Jodi Dotson is a Christian who is an animal lover, and she can't imagine heaven without her beloved pets. "Have you ever looked into the eyes of a greyhound?" asked Dotson, a Park City resident who has three pet greyhounds -- Holyfield, Special and Checkers. "Because if you can't see all the way to their soul, you're missing something."
As with many other issues related to faith, people have different beliefs when it comes to questions of spirituality and animals.
Some people of faith, such as Dotson, who attends Kechi United Methodist Church, believe that animals have souls and go to heaven when they die.
Yet most mainstream religions view animals as God's creations, and some religious leaders say that there is a difference between animals and humans when it comes to the issue of spirituality -- including the question of whether animals have souls.
The Rev. Catherine A. Caimano, rector at St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Wichita, is a self-proclaimed animal lover.
She proudly shows pictures of her dog, Scooter, and two cats, Dwight and Mamie. She's also a vegetarian and does not wear leather.
"I'm really clear about my commitment to the love and care for God's creatures," she said.
1. DonGander wrote:
Carniverous, non-canabalistic activity is not murder - according to Scripture.
Elevating animals to the equivilant of human-ness is a similar type of sin as Man raising himself to the equivilant of God.
September 29, 3:52 pm | [comment link]
2. Craig Stephans wrote:
Randy Alcorn devotes a chapter to this subject in his book “Heaven” that is an exhaustive look at the subject. The conclusion of his chapter is that yes, if you want to see your pet in Heaven you will. Without getting into the reasons behind it, I agree with him. Will they talk like animals in Narnia? Well, that is debatable.
September 29, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
3. Ad Orientem wrote:
Animals are clearly subordinate to humans in the divine scheme. That said I know of no doctrinal ruling on the question of whether or not they are endowed with a soul. Scripture and the Creed are both silent on the matter. Thus the subject is open to debate. However, opinions in either direction are just that, opinions. For a variety of reasons which are beyond the scope of a com box post I tend to believe that at least the larger orders of animals may indeed possess souls. Of course as someone coming from a dog loving family it is entirely possible that a certain emotional influence could be prejudicing my opinions.
September 29, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
In the present analysis, we simply don’t yet know. It all depends on how you work with the word נפש (nephesh), particularly in Gen 1:24. Like so much of Hebrew it can have a number of meanings, primarily ‘creature,’ ‘life’ or ‘soul’.
It’s not a huge stretch to contemplate ‘soulish animals’—those capable of a somewhat emotional relationship with other creatures, but not, and this is key, with God. That relationship is unique to humans because our soul is also spirit. Presumably we’ll find out someday about the animals, and in the interim I don’t think it’s particularly harmful to consider the possible soulishness of at least some of them.
September 29, 7:01 pm | [comment link]
5. Drew wrote:
My love for Sabrina, my loyal Black Lab mix, is unquestionable and I would be delighted to find that she’ll be with me in Heaven. That having been said, doing so would be a surprise (albeit a pleasant one) based upon Scripture.
September 29, 7:12 pm | [comment link]
Trying to create a Heaven out of what I can or cannot imagine seems dangerous indeed.
6. Bob from Boone wrote:
My dog Joshua, a border collie mix now 15 years old and suffering from deafness, arthritis and other ailments, used to be the Campus Dog at Berea College in Kentucky. He was beloved by students and faculty alike. He had a knack for sensing sadness or grief in students and going up to them and sitting or walking with them; they told me so in emails. I used to take him to chapel services, where he became a fixture. At one student-led service the leader called for prayers. One senior nursing student asked for prayers: she was afraid she’d fail some exams and not be able to take the State Board Exams. Her anxiety was palpable. Joshua got up from the aisle next to my seat, walked up to the row the student was standing in, passed another student and put his head against her leg in a calming, comforting gesture. After the service I said to her, “I think he was comforting you.” She thought so too. One staff member said that Joshua was the best counsellor on campus, and aother called him the fifth member of Campus Ministry. I remember poet Kathleen Norris recalling a seven-year-old girl saying, “I love dogs because they show me what God is like.” If that girl could meet the compassionate unconditionally loving Joshua, she’d see him right away as a good example. Joshua is one of those pets that sings to the universe with his whole being.
Christ came to redeem the whole of creation (Col. 1:15-20). I believe that the God who will hold us all in his memory until the general resurrection will keep Joshua there also.
September 29, 7:43 pm | [comment link]
7. JimA EMC wrote:
After 57 years on this planet I have more doubts about some people rather than animals having souls. Jim A EMC
September 29, 8:32 pm | [comment link]
8. TheOldHundredth wrote:
Not that this has any theological significance, but etymology seems to suggest that they do have souls (from the Latin anima, “soul”). I still like to eat them, though.
September 29, 8:47 pm | [comment link]
Let God Arise
9. Christopher Hathaway wrote:
Of course animals have souls. They have animal souls. That does not mean they have spirits or will be in heaven.
In the new earth? That’s another question. And it is a fool who tries to answer it without divine revelation.
September 29, 9:19 pm | [comment link]
10. Larry Morse wrote:
Once again, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of Americans. LM
September 29, 9:22 pm | [comment link]
11. AnglicanFirst wrote:
What about the theological studies of Hebrew scholars regarding the “neshama” (humans) and the “nefesh” (non-humans)?
