Wednesday, September 27, 2006

God's Creation

This morning I received a call that my friend, Joe, lost his beagle. She was well into her teen years, and died of old age. It reminded me of when I lost my cat, who had been my best friend as I grew up. I'm sure you can remember the loss of your favorite pet, or the love of your current one. Pets somehow touch a part of us that nothing and no one else can.

I'd like to think that animals go to heaven. If a burro can proclaim God's message, then who says animals can't also claim that message? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't win any theological debates on that point, but I'd still like to think it. A professor once said that heaven is different for different people. To some, heaven will be a library; to others, an orchestra hall. For me, it would be nature perfected. I don't really agree with that professor's idea of heaven (after all, who cares about books, or even nature, when we're in the presence of God??), but I also can't picture a "new heaven and new earth" without animals. Animals not because I like them, but because God created them. The fall of Man was actually the fall of creation. We see that in viruses, trees afflicted by cancer, and animals behaving as they shouldn't. Why do we think that only Man can be redeemed?

The import of that is this: If animals do indeed go to heaven, it elevates their significance. "Just another dead bird" is now flying as it never flew before. A deer is leaping for joy at meeting its Creator. We can't look at animals callously. And, really, we shouldn't whether they're in heaven or not. They're still God's creation. A pet isn't here just for our whims; a pet is for us to care for and protect. I wonder if our view of animals doesn't come from our habit of being slightly narcissistic, and believing the world revolves around us? Is it too hard to imagine that Christ came to redeem the world, and not just the people?

I'd like to know what you think. If you've been changed by a wet nose, happy bark, soft face, or contented purr, I'd be interested to know if you believe that your childhood pets are frolicking with mine. And if you have never experienced that sort of bond with an animal, your thoughts would be appreciated as well (and I think you should head to the Human Society right after posting). :)


  1. Aw, Maggie died? So sad. I offer my condolences to the O'Briens... which basically means Leanna, whenever she checks this blog.

    I'll have to comment later on the pet-heaven thing. Very thought-provoking post!

  2. I think you mean the Humane Society, not the Human Society. :)

    Good post. I believe all creation will be renewed when Christ returns, however, I don't believe animals have sinful souls that should be redeemed. They operate on instinct and would not be able to choose between Christ and Satan. So, are they in heaven? If God wills it.

  3. Haha! The Human Society! Whoops!

    If animals operate on instinct, and instict is sometimes wrong (or animals go against instinct, which can be wrong), then it still sounds like they need to be redeemed from their instinct. We have instinct, as well. But I guess our souls--the Divine Spark--are what allow us to choose? Hm...

  4. Too busy to blog myself, but I'll weight in here...

    Scripture does not attribute the Image of God to any other creature than Man. Part of that means that only human beings have a soul that will either be punished forever in a literal, conscious Hell or glorified forever in a literal, conscious Heaven with God.

    However, Romans 8:19-22 tells us that God's plan of salvation is for all of creation. In fact, we have imagery about the lion laying down with the lamb in the New Earth which will be. This does point to a broken way of life here, even for animals. This at least speaks of the experience of death common to all living things and probably also to actions that animals do that are not truly natural, though they seem so to us. This is the same as a human seems aweful natural. For sure, we all do it. But it is completely unnatural for beings created to commune with God.

    So, I'm afraid that I will be unable to say whether our pets are in Heaven now or not, even my old Smitty. Like Carolyn says..."if God wills it." However, I feel confident that there will be animals in Heaven.

  5. If all creation goes to heaven, (not saying that it does) do wasps and mosquitoes get to go, too? I've always had an inkling that those creatures were created by the devil.

  6. Well, maybe the devil doesn't create... but maybe he corrupted a butterfly that turned into a wasp or something.

    Ooooh, and what about the snake?

    Sorry, I'm probably getting off topic here.

  7. Karen thinks outside the box, obviously. :)

    I like CT's comment and I agree with him. Maybe we studied the same Bible. Ha! Anyway, I believe creation will be redeemed, but only man has a soul.

  8. Lydia and Karen, thanks for your sweet thoughts on our friend Maggie. She was a fun pal, and will be missed.

    As for pets in heaven, I'd have to go along with, yes it is God's creation and I don't feel like he would create something with such personality and feelings to be poofed to the wind.

    And if we go along the line that all creation was corrupted, then maybe the snake and the wasp and the mosquito aren't meant to be mean and scary.

    I believe that just as angels and man can rejoice in the sight of God, Maggie, Mittens, Tailer, Smitty and so on are rejoicing. (and NO ONE is having to use a pooper scooper! -- now that is heaven)

  9. Leanna, you make a good point. Instead of a wasp from a butterfly, perhaps the wasp wasn't supposed to be mean like it is. Like Jon said, "the lion laying down with the lamb" is counter to their nature now, but not counter to the way God planned for them to be.

    Dorothy Sayers suggests that "in the image of God" refers to creativity. This suggestion comes from the fact that the surrounding text only refers to creation: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." As a matter of fact, if we started reading at chapter 1, verse 1 of the Bible, this is all we would know about God up to this point: that He has "the desire and ability to make things." It seems that the author of Genesis, divinely led, is referring to creativity when he speaks of the image of God. (The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers, 1941)

    Assuming that's entirely what the image of God means (and I'm not putting those words in Sayers' mouth), then that doesn't exclude animals from having souls. It just excludes them from being creative.

    Does anyone have any reason to believe that animals can't have souls? We've already discussed that both animals and humans "operate on instinct," and instinct is not justified. For humans, it more likely condemns us than redeems us. If the rest of creation succumbs to instinct (as we've discussed wasps, lions, etc), then aren't they also condemned, in need of redemption?

  10. Well, I can imagine heaven without animals. I can't imagine heaven without being married to my hubby. Then again, I can't imagine heaven at all.