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A Christian Perspective on Hunting 4

Dr. Don Payne has written an article simply titled “A Christian Perspective on Hunting.” In this article Dr. Payne offers some reflections “hoping to provide a reasoned defense of hunting that is consistent with the biblical values that sustain Christian faith.” Whether you are a Christian or not, this article can provide some valuable insights into the ethical issues involved with hunting. Due to the length of the article, it will be presented in 6 blog posts: the introduction, a series of objections and responses and some positive reasons for hunting.

Dr. Payne is an Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Formation at Denver Seminary and an avid outdoorsman. While grading student papers, he spends much of his time hunting Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn, fishing, and hiking in the Rocky Mountain region. -Scott Glasscock, COFA Colorado State Director

Dr. Payne

Objection #3

Hunting may be practiced, but only as a last resort and as a means of survival. Even under these conditions it is morally regrettable and should be avoided if at all possible. Should the slaughter of animals be necessary for food, it should never be done for sport. Hunting for sport is immoral, in part because it encourages a love for killing and destruction that is incompatible with an appropriate respect for God and His creation.

Response

This contention reflects a false and superficial understanding of “sport” as it applies to hunting. The pleasure that hunters derive from this endeavor is not (or should not be) simply a love for killing, some type of barbaric blood-lust. It involves complex emotions that are deeply human.

Gasset observes,
“Hunting, like all human occupations, has its different levels, and how little of the real work of hunting is suggested in words like diversion, relaxation, and entertainment! A good hunter’s way of hunting is a hard job which demands much from man . . . So, in my presentation of it as what it is, as a form of happiness, I have avoided calling it pleasure. Doubtless in all happiness there is pleasure, but pleasure is the least of happiness. . . . The truth is that the important and appealing aspect of hunting is neither pleasure nor annoyance, but rather the very activity that comprises hunting. Happy occupations, it is clear, are not merely pleasures; they are efforts, and real sports are effort.”1

He goes on to observe that “when an activity becomes a sport, whatever that activity may be, the hierarchy of its values becomes inverted. In utilitarian [or survival] hunting the true purpose of the hunter, what he seeks and values, is the death of the animal.”2 Thus, those who think that it is somehow less ethically questionable to eat meat that comes from the industrial slaughter of animals (meat processing plants, then supermarkets) actually hold the more questionable ethical position. A strictly utilitarian justification of animal slaughter represents the greater failure to appreciate the life of animals through disregard for the process involved and a singular focus on the death of the animal.

The love for hunting, even hunting for sport, is not a love for destruction. There are subordinate loves involved: challenge, conquest, respite from the complexities and stresses of life, and a sense of connectedness with one’s sustenance. Obviously, none of these factors necessitate hunting for most of us, though each is generally involved in the act. At its most basic level, the love of hunting is a visceral love for the connectedness with that basic dimension of our human experience that must find survival through dependence on other life forms within creation.

1. Josè Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting (Belgrade, Mont: Wilderness Adventures Press, 1995), 42.
2. Ibid., 105.

Reproduced with permission. Copyright Don J. Payne, 2014.

A Christian Perspective on Hunting 3

Dr. Don Payne has written an article simply titled “A Christian Perspective on Hunting.” In this article Dr. Payne offers some reflections “hoping to provide a reasoned defense of hunting that is consistent with the biblical values that sustain Christian faith.” Whether you are a Christian or not, this article can provide some valuable insights into the ethical issues involved with hunting. Due to the length of the article, it will be presented in 6 blog posts: the introduction, a series of objections and responses and some positive reasons for hunting.

Dr. Payne is an Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Formation at Denver Seminary and an avid outdoorsman. While grading student papers, he spends much of his time hunting Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn, fishing, and hiking in the Rocky Mountain region. -Scott Glasscock, COFA Colorado State Director

Dr. Payne

Objection #2

Hunting is inconsistent with biblical values because it is intrinsically violent and goes against Jesus’ condemnation of violence.

