God’, that ‘the creature was subjected to vanity’ and that ‘the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God’.5 Wesley’s sermon is structured around a theological problem. He begins with the statement that ‘Nothing is more sure’ than that God is merciful towards ‘all that have sense, all that are capable of pleasure or pain, of happiness or misery’. In support of this position Wesley quotes Psalms 104, 145 and 147 that God’s mercy is over all his works, providing all things with plenteousness, preparing food for cattle as well as human beings, feeding the young ravens when they cry to God and sending springs into rivers to give drink to beasts of the field and even wild asses.6 The problem Wesley identifies is how to reconcile the providential care of God for all creatures proclaimed in these psalms with what we see around us every day : ‘If the Creator and Father of every living thing, is rich in mercy towards all ; if he does not overlook or despise any of

5 John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, vol. V (New York : Ezekiel Cooper and John Wilson, 1806), 117.
6 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 117.

the works of his own hands : if he wills even the meanest of them to be happy, according to their degree : how comes it to pass, that such a complication of evils oppresses, yea, overwhelms them ?’7

To answer this animal particularization of the problem of evil, Wesley sets out a sermon in three parts : what the original state of non-human animals was, what their state is at present and what their state will be when Paul’s prophecy in Romans 8 comes to pass.8 Originally, in Paradise, Wesley argues that non-human animals were blessed with self-motion, a degree of understanding and a power of choice guided by this understanding.9 They even had some resemblance to moral goodness.10 Humans were also blessed with these capacities, though to a higher degree. The factor separating humans and other animals was not reason, Wesley argues, which is another word for the understanding that is common to human and non-human animals. Rather, what separates humans from other kinds of animals is that humans are capable of knowing, loving and obeying God, while other animals are not.11 Therefore he argues that the perfection of humanity in Eden was obedience to God, whereas the perfection of other animals was obedience to humanity. This unique human capacity meant that human beings were the only channel of communication between God and the other animals, so that when humanity became incapable of transmitting God’s blessings through their disobedience, the rest of creation was ‘subjected to vanity’.12 As a result, the current state of other animals is far from their original one : they have lost vigour, strength and swiftness, but even more have substantially lost their understanding and power of will so that they are now ‘utterly

7 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 118.
8 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 118.
9 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 121.
10 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 122.
11 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 122.
12 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 123.

enslaved to irrational appetites’.13 This is the reason, Wesley contends, that non-human animals are now savage and cruel to their fellow creatures, that many of them have become horrid in appearance and why so many of them suffer, not least at the hands of humans.14

Wesley reaches the climax of his sermon in the question : ‘But will the creature, will even the brute creation always remain in this deplorable condition ?’15 His answer is forthright :

God forbid that we should affirm this, yea, or even entertain such a thought ! ‘While the whole creation groaneth together’, (whether men attend or not), their groans are not dispersed in idle air, but enter into the ears of him that made them. While his creatures travail together in pain, he knoweth all their pain, and is bringing them nearer and nearer to the birth, which shall be accomplished in its season. He seeth the earnest expectation wherewith the whole animated creation waiteth for that final manifestation of the sons of God : in which they themselves also shall be delivered, (not by annihilation : annihilation is not deliverance), from the present ‘bondage of corruption into (a measure of) the glorious liberty of the children of God’.
Nothing can be more express. Away with vulgar prejudices, and let the plain word of God take place. They ‘shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into glorious liberty’ : even a measure, according as they are capable, of the liberty of the children of God.16

Wesley cites the final chapter of Revelation in support of his conclusion : God’s declaration that ‘I am making all things new’ and the assurance that ‘he will wipe every tear from their eyes’ and that death, mourning and crying will be no more (21.4–5), noting that the text does not limit these

13 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 123.
14 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 124–5.
15 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 127, italics in original.
16 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 127, italics in original.

promises to humans alone.17 Animals will exceed their former state, even in Paradise, ‘As a recompense for what they once suffered, while under the bondage of corruption, when God has renewed the face of the earth, and their corruptible body has put on incorruption, they shall enjoy happiness, suited to their state, without alloy, without interruption, and without end.’18 Wesley sees in this latter point an important response to ‘a plausible objection against the justice of God, in suffering numberless creatures, that had never sinned, to be so severely punished’, since such creatures ‘receive ample amends for all their present sufferings’.19 He also hopes that recalling God’s mercies to all creatures may ‘enlarge our hearts towards these creatures’ so that we may ‘habituate ourselves to look forward, beyond this present scene of bondage, to the happy time, when they will be delivered therefrom, into the liberty of the children of God’.

