Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pets in Heaven? 3 Views: No

Nathan JonesPDFBy Nathan Jones

Rolph, named for the "rolph!" sound he made when barking, was my boyhood pet dog. I found the stray puppy outside our home on a spaghetti night and skipped the meal to make a new best friend. He grew up to be a big, lovable part of the family.

With nearly half of the homes in the U.S. having pets according to a 2004 ABCNews/Beliefnet poll, this question is a bone chewed on by many pet lovers. Nearly 9 in 10 of those surveyed believe there is a Heaven. When the poll went on to ask if pets also go to Heaven, 43% responded yes, 40% responded no and 17% were undecided.

Many authors and theologians have also chased their tails over this topic. An entire book titled Will My Pet Go to Heaven? has been written, and even the famed Christian writer Randy Alcorn devoted a whole chapter to answering the question in his book Heaven.

Before continuing, let's shift the focus from pets to all animals. We should even include insects, amoebas, bacteria, plants and all other living things to be fair. Just because we make an animal a pet doesn't grant it an exclusive status over the rest of the animal kingdom. So, the question we should be really asking is not whether our pets go to Heaven, but whether every living creature ever created is going to Heaven.

So, what does the Bible say about non-human living creatures going to Heaven? Well, nothing outright.

Supporters of animals going to Heaven look to the picturesque Isaiah 11. "The wolf will live with the lamb... and a little child will lead them" (Isa. 11:6). A scene of peace and tranquility, taken in context, Isaiah is describing a state of harmony during Jesus' upcoming earthly reign. It is not a scene from the afterlife.

Supporters also go to Ecclesiastes 3:18-21. "Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other" (Ecc. 3:19a). Taken in context along with Ecclesiastes 3:11b, "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men," this chapter is describing physical death in a meaningless world and states that mankind alone lives forever past the grave.

If animals were to go to Heaven, that would also beg the question whether animals go to Hell. Would animals that had mauled people, stung babies and killed children go to Hell? What about viruses and diseases, as they are also part of the Creation? My wife has had some parakeets that I'm sure if there was a Hell for animals they'd be there!

The Bible makes these points very clear. Mankind is made special in God's image: "So God created man in his own image" (Gen. 1:27a). Animals are a food source (Gen. 9:3). When sin entered the world, all of creation fell under a death sentence (Gen. 3:14; 6:7; Rom. 8:20). The only reprieve to escape eternal death has been offered to mankind alone through Jesus Christ (Isa. 53:5; Tit. 2:11; Heb. 9:28). And, only the Church experiences the Rapture to become the Bride of Christ (Jn. 14:1-4; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; Rev. 19:7-9).

The Bible clearly indicates that in the very end the Creation will be restored to the condition of the Garden of Eden. It will be filled with animals, possibly even ones based on extinct species or new ones mankind has never seen. Maybe God will even allow some of them to be cared for as pets. But, will Heaven and the New Earth be populated by all the creatures that ever existed, including pets? I don't think the Bible supports such a conclusion.

We do love our animals. But, before you spend another dime on a can of gourmet cat food, remember the third-world child eating dirt. Which does the Lord love more and want you showing His compassion with your time and money? "So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matt. 10:31).

15 comments:

Billy said...

Amen to the pet food comment! I've always said for every dollar spent on pet food, people ought to be taxed three dollars to go towards starving people!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd have to say I don't much care for the pet food comment at all. In fact, what it insinuates seems to me to be out of line. I'm not saying it's right to ignore people at the expense of animals, but I don't like the "guilt-as-motivation" take on this, either.

We had a stray cat come up, and I was all for getting rid of it at a shelter. We prayed that God would find her a good home. Finally, one day, we felt that God was saying--she already has a good home--with you. That means we're responsible for her and we need to take good care of her. This includes buying the pricier (canned) food because she has problems with her teeth and can't eat the cheap stuff very well (she swallows it whole).

So rather than making people feel guilty about caring for the animals in their lives, why not suggest that we keep a balance: Be good stewards of what God has given us AND reach out to others in need. I believe both are biblical, yes?

Laura

Anonymous said...

If a stray human being showed up on your door under the same circumstances can you honestly say you would have done the same for them?

son of thunder said...

We do go way overboard with our pets. Pet psychologists? Please. I've seen dogs that eat better then me, and I have a job!

