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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

The Purpose of Creation is God's Fellowship with Creatures. Prof. David Clough. Ed. Dr. Chapman Chen

British theologian Prof. David L. Clough (2012) contends that the purpose of creation is neither anthropocentric nor theocentric but God's fellowship with all creatures, not just humankind. The righteousness and necessity of veganism is a necessary inference.

1. Anthropocentrism

The anthropocentric view that human beings are God's aim of creation, that humans have the right to use, abuse, torture, slaughter, and eat other animals at will, is based on no sound theological argument nor any valid scientific ground.

John Calvin's inference, based on the dominion granted to humans in Genesis 1.28, that all things were created basically for the good and enjoyment of humankind is in no way a indispensable one - "humans could be given the task of governing the rest of creation for its own benefit as well as their own." (Clough 2012: 14).

Humankind is not exceptional. Intelligence, reason, self-awareness, feelings, responsibility, culture, etc. all fail to adequately differentiate humans from other animals. For all these attributes "define at best a spectrum of ability on which different creatures can be placed at different points" (Clough 2012:72).

2. Theocentrism

The theocentric view that God aims in creation to glorify God helps to avoid human self-aggrandizement but runs the risk of "portraying God as self-concerned and ungracious" (Clough 2012:22). "God has no need of glorification by creatures" anyway, as argued by Wolfhart Pannenberg (1994:56, see Clough 2012:20).

3. God's Fellowship with Creatures

The aim of creation must be understood as a balance between anthropocentrism and theocentrism. All creatures have a part in God's purposes of creation and salvation (Clough 2012:25).

"Different creatures may be partial images of God" (Clough 2012:102). Isaiah 31, for instance, records that God will fight on Mount Zion as a lion growls over its prey (v.4); Jesus' call to Jerusalem that he desired to gather his children like a hen gathers her brood is another case in point (Luke 13.34).

"The doctrine of the incarnation... is best understood as God stepping over the boundary between creator and creation and taking on creatureliness. The theological commonality.... between human and non-human creatures.... is.... confirmed and strengthened by recognizing the commonality of all animal creatures before God under the heading of incarnation" (Clough 2012:103).

4. Chapman Chen's Conclusion

Humans and other animals are fellow creatures before their joint creator. Non-human animals exist for God, not for us. God's purpose for creation is love rather than self-glorification. God's grace includes all God's creatures, human and non-human. By being incarnated in flesh (cf. Cunningham 2009: 117), God has blurred the boundary not just between humans and other animals but between creator and creation. We humans are supposed to love all other creatures as our family under our Heavenly Father. Veganism is, therefore, a prerequisite for being a real Christian or a righteous person.

Article link:


Clough, David. L. ((2012). On Animals, Volume One: Systematic Theology. London: T&T Clark International.

Cunningham, David S. (2009). "The Way of All Flesh: Rethinking the Imago Dei." Celia Deane-Drummond and David Clough (ed.), Creaturely Theology, London: SCM Press, 100-117.

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