In this sermon, Wesley sees no alternative to an interpretation of Romans 8 that includes all animals in its grand redemptive vision, but he also sees in Paul’s image of a creation set free from its bondage both an answer to a systematic theological concern about the unjust suffering of sinless creatures and the inspiration for a change in Christian practice to avoid cruelty to other animals. While my judgement is that an adequate theological account of animals requires some development of Wesley’s position, what is notable and important about Wesley’s sermon is that he is clear that the Romans 8 text requires a more-than-human view of redemption and that he recognizes that this view of the scope of redemption will have practical consequences for Christian treatment of other animals.
Wesley’s belief in the place of non-human animals in God’s redemptive purposes was not a fleeting whim. Fifty-four years earlier, as a twenty-four year old Oxford undergraduate, one of the

17 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 128.
18 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 129, italics in original.
19 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 131.
20 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 131–2.

‘Wall Lectures’ he was required to give as part of his degree studies was entitled ‘De anima brutou’, of the souls of brute animals, and the topic features in his journal several times in that year.21 In his journal entry for 16th July 1756 he copies a long letter he received emphasizing the Christian duty of love to the brute creation.22 In 1763, he published A Survey of the Wisdom of God in Creation, or A Compendium of Natural Philosophy in which he summarized Bonnet’s The Contemplation of Nature. Wesley includes an extensive footnote concerning whether ‘brutes have a soul or not’ which concludes that at the end of time brutes will return to their original immortal essence and humanity will have to give an account of their treatment of other animals.23 Three years after the ‘General

21 Randy L. Maddox, ‘“Celebrating the Whole Wesley” : A Legacy for Contemporary Wesleyans’, Methodist History 43:2 (2005), 86.

22 It is tempting at this point to add Wesley’s periods of vegetarianism to the list of evidences for his concern for animals. Wesley adopted vegetarianism in the course of his sea voyage to America in 1735 and maintained this diet for two years. He took it up again at the suggestion of George Cheyne, a contemporary diet guru, in 1746, but again abandoned it after two years because of a ‘violent flux’ that had seized him in Ireland. For these and other details of Wesley’s dietary habits, see Charles Wallace, ‘Eating and Drinking With John Wesley : The Logic of His Practice’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library of Manchester 85 (2003). However, it is very hard to attribute Wesley’s dietary choices to his concern for other animals. He explains his choice to give up meat and wine on the way to America as based on the belief that self-denial would be helpful in itself by the blessing of God (Journals, JWW 1, 17), and the 1746 decision seems to be motivated primarily by health concerns, which was the basis for Cheyne’s recommendation (see his George Cheyne, An Essay of Health and Long Life (London and Bath : George Strahan and J. Leake, 1724)).

23 John Wesley, A Survey of the Wisdom of God in the Creation : Or, a Compendium of Natural Philosophy, Containing an Abridgement of That Beautiful Work, the Contemplation of Nature By Mr. Bonnet, of Geneva, Also, an Extract From Mr. Deuten’s ‘Inquiry Into the Origin of the Deliverance’ sermon, in 1784, Wesley published with a short preface extracts from John Hildrop’s work Free Thoughts on

the Brute Creation, in which Hildrop argues for immorality for all animals.
against the Jesuit Guillaume Bougeant’s position in the 1739 work Amusement Philosophique sur le Langage des Bêtes. In the work, Hildrop argues against the Jesuit Guillaume Bougeant’s position in his 1739 _Amusement Philosophique sur le Langage des Bêtes_ in which Bougeant first plausibly argues against Descartes’ view that animals are without souls and then less plausibly claims that they must instead be incarnations of evil spirits ! Instead, Hildrop contends that God created, cares for and will redeem all creatures. Wesley’s practical interest in animal welfare was also not a fleeting concern.

We might ask at this point why it was the case that Wesley took up the cause of non-human animals with such energy. It is important to note that such humanitarian concern for particular cruelties practised on other animals was not unique to Methodism, and objections to animal cruelty were raised by other Christians, primarily among non-conformist denominations. It is also important, however, to note the context for such sentiments within Christianity, particularly in relation to the Patristic sources that were influential on Wesley. The affirmation of the gathering up (anakephalaiosis) of all things in Christ in Ephesians 1.10 led Irenaeus in the second century to develop a doctrine of recapitulation in which Christ redeems the whole creation and restores the world to its primeval state, with creatures returning to obedience to human beings and to their first food provided by God.24 The statement in Peter’s Pentecost sermon that Jesus would remain in heaven ‘until the time of universal restoration [apokatastasis]’ (Acts 3.21) inspired Origen to develop the related tradition in which all things are restored to their state in paradise. The tradition