They have become idols for many people.

hartdawg said...

as stated before people (christians) in the seattle area spend more on dogfood than the gospel there are more dogs than children. my answer is still maybe. the bible doesnt support or go against it to my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

pets have souls not a spirit. they are not self aware as we are. i have 2 beautiful standard poodles and i love them very much. when the Lord takes them it will hurt deep. that does not change the fact that they are animals and we are not. we are soul and spirit and we have a spirit that will live for the rest of eternity. we can love our animals and yes i do spoil mine, but i am in bad health and they help to prolong my life and my wife and i love them. i thank God for letting us have them in our lives. we need to remember that we are here to lead people to Christ and not get upset over things such as this. we may be closer than we may even realize to the rapture of the church. i believe animals are important in our lives, because God gave them to us as companions not just food. maranatha, Nelson

Anonymous said...

To help a living being who stands before us does nothing to impede us from helping others. A spirit of kindness and giving can be shared with all living things. In fact, a compassionate heart can grow moreso through kind actions. It is a ridiculous idea to say that by helping a stray cat, a starving child is cheated out of assistance. Further, to the poster who questioned whether a homeless person who appeared at the door would receive the same compassion as a homeless cat, I can honestly say that I have found both on my doorstep and provided food, warmth, and assistance to each. Please do not make it seem as if compassion for some of God's creation is better than compassion for all of God's creation. As to whether or not animals will exist beyond this life, I cannot presume to know the mind of God, but if he provides us with the companionship and the affection of animals here, why would there be need to strip that from us in eternity. Why would there be so much help and healing of humans through animals if they did not play an important part in God's heart. We do not have to reject their eternal potential in order to secure our own.

Carol said...

To Anonymous: I never read anything by a person who refuses to "own" it by signing a name or identifying nickname. Anyone won't openly stand for his/her beliefs needs to be quiet, listen and learn from those who are not afraid to be identified.

Aleksandra said...

Dear Laura, I do agree with you! Animals are precious God's gift to people. They are given to us for help and to be His message to us about their and our Creator. They are God's testimony (Romans 1). I've been reading the Bible in and out for 30 years now and somehow I have not jump into such conclusions as the Author of the above article and the rest of people writing here, apart from you, "anonymous" Laura. I can see animals have very important roles to play in God's creation. I can also see they have not sinned the way humans did and do. And that they wait for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8) -- they seem to be much smarter in this respect than most of sinful humans, for few humans wait for this! Yes, we may be tripartite and very spiritual, but if we have no love we are like sounding brass. So let us not judge too harshly, if we do not want to be judged too harshly. God's plans and ways are perfect. And God is good. I mean, really good. I place all my trust in Him. Concerning uncertain matters, it is crucial to abide in His love, in His Word and in His Spirit, who will guide us to all truth. The sheep know their Shepherd and His voice. God, who did not spare even His own Son for us, shall He not give us freely all things? Who is man to decide what God can or cannot do? Is there any man (except for Christ himself) who can tell us what heaven looks like? Paul was taken to some place in heaven and did not even dare tell us what he heard there. So what do we know? Hardly anything, except that we will be with our Lord in joy surpassing all expectations. There is absolutely nothing impossible for God (except for sin of course). And to the rest of you, Brethren (if I may call you so), I can tell you - God can use even a small animal to reveal His glory more than 1000 Christians who forgot their first love. Jesus said God could make sons of Abraham out of stones and He could make the stones shout to His glory. So let us not be too proud. We all can live only on His grace, not on our greatness! Let's thank Him for His precious salvation and let us not forget that He did it out of His love - and not because we are so absolutely fantastic! After all, we are all clay in the potter's hands. "And the Bride and the Spirit say - Come!"
Aleksandra from Poland
styraks@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Animals will absolutely be in heaven. I feel sorry for anybody who does not believe this. Life goes on -- ALL life, not just "life" as defined by your narrow definition. The bible is one narrow book that does not speak for me or for that matter, most of humanity. What makes me happy is that I won't be seeing most of you in heaven, but I for sure will be seeing my beloved companion animals. p.s. I am a different anonymous than above, but am not posting my name because I don't need any retaliation by "christians." Nothing's meaner than a pissed off christian if you don't agree with them! Peace out.

Ruth said...

I completely believe that there will be animals in "heaven", our eternal home, the new earth. However, I agree with Nathan Jones that our pets will not be among those animals. These will be newly created animals, perhaps the same species as we now know, perhaps even new species.