September 29, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
12. Hakkatan wrote:
I believe that there will be animals in heaven—at least, in the new heavens and the new earth following the return of Christ. However, to say that the animals in heaven will be resurrected creatures from our time is not at all certain. God can, and I believe will, create animals fit for heaven—but I am not going to worry about it. Whatever is in heaven will be wonderful, and whatever is not in heaven will not be missed.
September 29, 10:18 pm | [comment link]
13. trooper wrote:
I read one day about a woman who asked her priest if her pet would be in heaven with her, he said, “no.” she said, then, she would rather not be in heaven. so the priest said God would provide what we need to be happy. I’m ok leaving it at that.
September 29, 10:19 pm | [comment link]
14. Christopher Hathaway wrote:
Hmmm. If I were her priest I would have told her that hell was much worse than not having her pet. If she only wants to be in heaven if she can have her pet she isn’t getting there anyway.
September 29, 10:26 pm | [comment link]
15. Bob from Boone wrote:
I didn’t think to tell you how Joshua got his name. I found him in the Lexington Humane Society. I think the truth is he picked me out, and after spending a little time together—he was so sweet, I asked for him. It turned out that he was a “death-row doggie” and would have been put down shortly. So, I gave a lot of thought about naming him. A friend reminded me that in the old days when a Native American had a major life experience he took a new name that referred to the experience. In that light, realizing that I was the unwitting instrument and not the conscious agent of his salvation, I named him Joshua: “The LORD is my savior.” At this very moment it has occured to me that he shares his name with Jesus; I like that.
September 29, 10:42 pm | [comment link]
16. libraryjim wrote:
C.S.Lewis ponders this in chapter 9 of “the Problem of Pain”. I’m not going to quote from it since it really is all of a part. His summation is that pets probably will end up in heaven, having been given eternity through their relationship with Man just as Man gets his from his relation with God. That’s a poor summary. Please read it for yourself.
Lewis (I think) also stated that Anglican bishop John Wesley also believed animals would end up with us in heaven. But I’ve not researched that.
I do know animals are smarter than we give them credit for being,so why not? Anyway, in heaven our attention will be focused on God fully, totally, completely. I’m looking forward to seeing HIM face to face in glory.
September 29, 10:58 pm | [comment link]
Jim E. <><
17. libraryjim wrote:
An old man and his dog were walking down this dirt road with fences on both sides, they came to a gate in the fence and looked in, it was nice - grassy, woody areas, just what a ‘huntin’ dog and man would like, but, it had a sign saying ‘no trespassing’ so they walked on.
They came to a beautiful gate with a person in white robes standing there. “Welcome to Heaven” he said. The old man was happy and started in with his dog following him.
The gatekeeper stopped him. “Dogs aren’t allowed, I’m sorry but he can’t come with you.”
“What kind of Heaven won’t allow dogs? If He can’t come in, then I will stay out with him. He’s been my faithful companion all his life, I can’t desert him now.”
“Suit yourself, but I have to warn you, the Devil’s on this road and he’ll try to sweet talk you into his area, he’ll promise you anything, but, the dog can’t go there either. If you won’t leave the dog, you’ll
spend Eternity on this road ”
So the old man and dog went on.
They came to a rundown fence with a gap in it, no gate, just a hole. Another old man was inside. “Scuse me Sir, my dog and I are getting mighty tired, mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?”
“Of course, there’s some cold water under that tree over there. Make yourselves comfortable ”
“You’re sure my dog can come in? The man down the road said dogs weren’t allowed anywhere.”
“Would you come in if you had to leave the dog?”
” No sir, that’s why I didn’t go to Heaven, he said the dog couldn’t come in. We’ll be spending Eternity on this road, and a glass of cold water and some shade would be mighty fine right about now. But, I won’t come in if my buddy here can’t come too, and that’s final.”
The man smiled a big smile and said “Welcome to Heaven.”
“You mean this is Heaven? Dogs ARE allowed? How come that fellow down the road said they weren’t?”
“That was the Devil and he gets all the people who are willing to give up a life long companion for a comfortable place to stay. They soon find out their mistake, but, then it’s too late. The dogs come here, the fickle people stay there. GOD wouldn’t allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, HE created them to be man’s companions in life, why would he separate them in death?”
Author Earl Hamner (“The Waltons”)
September 29, 11:04 pm | [comment link]
18. Drew wrote:
Lewis (I think) also stated that Anglican bishop John Wesley also believed animals would end up with us in heaven.
John Wesley, founder (with the help of others, including the more Calvinistic Whitefield) of Methodism, lived and died a priest in the Church of England (although he functioned very much like a bishop, particularly in America, he never was one).
Regarding Lewis’ speculations they are, well, speculations. It’s impossible to answer the question with certainly thus I refuse to be dogmatic about it. I sincerely hope that Sabrina the Wonderdog is with me in the eschaton, but I refuse to be dogmatic about it.
Speculative theology is almost always bad theology.
September 29, 11:07 pm | [comment link]
19. KAR wrote:
Okay, Ad Orientem, you just overcame a huge hurdle in the direction of Orthodox (capital “O”), I was a Protestant in Catholic school and my father tells with slight glee that I knew I could not fully accept the RCC theology because of the firm answer of “no.” However your answer is a vote that Greek side is hip and should not be fear.
(Written mostly tongue-in-cheek, but when I was ten and giving the poor RC teacher fits with my forever questioning, it was very serious)
September 29, 11:59 pm | [comment link]
20. Jill C. wrote:
Lewis especially appreciated the writings of George MacDonald and MacDonald (leaning at times toward a universal salvation—much as I like some of his sermons and most of his works of fiction) espoused the idea that animals would be in heaven. So perhaps it was MacDonald rather than Wesley? I do love my cats but they were not created in the image of God as we were. So I don’t believe they have eternal souls or will be with me in paradise.