Discoveries Attributed to the Ancients (New York : N. Bangs and T. Mason, 1823), 129 n.
24 Irenaeus, ‘Against Heresies’, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers : Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to a.d. 325, vol. 1, A. Cleveland Coxe, James Donaldson, and Alexander Roberts (eds.), (Edinburgh : T & T Clark, 1997), 5.33.4.

of apokatastasis is taken up in the fourth century by Gregory of Nyssa, who also looks forward to the final harmony of all things.25 It may be precisely Wesley’s appropriate of Patristic eschatological

25 See Morwenna Ludlow, Universal Salvation : Eschatology in the Thought of Karl Rahner and Gregory of Nyssa (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2000).

The condemnation of various Origenist positions by the 5th ecumenical council in 553 AD, where apokatastasis is mentioned, led to many being nervous of espousing it, but the church did not condemn apokatastasis as such and the position Gregory of Nyssa, for example, is never questioned (see Gregory MacDonald, ‘Introduction’, in “All Shall be Well” : Explorations in Universalism and Christian Theology, From Origen to Moltmann, Gregory Macdonald (ed.), (Eugene, Oregon : Cascade Books, 2011), 4–10 and Tom Greggs, ‘Apokatastasis : Particularist Universalism in Origen (C. 185–C. 254)’, in “All Shall be Well” : Explorations in Universalism and Christian Theology, From Origen to Moltmann, Gregory Macdonald (ed.), (Eugene, Oregon : Cascade Books, 2011), 30).

The doctrines of anakephalaiosis and apokatastasis remain attractive to many theologians : Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example, calls Irenaeus’s position ‘a magnificent and consumately consoling thought’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 8, eds. Christian Gremmels, Eberhard Bethge, Renate Bethge, and Ilse Tödt, trans. John W. de Gruchy (Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 2010), 230 ; see also David Clough, ‘Interpreting Human Life By Looking the Other Way : Bonhoeffer on Human Beings and Other Animals’, in Bonhoeffer and the Biosicences : An Initial Exploration, International Bonhoeffer Interpretations, Ralf K. Wüstenberg, Stefan Heuser, and Esther Hornung (eds.), (Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang, 2010)). Karl Barth judges it dangerous to count on or claim apokatastasis, but concludes ‘we are surely commanded the more definitely to hope and pray for it as we may do already on this side of this final possibility’ (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. IV/3.1, ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance, trans. Bromiley, G. W. (Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1961), 477–8).

visions, therefore, that convinces him that cruelty towards other animals is of crucial Christian concern.

II. Concern for animals in Early Methodism

Wesley died in 1791, but it is clear that Methodist concern for animals did not die with him. The November 1807 edition of The Methodist Magazine printed the first part of a sermon by the Rev. Legh Richmond (evangelical Anglican born in Liverpool in 1772, and inventor of the removable cards to display hymn numbers, if Wikipedia is to be believed) entitled ‘A Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty to the Brute Creation’, originally preached in Bath Abbey on 15th February, 1801 on Genesis 1.26. Nine pages of the magazine were devoted to this first part of the sermon, and second part, in the following issue a month later, took a further thirteen.26 In the sermon, Richmond argues that whereas Adam loved the other creatures for God’s sake, humanity has now replaced the mercy, loving-kindness, and benevolence with which Adam imaged God’s care for creation, with selfishness, pride, and cruelty. The depravity of humanity is clearest in its cruelty towards other animals :

Do you seek confirmation of this lamentable truth ? — Go into the streets and lanes of the city, go into the highways and hedges, and there in the merciless conduct of your fellow-mortals towards the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and every creeping thing, read the true character of apostate man.27

Such cruelty is most clearly contrary to Christianity, Richmond argues,

26 Leigh Richmond, ‘A Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty to the Brute Creation ; Preached in the Abby Church At Bath, on February 15, 1801’, The Methodist Magazine XXX:or 4 of the New Series (1807).
27 Richmond, ‘Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty’, 492.

since the dominion of man over the various brutes of the creation was an express gift of God ; since God himself is all merciful, and bestowed this right of government upon man when he, in conformity to his Maker, was merciful also ; it is a direct and necessary conclusion, that mercy and kind treatment is due from man to every animal, and that all wanton and needless cruelty towards them is and must ever be an abomination in the sight of God.28

If God created creatures with the capacity of experiencing happiness and the potential to contribute to human comfort, God must have designed such being to be happy, and therefore made humanity their lord and protector to secure their comfort, motivated by gratitude and love to their creator.29

