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My pasted text got changes by Bravenet, italics gone, etc. I will re-edit to try to clarify it:


I received the below article (evidently put out by & one Michael Shaw) as an email attachment recently from the beloved Pastor Formaggini, who did me the honor of asking my opinion on it. So here goes.

A. As a heading to the article we read:
"Systematic Vegetarian Theology"

It is clear in the Bible that the Lord has not advised us to confine our diet to vegetables. Rom 14:2 tells us " One man hath faith to eat all things: but he who is weak eats vegetables."

The author of the emailed article discusses

"Ecclesiastes 3:19-21" & "A View of the Souls and Spirits of Humans and Animals"



As a preliminary comment, it should be noted that Ecclesiastes has seemed to pose a theological problem since there are verses in Ecclesiastes that seem to contradict other scripture. I regard Ecclesiastes as the inspired record of a man reasoning from a perspective of "under the sun." The refrain reiterated over and over again in Ecclesiastes is "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Well in point of fact all is not vanity for the person who trusts Christ as Savior, for the person who has a heavenly mind set. Under the sun for the man who is not regenerated, indeed all is vanity. From the perspective of a man reasoning "under the sun," without the revelation of the Bible, it may seem that "all go to one place," Ecc 6:4. Therefore, one must not take verses out of the "under the sun" context from Ecclesiastes and use them to establish doctrine, as if we all die & are buried and that's all there is to life for everyone. (BTW, another book which may be quoted out of context is Job, where Job debates with 3 friends; but at the end God tells us that what the 3 friend said was wrong!)


I had one teacher in seminary, the respected James O. Buswell, who wrote a good systematic theology in 2 volumes. Buswell thinks that animals have spirits, since he finds that the Bible attributes spirits to them. And from this he deduces that psychological experiments on animals may be applied to humans.

I have a Bible which I read from cover to cover and wherein I marked in highlighter the psychological terms that the Bible has; like soul, spirit, heart, mind, reins (kidneys!), and flesh. I also spent about a year studying this subject in general and putting verses on cards (in Greek & Hebrew) in order to classify what the Bible says on these terms. My conclusion was that men have spirits (ruach / pneuma) and they have bodies as distinct elements in the anthropological unity of man. Man was designed to have both spirit and body and will have both spirit and body after the resurrection.

However, I also concluded that the term soul (nephesh, psyche) is a functional term, not a metaphysical term. I believe that all the references in the Bible to soul can be explained as referring to life or person. (E.g., "Five souls died" = five persons died, "lose one's soul" = lose one's life.)
Also, I came to the conclusion that in the few places where ruach (which means not just spirit, but also wind and breath in Hebrew) is attributed to an animal, the meaning is breath (not spirit). Thus I conclude that while animals have bodies and lives (nephesh), they only have one metaphyical entity, namely body. If the nephesh of the animal is in his blood, then that means that the life of the animal is in his blood (blood is essential for life).


As to men, I find that they have just 2 metaphysical parts = body and spirit. To be sure, we have life (nephesh, psyche) and we have person or self (nephesh, psyche); but the soul is not a 3rd metaphysical part. Likewise, our hearts and minds are not 4th and 5th parts of men. Now back to the emailed ariticle by Shaw:

"Animals Have Souls & Spirits" According to the Book of Genesis chapter 1 verse 20 & verse 30, animals have souls (nephesh),"

Actually Gen 1:20,30 does not say that animals have life (nephesh). Gen 1:20 says that animals are nephesh (indeed they are distinguished from rocks by the fact that they live. Gen 1:30 tells us that in animals is nephesh. Indeed, they have life; but such a statement does not establish that the nephesh of animals is a metaphysical entity distinct from their bodies. Life is an attribute of their bodies.

Shaw next says,

"and according to Eccles. 3:19, animals also have spirits (ruach)."

Ecc 3:19 says, "For that which happens to the sons of men happens to animals; even one thing happens to them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yea, they have all one breath [ ruach ]; and man has no preeminence above the animals; for all is vanity."
If you don't believe that all is vanity, then you don't need to accept the first part of this verse as God's absolute truth. That is the way things may seem to a man reasoning under the sun. As to ruach in this verse, the meaning of breath fits the context very well; there is no need to interpret it as a reference to spirit (as in man, made in the image of God).