September 30, 12:15 am | [comment link]
21. SouthCoast wrote:
#17, there was a class Twilight Zone episode dramatizing that tale!
September 30, 12:17 am | [comment link]
Also, I remember something I read several years ago online concerning this question. The answer came from a Catholic priest who said that he didn’t know, but that we humans have no idea what, if any, covenant there is between God and the animals. There is no proof that there is no covenant, so it behooves us to treat them with dignity and kindness, and to hope they will be with us again (now, the non-domestic creatures would probably prefer not to be with us, but one is certain that they will have their reward!)
22. Ad Orientem wrote:
September 30, 12:22 am | [comment link]
As an ex Roman I can definitely confirm that one of the things I have struggled with is simply accepting that some things have not been revealed and are not on the “need to know” list. I think there is a little bit of a tendency among western Christians (especially Rome) to try to provide a neat answer to all of the questions that one can come up with. Orthodoxy doesn’t work that way. We just accept that some things are, some are not, and some we don’t know about.
23. KAR wrote:
#22 Yeah, I heard of my friend chastised once by an Orthodox for attempting to figure it all out - pointing to Deut. 29:29 and the Church is a living organism not a math problem to be solved.
That little bit of reproof has help me greatly in letting God be God and accept “Holy Mysteries” of things I just don’t know (meanwhile I still love to read the Science section and NASA sites - not a turning off brain but child-like joy of discovery). So I’ve found freedom in adopting that bit from side from the Eastern side of the Church.
September 30, 1:25 am | [comment link]
24. StayinAnglican wrote:
I really liked what the good Rabbi said about how animals have something of God in them but that it is different from what we have been given.
I am not quoting him exactly but choose to bring out the general idea without clouding the issue with differing definitions of the word “soul” Of all the opinions offered in the article, I think his was the closest to the truth.
In my lowly and undogmatic opinion, animals have something eternal in them. While it may differ in kind from what we have been given, it is nonetheless just as eternal. Each animal seems to have been as lovingly created as any of us were. Are any alike? What about the pronounced personalities and unique quirks and preferences found in the higher animals? All animals could be seen as the unique thoughts of God. Since God is eternal, all those wonderful thoughts of his, like my beloved Laddy and Sunny, long passed from this life, will be present with us in Heaven just as God will be present with us in Heaven.
I think that God loves our animals as much as we do. He would no more be parted from them than he would be parted from us. Whatsmore, I believe that God wants to delight us in heaven as on earth and so I don’t find it hard to believe at all that he would mind sharing with us those little spirits that were once in our care. Even better, since God does nothing half-way, that sharing will be a full reunification with our pets.
Doesnt the Bible say that there will be a new Earth? That is all the biblical proof that I need that there will be animals in Eternity. Can anyone imagine a new Earth stocked with beautiful gardens but unadorned with animals who never could and never did sin? It is unimaginable that God would discard the idea of animals and if not animals in general, then why would he discard the ideas of individual animals?
September 30, 1:57 am | [comment link]
25. StayinAnglican wrote:
To all those who answered with variations of “only humans can relate to God and or have a covenant with him” I have only this to say. Think about it. If all of Creation is the result of God’s thoughts, ideas and will, then how could it fail to be able to relate to him? It can’t which is the point. The only thing preventing Creation from its original “relationship”, and here I use the word loosely so as not to confuse it with higher forms of relation, with God, is man’s broken relationship with Him, then once that relationship is fully restored, why wouldn’t Creation’s “relationship” with God also be restored? Why would ideas that God once lovingly willed into existence and considered good ever cease to be willed by him to exist in some form? Does God somehow forget his past creations?
As for the idea that only man will be in heaven because only man is known to have a covenant with God, I ask everyone to remember the underlying cause which necessitated said covenant. The covenant is meant to facilitate the reestablishment of the relationship between God and Man, which Man alone broke in the first place. God does not need the Covenant because he didnt break the relationship. Animals, since they were the innocent victims of the Fall and also never willed to break their relationship, would not need to a covenant either.
I think the “only Man” parts of dogma are because only Man has a problem that needs to be fixed. The squeaky wheel and all that. It is just possible that The Bible only talks about Man’s relationship to God because it is only Man that has a problem with his relationships.
September 30, 2:23 am | [comment link]
26. azusa wrote:
Don’t forget the wasps and termites! No outcasts! (Thank you, PB Browning!)
September 30, 2:55 am | [comment link]
I am shocked - shocked - by the rampant speciesism of the comments above… (reaches for vapors).
[FTR’s voice off: ‘And the demons! Remember St Isaac of Nineveh!’]
27. pair of scissors wrote:
“If all of Creation is the result of God’s thoughts, ideas and will, then how could it fail to be able to relate to him?”
What about plants? rocks? a robot? my computer? an online character? All are part of creation, none are made in the image of God. We have no way of telling whether animals (or plants or rocks or computers) have souls, but we do know that “you are worth more than many sparrows” and that the resources and attention lavished on pets in the west could be put to much better use helping our brothers and sisters in the GS.