Response

Though related to the previous objection, the protest of “violence” deserves a brief, separate response. Os Guiness suggests an important distinction between violence and force within human society.1 That distinction would have a different complexion with regard to hunting, but the distinction is still relevant. Violence is a gratuitous act of destructive malice or disregard for its object. A genuinely Christian approach to hunting is none of that. We must cultivate the utmost respect for the creatures whose lives we take when hunting.

This objection operates from a rather unexamined and unsophisticated understanding of violence, shaped more by an artificially sanitized world in which technology insulates us from the sources and processes of our sustenance. Among thoughtful hunters, religious or not, one of Gasset’s most recognized and respected claims is that “one does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted.”2

Interestingly, many who resist hunting as a form of violence will still engage in fishing, which (even in its fashionable “catch and release” form) is still a form of violence. The inconsistency goes even further when, if direct and personal involvement with nature is still too violent for them, they will simply enjoy the local sushi bar where the fruits of someone else’s “violence” are anesthetized by distance from the act and by the delicacy of an artfully presented dish. I point out this inconsistency not to inflame antagonism, but to plead for greater honesty and consistency on this point.

1. Os Guinness, The Dust of Death (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1973), 177f.
2. Josè Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting (Belgrade, Mont: Wilderness Adventures Press, 1995), 105.

Reproduced with permission. Copyright Don J. Payne, 2014.

A Christian Perspective on Hunting 2

Dr. Don Payne has written an article simply titled “A Christian Perspective on Hunting.” In this article Dr. Payne offers some reflections “hoping to provide a reasoned defense of hunting that is consistent with the biblical values that sustain Christian faith.” Whether you are a Christian or not, this article can provide some valuable insights into the ethical issues involved with hunting. Due to the length of the article, it will be presented in 6 blog posts: the introduction, a series of objections and responses and some positive reasons for hunting.
Dr. Payne is an Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Formation at Denver Seminary and an avid outdoorsman. While grading student papers, he spends much of his time hunting Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn, fishing, and hiking in the Rocky Mountain region. -Scott Glasscock, COFA Colorado State Director

Dr. Payne

Objection #1

Hunting and consuming other creatures for food is inappropriate because it resulted (directly or indirectly) from the introduction of sin into the world (the “Fall”), as described in Genesis 3 and 9:23. The Fall not only introduced personal corruption and moral culpability into the human race. It jarred the entire created order with brokenness and alienation as implied in Genesis 3:17, “Cursed is the ground because of you . . .” Consequently, according to Romans 8, “the creation was subjected to frustration” (v. 20) and “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (v. 22).1

The tragedy of creation’s brokenness is seen in the backlight of God’s repeated blessing of creation in Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, and 25; then in the light of the promise in Colossians 1:19 to reconcile all creation.

The practice of hunting, then, was evidently not part of God’s original intent for creation and will not be the situation when God’s Kingdom comes in its full expression and all things in
Heaven and on earth are reconciled (cf. Isaiah 11:6-9 with Colossians 1:19). Since harmony between humanity and creation (including other creatures) appears to have been our original state and is the promised future, then we should embody those conditions in every way possible during the present age. The way all things were meant to be and the way they will be should be reflected in the present age.

Response

Yes, the Fall led to a broken relationship between humanity and the created order. However, the exact nature of this brokenness is not as clear as the fact itself. Hunters can freely admit to pre-Fall conditions of harmony between humans and beasts without conceding that hunting is against God’s will. Old Testament scholars Keil and Delitzsch suggest that prior to the Fall animals were still at the mercy or disposal of humanity and that sin distorted that relationship.2 They go on to suggest that when God granted permission to eat animals (Genesis 9:3), this may well have been God’s formal permission for what they may have been doing up to this point against God’s will.3
It may be that the focal point of God’s sanction in Genesis 9:3-4 was the prohibition against eating the blood of the animals, a practice which may have been an expression of pagan barbarism 4 or a disregard for the giver of life. We can concede the point that prior to the Fall humans may not have killed and eaten animals. Yet, that fact remains that in the aftermath of the Fall we inhabit conditions in which God did see fit to sanction it. The significance of this should not be overlooked.

