Mother Earth News Blogs > Homesteading and Livestock

Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

New Meaning for the New Covenant

By Bryan Welch

Tags: philosophy, Kansas, Bryan Welch,

After 50 years of reading Bible passages and listening to others read and discuss the book, the story of Jesus of Nazareth has suddenly become stunningly, blindingly relevant to me. Here was a spiritual savior whose principal lesson was the voluntary sacrifice of his own life for the good of others. He said, explicitly, that the only path to God was through his example. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[i]

And His example is the voluntary sacrifice of his own life for a greater good.

Jay Takes Flight

Jesus even acknowledged our direct, intimate connection to future generations and the web of life, a connection that is consummated in death. At the Last Supper on the night before His execution, He served bread and wine to the disciples who would carry his message forward. Breaking the bread he said “This is my body given for you; do this is in remembrance of me.” Even more pointedly he said, serving the wine, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”[ii]

And so God invites us to share in this New Covenant, to give our own flesh and blood for the good of future generations. It seemed, as I read those words, that Jesus was speaking directly to a human dilemma now at the forefront of our consciousness 20 centuries after his death. We have proven that our technology can push cultures aside and extinguish life forms if they don’t support our expansion and prosperity. We can alter God’s creation until it seems to be almost purely a reflection of human dominance and the human ego.

And we may be on the verge of living much, much longer than previous generations, compounding human population growth.

But still the words of a wise prophet echo across the millennia, telling us the salvation from our sins is achievable only through mortality – voluntary mortality.

I have come to believe that continued expansion – both in our numbers and in our life spans – dooms future generations of human beings to increased misery and a steadily diminishing quality of life. The splendor of God’s creation will be progressively corrupted as we pack the planet more and more tightly with our cities and machinery. Birth rates diminish, but then life spans increase. Every form of habitat destruction is justified by the need to feed, house and clothe more people.

Since Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, it seems we’ve been working full time on our species’ expansion. From a biological perspective, it is the most natural of all goals. From the perspective of virtue, it personifies the very nature of human sin.

The New Covenant, which expiates our sin, seems to me now to be shockingly simple. Our New Covenant is sanctified in the voluntary, individual sacrifice of our lives for a greater good.

Please don’t mistake me. I will never advocate the imposition of mortality by any human being on any other. I believe killing another human being – in war or for any other purpose – is wrong. And Jesus’ example is, quite explicitly, an example of voluntary mortality.

For that matter, I don’t support laws or rules that impose birth control. From my perspective, we are doomed unless we can accept these necessary sacrifices on an individual basis with free will.

If we impose limits on life span or fertility through any of our authority structures, we will only feed ongoing conflict and human strife. Neither governments, nor religions nor communities can dictate mortality or fertility to individuals without inspiring resistance and backlash. Imposed limits might hold back the tide of destruction for a little while, but they won’t provide any sustainable benefit.

Our salvation is contingent on voluntary sacrifice.

Only through selfless, voluntary, individual sacrifice can we expiate our essential human flaw and restore the Garden. We have to accept mortality as the necessary and – if voluntary – heroic alternative. We must divert the resources we are using to mindlessly expand human life and work and invest them, instead, in the improvement of all life both human and non-human.

To do that, of course, we have to change our minds.

Photo by Bryan Welch

[i] Holy Bible, New International Version. Book of John, Chapter 14, verse 6. Retrieved October 26, 2013.

[ii] Holy Bible, New International Version. Book of Luke, Chapter 22, verses 19-20. Retrieved October 26, 2013.

Bryan Welch is the Publisher and Editorial Director of Ogden Publications, the parent company of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Connect with him on .

1/3/2014 3:25:40 AM

Hi, I agree with you that God did introduce a new covenant through Jesus Christ, but I think that Jesus made a perfect sacrifice to be a ransom payment for Adam (the first perfect human). It was a once and for all time event. We now have the hope of looking forward to living in an earthly paradise, ruled with perfect justice by Jesus. Self sacrifice for the sake of others is a good thing. We live in a unique time just before God passes judgement on sinful humans. What we do now will change our future forever. It's our choice which side of the fence we sit on.

1/2/2014 9:14:45 PM

Veronica and Dana are correct in what they say. For regwinters, you have not found the ability to discover truth. If any other religious figure or book were mentioned here, there may have been another outcome. The moment Jesus or the Holy Bible is mentioned, eyebrows raise and tempers flair. The earth is the topic of this magazine and is also one of Gods jewels of creation aside from man himself.

10/31/2013 5:57:37 PM

What is an article about a "sky fairy" doing in Mother Earth News? If this sort of stuff starts appearing in the printed magazine I'll have to cancel my 20 + year subscription.

10/30/2013 3:25:16 PM

My previous comment was not to say that sacrificing for the good of others, for the betterment of mankind, is wrong. No! Indeed, that is how we are to live out God's love in our own lives. I totally understand that way of living, because God has WIRED me that way! Few things in this life make me happier than to do something for someone that makes their life better in some way. It's just that Jesus was a physical, real Savior...not merely a "spiritual" one. And his "principle lesson" was not "do good for others". Yes, we ARE to follow his example of how to love others (non-judgmentally, compassionately, etc.). His primary reason for coming to this earth was to (to quote my recent fave song)"live a life I could never live" of perfect obedience and without sin; to "die the death that I fully deserve", because the wages of sin is death; and to defeat Death by rising from the dead (a literal, physical resurrection...their were hundreds of witnesses), assuring us of life after death.

10/30/2013 2:24:50 PM

You're putting words in Jesus mouth, a mistake millions make so that they can remake God into who they think he should be. Jesus did not die merely "for the good of others." He died, LITERALLY in our place, to take our punishment for turning away from the living God and worshipping anything else in his rightful place (which is the fundamental basis of all sin). God, being utterly Holy, cannot abide sin. But rather than wipe us all off the face of the planet, Jesus voluntarily put himself in our place. He put himself forth as our sacrificial lamb, to pay our penalty. Our sin was literally place upon him, and he absorbed God's wrath for us. See Isaiah 53. Jesus did not say follow "my example", he said "Follow me." He did not say we get to the Father by his example. We get there through HIM, accepting his death as payment for our sin (mine included). There is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. The Jewish sacrificial system was literally a foreshadow of, a pointing to, Jesus final ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind. SO much more I would wish to address, but not enough room here. But I could not abide the watering down to a mere "example", the life, death and resurrection of my Savior!

10/30/2013 11:42:41 AM

my co-worker's step-aunt makes $70/hr on the internet. She has been fired from work for 6 months but last month her income was $21412 just working on the internet for a few hours. ...>>>>>>>>

bryan welch
10/30/2013 11:14:39 AM

I have read the whole book, Veronica, and my understanding is as I have stated it.

10/29/2013 9:47:26 AM

May I suggest you read and study for yourself the whole book. Reading only "passages" (as stated in the article above) and "listening to others read and discuss the book" is cheating yourself out the living, breathing Word that it is and can be in your day to day life. And it will also help you not to make such statements as "Our salvation is contingent on voluntary sacrifice". Thanks