September 30, 6:09 am | [comment link]
28. Larry Morse wrote:
I was reading 25 above and I thought again how powerful sentimentality is. The wish is the mother to the dream, if I may alter a cliche. Nothing he/she said makes any sense except for this, that we want the wish to make sense so very badly. I was a shepherd for a long time, and I worked my sheep with border collies, dogs which are more “intelligent” than any animal I have ever seen. They learned so fast, they came to know what I wanted just from a glance, they were so efficient is moving sheep, who are surely as stupid as a chicken, and that is saying a good deal. They were an exension of myself - and that of course is the whole point. This is what anthropomorphism looks like. And then I had to put them down because they grew old and miserable. I should have shot them myself because they trusted me to take care of them iin all things, but I could not do it. The vet killed them and I wept like a child. I still miss them. But this is also mere sentiment; I extended my “self” into them, and when they died, I died myself so to speak. The feeling was strong, but it is also simple self-deception. Larry
September 30, 7:32 am | [comment link]
29. Drew wrote:
If one gets dogmatic (pardon the pun) about sentimentality then one is ultimately forced to say that all dogs go to Heaven but some humans spend eternity in Hell fire; or (as often happens) one gets into universalism (so long as we’re being sentimental, why not posit a God who wouldn’t damn anyone eternally—except of course for Hitler and a few other really nasty people we don’t like anyway . . . ?)
When I was priested I vowed that I was “. . . persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain all Doctrine required as necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and that I was determined, out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to my charge; and to teach nothing, as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which I would be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture.” I can’t find canine salvation (personally, I have trouble concieving of cats in Heaven—so there!) in Scripture so I have trouble waxing hopeful about it no matter how much I might wish for it.
As I have written, I hope that Sabrina is there, but I won’t speculate that she will be. It will be enough for me to know that when her days on this earth are through she is at peace; then, as now, I will thank God for my very dear and loyal friend.
September 30, 8:44 am | [comment link]
30. Veronique wrote:
As the risk of being labeled a cold person who doesn’t understand because she doesn’t have a pet, it seems to me that persons who argue forcefully for the presence of their pets in heaven are the ones who are the most invested emotionally in their pets. And so they argue, if this pet makes me happy, surely it will be in heaven because I’m supposed to be perfectly happy in heaven and I can’t imagine heaven without pets. Perhaps what it is that some cannot imagine is life without pets. But heaven is beyond anything we can imagine. Besides, why stop at animals ? Some people are so into gardening that they feel a relationship to their plants… would those particular plants be in heaven ?
God will make us perfectly happy by the perfect relationship we will enjoy with him; the need of companionship that we have on earth, and that may be filled by a pet here (or a plant), will be completely fulfilled in our perfect communion with God. As someone else said, whatever is not there will not be missed.
September 30, 9:16 am | [comment link]
31. azusa wrote:
#29: all dogs DO go to heaven, but some have to go to curgatory first! (This is adminstered by large, spiteful cats.)
September 30, 9:45 am | [comment link]
32. libraryjim wrote:
Don’t forget the wasps and termites! No outcasts! (Thank you, PB Browning!)
To quote from C. S. Lewis again:
September 30, 11:47 am | [comment link]
Then I was asked, “what about the mosquitoes? Will they be in heaven as well?” I replied, “My dear sir, I think a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for Men could be very conveniently combined”.
33. libraryjim wrote:
Scrip;ture talks about ‘the four horsemen’ and Jesus coming again ‘on a white horse’. So there are horses.
Isaiah speaks of “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together”, so those animals will be there.
So why not dogs and cats?
September 30, 11:50 am | [comment link]
34. libraryjim wrote:
Hey, how did that semi-colon get in the middle of the word “Scripture”? :-(
September 30, 11:51 am | [comment link]
36. libraryjim wrote:
John Wesley ... (although he functioned very much like a bishop, particularly in America, he never was one).
hm, that will teach me (again) to look things up for myself instead of taking the word of a Methodist minister!
September 30, 12:55 pm | [comment link]
37. Gone missing wrote:
All I can say is this: My yellow nape Amazon is more soulful than most. Her favorite music ( which she sings along with) is Italian Bel Canto. Verde seems to touch her depths.
September 30, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
38. Christopher Hathaway wrote:
Jim, you do know that the “four horsemen” aren’t really horsemen, don’t you? Images and metaphors are just that.
I don’t know if there will be animals in the new earth. But if God saw that they were good for the old one it makes sense that they might be in the new. But that is not the same as saying that individual animals will be raised up and live forever as will will. Frankly, some of these comments make me wonder how well some understand the importance of God breathing His breath into us in Creation and making us in His image. Animals do not have a piece of God in them. They do not have a God-shaped hole in their animal souls. Will God grant eternal life to their creaturely souls? I honestly don’t know. But some of the reasoning I have seen here to defend the idea that He would seems squirrely at best.
September 30, 4:18 pm | [comment link]
39. Br. Michael wrote:
The answer is “Yes.” But not cockroaches.
September 30, 5:32 pm | [comment link]
40. libraryjim wrote:
aw, come on, Christopher, you know this can only be pure speculation. There is no way we can know the answer, so why not have fun with it?
September 30, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
41. Ad Orientem wrote:
September 30, 10:45 pm | [comment link]
Now there is an argument that it is bound to send tremors through the theological world.
42. Drew wrote:
#41 What’s been mean spirited? Pointing out that speculative theology should be avoided? Not wanting to let sentimentality trump Scripture?
I’d heard something very similar to the Billy Graham quote in response to a question from a small child whose dog had just died. It was a good one that I filed away should I ever be in that situation. At the same time, I would think that most readers of this blog aren’t children.