Gordon J. Wenham claims that “God’s provision of animal life to sustain human life is paradoxical. To preserve man’s respect for life, he is forbidden to eat ‘flesh with its life, i.e., its blood.’ . . . Respect for life, and beyond that, respect for the giver of life, means abstaining from blood. Indeed, in the sacrificial law animal blood is given by God for the atonement of human sin (cf. Lev 17:11).”5 Gerhard von Rad makes a similar point when he states, “Even when man slaughters and kills, he is to know that he is touching something, which, because it is life, is in a special manner God’s property . . .”6

Certainly, God’s gift of animals as food represents to some extent the tragic conditions under which humanity is to survive and relate to other creatures after the Fall. Yet, we must not overlook the fact that this was still a gift from God in which, as von Rad observes, “[t]he right of dominion over the animals is also reconfirmed,”7 and boundaries are set to keep humanity’s focus on the authority of the Giver through the sanctity of the gift.

This objection is also based on over-literalized assumptions about the state of affairs depicted in the prophecy of Isaiah 11. It is not universally recognized among Old Testament scholars that the
imagery of the lion lying down with the lamb is a literal prediction of conditions that will exist in the future between animals or between humans and animals. Though this type of future may unfold, the main point of the prophecy relates to conditions among people. John Goldingay observes regarding this text, “Context suggests that the talk of harmony in the animal world is a metaphor for harmony in the human world. The strong and powerful live together with the weak and powerless because the latter can believe that the former are no longer seeking to devour
them. . . . Indeed, the book opened by using animals to stand for human beings (1:3) . . .” 8

The conditions of peace and harmony promised in the future should capture our deepest
longings. However, those conditions do not exist now and, at best, such a promised state should not overshadow the fact that God has not only sanctioned the taking of animal life for food, but has given this to us.

So, hunting reflects neither inherent hostility toward nor disregard for the beasts of the field. On the contrary, hunters are most nobly involved with animals when they have a genuine appreciation and respect for the animals they hunt and when they are grateful to God for the gift. This gratitude should be accompanied by a sober (though not necessarily somber) attitude toward our place of responsibility in the current age. Sadly, this is not the case with all hunters. It is possible to hunt unethically, disrespectfully, and ungratefully just as it is possible to distort any other aspect of life that God has blessed. Our challenge and opportunity is to respect the gift of animal life, taking no intrinsic pleasure in the death or suffering of any creature, but exercising gratitude that our own lives are graciously sustained by this gift.

1 All Scripture references taken from the New International Version.
2 C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. I (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983),152.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, Tex: Word, 1987), 193.
6 Gerhard von Rad, Genesis, rev. ed., The Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961),132.
7 Ibid., 133.
8 John Goldingay, Isaiah, New International Biblical Commentary series (Peabody, Mass:Hendrickson, 2001), 85.

Reproduced with permission. Copyright Don J. Payne, 2014.

A Christian Perspective on Hunting 1

Dr. Don Payne has written an article simply titled “A Christian Perspective on Hunting.” In this article Dr. Payne offers some reflections “hoping to provide a reasoned defense of hunting that is consistent with the biblical values that sustain Christian faith.”  Whether you are a Christian or not, this article can provide some valuable insights into the ethical issues involved with hunting. Due to the length of the article, it will be presented in 6 blog posts: the introduction, a series of objections and responses and some positive reasons for hunting. Dr. Payne is an Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Formation at Denver Seminary and an avid outdoorsman. While grading student papers, he spends much of his time hunting Elk, Mule Deer, and Pronghorn, fishing, and hiking in the Rocky Mountain region. -Scott Glasscock, COFA Colorado State Director

