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Pets and Heaven

If you frequent Christian discussion boards, you’re almost guaranteed to find one thread about pets in heaven. This isn’t a post criticizing those folks who discuss it out of a desire not to be eternally separated from a beloved pet. What I am questioning is the validity of pets in heaven.

I love animals–they are part of God’s creation, and over the years I’ve had my share of pets. One, a cat named “Bruno” I loved dearly.  He and I just automatically clicked.  Think it was because we had similar personalities. AHA. When he was hit by a car and died, I cried for days.

Similarly, my daughter and her family have a dog, ‘Copper’ (that’s him on the left) who has believed he was a human for the last 13 years! And sometimes he acts like one–maybe even more ‘human’ then some humans themselves. He can detect, when no one else can, when you’re upset, depressed, or not feeling well, and will bring his huge 90 pounds to sit as close to you as possible. And won’t leave your side. He’s “family”.

So you see, the belief that a beloved long-time pet and companion would be in heaven is one I can understand people clinging to, but I don’t see anything in the bible which says this is so. I do believe the word speaks of animals populating the new earth:

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat.” -  Isaiah 65:17-25

Anyway, what got me thinking about this was an article at Cleveland.com, in their religion section today:  Animal lovers hope heaven welcomes their beloved companions: Terry Pluto’s Faith and You

Will there be animals in heaven? My wife is counting on it.

Like some of us, she finds it much easier to relate to animals than people. Her favorite job was working on horse farms, but she always battled allergies and eventually had to quit. Her allergies also forced her to give up cats as pets at home.

Animals in heaven?

“John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed that he would be reunited in heaven with the horse that had been his faithful traveling companion for more than two decades,” the Rev. Scott Wilson, senior pastor of Mayfield United Methodist Church in Chesterland, said in an e-mail.

“Having experienced the love of a number of pets in my life (even though the Bible gives no specific indication), I would not be surprised if they were near the front of the line to greet me when I get there.”

Wilson and some other religious leaders I contacted mentioned Isaiah 65:25: “ ‘The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.”

They say it hints of animals being in heaven.

“I am convinced there will be animals,” said the Rev. Donna Barrett, pastor of Rockside Church in Independence. “Animals were an important part of God’s Creation. He directed Noah to take them on the ark, two by two. God had a plan to save animals. Part of heaven is that we get the desires of out hearts, and for many of us, that includes animals.”

Genesis 1:25 reads: “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

One theory is that there will be different forms of life in heaven, with angels being an example of something not fully like the human soul.

My friend, Gloria Williams, is convinced her 16-year-old dog, Spice, is part angel. I’m not about to debate the point, as it’s easy to see something special in certain dogs, cats, horses and other animals.

But the presence of animals in eternity is open to debate.

Rabbi Stephen Grundfast of Akron’s Beth El Congregation said: “Animals don’t have souls, so it’s hard to know if they will be in the afterlife. I’d tend to say not.”

But he also said there is no way to know for certain.

“I don’t know, either,” said the Rev. Walt Jenne of Brecksville’s St. Basil Catholic Church. “Some theologians would say there are no souls in animals, so they won’t be in heaven. But I also think there is a spirit about animals that is not the same as the human soul but could still mean they are in heaven.”

Jenne said he recently blessed a friend’s sick dog. He added that his associate pastor, Doug Brown, blessed animals on the feast of St. Francis.

“I was visiting someone at Fairview Hospital and ran into a man in a wheelchair,” said Jenne. “He had a dog with him and said the dog was his best friend. I can understand that. I had dogs growing up, and I really grieved each time they died.”

In his book “Heaven,” Christian author Randy Alcorn makes the case for animals in the afterlife. His point is that just because animals don’t have human souls — and just because Jesus didn’t die for the sins of animals — they still may have souls of another type. And if heaven in some way mirrors the Garden of Eden, there will indeed be animals.

It’s easy for some religious leaders to dismiss this topic as trivial, but as Jenne said, “It’s close to the heart of a lot of people. It does matter, and we should talk about it.”

H/T Sola de Gloria

***

Posted on October 25, 2009 by pjmiller

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August 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

19 Comments »

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  8. There is a place in the bible that says the non human animal known as the creature that did not accept vanity willingly Romans 8.20,KJB,and 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.(to Waite means to have faith,and that means the non human animals are pleasing God by waiting-having faith.) 20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,(when humans fell the non human animal- creature were unwillingly dragged along.) 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption = (freedom of death given eternal life) into the glorious liberty of the children of God, = (heaven) 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    Comment by artiewhitefox | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  9. There is a place in the bible that says the non human animal known as the creature that did not accept vanity willingly will go to heaven,and in fact has heaven in them having not lost the spirit of God like humans did. Romans 8.20,KJB,and 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.(to Waite means to have faith,and that means the non human animals are pleasing God by waiting-having faith.) 20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,(when humans fell the non human animal- creature were unwillingly dragged along.) 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption = (freedom of death given eternal life) into the glorious liberty of the children of God, = (heaven) 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    Comment by artiewhitefox | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  10. There is a place in the bible that says the non human animal known as the creature that did not accept vanity willingly will go to heaven,and in fact has heaven in them having not lost the spirit of God like humans did. Romans 8.20,KJB,and 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.(to Wait means to have faith,and that means the non human animals are pleasing God by waiting-having faith.) 20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,(when humans fell the non human animal- creature were unwillingly dragged along.) 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption = (freedom of death given eternal life) into the glorious liberty of the children of God, = (heaven) 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

    Comment by artiewhitefox | January 21, 2011 | Reply

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