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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hoffmanism

Hoffmanism is a philosophy propounded by Christian vegetarian minister, Rev. Frank L. Hoffman of Athens, New York.


The three points of Hoffmanism

Hoffmanism teaches 3 points:
1.     
1 - God loves all persons unconditionally.
2.      2 - We should realize this unconditional love and love every other person unconditionally.
3.      3 - All persons should be vegan (that is, to neither eat animal products, nor consume, wear, or endorse the production of anything that involves the suffering or involuntary use of another person, particularly nonhumans, who cannot voice their unwillingness to participate in uses that compromise their freedom and/or well-being).

The 4th point of Hoffmanism seems to be, according to his followers’ interpretations, that it matters not whether we know anything, think anything, or do anything of significant personal or historical effort because God doesn’t really care what we do.

While this sounds at some points like hyper-Calvinism, Hoffman was ordained a Methodist minister, through reared Jewish.

Frank Hoffman’s Venues

After seminary, Frank Hoffman served without compensation in the Federal Church of Athens NY for about a decade.  Early in the 20th century, he started a web-site-based e-mail list called variously Veg-Christian or VC or VCList at http://www.All-Creaturers.org

Based upon his web traffic, one might be tempted to think that he boasts millions of followers (millions of unique site visitors, and the number of daily visitors seems to be increasing progressively.  With a US population of about 306 million, he could claim several percent of the entire US population with his minimalist ‘Christian vegetarian theology’.

Criticisms of Claims about Hoffmanism

(1) Critics of these presumptive claims of millions of Hoffmanites could easily point to the many pro-animal, animal rights, and vegan websites sub-hosted at www.All-Creatures.org.  However, Frank Hoffman himself does no claim any followers at all, no members, no explicit doctrine(s), and no behavioral requirements (including intellectual expectations).

(2) Other critics note that assumptions of ‘site visitors’ and occasional e-mail posters (that they’re on the right page (with the minimalist teachings) bears no resemblance to any kind of historical understanding called Christianity by any stable regularly-gathering faith community claiming to be Christian.  However, network associations with minimalist ‘consensus statements’ could, while not claiming to be ‘a church’ (as Hoffman at times claims – ‘an online church’, have some value.

(3) Further criticism is that some of Hoffman’s followers are merely emotionally needy vegetarians, but messages of love have long attracted folks with a particular spiritual need to be reassured that a culture of noninjury is socially, historically, and morally desirable.   Further, ad hominem criticisms do not address the legitimacy of a teaching.

What might emerge from Hoffman’s influence is very unclear.

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