September 30, 10:50 pm | [comment link]
43. Drew wrote:
See #5 and #29. I have a dog. I love my dog.
Not sure what you’re getting at.
September 30, 11:12 pm | [comment link]
44. Ad Orientem wrote:
What was superior? I ridiculed your post (somewhat uncharitably for which I ask your pardon) because you are basically saying ‘dogs will be in heaven because I want them there.’ If you will re-read my earlier posts, you will note that I take no position on the issue. I don’t know what will or will not be in heaven because God has not delivered that information to me. Perhaps you have had a personal revelation?
I concur with what several others have said to the effect that it is presumptuous in to declare what awaits us on the other side absent some form of divine revelation. Scripture and the Creed are basically silent on the subject, as are the Fathers.
Therefor any opinion on this matter amounts to a level of speculation that is closer to wishful thinking than theologumen.
Q. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
A. I don’t know. Is it relevant to my salvation?
September 30, 11:18 pm | [comment link]
45. Christopher Hathaway wrote:
TPaine, it sounds like you’re the one being smug and superior. And it appears if people disagree with your ideas then you are free to question their character. Nice touch.
Your theological certainty unfortunately seems based upon your own subjective reasoning. We just like firmer foundations upon which to build our knowledge of spiritual truths.
I know you have a soul, but so did Hitler, so we know what a soul by itself is worth. And I know you have a brain. I just wish you would excercise the logic part of it more.
Oh, and just because we believe something is true doesn’t mean that truth gives us comfort. I don’t like the idea of some people being forever damend anymore than God says He likes it. But there you. It’s going to be what it is whether I like it or not, and Scripture says what it is, so my reason submits.
That I don’t think some arguments about pets having eternal souls logically compelling doesn’t mean I don’t want my pets there with me.
Why again did you feel the need to make this a personal attack rather than a theological discussion?
September 30, 11:22 pm | [comment link]
46. Drew wrote:
Just to clarify my response in #43. I do think that answer is a good and pastoral one to use with a child who’s just lost his dog (or cat, hamster, frog, whatever). To say, “No, Johnny, your dog was just a dog and had no soul so he’s not in Heaven” would be cruel. Saying, “Johnny, when you get to Heaven and am standing face to face with Jesus if you need your dog to give you joy, God will find a way for him to be there” seems far kinder.
September 30, 11:31 pm | [comment link]
This is a forum for adults, however, so I think that candor is ok.
I hope my dog, whom I love dearly, is in Heaven—that would be a surprise to me, a wonderful one, but a surprise nonetheless.
47. Courageous Grace wrote:
It is my personal opinion that since one of the jobs God gave man was stewardship of the earth, animals must be included in that. If God wanted man to take care of the lesser creatures (one of which seems to have taken over my rocking chair), then why wouldn’t he provide a place for them in Heaven?
I know that if my cat is hurt she experiences pain, if she is scared she will react, if she is humiliated she will hide in shame, if she does something wrong she knows it and tries to hide from it, and if she is happy she becomes very lovey. I believe animals have animal souls like humans have human souls. I would like to be reunited with my loved pets as much as I would like to be reunited with my loved friends and family members. My pets were my best friends growing up.
Sorry for rambling.
October 1, 12:53 am | [comment link]
48. DonGander wrote:
First, there is much existential thought in many of the above answers which assumes that our strong feelings represent truth. There is also some good logical thought which differentiates biblical truth from the poster’s feelings - a wiser course.
Second, I believe that only one poster mentioned what I believe is the most salient of all information that we have on animals and their difference to Man; that while animals are a living soul, they have no eternal spirit.
Among Christians I have found that poor theology is more often based upon a flawed view of Man than a flawed view of God. In this thread I see continued evidence of that observation.
October 1, 8:44 am | [comment link]
49. StayinAnglican wrote:
Pair of scissors,
I believe that I made it clear that there would be a fundamental difference in the way Creation relates to God and how people relate to him.
I agree that Westerners do lavish way too much money and attention on our pets. I draw a very definite line with my pets. Yes they have a few toys because they are indoor animals. And I pay for a high dollar prescription food because two of my cats have digestive trouble without it. But I don’t believe in pampering them beyond that or in treating them like people. I think that the way that people baby their pets these days is strange and unwholesome bordering in some extreme cases on the sick.
October 1, 10:29 am | [comment link]
50. StayinAnglican wrote:
My post only seems to not make sense to you because you are assuming a sentimentality that simply doesnt exist.
I believe that i labelled my speculations as “undogmatic” opinion. In other words, I am not married to it.
I have no illusions about animals. They are fundamentally different from us. They are not people. They are not necessary for either happiness or Heaven.
But as usual, I think the difference here boils down to the Catholic/Protestant divide. I think those of Protestant theology can’t abide anything extraneous. Its all bare necessity. Anything beyond that is dangerous. Catholics on the other hand, see beauty and value and grace in the excess. It is seen as a sign of God’s largess and overflowing generosity. For a Catholic, God is generous enough to allow for our speculation and the exercise of our imaginations as long as it is not confused with or preferred over what we know to be the Truth.
Your God is obviously a very stern Protestant. Heaven will be nothing but us and Him period and we are going to like it, like it or not. Better not even speculate about anything not spelled out in the Bible or else we might end up in hell. Catholics on the other hand see a God who is a lover of beauty, and who lovingly created everything. If he once creates something and calls it good, that something exists eternally in him. Creation is his thought. How does it not make sense to say that his thoughts remain with him and are therefore eternally present in him? Why that is pure nonsense! (sar) As we enjoy the presence of God we will enjoy the presence of all that he ever created in a way more real than we ever had it on Earth. If it is true, then it would be true of our pets.
