Some of you may have read last week that Pope Francis declared animals go to heaven. It has been reported by some that he said we will see our animals again in paradise. A few days following the report that the Pope granted eternal life for our animals the Catholic Church began to defend the Pope by saying he did not say what is being attributed to him. Read more about what Pope Francis said here. I have never been to the Vatican so I have no idea what the Pope actually said. However, these reports about him declaring all dogs go to heaven has sparked some interest on this subject. In this blog I share a few thoughts about the eternal security of our pets.
1. I believe the Catholic Church is a departure from Biblical teaching and I reject Papal authority.
I know this opening statement will offend many who like to believe all belief systems are the same. This simply is not the case. Catholicism is a perversion of the Gospel where salvation rests with the church and justification is a process. I will not discuss these issues here because this blog deals with animals in eternity. I simply want to state that when a person is born again they are justified immediately and forever in the eyes of God through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Catholics teach justification is a process that takes a lifetime and may not even be completed in this life thus the redeemed may end up in purgatory until they are justified before God. Simply stated, we Protestants stand today on the graves of martyrs whose deaths were sanctioned by the Catholic Church because they taught truths that we now hold sacred.
Now let me write about animals in heaven.
2. God created everything.
The Bible is clear that God created everything and He created everything for His glory. Colossians 1:16 speaking of Jesus says, “all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Animals were created for the glory of God. Animals cannot worship God as humans can, however, when animals do the things God created them to do they glorify their Creator. A bald eagle can maintain constant flight speeds between 35 -55 mph and can dive at a speed of 100 mph. They are capable of soaring 15,000 feet above the earth. These majestic animals bring glory to God by doing what they are designed to do.
3. The Bible says humans are living souls.
According to Genesis 2:7 God formed man out of the dust of the ground. We read the same thing of the animals in Genesis 2:19, “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air…” The difference is at the end of Genesis 2:7 the Bible says something different about humans, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.” We see in these two verses a clear distinction between humans and animals. Reading these two verses one can argue that humans have souls and animals do not. Humans are souls that possess a physical body. It can be argued that animals are physical bodies that have no souls.
4. Humans are made in the image of God.
In Genesis 1:26 we read that great verse, “And God said, let us make man in our image and after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth…”
Humans were created in the image of God. This simple statement contains hundreds of theological implications. What does it mean we are created in the image of God? Thousands of books have been written on this subject. I offer a summary of my theology on man being created in the image of God. Humans have certain characteristics within our makeup that are in the image of God. This is called the substantive view. One characteristic we have in our makeup that is believed to be the image of God is reason. Humans are thinking beings. Another aspect of our being made in the image of God is this is what allows us to have a relationship with God. This is called the relational view. Another aspect of being created in the image of God is that God gave man a unique function that no animal could fulfill. Humans are told in Genesis 1:28 to subdue the earth. God created man in His image for the purpose of having dominion over all the earth. This is called the functional view. In theology this view does not get as much attention as the other views but it is a major portion of my belief system. When I think of man being made in the image of God I think we have characteristics of God such as reasoning ability, we are made in His image and this enables us to have a relationship with Him and we alone have the ability to subdue all the earth.
Part of our being made in the image of God is humans are moral beings. There are no morals in the animal kingdom. I have read female dolphins who have just given birth are not interested in mating because they are caring for their young. Male dolphins will often kill the young dolphins in order to get the female dolphin interested in mating again. Rape is common in the animal kingdom. We all know what happens to the male “Praying Mantis” following mating. Actually the female Praying Mantis will bite the head off of the male only occasionally and not always. These behaviors would not be acceptable in human society. So animals are not created in the image of God and are not moral/spiritual beings. Humans are created in the image of God and are moral/spiritual beings.
5. Jesus died to redeem humans.
John 3:16 teaches that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso ever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” I know Romans 8:20-22 teaches that the fall of man has impacted all creation and all creation is waiting for redemption. However, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was to redeem human souls. Redeeming humans is what the Gospel is all about.
6. Look at a couple of passages that confuse some.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 here. In this passage Solomon says there is no advantage to humans over animals in that we die and go to the same place. Solomon is teaching both humans and animals are going to die and their bodies will return to the dust of the ground. However, the Bible teaches for saved humans to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Our living souls will be present with the Lord.
Read Isaiah 11:6-9 here. In this passage Isaiah is describing the millennial reign of Christ on the earth. In this passage he describes animals living in harmony that normally would attack one another. I point out this takes place in the millennial reign of Christ on the earth and is not taking place in heaven.
In conclusion, the Bible is silent about what happens to animals when they die. If pressed to give an answer I would have to say based on the passages I have dealt with animals do not have souls and are not eternal creatures. I have always wanted to ask a person who wants to know if all living creatures go to heaven, “Do you really want bacteria, yellow jackets and fire ants in heaven?” For any who are bothered of the thought of certain animals not being in heaven, let me assure you that the thought of eternity without chickens is breaking my heart.