As examples of cruelty to animals, Richmond records cruelty to horses used for transport of people and goods, or racing for sport, whose ‘writhings, convulsions, and agonies are unheeded’, the practices of setting birds and animals to fight one another to produce ‘the gratifying spectacle of mangled limbs, convulsed nerves, bleeding carcasses, and dying groans of struggling animals’, the contemporary blood sport of cock-throwing, where a cock is tied up and then killed by the throwing of staves and stones, the torturing of animals by children, wagers based on extreme animal endurance, such as a pony who died in the attempt to make it run 100 miles in 12 hours, the flaying alive of eels, the training of beasts and birds to do tricks, the mutilation of the tails of horses, the recommendation of controlling mice by forcing them to prey on one another and then setting the victors free to hunt out their fellows, a recent case of bull-baiting, and the recent rejection in Parliament of a bill to ban bear-baiting. He concludes with the example of a man who used a cock for cock-fighting, but became angry when he lost a bet on it, and roasted it alive. The screams of the bird were so affecting, that some tried to interfere, but the man stood with an iron bar and threatened to kill anyone that tried to save the cock. Richmond narrates that then the man then

28 Richmond, ‘Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty’, 493.
29 Richmond, ‘Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty’, 493.

suddenly dropped dead on the spot, and adds a quotation from Psalm 53 : ‘Doubtless there is a God that judgeth the earth’.30In September 1813, the Methodist Magazine published a short article ‘On the Recreation of Shooting’ which, while noting that shooting may be justified by necessity for controlling birds or animals injurious to agriculture, expressed the wish that ‘no Methodist would use the gun, save in case of necessity’, since shooting for sport is a ‘pleasure of sin’, manifests a dangerous tendency to violence, is replete with cruelty, is destructive of time, and inconsistent with human character.31

In October 1814, the Methodist Magazine prints a letter sent in by a correspondent, which had first been published in the mid-Eighteenth century. The author notes that ‘the moral obligations of humanity to brutes has not, as I remember, been insisted upon from our pulpits so forcibly, or so frequently, as the importance of the duty requires’ and reports pleasure at two recent sermons preached on Shrove Sunday against the blood-sport of cock-throwing at Shrove-tide. The letter cites a range of Old Testament texts against cruelty to animals, and concludes from them
Can it then be supposed, that man may innocently mangle and torture the beings for whom God opens the fountains of the hills, compresses the clouds of heaven into rain, cloathes the fields with verdure, and the forests with shade !32
In the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine of September 1822, a regular ‘Christian Retrospect’ section collects ‘general occurrences interesting to those who fear God, on account of their

30 Richmond, ‘Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty’, 495–6, 498, 548–52.

31 ‘On the Recreation of Shooting’, The Methodist Magazine XXX:or 4 of the New Series (1813). 32 ‘On the Duty of Clemency to Brutes’, The Methodist Magazine XXX:or 4 of the New Series
(1814).

influence on religion, or on public morals and happiness’.33 One item reported in this month welcomes the passing of a bill to prevent cruelty to animals, noting it to be ‘most worthy of a Christian legislature, and indicative of a healthful state’, which is an example of the approximation of political institutions to the wisdom and benevolence of God. The report notes that the systematic oppression of creatures God mercifully subjected to human service ‘most ever be offensive’ and hopes that the statute will have an effect on ‘those acts of brutal outrage which so often occur, in every large town especially’.34

In May 1826, the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine published a six-page sermon by Dr Thomas Chalmers, who was Professor of Moral Philosophy, St Andrews, then Professor of Theology, Edinburgh entitled ‘Cruelty to Animals’.35 The article begins by observing that human beings are ‘the direct agent of a wide and continual distress to the lower animals’, citing the Romans 8 passage on which Wesley preached as describing the travail imposed on other animals by humanity and asks ‘Can any method be devised for its alleviation ?’ In dramatic prose, the author continues by asserting that, it holds true, not only that the arch-devourer man stands pre-eminent over the fiercest children of the wilderness as an animal of prey, but that for his lordly and luxurious appetite, as well as for his service or merest curiosity and amusement, Nature must be ransacked throughout all her elements.36

33 ‘Christian Retrospect’, Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (1822), 581.
34 ‘Christian Retrospect’, 582.
35 Dr Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (1826). 36 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 310.