But notice that I use the word “if.” All that I know of God and his nature leads me to be reasonably confident that what I just said is true. But I could be wrong and I have no trouble accepting that possibility and thus I am not attached to the idea. Yes it corresponds with my knowledge of God, but I am not so stupid to think that my knowledge and the ultimate reality of God and Heaven are the same.
October 1, 10:51 am | [comment link]
51. StayinAnglican wrote:
PS. I thought that my post was the least sentimental since I went to some trouble to reason out from both knowledge of God’s nature and from sound theology (ie I didnt spell it out but I was using the doctrine of the Fall of Creation being tied to the Fall of Man and its reverse that the Redemption of Man would also redeem Creation. St Paul speaks of Creation groaning for release does he not?) So I am mystified that of all the comments you singled mine out for criticism as too sentimental and only sensible as wishful thinking. This when there are any number of variations to the effect of “I love my dog. He is better than most people. Therefore he will be in Heaven”
October 1, 10:59 am | [comment link]
52. StayinAnglican wrote:
Yes it is possible that all animals would be with us in heaven while some humans would end up in hell. I don’t think that this means any kind of animal superiority or priveledge over man. They would simply stock heaven with fauna as much as it would be stocked with flora (but by this I do not mean in the same sense as they exist here on earth but rather as God’s good thoughts present with us in a very real way) On the other hand, part of the terrible blessing and burden of Man is that we do have a choice and that choice has eternal consequences. Some men will choose Hell in rejection of Heaven. This choice wont make them worth any less than the animals who would inhabit a new earth.
Finally to all, I think it is possible to be too dogmatic on both sides of this question. I try to avoid both extremes, allowing for the possibility that something in the middle in more likely but no more certain.
October 1, 11:11 am | [comment link]
53. Veronique wrote:
It is certainly possible, perhaps even probable, that there will be animals in heaven, because animals were part of God’s creation before the Fall. And animals in heaven/ new earth will be at peace with each other (what is it, the lion and the lamb will play together ?) What I have trouble with is the jump from that assertion to “my old pet Fluffy will be with me in heaven”, i.e. each particular pet who died would be raised up in heaven.
I echo the person who talked about the disturbing obsession of some with their pets (not thinking of anyone here, but you know, those Hollywood wackos who walk their pet in a pram)... I’m sure it will make for an interesting social study one day. I wonder if there is a correlation between the loss of respect for human life (embryos as disposable) and the almost worship of pets…
October 1, 11:19 am | [comment link]
54. Courageous Grace wrote:
Oooo…about the obsessive pampering of pets…I’ll buy the cat food, litter, a few small cheap toys (that she usually ends up ignoring), got her an inexpensive cat sized bed so she’d stay off of ours, and I make sure her vet records are updated every year (I live in an apartment complex, have to make sure her shots are updated). That being said, if she needed $1000’s worth of surgery to survive, I’d opt to have her put to sleep. I love my cat but I can’t reason spending that much on her. Some PETA people might think I’m a horrible person for it but oh well.
I think per year I spend about $300 total on the cat and that includes vet bills for her yearly checkup, food (she needs the low magnesium stuff for older cats), and litter. She just doesn’t NEED anything else, nor would she care. Heck, when it comes to toys she’d rather play with the random piece of paper she finds on the floor than anything else.
October 1, 11:50 am | [comment link]
55. Drew wrote:
#54 Which animals? The cute cuddley ones or all of them?
Just the cute kittens and puppy dogs or will rats and roaches be there too? What about fire ants and wild boars?
Inquiring minds want to know!
October 1, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
56. libraryjim wrote:
Check what I wrote waaaay back up there at post #32 to Gordian:
To quote from C. S. Lewis again:
Then I was asked, “what about the mosquitoes? Will they be in heaven as well?” I replied, “My dear sir, I think a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for Men could very conveniently be combined”.
ditto to those you mentioned. I don’t see how warthogs could be, though, since swine is considered ‘unclean’. But maybe God will redeem them along with the rest of creation. “All creation is groaning”...etc.
October 1, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
57. libraryjim wrote:
warthogs. HOW in the world did I get that from ‘Wild Boars’????
My typing is tipping today!
October 1, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
58. StayinAnglican wrote:
Ok. My mistake. I thought you were trying to make a serious contribution to this thread. Its obvious from your last comment that you are just making fun of the whole idea.
But for those who really want to know, yes all animals would be included but the idea is that the original order of creation will be restored in the new age. If lions were never meant to be dangerous to people in the first place then they won’t be dangerous to us. (I would hope though that they would still be the wild and glorious creatures that we know today) If cockroaches are an evolutionary type of error or bad detour brought about by the fall, as I think they could very well be, then they would be restored to their original form and intention. Same with rats. New York rats the size of large cats capable of ripping off a human limb would not exist in heaven but the much smaller, quite beautiful, clean, intelligent and very cool creatures that rats can be even in this world, would be.
This is the idea anyway.
October 1, 3:49 pm | [comment link]
59. Christopher Hathaway wrote:
If he once creates something and calls it good, that something exists eternally in him. Creation is his thought.
StayinAnglican, I think this is a little sloppy theologically and veeres dangerously closed to a form of pantheism which makes the univers a part of God. Here’s a question for you. Was Lucifer a good creation in the beginning? Where would you put him in the mind of God?
