The place of the nonhuman animal within Christian doctrine is a topic of increasing interest, as more theologians seek to describe where nonhuman animals fit on the theological stage. One area where there seems great potential, yet which has been relatively untouched, is God's covenantal relationship with nonhuman animals as described within the Bible. This article is an attempt to use the idea of God's covenantal relationship with nonhuman creatures to build a case for understanding them as creatures of value, with a corresponding human calling to treat them in ways suitable to their value. This case is made in two sections. In the first, the fact that God covenants with nonhuman animals, and calls humans into covenant with them, will be shown through examining Genesis 9 and Hosea 2. Given such a reality, what it means to be involved in a covenant will be examined, and ultimately two main implications will be put forward. First, that nonhuman animals are worthy of covenantal care and protection, and second that humans have a calling to exist in a covenantal relationship with them. Following this, this article then turns to its second section, where it examines the ways in which the Christian tradition has (or has not) intentionally chosen to live out such a covenantal theology with nonhuman animals. The doctrines of two contemporary Christian denominations (Anglican and Roman Catholic) as described in significant denominational documents are examined, as are two groups from these respective traditions which choose to pay close attention to the welfare of nonhuman animals to address the manner in which the covenantal relationship shared between human and nonhuman animals is recognised and understood in the church today. While the groups focused on nonhuman animal welfare continually call for the church to recognise the value of all creatures as described in the covenantal relationship all animals are involved in, their respective denominations often fail to live out such ethical implications. In light of the significance of the covenantal relationship, it is suggested that the church is called to engage in deeper acts of moral discernment on matters of animal ethics.
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