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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

Animals and Humans have the Same Ontological Status before God. By Saint Basil. Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen

Saint Basil of Caesarea (St. Basil the Great [330-379]), a highly esteemed early vegan church fathers, was adamant in his Hexaemeron that all creatures, humans and other animals alike, are ontologically equal before God.

For example, in Homily II of Hexaemeron, he states, "For all that is, is of God; and there is nothing which is not of His essence. He is the cause of all things... The nature, then, of created things is not independent; it has its beginning in God... For we cannot say that anything which begins in time and belongs to creation was before all things" (Basil n.d.:33).

And in Homily IX of Hexaemeron, he points out:- "For this reason, after having formed the nature of all things, after having planned this universe so wisely and filled it with such variety, He [God] did not disdain this earth... For every creature proclaims the glory of God... For He spoke, and they were made: He commanded, and they were created. And not only do they show forth the glory of God by their greatness and beauty; but also by their obedience and submission to God's commandments they teach us a lesson of godliness. (Basil n.d.:153-154)

To borrow Colin Gunton's (1998) words, Saint Basil of Caesarea, concludes "that there are no degrees of being...The fundamental division in being is... between creator and created... The creation is homogenous... everything has the same ontological status before God as the object of His creating will and love. All is 'very good' because He created it."

According to David Clough's (2012) interpretation, the significance of the above is that "the affirmation of God as creator of all things means the subversion of all human attempts to create hierarchy among creatures... we exist in solidarity with all other creatures, sisters and brothers of a single parent."

Saint Basil the Great was a 4th century Bishop of Caesarea, a city in the Cappadocia region of Anatolia from whence Saint Nino came. He is renowned as one of the Three Holy Heirarchs of the early church, along with Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory the Theologian. His Divine Liturgy is used during Lent today, and his homilies (sermons) are still widely read and discussed by Orthodox Christians.

Pic credit: Bing


Basil, Saint (n.d.). Hexaemeron. Trans. Bl. Jackson. Elpenor in Print.

Clough, David L. On Animals: Volume One Systematic Theology. London and NY: T&T Clark.

Gunton, Colin E (1998). The Truine Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

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