Dr. Payne

Hunting magazines commonly feature articles that defend hunting. While these articles may seem to “preach to the choir,” they seek to assist hunters in countering attacks from those who oppose hunting, whatever the nature of the opposition. Various resources are necessary for this defense.  All are intended to strengthen the confidence of hunters against naysayers who assume the moral, intellectual, and cultural high ground while making hunters look (and perhaps feel?) like holdovers from a barbaric era. Popular hunting icon Ted Nugent contends that hunters need not bother defending hunting to opponents, since it is the most basic condition of human beings and needs no defense against the artificiality of modern, urbanized sensibilities. For Nugent, a defense of hunting feels strange and unnecessary against the backdrop of human history in which it was often necessary to sustain one’s life by killing and eating “lower” life forms.[1] Whatever grain(s) of truth Nugent may have grasped, he does not offer either the only or the strongest defense of hunting, particularly for hunters whose value system is shaped by Christian faith.  I share that faith and, though I would not presume that most hunters share Christian faith commitments, I know that many do.  It is for these hunters that I write, hoping to provide a reasoned defense of hunting that is consistent with the biblical values that sustain Christian faith.  Hunters who do not align themselves with the Christian faith may also find benefit in this approach, or at least have a broader understanding of how hunting can be understood in light of a Christian value system. We currently occupy a world in which hunting is often considered morally repulsive or, at best, unenlightened. Hunters may not appreciate having to defend this time-honored practice, but our continued freedom to do so is most definitely at risk. Opportunity follows legality and legality follows credibility. As anti-hunting sentiments gain credibility through various social forces, hunters may eventually find that this treasured opportunity has slipped through their fingers while they were asleep. So, I disagree with Nugent and suggest that indeed we do need a fresh framework for hunting. In fact, we hunters may have to defend this time-honored practice for some time to come. Yet, the argument for hunting will not be won by sloganeering (the bumper sticker approach) or other approaches that avoid thoughtful engagement with complex issues. Such inflammatory tactics only serve to isolate hunters with a self-congratulatory sense of superiority that does not truly address the issues or advance the cause.  Many hunting advocates effectively demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of hunting.[2]  However, those evidences alone will not win the day with all hunting opponents.  For no small number of people, their reservations about hunting are rooted in other concerns. I offer this reflection on hunting for those, hunters and non-hunters alike, whose struggles or questions about hunting come from religious (in this case, specifically Christian) or other moral sensibilities. This may sound strange to some ears because at a popular level hunting and related interests (like gun ownership) are often associated with conservative Christian values and commitments.  However, theologically conservative Christians who take the Bible seriously do not uniformly adhere to the values that undergird hunting and gun ownership.  Their objections may even appeal to the Bible.  Hunters do not help the cause by simply dismissing these Christian arguments as “liberal” and poking fun at them.  The objections must be taken seriously and answered thoughtfully. In addition, as Christians we should hold all our practices up to the light of God’s truth and let that truth shape both whether and how we engage those practices. If we don’t do so, we inevitably create a gap between our beliefs and our lives (what might be called hypocrisy!) or we actually allow unexamined, culturally-derived values to dictate our faith, in which case we have it all backward. So, I would like to identify some underdeveloped and important resources for the many hunters whose Christian commitments are central to their lives. I will attempt to articulate as even-handedly as possible some of the religiously motivated objections frequently raised against hunting, offering hunters a framework for thinking about what it means to hunt.  In so doing, I hope for greater mutual respect and less hostility or suspicion between hunters and anti-hunters (or even simply non-hunters). Many of the sensibilities that motivate anti-hunters should be taken seriously. In his meditations on hunting Thomas McIntyre reflects, “Finding a way of dealing with the inescapable conundrum of death has no minor relevance to the lives of all conscious beings.”[3] McIntyre’s observation points to the type of moral sensitivity I have in mind.  The death of non-human creatures should never be glibly dismissed.  However, the particular shape of those concerns may actually reflect influences other than the Bible, as a bit of socio-historical background will demonstrate. The twentieth-century saw massive demographic shifts from agricultural to urban and suburban settings. In 1942, Spanish philosopher Josè Ortega y Gasset considered the impact of these forces on the public perception of hunting in Europe, stating, “Only in the contemporary period and, within that, only in the most demoralized regions of Europe has an affinity for hunting been held in disesteem.”[4] In addition to these social trends, numerous approaches to spirituality have deified the created order. For vast numbers of people these are among the factors that have contributed to this historically novel repulsion at the practice of hunting. Some hunting opponents appeal to unethical hunting practices, creating a caricature of the broader hunting populace. Without doubt, we hunters have some questionable history to overcome.  For example, prior to the development of responsible game management, practices such as the unregulated, profit-driven slaughter of bison have left a black spot on the culture of hunting in many minds.  We should readily admit the mistakes of generations past, even if complicated economic and social forces were involved.  Yet, increasingly, hunting is opposed for other moral and spiritual reasons. If we do not address these arguments the impression is silently reinforced that hunting is morally and spiritually indefensible, practiced and perpetuated only by those with no respect for God’s other creatures and neither the interest nor the ability to live morally informed, reflective lives. What, then, are some of the common objections that are propelled by theological concerns? Some of the arguments overlap but each is sufficiently distinctive to warrant separate attention. At the end I will offer a number of overall responses and reasons why I am convinced that hunting is not only justified but is also commendable from a thoughtful Christian perspective.     [1] Ted Nugent, “No Excuses,” American Hunter 36:1 (January 2008): 46-49. [2] Kurt Krueger, “Hunters: the nation’s first environmentalists,” in Vilas County [Wisconsin] News-Review/The Three Lakes News (September 24, 2008), 8A. [3] Thomas McIntyre, The Way of the Hunter: The Art and Spirit of Modern Hunting (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1988), 98. [4] Josè Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting (Belgrade, Mont: Wilderness Adventures Press, 1995).