The article sees this cruelty as fulfilment of the Genesis 9 declaration of God to Noah that ‘the fear of man is upon every beast’ (Gen. 9.2) :
The whole earth labours and is in violence because of his cruelties ; and, from the amphitheatre of sentient Nature there sounds in fancy’s ear the bleat of one wide and universal suffering, —a dreadful homage to the power of Nature’s constituted lord .37

In a rejection of Cartesian accounts of animal sentience, Chalmers argues that such sufferings are really felt, since ‘[t]he beasts of the field are not automata without sensation’, but cry, bruise, sicken, grow feeble and die as we do.38 Indeed, the suffering of other animals may be more problematic than human suffering, because they suffer the agonies of martyrdom ‘without the alleviation of the hopes and sentiments, whereof they are incapable’. The plight of the suffering non-human animal is therefore severe :

And so in that bed of torment, whereon the wounded animals lingers and expires, there is an unexplored depth and intensity of suffering which the poor dumb animal itself cannot tell, and against which it can offer no remonstrance ; an untold and unknown amount of wretchedness, of which no articulate voice gives utterance.39
Dr Chalmers does not foresee ‘the abolition of animal food’, nor ‘the abolition of animal experiments’, but calls for ‘the least possible expense of suffering’ to animals subject to slaughter and the abandonment of ‘experiments of illustration’, which are far more numerous than those of discovery, and hopes that field sports will be spontaneously abandoned ‘by righteous and regardful men’.40 Chalmers seems aware that not all his congregation will share his concern, and notes that

37 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 310.
38 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 310.
39 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 311.
40 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 311–12.

some may think ‘that we have wasted the whole of this Sabbath morn, on what may be ranked among but the lesser moralities of human conduct’.41 He defends his subject, by noting that the virtue he commends goes beyond reciprocity to overstep the limits of species :

The lesson of this day is not the circulation of benevolence within the limits of one species. It is the transmission of it from one species to another. The first is the charity of a world. The second is the charity of a universe. Had there been no such charity, no descending current of love and of liberality from species to species, what, I ask, should have become of ourselves ? Whence have we learned this lofty unconcern about the creatures who are beneath us ?42

The distance upwards between God and ourselves, Chalmers notes, far surpasses ‘by infinity the distance downward between us and everything that breathes’. God’s example in the incarnation is an example, as well as an expiation ‘that every Christian might extend his compassionate regards over the whole of sentient and suffering nature’.43 The Baptist Magazine in May, 1826 also carried a report of the published sermon.44

We can see, then, that Methodists, other evangelicals, and Christians more broadly, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, recognized obvious reasons derived from their faith to be concerned about human cruelty towards animals, and made addressing this cruelty a priority in their preaching and action. I want now to turn briefly to the questions of what happened to this as a topic of Christian concern. At this point it would be good to be able to report on a thorough survey of Christian discussion of animals from the early nineteenth century until the late twentieth century. Unfortunately, that is not work I have yet done (if anyone’s looking for a PhD topic, do let me know).

41 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 311–12. 42 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 314.
43 Chalmers, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, 315.
44 ‘New Publications’, The Baptist Magazine XVIII (1826), 228.

It is true that the issue of vivisection captured the attention of Christians in the late nineteenth century : in 1875, for example, the Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals from Vivisection was formed, whose first members included the Archbishop of York, the Roman Catholic cardinal Henry Ernest Manning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Ruskin, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, and the Earl of Shaftesbury, as well as other bishops and senior clergy, and when it later divided, one of the groups formed was the Church Anti-vivisection League.45 CS Lewis took up the issue in the mid twentieth century.46 Beyond this single issue, however, it is hard to locate concern for animals as a significant topic of Christian concern. For example, in a survey I did of the social issues discussed at the annual conference of the Methodist Church between 1932 and the end of the century, animals do not feature once. Nor has it been among the concerns of evangelicals in this period, though there are some very recent developments in that direction (see everylivingthing.com).

In order to account for the comparative neglect of animals as a topic of Christian concern after the early nineteenth century, it is notable that there is no evidence that there were doctrinal or ethical reasons for rejecting a Wesleyan perspective on this issue. While there are isolated examples of objections to Wesley’s views concerning other animals,47 there is no evidence that Methodists, or other Christians, took a decision to set aside the teaching of Wesley and others concerning animals and the ethical implications of this position. One possible reason for a diminished interest in animal cruelty is that the movements against cruelty towards other animals were conspicuously successful : Robert Malcolmson argues that blood-sports popular among the working classes had been almost

45 Rod Preece, Animal Sensibility and Inclusive Justice in the Age of Bernard Shaw (Vancouver : UBC Press, 2011), 113.
46 C. S. Lewis, ‘Vivisection’, in God in the Dock : Essays in Theology and Ethics, Walter Hooper (ed.), (Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 2014).
47 J. E.T. "John Wesley’s Cosmogony." The Westminster Review 94 (1870) : 146-53.

entirely eliminated by the 1840s,48 and, as noted above, this period had also seen the passage of the first anti-cruelty legislation. We might therefore speculate that with the eradication of the most egregious contemporary examples of cruelty towards non-human animals, and a successful campaign for legislation to regulate better treatment of other animals, Methodists and others switched their efforts to other significant social ills. Perhaps then Christian concerns became narrowed so that when new examples of bad treatment of animals arose in the twentieth century, those outside the church were quicker than those within to respond, reinforcing the sense that concern about animals was a secular, and not a Christian, concern. This is speculative, but seems to me the most plausible explanation.

