Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 96

ATONEMENT, AGRICULTURE, AND ANIMAL FEEDING - Kirkpatrick More than Restored Relationship with God When one speaks of Christ’s atonement, the most common focus of his death and resurrection in many Evangelical circles is its impact on humankind, and more specifically on Christians. Christians are no longer dead in their sins; we are alive in Christ (Rm 6:11), reconciled to God through the work of His Son (2 Cor 5:17–19), and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). This is good and true and we should proclaim and glory in this good news, but we must not stop there! Genesis 3 indicates that it is not humanity’s relationship with God alone that suffers as a result of sin’s entering the world; their relationship with one another and with all of creation does as well. If sin has broken each of these relationships and through Christ we are now free from sin, then it is not only our relationship with God but all broken relationships—including humankind’s relationship with creation—that are transformed through Christ’s atonement. Because Christ has “reconcil[ed] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, m aking peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19) and through this He is “making all things new” (Rv 21:5), our relationship with the food and with the land upon which we depend must change as well. The problem is that the way we eat today is not evidence of this reconciliation. Instead of caring well for the land, humankind consistently demands more and more from the soil that provides much needed nutrients to the crops necessary for our survival. The earth’s “most productive soils have already been exploited” and the organic matter and the nutrients contained therein are not being replaced at a rate anywhere close to keep up with the losses.47 The meat humankind eats is less physically healthy and consistently on the verge of sickness. The crops are less nutritious as the soil is repeatedly taxed beyond its capability to replenish itself. As the consumers of the crops from the nutrient-depleted soil and of the livestock no longer consuming the grass it was created to consume, humans are all the more unhealthy because of the damage that has been done to the land and food that are absolutely necessary for our continued existence. The truth of the matter is this: what we eat affects more than just the people at our dinner tables. It affects the animals we eat, and the crops and land upon which they are grown. It affects the quality of our drinking water and the quality of the air we breathe, not just locally but globally. It affects our 47. Ronald Amundson et al., “Soil and Human Security in the 21st Century,” Science 348, no. 6235 (May 8, 2015): 1251071-1 (accessed October 14, 2015). 93