Reproduced with permission. Copyright Don J. Payne, 2014

It Was Worth It

Posted on March 1, 2014 by Gary Fultz

cofa pictures fishcamp 035

Overheard on this Boundary Water campsite, “Bob would have liked this!”thomascampsite

The Problem with Bob was my constant second guessing myself on pouring so much time into a broken teenager growing the wrong way. Layers of funny covered this hurting kid.  Was it worth it? Was He worth it? That was my question 30 years ago. Some of his teachers and the local fast food places didn’t think so.  A military stint in the Gulf War, a few years and then a 7 page letter from a whole new Bob reconnected us. He had a new-found relationship with God, Seemed at peace, was focused and still funny, was a radio DJ, and was involved with youth work. I could not have imagined this potential in the kid I knew as Bob.

We went to Bob’s wedding. Bob went with me to Boundary Waters and provided his ever-present and much more mature humor. Bob had become a man and a friend who loved God, others, and himself as well. Our lives intertwined and my circle of outdoor friends became his before he moved and disappeared.

I found Bob last year on a posted obituary. My wife broke up our silent grief by saying  “It was worth it”. We have come to the conclusion that if we spent seven tough years in  community youth work with Youth For Christ, Bob alone was worth our mentoring investment in him and his crazy influence on who we are today. I miss my friend Bob. He still owes me a Boundary Water fry pan.

 

Bob is partly responsible for a life style of intentional growth as a person.

I now work for a company with very high work culture standards (Peragon). We influence our suppliers, venders, and anyone who walks in the door. We often hear the word “WOW” when people walk in the door.  Part of my job is bringing employees up to our work culture standard which influences their home, relationships, and community life. Our productivity level is very high and product the very best. This only comes by being intentional. Some intentional ingredients for me are: 1) Accountability partners, 2) Books, 3) Blogs, 4) Videos, 5) Seminars, 6) Workshops, 7) Retreat Getaways 8) Wilderness Camping

The following is a small sample from my personal Word File of how we keep becoming the person those around us want to see and emulate. Spend the time to look at these.

