shares Judaism's creation story, which many Christians
have interpreted as commanding respect for all of nature
and its inhabitants. This sentiment was reflected in
Jesus' ministry, which stressed love and peace.
Recognizing this, many devout Christians have been
leaders of pacifist, environmental, and animal advocacy
movements. For example, St. Francis of Assisi and Albert
Schweitzer encouraged respect and reverence for all life.
repeatedly urged pacifism. For example, Jesus' Sermon on the
Mount included, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall
be called sons of God" and, "You have heard that it is said,
'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' But I say to
you, Do not resist one who is evil" and, "Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you." When soldiers
arrested Jesus, he admonished a friend who drew a sword in
his defense, saying, "All who take the sword shall perish by
Christians, following Jesus' example, were pacifists who
preferred martyrdom to taking up arms against fellow humans,
and all the early church fathers strongly opposed all
warfare. When the Roman ruler Constantine declared
Christianity as the empire's official religion, he
sanctioned warfare in Jesus' name, credited Jesus with his
military success. Constantine claimed that his conversion to
Christianity was based on a vision, while historians note
that it was also a very prudent political maneuver.
Henceforth, Christian leaders disavowed earlier pacifism,
arguing weakly that earlier Christians only opposed fighting
for paganism, not bloodshed in general.
Christians embrace environmentalism, primarily on the
grounds that humans should be good stewards of God's
creation. Jesus had little to say about environmental
protection, perhaps because humans were not as capable of
widespread environmental destruction in his day as they are
canonical Christian writings reflect primarily the beliefs
of gentile Christians, who were not very sympathetic to
animal protection concerns. We get more reliable clues about
Jesus' attitudes towards animals from noncanonical early
Christian documents written by church leaders. They strongly
suggest that Jesus was very concerned about animal
treatment, including strong opposition to animal sacrifice.
Interestingly, multiple independent sources identify Jesus'
first followers, who were all Jewish, as vegetarians who
identified Jesus as the Messiah because he was so perfectly
righteous. Acts and Paul's letters have several
references to the conflicts between the vegetarian and
meat-eating Christians. It is hard to imagine that the
vegetarian Jewish Christians would have found Jesus
righteous if he had refused to abstain from meat.
Furthermore, James (Jesus' brother) was known to be
vegetarian since birth, so one would expect James' parents
to raise his brother Jesus with the same diet.
Christian movement was ultimately destroyed, along with most
(but not all) its literature. Many died as innocent
bystanders during the unsuccessful Jewish revolts (with
which they refused to participate) against the Romans, and
the rest were later persecuted by the gentile Christian
church, which labeled the Jewish Christians heretics. With
their demise went living testimony to many important aspects
of Jesus' ministry.
Religious Partnership for the