A local vegan group will host a discussion on an oft-avoided topic this March-a discussion of veganism and how it relates to Christianity. The group is the Denver Vegans, and the discussion on March 22 will be hosted by author Keith Akers. Akers is one of the group’s co-organizers and recently released his new book: “Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church”.
On his official website called “Compassionate Spirit”, Akers explains that he has studied very early Christianity for 30 years. Christianity existed for three centuries before the Holy Bible was published, and Akers’ specific focus was on very early Christianity that was practiced while Christ’s original disciples were still alive on Earth. The disciples lived by a strict moral code that including harming no one and were believed to be vegan or vegetarian.
Two decades after Jesus Christ was crucified, a schism in this early sect developed that was more lenient toward eating animals. Animal sacrifice had been very prevalent in Judaism prior to Christ’s coming and diminished quickly afterward. Sacrifices were a common religious ritual that was followed by a feast where the animal would be eaten. The original Christian sect created by the vegetarian disciples of Christ was dubbed “Jewish Christianity” by religious scholar Hans-Joachim Schoeps, who wrote a book by the same name.
“I have been continually astounded that — with a few exceptions — modern Christians and modern scholars know virtually nothing of Jewish Christianity,” says Akers on his website.
In America today, socio-political schisms often put vegan activists and Christians at odds with one another in the same ways that divide liberals and conservatives, who are often socially suspicious of each other.
“Why should people so casually dismiss the idea that the Prince of Peace might make compassion for animals a key part of his program?” says Akers.
Akers says he was raised Christian but that his own transition to being vegetarian and then vegan was not religiously motivated. In fact, he felt his act made for “straightforward, ethical reasons” felt as if ti was almost an act of rebellion sue to the schism between vegetarianism and the American social philosophy that many American Christians adhere to, which is almost an informal opposition to vegetarian and vegan moral ideals, even as Jesus Christ preached compassion and understanding.
Quite a few American Christians, including Akers do have different views however, and the number may slowly be growing. The Christian Vegetarian Association has existed since 1999 after being founded by Nathan Braun and Stephen H. Webb, Professor of Religion at Wabash College. A quarter million copies of the non-denominational group’s publication “What Did Jesus Eat?” have since been distributed around the world and published in many languages.
The upcoming discussion of veganism and Christianity hosted by the Denver Vegans will include a potluck dinner and will be held at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center 1939 South Monroe Street, Denver, CO. The gathering is non-sectarian and open to group members. Denver Vegans can be contacted via their Meet-ups website.