Here’s another question: is Time itself, in which created things are not and come to be and some cease to be, a good thing.
And you might lighten up on your Protestants have narrow God and Catholics have a generous one dichotomy. It is a distorted and tiresome.
October 1, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
60. StayinAnglican wrote:
I dont see what you are saying at all. Does God have no relation to Creation then? There is some connection there, not a clean divide. The word “thoughts” used as a description for God’s connection and his upholding of the universe is one that I have heard before and I consider it a good approximation. God’s thoughts are not God himself. A universe which is the product of those thoughts is connected and related to him without being on the same level or having any sort of equality with him. He is much more than his thoughts.
However, I imagine that his thoughts are much more potent than we can imagine. They are in a sense more real than what we ourselves see of the universe in that they are the original source as opposed to those thoughts in their fallen condition. Also since God is eternal, so are his “thoughts” ideas and memories. Those thoughts of the good things that God has created could be shared by Him with us as we are in his presence and would be in some way even better than the real thing. What would be the status and fate of the actual created thing is not something that I think could be known by us but what would it matter? We could enjoy God’s original thought on the matter. He thought our beloved pets into existence. He could very well share them with us again in Heaven.
I believe that I made two distinctions clear. First that if God once thought something and considered it good then there would be little reason for him to clear his slate of that good thought. Second, I made the distinction between the human gift of free will and the animals lack thereof. The humans who choose hell arent, I imagine deleted from God’s mind, as if they never were. Otherwise how would they continue to exist? Their original goodness would also not be forgotten. The same could be said of Satan. We might get to experience via God what he was like before he fell without losing the knowledge that he did in fact fall and is no longer in Heaven.
Now you are probably going to find some problem with that idea too, but I use an imaginative scenario just to illustrate the point and the question. If God ever loved something and thought it good, why would he delete it from his memory or else withhold such of his thoughts which would be harmless to us from us. Would you want to forget all about the good of some lost relative because they went bad? Would you ever want your memory wiped clean of all the good that you had known? Will we one day be in the presence of some sterile, divine whiteness purified of all that is past or will that experience be unimaginably rich with all of God’s creative thoughts as much as with His unveiled love.
I dont need to know with an exactness how Heaven would work, only that it is a roomy and generous idea to say that we will live in the presence of God. We shouldnt try to narrow it out of concern of overstepping our bounds but neither should we ever become so enamored of our dreams of it that we would prefer our way over God’s way.
I think that you probably misunderstood my comments on the Protestant/Catholic divide. You seem to have taken my comments as a black & white either or statement which I didnt intend. But I stand by the idea that the Protestant is more concerned with offending God with imaginative religious thoughts while the Catholic is not worried as long as they maintain a clear divide between their imaginings and what might be ultimately revealed in truth. The Protestant conception of God is in fact much more stern and more simple. The Catholic one is roomier. This doesnt mean that these conceptions are mutually exclusive by any means.
I used to be a Lutheran and was once a Baptist. Clearly I was never much of a Protestant since I was only exposed to real sola scriptura as it is really applied once I became an adult and found that the more seriously it is taken the less wiggle room there is. God could of course be narrow and strict and still be generous and loving, but such strictness seems to me to be incompatible with the idea of a full-on Divine generosity taken to its divine limit. When we do try to search out that limit, many find ample room for imagination and speculation as long as its properly grounded. We also find ample room to hope for a reconnection with those wonderful creatures that we once knew as well!
October 1, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
61. libraryjim wrote:
October 1, 5:33 pm | [comment link]
In all things—charity.
62. Christopher Hathaway wrote:
StayinAnglican, you seem to be talking about one thing quite different than the topic of this thread. It seems to me you are talking about the knowledge of or memory of a thing rather than the thing itself. God logically will remember what He created. That is not the same as saying that the same will exist because He knows what it was.
I wonder whether you follow Augustine in thinking that Time itself is something we will move beyond as we exist in Christ for eternity. This was the point of my second question. Is Time good? In time things come to be and cease to be. My first cat has ceased to be and exists only in my memory of her (and in God’s knowledge of her). But is this ceasing to be an illusion? If she ever was must she always be, somehow, in God?
I have some opinions on this, but there is so much that we may never be able to understand. But regardless, it still won’t tell us whether she had an immortal soul.
October 1, 5:33 pm | [comment link]
63. Drew wrote:
#60 I was merely demonstrating absurdity by being absurd.
You seem to be quite detailed and dogmatic in your speculation. Maybe you’re right, but I rather doubt it. God will, in Heaven, redeem every rat that ever lived but will consign some humans to Hell? Seems a bit much for me. Certainly His ways are not our ways, but really. . . .
October 1, 5:55 pm | [comment link]
64. StayinAnglican wrote:
I was not saying that at all. I was talking about rats in general to illustrate an idea. Not individual nasty rats being redeemed. If animals do populate the new earth then they wouldnt be as we know them now. You painted a picture of heaven filled with evil foul rats and other vile creatures. I responded with a different picture of animals or species that we know of being in general restored to their original good and harmless intention in effect the bloodlines being restarted. This notion doesnt include individual pets. I covered that side of things quite extensively above.
Yes that means that animals would seem to get better treatment than some humans, but animals were and are innocent victims of our falleness and are not capable of even the will to sin. Restoring them to their original intent would simply be justice not a priveledge over and above that of humans.