Shaw continues in wonderland:

"Because the true teachings of scripture point to animals having Souls and Spirits, there can be no doubt that Jesus would have been a vegetarian and that all subsequent Christians should be also; for if an animal has a soul, then it would be just as much a sin to kill an animal as it would be to kill a man. This is not just my opinion, but also God's, for God the Father says, "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man" Isaiah 66:3."

Since the Lord in the Bible explicitly permits eating animals, requires eating animals in the law (some sacrifices have to be eaten), and disparages vegetarians as "weak," Shaw must be wrong. (Oh pshaw!) If animals indeed are living (nephesh) and have breath (pneuma), so what? Now Isaiah 66:3 has to be read in context.

Isaiah 66:3 " He who kills an ox is as he who slays a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, as he who breaks a dog’s neck; he who offers an oblation, as he who offers swine’s blood; he that burns frankincense, as he that blesses an idol."

This passage no more teaches that it was a sin to kill an ox than it was a sin to offer animal sacrifices which the Lord prescribed. Apparently the Lord is saying in Isaiah 66:3 that the animal sacrifices were not efficacious as offered by Judah at this time in their history because the people's spirits were sinful and the animal sacrifices could not remedy that obstacle to God's approval. In Isaiah 66:2 it says, "to this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word."

Shaw opines that

"Ruach should also be rendered Spirit in verse 19."

And Shaw says,

"When we read further into Ecclesiastes we will see that in fact this entire passage has been referring to the spirit and not the breath; for in Ecclesiastes 3:21 the author asks... " Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" (NIV) The KJV and the NIV both translate Ruach correctly here as spirit, since they had no other choice. If they had said breath it would not have made any sense. However, since this passage is directly related to the previous one in verse 19, there can be no doubt that Ruach should have been rendered spirit in verse 19 and not breath."

Lets look at the context:
"20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knows the ruach of man, whether it goeth upward, and the ruach of the beast, whether it goes downward to the earth? 22 Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him back to see what shall be after him?"

First, One cannot endorse all the ideas presented in the passage as God's truth, since all do not go to one placed (there is a Heaven/Paradise and a Sheol/Hades and a Lake of Fire/Gehenna). One finds in the Bible that men shall be raised (come back) and shall see things in the future. Thus this passage makes sense as man reasoning under the sun, divinely recorded for our edification.

Second, "breath" fits all meanings in all the references to ruach in Ecclesiastes 3:19-22.

Third, questions are not indications of fact. "Who knows . . . whether . . . ?" "Who shall bring him back . . . ?" You can no more deduct a fact from such questions than you could deduct from the imperative command in John 4 to the Woman at the Well, "Go, call your husband," that the woman had a husband in fact.

Shaw claims,

"The only reason apparent for the translators to choose breath over spirit in verse 19 is an attempt (by Christian Scholars) to fool the reader and themselves into not acknowledging that animals have spirits. The feeble attempts by translators are revealed for what they are. Yet, when faced with such statements of truth, some Bible publishers actually make attempts to discredit the entire passage in question."

Shaw notes the interpretation of the Amplified Bible (with which I agree), but objects to it:

"Does the Bible really teach that a man has no preeminence over a beast"? No! The Bible only records that the book of Ecclesiastes says it. Then why is this book in the Bible? Can it possibly be called inspired by God when it makes such "under the sun" pronouncements, some only partially true, others entirely false?..." "Friends, you can see for yourself that there is more than a simple attempt here, by the publishers of this Bible, to get around a truth that God has revealed. How sad these people can not accept what God says."

Surely the Amplified Bible does affirm God's word. And the author of the AB can distinguish between God's truth in the Bible from false statements recorded in the Bible like those of satan (e.g., "You shall not surely die."). Also, the author can distinguish between God's truth and the mere record of how things appear to an unregenerate mind set reasoning under the sun. Indeed all is not vanity! There is no passage I know of where ruach or pneuma in references to animals) must mean "spirit."

In John 22 Christ served fish to his disciples as in the Feeding of the 5000. And in the eschatological kingdom of Ezekiel 47 there are fishermen.

There is no basis for vegetarianism in the Bible.