Apologetics Books Creation Personal Theology

Animals in Heaven – Do Dogs Go To Heaven? A.S.K 20

I heard a lovely story this week about A.S.K – from a lady in Australia who had given it to her friend and she and her friends and children greatly appreciated it.  “These are exactly the questions we are asking’.  It was good to hear.  This week’s question is one I have heard a lot….

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BIBLE READING: Psalm 104:24-35

TEXT: All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfi ed with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are terrifi ed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:27-30)

pexels-photo-2353413 Many of us have close relationships with our animals. I grew up on a farm and loved being with the different animals. I had pet guinea pigs, rabbits and dogs. We had a black Labrador retriever called Tweed, and a wee Scottie dog called Scruff. When I became a minister we took a dog from a refuge. We named her Tess. It was very hard when Tess had to be put down, because she was a sheep worrier.

Sometimes parents will tell their children when a favourite family pet dies, that Fido is inpexels-photo-2053815 heaven. But this is not true. When our goldfish, who was called Speedy, was a little too speedy one day and launched herself out of the bowl with such force that she died – we may have held a wee burial but there was no promise that Speedy was in heaven, ‘in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection’. Goldfish are not resurrected. Humans are.

CS Lewis speculated in his book The Problem of Pain that some animals might enter heaven through their relationship with humans. But there is no biblical warrant for that at all. We understand from the Bible that animals have animal life, but they do not have human spirits. Human beings who go to heaven are there when their spirits and resurrected bodies are re-united. Animals don’t have spirits to reunite.

I don’t think that it is reasonable to argue that particular animals go to heaven. Our text tells us that when God takes away their breath, they die and return to dust. Does that not happen to human beings? We certainly return to dust – dust we are and to dust we shall return. But we are more than dust –

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

We have bodies and spirits. Animals don’t. We are made in the image of God – animals are not. Being made in the image of God does not mean that God has a body like us – it means that we are personal beings, with knowledge, righteousness and holiness. We are moral beings. Animals are not. They die but they do not face judgement. We do.

pexels-photo-2127967However that is not the same as saying that there will be no animals in heaven. I think there will. Why? Because it’s a new heavens and a new earth. It’s really a renewal of the whole creation – and surely that includes animals? Paul tells us that the whole creation is waiting for the children of God to be revealed.

“ For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21)

Although humans are different from animals, they too are God’s creatures and we as thebeef-scotland-highland-beef-cow-45876 stewards of that creation, are to look after them and care for them. William Wilberforce is famous because he led the campaign that eventually led to the abolition of the slave trade. What many people do not know is that he was also the founder of the RSPCA (Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). That is to be the attitude of God’s special creation, humanity, to all his creation – we are to care for it.

CONSIDER: How should Christians treat animals? What is the difference between animals and human beings?

RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World – Douglas Moo

PRAYER: Lord God, our Creator, we thank you for the variety of your creation. You have made many wondrous things. We thank you especially for the animals that are our pets and companions. Help us to treat them well. We look forward to being part of the new creation, the new heavens and the new earth. Fit us for that day, in your name, Amen.

A.S.K 19 – The Certainty of Heaven – How Can I Know I Will Go There?

You can order A.S.K from Amazon UK, US or Australia

Or better still go into your local bookshop and order it….there are bulk discounts as well from Ten of Those 

If you have read the book and would like to review it – can I encourage you to do so on Amazon.  The more the merrier….

16 comments

  1. I was with you 100% until towards the end! Then, you gave me something about which to think! Thank you. Animals in heaven – not “redeemed” animals, but a new creation! Yes – I think that I can go along with that as well.

    Blessings, and shalom.

  2. David, this is the only way I know to contact you. In case you have not heard, an urgent prayer request has gone out today for our dear pal Dominic Smart. He was admitted to ARI last night suffering from a bleed on the brain caused by a new tumour there. Obviously his condition is very serious. As you know, he is loved by all who know him and we pray for Marjorie and the children too.

    Thank you

  3. I love the way a Pastor used to handle this by stating if we need our pets in heaven, then they’ll be there! Glorifying and praising in the face to face presence of YHWH probably won’t leave us feeling a need for our pets.

  4. Dogs often exhibit higher standards of morality, e.g., loyalty , family protection and care for the natural ovine prey in their charge, than humans.

  5. We are moral beings. Animals are not.

    If you’re going to write a book, the very least you can is some research.

    If you’d done that, you’d know the above statement is absolute nonsense. There are libraries of studies demonstrating animals have a highly developed sense of right and wrong, of fair play, and of justice.

      1. Can you please list the studies you analysed to arrive at your stated position that animals (those with sufficient neurological hardware, obviously) lack a sense of morality?

        Can you explain why you reject the findings of, for example, Bekoff, Suchak, Brosnan, and Binmore, to name just four researchers.

        I look forward to your reply.

      2. I have no problem with people claiming that animals can show feelings of empathy etc. But I do dispute that there are any studies which show that animals have a moral sense which makes them morally culpable. Feel free to share them – do you think that animals should be tried in court for breaking moral codes?

      3. But I do dispute that there are any studies which show that animals have a moral sense which makes them morally culpable>

        If you dispute it, and if you have in fact read the vast body of work available on the subject, then could you please explain why you reject the findings of, for example, Bekoff, Suchak, Brosnan, and Binmore, to name just four researchers.

        Their work (to cite just these four) appears to flatly contradict your assertion, so I’d like to see the reasoning and thought behind your position.

        I look forward to your reply.

  6. If we as humans can go to heaven, then surely animals can as well. We are highly evolved primates after all. And didn’t Jesus die to redeem not only humankind but also the whole of creation?

  7. do you think that animals should be tried in court for breaking moral codes?

    Do you think an indigenous Amazon tribe that has had little or no experience of western values should be removed and tried in a Western court of law for breaking your moral codes, David?

    1. Do you think rape and murder and cannibalism are fine if they are carried out by human beings from a different part of the earth? Or are you saying that Amazon tribes are not really human?

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