I have never read anything in scripture about the resurrection of pets or any animals. Our home group is studying Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven, where he puts forth the argument that our pets will be in heaven. However he, and everyone else I have read, always say that there is no clear scripture to back this up. The only reason they can really give is that God can choose to do anything and that everything that makes us happy will be in heaven, so why not resurrect our pets.

Fine then, if we go there, then how can we not go to the place where we say since God loves all people He will therefore choose to resurrect and save ALL people? Of course, as believers we know that is not the case. If He were simply to choose to resurrect something, it would not be an animal, we (people) are worth more than many sparrows.

Randy Alcorn says on pg. 391 "God created us to be stewards of animals". Excuse me? The earth and everything in it were created to prepare a place for mankind, God's ultimate creation. We were created, in His image, to have fellowship with Him and dominion over the earth and everything in it. Yes, "dominion" includes being good stewards of the earth and the responsibility and pleasure of taking care of the animals.

None-the-less, human beings are unique in that we are God-breathed, we have an eternal soul, animals do not.

Certainly animals have personality and emotion, these come from the brain. That they can love and be affectionate and loyal is not an indicator of an eternal soul. Christ died to redeem the eternal soul of each person who will accept and believe. He did not die to redeem animals.

Frankly the idea that God would resurrect certain pets, IMO, devalues humanity, bringing them down to the same level as animals, ultimately bringing us to the place that we might as well have evolved from slime. Our "God-breathedness" is what makes us unique and gives us the hope of resurrection - of our souls and our bodies, and eternal life on the new earth, with newly created animals to bond with and enjoy, who will likely have a similar function to what they had on the original earth and in Eden - to maintain balance by eating the foliage, to help people with labor and transportation and to just be a pleasure.

I am certain that when we are in heaven we will be so occupied with the wonder of seeing God face to face, walking and talking with Jesus, as well as seeing friends and family and saints of old, and making new friends, and building new lives on a new earth, that we won't be looking for our old pets and missing their presence half as much as we miss them here and now.

Looking to that day,
Ruth

Anonymous said...

I would rather not take the children's bread and give it unto the dogs.

Anonymous said...

Okay let me get this straight: the whole world is cursed by sin, and Holy Lord Jesus Who is both God and man both died and was resurrected to pay for sins. Okay, so are you telling me that The Most Holy Son of GOD died for Fido?! You're kidding me? If dogs go to heaven Mosquitos and tarantulas better be there too otherwise there's some specism (animal racism ) going on. But I guess Hitler was right feed your German Shepherd and not the Jew. I'm so disappointed in these soulless monsters who love sparrows more than homeless soldiers and hungry babies .

Maria said...

No the Most Holy Son of God didn't die Fido because Fido is not a sinner. As Jesus Christ himself said "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Animals don't lie, steal, covet, cheat, create wars, enslave each other, promote racism, sexism, prostitution, greed, the list goes on and on.

We humans are the sinners that's why we NEED Jesus Christ...animals don't NEED to be redeemed because they are not sinners, they're innocent. Why is the world in the terrible condition that it's in? Because of humans, not animals. Who brought sin into this world in the first place? That's right, not animals. As a matter of fact, "Fido" gives the most pure unconditional love unblemished by the jealousy and selfishness of sinful humans.

So all of you here deciding that animals don't have a soul, and won't go to heaven, get off your high horses because the truth is that we're all sinners and we have no idea who will be in heaven and who will not, that's up to Almighty God to decide, not human sinners who need HIS redemption. Animals are sinless and don't need redemption. And anyone suggesting that people should ignore an innocent hungry sinless animal because there are hungry babies, well that's your human sinfulness talking because Jesus Christ who is pure love would NEVER want someone to turn away one of his innocent creations for any reason, take care of all his creations.

Maria said...

JOB 12:7-10 You have only to ask the cattle, for them to instruct you, and the birds of the sky, for them to inform you. The creeping things of earth will give you lessons, and the fish of the sea provide you an explanation: there is not one such creature but will know that the hand of God has arranged things like this! In his hand is the soul of every living thing and the breath of every human being.

PSALM 136:25 And who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.

PROVERBS 12:10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.

GENESIS 9: 14-17 When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I shall recall the covenant between myself and you and every living creature, in a word all living things, and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all living things. When the bow is in the clouds I shall see it and call to mind the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth, that is, all living things. `That' God told Noah, `is the sign of the covenant I have established between myself and all living things on earth.'