Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 94

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1 2015 RESPONSE TO CRITICS Stephen H. Webb∗ Paul Louis Metzger is one of my favorite theologians, so it is an honor and a pleasure to write for the journal he edits, and I am grateful for this opportunity. One of my favorite pieces of his writing is a web article that is as profound as it is brief. The title is, “Why Didn’t God Become a Dog?”1 As someone who has written about God and dogs, I love the question.2 The quick and easy answer to this question is, “Because we are rational, created in the image of God, and dogs are not.” Dogs, in other words, are merely physical beings, deprived of the immaterial souls that elevate humans to the level of God’s concern. Metzger never goes for the easy answer on any topic, let alone this one. He thinks humans are created in the image of God because of our capacity to be related to others, not the alleged uniqueness of our rationality. Dogs too are relational beings, of course. As Metzger acknowledges, they are the most loyal of creatures and thus masters of that relationship known as obedience. Humans, however, have a greater relational range than canines. Metzger argues that humanity alone functions as a microcosm of the universe, and thus we bear the image of God on behalf of all of God’s creatures. In other words, while the incarnation of the Word in a dog would have affirmed the mutual dependence of two specific species, the Incarnation in humanity is beneficial for every living creature and every material thing. Nothing against dogs, but God became one of us in order to bless and redeem the entire cosmos. Through us, God has greater reach. DOI: ∗ Stephen H. Webb retired from Wabash College as Professor of Religion and Philosophy and currently teaches part-time at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis; 1. Paul Louis Metzger, “Why Didn’t God Become a Dog?” Uncommon God, Common Good (blog), December 5, 2014, 2. Stephen H. Webb, On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). Also see Stephen H. Webb, “Could Jesus Have Been an Octopus? (Duns Scotus Replies to Darwin),” in The Dome of Eden: A New Solution to the Problem of Creation and Evolution (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010), 246–295. 93