You may have a problem with some people going to hell but I don’t have a problem with the concept even though it is really sad to think of anyone ending up that way. But people arent sent to hell unless they first choose it themselves because they cannot abide heaven. Our gift of free will is the greatest priveledge and not given to animals, but it also has very real choices and very real consequences. An animal in heaven is not somehow worth more than a human who chooses hell. That human is simply receiving what they have freely chosen. They don’t want God and Hell is essentially existence without God and a choice to be one’s own lonely master. This awesome gift of freedom is more valuable that anything thing given to the animals even when it is abused.
October 2, 12:06 am | [comment link]
65. StayinAnglican wrote:
I think you are right that I have veered off the exact topic but the question “Will there be animals in Heaven or will our pets be with us in Heaven” is naturally related.
I come down on the “don’t think so” side of the question, do animals have immortal souls? Do they have them in the same sense that humans do? I really don’t think so. But I do think it reasonable to think (as opposed to knowing it for sure or being convinced of it) that they could in some sense exist eternally in a way in which we could enjoy them once again. It could be an experience even better than the first time as we might see them as God originally intended them to be. Even better we would get to experience and enjoy those beloved pets with our wonderful Father in a way that we can’t imagine now.
For me the idea is a comforting one that my pets won’t just be deleted from Creation when they die as if they never were but they will live on in a very real way in God. This position also has a certain reasonableness too as it lands somewhere in between the extremes. If it turns out that they have immortal souls all the better. If they dont but God retains their memories to be shared with us, then the question becomes immaterial. I wouldn’t care about the how.
October 2, 12:23 am | [comment link]
66. Drew wrote:
#66 For the record, I have no problem with the concept of Hell. I am most certainly not an annhilationist.
In #60 you wrote in great detail and a seemingly fair amount of certainty about what the state of cockroaches and rats might be in the eschaton. New York sewer rats that are larger than a dog won’t be there (perhaps existing in a redeemed and sanctfied state as :. . . much smaller, quite beautiful, clean, intelligent and very cool creatures that rats can be even in this world.”).
Now you write that individual rats won’t be there, but that Fluffy the Cat and Fido the Dog will.
Personally speaking (and no doubt showing my Proddy bias here), I’d rather not speculate. I haven’t really run the question by my more Catholic (either Roman or Anglo-Catholic) brethren, but I suspect they’d avoid being as dogmatic on this as you are. The road you’re traveling is somewhat akin to stating that there will be golf in Heaven and then elaborating on whether one will drive or walk the course and postulating on what kind of drinks they’ll serve at the 19th Hole. Entertaining, perhaps, but not sound theology.
I dearly love my dog Sabrina and, as I’ve said before, I’d love to see her in Heaven. If I do I’ll be surprised, very pleasantly so, but surprised.
October 2, 8:07 am | [comment link]
67. StayinAnglican wrote:
You keep insisting that I am trying to talk specifics, but I am drawing pictures to get at the underlying ideas that I want to talk about. You know the difference between myth and history right? What I am doing is something like writing a myth to try an get at a slippery truth or concept. I am not trying to nail down anything. If I am specific I am being specific to illustrate a point not to claim that I know all the ins and outs of how Heaven is going to work and its complete zoology as well.
The idea, I will repeat for the last time, is that there will be a new earth. On this new Earth, things like the animal species will be as they were always meant to be just like everything will be as God intended everything to be from the start. This is sound theology. God will make everything new and right. Every thing that was good in Creation (us excepted) but went wrong with the Fall, will be made good again.
As for our individual pets, I am describing them as being found in the mind or memory of God an experience that would be rich and satisfying to us in a way that we cannot imagine since our memories are so pale and weak. It is sound theology to say things like we will be in the presence of God in Eternity. God loves all that he has created. God’s memory is eternal and divine.
Painting an imaginative picture is not theology. But if it is grounded on theology, it can be an aid to understanding.
I personally think that Christians should try to paint more pictures of Heaven than we do based on sound thinking, since the dominant image seems to be ridiculous what with all the fluffy clouds, cherubs and a bearded, sky dwelling, old guy on a throne. Profound ideas and hints of what Heaven will be like available to us to be derived from Scripture which are far better than the silly ones. There shouldnt be any danger in them if it is made clear that they are just that, imaginative illustrations.
October 2, 12:11 pm | [comment link]
68. StayinAnglican wrote:
PS, by “us excepted” I mean that not all humans will be saved.
October 2, 12:12 pm | [comment link]
69. libraryjim wrote:
One of my favorite ‘word pictures’ of heaven comes from Michael W. Smith:
Michael W. Smith)
Far above the highest heavens
On a throne of crystal light
Dwells the God of all creation
Rays of wonder crown His might
Human voices blend with the angels
Giving praise to God alone
heavens music rises upward
To the Lamb upon the throne
To the Lamb upon the throne
Blessing! Glory! Sing Hallelujah!
Shout the saints of God alone
Honor! Power! and Dominion!
Praises gather at the throne
Oh, they gather at the crystal throne
Gather at the crystal throne
Lightning flashes and thunder echoes
Diamond rainbows fill the sky
Awesome beauty God’s provision
Never seen by human eye
Blazing colors show the glory
Of the Master Artist’s plan
Built by god for those who love Him
Those who trust the great I AM
Those who trust the great I AM
October 3, 9:18 am | [comment link]
70. libraryjim wrote:
sorry, the title of the song (got cut off when I cut ‘n’ pasted) is “The Throne”
October 3, 9:19 am | [comment link]