top of page
  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

Live toward the Peaceable Kingdom and Eat Compassionately: 4 Insights. By Prof. Matthew C. Halteman. Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen


Below please find an excerpt of Prof. Matthew C. Halteman's (2016) article, "Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation". According to Halteman, the two-fold goal of compassionate eating is (1) to live toward the peaceable kingdom where animals and humans co-exist in harmony (2) to awaken institutions of the fallen world. The four insights that can help us understand the ideal of living toward the peaceable kingdom and eat compassionately are (1) the whole world belongs to God (2) all creatures, animals and humans alike, are to serve God rather than humans (3) "dominion" means treating all God's creatures mercifully and lovingly (4) animal abuse, indifference to their sufferings, and the conceit that they exist solely for our selfish needs is incompatible with what God means by "dominion".


There are four insights here that can aid us in understanding the ideal of "living toward the peaceable kingdom." The first insight is that the entirety of creation belongs to God.... By keeping our attention focused completely on the short-term benefits that we enjoy through the use of creation as a "resource" consumer culture blinds us to the costs of our consumption for other human beings, animals, and the earth, seducing us into living as if creation were ours to dispense with as we please. But the world belongs to God. And.... living toward the peaceable kingdom must begin with a renewed awareness of whose will it is the ultimate fulfillment of creation to serve God's, not our own.....


The second insight .... the more we come to accept our standing as creatures among other creatures, the better we are able to see our well-being as linked to the well-being of the whole-one creation whose ultimate purpose is to serve the glory of God....


The third insight.... is that God intended this all-species kinship to be facilitated through the "...dominion" of human beings....that living toward the peaceable kingdom elevates humankind by realizing our unique potential to exemplify God's image through the loving and merciful treatment of all God's creatures....


the fourth insight...the fault of creation's languishing in the meanwhile falls squarely on us, its "groans of travail" a testimony to our selfishness and disobedience....God's call to... dominion is fundamentally incompatible with cruelty to animals, indifference to their suffering, and the conceit that they are here for us to do with as we please.... hope that our approach to dominion may be transformed through a realization of the inherent dignity of animals, creatures whose lives are not ultimately measured by their usefulness to us, but by their value to God and to themselves....


In view of these four insights, it should be clear that the ideal of living toward the peaceable kingdom is .... a call to imagine what creation might be like if we were to live today as though the kingdom of God has already arrived....


The goal of compassionate eating.... is...: (1) to live as faithfully as we can toward the peaceable kingdom in which the harmony among human beings, animals and the natural world will be restored; and (2) to commit ourselves in the meanwhile to bringing pressure to bear on the institutions of the fallen world (of which we remain a part) in the hopes of raising the world's consciousness and advancing whatever improvements are possible under the specific fallen conditions in which we find ourselves.  



Matthew C. Halteman is professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, and fellow in the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, UK. He teaches and writes on twentieth-century European philosophy (especially hermeneutics and care of the self) and applied ethics (especially animal and food ethics). He is the author of Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation and co-editor of Philosophy Comes to Dinner: Arguments about the Ethics of Eating (with Andrew Chignell and Terence Cuneo). Life pursuits include advocating for fellow creatures (human and otherwise), and eating vegan desserts like they are going out of style (even though they are just now coming into style).  


Source: "Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation" (revised and updated for Food, Ethics, and Society) by Matthew C. Halteman, in Anne Barnhill, Mark Bryant Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text With Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 292-300 (2016),significant%20spiritual%20discipline%20for%20Christians.

13 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page