III. What next ?

What might this legacy mean for the way Methodists, evangelicals, and other Christians who trace their origins through this period of church history engage with concern for animals today ? We could pick on any number of issues of potential continuity. For example, Legh Richardson picked on the story of ponies being raced to death for bets, which should give us pause if we appreciate that there have been 98 deaths of race horses in races in the UK so far in 2015, including two at Chester.49 The most striking change in our practice in relation to animals, however, is the way farmed animals are raised. Is is striking to note that it was only in the second half of the 18th century that farmed animals were raised on a large scale exclusively for meat, and only in this period that selective breeding was first used extensively to make farmed animals more productive.50 A very great part of
48 Robert Malcolmson, ‘Popular Recreations Under Attack’, in Popular Culture, Past and Present : A Reader, Bernard Waites, Tony Bennett, and Graham Martin1982), 21.
49 Deathcount : add URL 50 [ref ?]
what we are currently doing to farmed animals would therefore have been unimaginable to Wesley, Broome, Richmond, Chalmers and their contemporaries.

Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicate that in 2013, 77 billion farmed land animals were used globally to produce meat, eggs, and dairy products, and my estimates on available data suggest that something between 2.5 and 6.8 trillion fish were used for human food. The vast majority of land animals are intensively reared in ways that do not allow them the freedom to engage in natural behaviours and cause them great suffering and distress, such as the broiler hens I visited where 600,000 day old chicks were delivered to warehouse-sized sheds, grown for 35 days, then picked by the legs, pressed into crates, driven down the motorway, hung up by the legs, wings flapping, stunned in an electrical water bath method the EU has criticized as inconsistent and ineffective, before having their throats cut, feathers plucked, and bodies dismembered. It seems to me that the Christians concerned about eighteenth and nineteenth century cruelties towards animals would have had reason to be much more concerned about the lives and deaths we now inflict on farmed animals. The lives such animals live is fundamentally out of step with the Wesleyan vision that these are creatures made by God for a reason, that God wishes them to enjoy happiness, and they are destined for participation in the life of God as part of a redeemed creation.

There are many examples we could focus on to illustrate the problem of the development of intensive practices for raising farmed animals without adequate reflection from Christians or any other part of the wider public. Here is one image that seems to me to represent much of what is wrong. It shows workers sexing chicks from a laying strain of hen. Hens have been selectively bred over the past few decades either to be very productive in laying eggs, or to put on weight so rapidly that they can reach slaughter weight in as little as 35 days. This creates a problem in relation to the male chicks from the breeds used for laying eggs : they are of no economic use, either for eggs or for meat. As a result, after they have been sexed they are killed, usually by maceration, which means being fed live into a mincer of rapidly rotating blades. That is where the male chicks in the picture are going.
You will notice that the image is not of high quality. That is because it is a still from an undercover video taken in a huge egg factory in Iowa. The agriculture industry has become so concerned at the prospect of the public learning about how farmed animals are being treated, that they have successfully lobbied for new laws making it illegal to gather evidence or engage in whistle-blowing about bad practice in relation to treatment of farm animals, and in seven US states, such ‘ag-gag’ laws now criminalize such activity. It seems to me that we have now reached a point of instability in our systems of farmed animal production, where producers are able to market their products only on the basis of consumer ignorance of what is being done to the animals caught up in them. Who decided this system was a good idea, and when were the public consulted ? It is as if we have been sleep-walking into ways of raising farmed animals in ways that are entirely contradictory to the sense that Wesley had of other animals as fellow creatures, created by God to flourish and destined to be redeemed by God. Wesley and his Christian contemporaries would have recognized this system as unchristian, and I suggest we should do so too.

All current commercial systems of egg production rely on selective breeding of laying strains, and therefore the killing of all male chicks. This is as true for free-range and organic production as it is for caged egg production. The only way of avoiding the necessity for this practice would be to return to using dual-use breeds, where the females would be raised for eggs and the males for meat. But the meat and eggs from such systems would be more expensive than from the current intensive systems, and so would fail to compete economically with current production methods. The problem of the maceration of male chicks is therefore symbolic of the dead end we have reached with the intensification of farmed animal production : a pattern of practice that seems intolerable, and the lack of any obvious economic alternative.

