Steve Boint is a friend of mine. He’s also a mentor and a teacher. My philosophy of science and views of the Bible are certainly radicalized versions of his teachings. It is from Steve that I seriously considered the nature of non-paradigmatic science (and thus of normal academic science), and from Steve I turned away from naive versions of the Documentary Hypothesis.
And I’m also specifically credited in the acknowledgments. So there’s no way this can be an objective review. So just buy it. And after you do that, finish reading this post to see what it’s about.
Did Jesus Die for Dogs is a very readable work of popular theology. It comprises more than a decade of theological research into 40 pages that can be given to an average parishioner without confusion.
Did Jesus Die for Dogs draws on Calvinist Covenant Theology, and looks at promises and requirements that God gave to Adam, Noah, Moses, and the world as described in the letters of Paul. Boint convincingly argues that Adam and Eve’s sins lead to the fall of all of creation, and that the sacrifice of Jesus redeemed all of creation.
After the first sin, God cursed the ground
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
The Flood is aimed at animals as well — the LORD regretted creating dogs just as he regretted creating men
So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them
God calls the animals directly — Noah does not gather them, the Spirit moves them
Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.
God remembered the animals, as well as the humans
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
Likewise, the Law itself grants the Land rest
The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.
If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you
While I think parts of Did Jesus Die for Dogs? overstates its point, the point itself is well attested. Boint’s writing is convincing, even (or especially) for a curious but non-theological evidence.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
The creations in Nature themselves form part of the heavenly host. As we remember:
From the heavens, the stars fought
From their stations, they fought with Sisera
And as even the Canaanites, who sometimes confused idol Ba’al with the LORD but worshiped God as the only true Creator, attested
And say, that the sons of God may know
Ann that the assembly of stars may understand
The Council of the Heavens
The Ba’al Cycle
Steve Boint’s work is timely given the recent Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si, which I earlier discussed.
The word “Creation” occurs more than 60 times in Laudito Si, but one of the most moving passages reminds the faithful that Mary is Queen of all Creation. The Creator not only became a creation (when God became Man), but creation itself is the dominion of a sinless creature who gave birth to and loves her creator
Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.
Laudito Si 241
As the Rev. Boint reminds readers multiple times in Did Jesus Die for Dogs?, the greatest existential distinction is the distinction between Creator and Creation. And by His birth, death, and resurrection — by His grace — the LORD, Christ our Lord, has abolished that distinction.
Our nails were driven into His flesh. His sacrifice purchases our eternal life.
Did Jesus Die for Dogs is far more readable — it is written at a much simpler level — than Laudato Si. But given the thousands of years of Divine Tradition — from the LORD eating steak and cakes with Abraham and Sarah, to the Lord drinking wine at a wedding with his mother, to the Mother of God herself being clothed in the sun, I’ll leave with a hymn by St. Francis of Assisi, quoted in Pope Francis’s Laudato Si:
Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom you give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;
and bears a likeness of you, Most High.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through whom you give sustenance to your creatures.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong
Canticle of the Creatures, Laudito Si 87
To combine the concluding words of Pope Francis and Rev. Boint,
Forever: humans, animals, plants, all other living things and God will be friends.
Praise be to you!