It sounds like nonsense. If you take the Bible seriously, as evangelicals do, you can’t possibly mine from it a theology of animal liberation. Likewise, liberation theologians may find the idea of turning our liberatory efforts towards nonhuman animals a bit premature when billions of human animals live in oppression.
A lifelong Jesus follower and committed advocate for nonhuman animals, I resisted the idea myself for years. “Talking out of both sides of your mouth,” one professor says (not about this, something else, but I think it would apply). But the four words won’t separate themselves. Evangelical animal liberation theology.
Evangelical. Because it is rooted in the good news of Christ, a message for all, and particularly for those, regardless of their species, who have been marginalized and otherized to such an extent that we no longer refer to them by name, but by their parts. No longer individual created beings, named by Adam, they are known by how they serve the powerful.
Animal. Because this is a theology for all animals – human and nonhuman alike.
Liberation. Because this is a theology of freedom for all. Freedom from harm, freedom from the shackles of greed and power. It is a theology that takes seriously the visions of the prophets of a peaceful reign of God, and it is a theology that takes seriously Jesus’ prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done. On earth, as it is in heaven.”
Theology. Because this is an attempt, first and foremost, to listen to God, to serve God, and to share God’s love with the whole world.
It seems risky. It seems hard. I don’t feel up to the task, and I don’t feel equipped.
And I think that’s exactly where God wants me.