The ag-gag laws in the US, however, seem to me to be one potential sign of hope. If the industry is that concerned about what consumers get to know about intensive farming methods, it seems that they believe that consumers becoming informed would reduce demand for their products. That seems like an opportunity to me. What if Methodists, evangelicals, and other Christians were to rediscover the concern for fellow animal creatures that is deeply-rooted in their tradition and which Christians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were quick to act on ? What if churches began to recognize that the sourcing of farmed animal products served by churches was a faith issue, and they stopped purchasing the animal products of intensive farming, and encouraged their members to do the same ? Any significant change of practice would very quickly reduce the demand for intensively farmed animal products, and therefore the numbers of farmed animals raised in such systems, and increase demand for the products of farmers seeking to provide a better life for the animals in their care. In championing the cause of farmed animals as their forebears did for other animals subjected to cruel treatment, Christians would be on the front foot once again in relation to concern for animals, and perhaps convince some currently unpersuaded that this inclusive sense of its mission made the church worth listening to. [I’m currently planning a big project to challenge churches in the UK and the US to explore the implications of their faith in relation to other animals : watch this space.]

In his sermon ‘The General Deliverance’ John Wesley hoped that recalling God’s mercies to all creatures as evident in Romans ch. 8 may ‘enlarge our hearts towards these creatures’ so that we may ‘habituate ourselves to look forward, beyond this present scene of bondage, to the happy time, when they will be delivered therefrom, into the liberty of the children of God’.51 His evangelical contemporaries, and those who followed after, recognized this as an issue of obvious concern for Christians, on the basis of their beliefs about the place of fellow animal creatures in

51 Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 131–2.

God’s purposes of creation and redemption. It is time, I submit, that Methodists, evangelicals, and other Christians recalled this inheritance, and as a result led the campaign to challenge human practice that disregards and diminishes their fellow animal creatures, most immediately as it relates to our everyday eating practices.

References

Barth, Karl, Church Dogmatics, vol. IV/3.1, ed. G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance, trans. Bromiley, G. W. (Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1961).

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Letters and Papers From Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 8, eds. Christian Gremmels, Eberhard Bethge, Renate Bethge, and Ilse Tödt, trans.
John W. de Gruchy (Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 2010).

Chalmers, Dr, ‘Cruelty to Animals’, Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (1826), 310-15.

Cheyne, George, An Essay of Health and Long Life (London and Bath : George Strahan and J.
Leake, 1724).

‘Christian Retrospect’, Wesleyan Methodist Magazine (1822), 581-82.

Clough, David, ‘Interpreting Human Life By Looking the Other Way : Bonhoeffer on Human Beings and Other Animals’, in Bonhoeffer and the Biosicences : An Initial Exploration, International Bonhoeffer Interpretations, Ralf K.
Wüstenberg, Stefan Heuser, and Esther Hornung (eds.), (Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang, 2010), 51-74.

Feuerbach, Ludwig, The Essence of Christianity, trans. George Eliot (New York : Prometheus Books, 1989).

Greggs, Tom, ‘Apokatastasis : Particularist Universalism in Origen (C. 185–C. 254)’, in “All Shall be Well” : Explorations in Universalism and Christian Theology, From Origen to Moltmann, Gregory Macdonald (ed.), (Eugene, Oregon : Cascade Books, 2011), 29-46.

Irenaeus, ‘Against Heresies’, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers : Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to a.d. 325, vol. 1, A. Cleveland Coxe, James Donaldson, and
Alexander Roberts (eds.), (Edinburgh : T & T Clark, 1997), 315-567.

Lewis, C. S., ‘Vivisection’, in God in the Dock : Essays in Theology and Ethics, Walter Hooper (ed.), (Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 2014), 244-49.

Ludlow, Morwenna, Universal Salvation : Eschatology in the Thought of Karl Rahner and Gregory of Nyssa (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2000).

MacDonald, Gregory, ‘Introduction’, in “All Shall be Well” : Explorations in Universalism and Christian Theology, From Origen to Moltmann, Gregory Macdonald (ed.), (Eugene, Oregon : Cascade Books, 2011), 1-25.

Maddox, Randy L., ‘“Celebrating the Whole Wesley” : A Legacy for Contemporary
Wesleyans’, Methodist History 43:2 (2005), 74-89.

Malcolmson, Robert, ‘Popular Recreations Under Attack’, in Popular Culture, Past and Present : A Reader, Bernard Waites, Tony Bennett, and Graham Martin1982), 20-46.