Mentorship Tools: Creating a Culture of Excellence  

Starting With Me

1) Read this blog by Kristen Lamb: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/is-your-subconscious-mind-setting-you-up-for-failure/

 

2) Watch “Give em the Pickle” by Bob Farrell – Customer Service Training

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISJ1V8vBiiI

3) Read My Story:  http://garyfultz.com/2013/05/11/from-whence-we-came/

4) The Importance of Forgiveness:  QUOTE (Corrie ten Boom) – Feb 28

http://boyslumber.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/quote-corrie-ten-boom-feb-28/

I still ask myself this question for my own accountability; “Is what you are doing right now really worth it?” What would our culture look like if we as individuals understood and practiced some of the principles in these four areas of our lives? Send me links to things that have helped you in the comments section….Gary

Gary is the Fall Retreat coordinator for COFA and an avid outdoorsman who often leads trips to the Boundary Waters along the Canadian border. For more information on the Fall Retreat visit the link on our Home page on the tab above. For more blog posts from Gary, visit his page at http://garyfultz.com/.

Free Favor Abounds

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

“The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me…to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound]” (Luke 4:18–19, AMP).
In the Old Testament, every 50 years the people would celebrate what they called Jubilee. It was a day of freedom and restoration–once–in–a–lifetime event! But now, because of what Jesus has done, we don´t have to wait 50 years to experience Jubilee. We can live in Jubilee every single day.

I believe this is your year of freedom. It´s your year to be released from every bondage, every debt, and anything that would hold you back. It´s your season to be released from sickness, depression, addictions, and worry. It is your year to see the free favor of God profusely abound! It’s your time of restoration.
Let that sink deep down into your heart today. Dare to believe that He wants to see you free. Surrender every area of your heart to Him and watch the bondages of the past break off of you so you can live in Jubilee in every area of your life!

A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father God, thank You for Your favor, grace, and mercy upon me. I know that You paid a precious price so that I can walk in freedom and restoration in every area of my life. I choose to receive everything You have for me so that I can live in Jubilee. In Jesus´ Name. Amen.

Get into Agreement with God

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20, NKJ)
There´s a spiritual principle in the Bible that tells us when two or more agree on something, that thing shall be established. There is great power in agreement. In another verse it says, “How can two walk together unless they agree?” In other words, if we want to walk with God, if we want to see His promises established in our lives, if we want to live in His power, we have to get into agreement with Him. We have to know what He says and make our thoughts and actions line up with His.
For example, God wants His children to live in victory, but in order to experience that victory we have to think it, believe it, and speak it. We can´t go around thinking, “Oh my breakthrough is never going to happen. Nothing works out for me. It´s been too long.” No, that attitude will stop the power of agreement. Instead of complaining, get into agreement with God and declare, “I know my breakthrough is coming. I know God hears my prayers. I am in agreement with Him and all things work out for my good!” Choose His words, thoughts, and actions and watch His promises come to pass in every area of your life!

A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Heavenly Father, today I humbly come to You. Search my mind and heart and show me any areas of my life that are not in agreement with You. I choose to align myself with Your Word knowing that You have the best plan for me. In Jesus´ Name. Amen.

Celebrate Your Freedom

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

“You have been set free from sin…” (Romans 6:18, NIV)
This past weekend, we celebrated Independence Day in America. July 4, 1776 was the day America declared independence from Britain, but the battle for freedom went on until 1783—seven years later. Even though the people declared their freedom in 1776, they had to stand and fight for many years before the British would accept and recognized the United States of America.
In the same way, we have to declare our freedom and determine to stand against the opposing forces in our lives. We have to declare our freedom from addiction, poverty, sickness, and lack. We have to stand and fight until we fully experience that freedom and peace that God has promised.
I love what the early colonists did once they signed the Declaration of Independence. They read it out loud in public. They published it in the newspaper. They spread the word. They continued to declare and celebrate even though they were in the midst of the battle.
Whatever battle you may be facing today, declare that you are free. Declare that you are an overcomer. Celebrate the victory that is on its way! As you stand strong and celebrate your freedom, you will experience His victory and true freedom all the days of your life!

A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Heavenly Father, thank You for setting me free in every area of my life. I declare today that nothing can hold me back. I declare that I am free from sickness, poverty, lack, and addiction. I declare that You have set me free and thank You for freedom in every area of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.