‘New Publications’, The Baptist Magazine XVIII (1826),

‘On the Duty of Clemency to Brutes’, The Methodist Magazine XXX:or 4 of the New Series (1814), 790-92.

‘On the Recreation of Shooting’, The Methodist Magazine XXX:or 4 of the New Series (1813), 704-5.

Preece, Rod, Animal Sensibility and Inclusive Justice in the Age of Bernard Shaw (Vancouver : UBC Press, 2011).

Richmond, Leigh, ‘A Sermon on the Sin of Cruelty to the Brute Creation ; Preached in the Abby Church At Bath, on February 15, 1801’, The Methodist Magazine XXX:or 4 of the New Series (1807), 490-98 (November) ; 540.

Singer, Peter, Animal Liberation (London : Pimlico, 2nd ed. 1995).

Turner, James, Reckoning With the Beast : Animals, Pain and Humanity in the Victorian Mind, vol.

The Johns Hopkins University studies in historical and political science. 98th series ; 2 (Baltimore ; London : Johns Hopkins University Press c1980, 1980).

Wallace, Charles, ‘Eating and Drinking With John Wesley : The Logic of His Practice’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library of Manchester 85 (2003), 137-55.

Wesley, John, Sermons on Several Occasions, vol. V (New York : Ezekiel Cooper and John Wilson,
1806).


, A Survey of the Wisdom of God in the Creation : Or, a Compendium of Natural Philosophy, Containing an Abridgement of That Beautiful Work, the Contemplation of Nature By Mr. Bonnet, of Geneva, Also, an Extract From Mr. Deuten’s ‘Inquiry Into the Origin of the Discoveries Attributed to the Ancients (New York : N. Bangs and T. Mason, 1823).

  • Comment adhérer ? Pourquoi adhérer ?

    ADHÉSION Pourquoi adhérer ? Pour montrer que la communauté chrétienne se préoccupe du vivant, qu’elle réfute toute forme d’exploitation, de violence et de souffrance infligée à un être vivant, qu’elle est solidaire de toute la création.
    Pour montrer par le nombre d’adhérents que les chrétiens aujourd’hui (...)

  • La charte du prêtre et du chrétien, ami des animaux

    Il est en émerveillement devant la Création et toutes les Créatures de Dieu.

    Il souhaite vivre en harmonie avec tout le Créé, et particulièrement les animaux, suivant l’exemple de St François d’Assise, St Philippe Néri et St Martin de Porres.

    Il est animé de la compassion et de l’Amour du Christ pour toute la Création.

    Il dénonce sans relâche toute exploitation abusive de l’animal. Pour lui, l’animal n’étant pas une simple denrée alimentaire, il n’entre pas dans l’esprit de (...)

  • L’âme des animaux - Jean Nakos

    Article reproduit du blog de Jean Nakos - Le Christianisme et les animaux
    [NDLR : Cet article est basé sur le chapitre "L’âme des animaux" de l’opuscule de Jean Nakos "Plaidoyer pour une Théologie de l’animal" (épuisé), Lyon 2001. Copyright : Jean Nakos, 2001]
    Qu’est-ce que l’âme ? De Platon et (...)

  • Douceur et violence - André Wénin

    André Wénin Université catholique de Louvain
    Douceur et violence : la nourriture végétale et carnée en Genèse 1-9
    La plupart d’entre nous mangent de la viande tous les jours, sans se poser de questions. D’autres ne mangent qu’une nourriture végétale, ce sont les végétariens. Pourquoi ne mangent-ils pas (...)

  • Premier sermon sur le respect de la vie

    XV Premier sermon sur le Respect de la Vie, prononcé le dimanche 16 février 1919, à l’église Saint-Nicolas à Strasbourg.
    Un des scribes qui les avait entendus discuter, voyant que Jésus avait bien répondu aux Sadducéens, s’approcha de lui et demanda : « Quel est le premier de tous les comman­dements ? (...)

  • Minding Animals Conference Mexico City

    http://www.mindinganimals.com/about-contact/objectives/
    Minding Animals International Incorporated (MAI) provides an avenue for the transdisciplinary field of Animal Studies to be more responsive to the protection of animals. It is recognised that animal protection in this context (...)

  • Documentaires/ Films

    Documentaires/ Films
    À regarder et à diffuser To watch and share
    Peaceable kingdom
    http://www.tribeofheart.org/hb/pkannounce.htm http://www.tribeofheart.org/sr/pkj_french.htm
    Santa Fiesta http://santafiesta.es/about
    Earthlings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-Is7ZcacOU
    What the health (...)