Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pets in Heaven Part IV

How do pets fit in?

Deem states[1]: “Throughout the Bible, there is no mention of pets running around in heaven. The only creatures described in heaven are angels and humans. The Bible indicates that God is a spirit.” Again, I also suggest there is no mention of Children (babies-toddlers) running around either but to emphatically conclude there are no babies in Heaven could and would be considered absurd to Christians. Therefore, we should be careful not create a view based upon one scripture (especially apocalyptical texts), or simply create an invalid or unsound case from silence. Again, I ask why would God create animals, call it good, then change his mind and not be good. And it is true we know that Adam being alone is not good. Secondly, to be more correct, I believe that God is not a spirit, but God is spirit in John 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.[2] While this may be a semantic argument, it could make a theological difference for some.

Deem also states: “However, animals are non-spiritual beings. The higher animals (including the ones we usually choose as pets) are soulish creatures, which is why they can relate to us. However, they lack a spirit, which we humans have, so that their fate is different from ours”. This statement could be controversial to someone that holds a dichotomist[3] viewpoint concerning the body and soul. A dichotomist, which is the majority of historical Christianity, would view a person have both material and immaterial counterparts. In other words; a person has a body and a soul/spirit/heart/mind. Deem would support the trichotomist[4] view which separates into three parts; body, soul, and spirit.

Secondly, from a trichotomist view (perhaps such as Deem’s) where does the (our) soul go if heaven is only for spiritual beings? To recap, Deem also states; “The Bible indicates that God is a spirit. Angels are also spiritual beings. This is why humans take on a spiritual body so that we can be with God and the angels.” Since Deem separates the body, soul, and spirit into three, where does that leave the soul? What would happen to the soul? Hyper-spiritualizing of the text may not be the best way to interpret the Bible. While I am not sure that is the implication of Deem’s article, it certainly looks to be that way at face value.

We know that animals played a significant part for sacrifices (partial atonement). Some animal lovers may view this in a negative aspect, but the fact of the matter was the when a sacrifice was offered it was usually the best of the pick. Often times I imagine how difficult it was to raise these animals; have a relationship with them for a time span and then no longer have them. It must have been difficult for them to offer their animals and it would have left the owner remorseful (albeit some did purchase animals that were not their own for sacrifice). We know that animals are no longer needed for sacrifices.

In Genesis Chapter 4 is one of the first instances within the Bible. Gen 4:2 Then she gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel took care of the flocks, while Cain cultivated the ground. Gen 4:3 At the designated time Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering to the Lord. 4:4 But Abel brought some of the firstborn of his flock – even the fattest of them. And the Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering.

After the fall we find in Genesis chapter six that God regretted making humankind upon the earth.

Gen 6:6 The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended. 6:7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.” 6:8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.

6:11 The earth was ruined in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence. 6:12 God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined, for all living creatures on the earth were sinful. 6:13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I am about to destroy them and the earth.

From the NET Bible the notes from these passages:
“suggesting that the author intends to picture all living creatures, humankind and animals, as guilty of moral failure. This would explain why the animals, not just humankind, are victims of the ensuing divine judgment. The OT sometimes views animals as morally culpable (Gen 9:5; Exod 21:28-29; Jonah 3:7-8). The OT also teaches that a person’s sin can contaminate others (people and animals) in the sinful person’s sphere (see the story of Achan, especially Josh 7:10). So the animals could be viewed here as morally contaminated because of their association with sinful humankind.”

Are animals morally culpable (held morally or legally responsible)? I strongly encourage you to grab your Bible and read the following verses: (Gen 9:5; Exod 21:28-29; Jonah 3:7-8) and reason with these scriptures as it pertains to morally culpability, and divine judgment. While I am not saying directly that being morally culpable equates to our pets in heaven, it does give some evidence or possibility that we have valid reasoning to believe our pets could go to heaven. Also it makes us aware that our sin could contaminate animals, so we should be aware of this as a possibility. I will simply let the reader do further study and relate how we are indeed like animals concerning judgment.

We also see some domesticated (perhaps pets of some sort, but most likely referred to livestock formally) were also on the ark. Genesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and domestic animals that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to blow over the earth and the waters receded. We can also see that after the flood animals are now to be fearful of man:

Genesis 9:2 Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.

Other noteworthy passages:

Psalms 36:6 Your justice is like the highest mountains, your fairness like the deepest sea; you preserve mankind and the animal kingdom.

NET Notes:
“God’s justice/fairness is firm and reliable like the highest mountains and as abundant as the water in the deepest sea. The psalmist uses a legal metaphor to describe God’s preservation of his creation. Like a just judge who vindicates the innocent, God protects his creation from destructive forces.”


"Be thou comforted, little dog; thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail." — Martin Luther

[1] http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/pets_in_heaven.html#n05#n05

[2] http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Joh&chapter=4&verse=24

[3] Dichotomy [dye-cawt’-uh-mee](Greek dicha, “two parts,” and Greek temnein, “to cut”)
The philosophical teaching about the constitution of man that humans are made up of two essential parts: material and immaterial. Material: all that is physical (body). Non-material: all that is non-material (spirit/soul/heart/mind). Adherents include Augustine, John Calvin, Hodge, along with most of historic orthodox Christianity. This belief is in contrast to trichotomy, the belief that man is made up of three essential parts: body, soul, and spirit. http://wordoftheday.reclaimingthemind.org/blogs/2009/08/31/dichotomy/

[4] Trichotomy [trye-cawt’-uh-mee]
(Greek trikha, “three parts,” and Greek temnein, “to cut”)
The philosophical teaching about the constitution of man that humans are made up of three essential parts: body, soul, and spirit. Body: all that is physical. Soul: reason, emotions, will, memories, personality, dispositions. Spirit: the seat of our being, that which relates to God. Adherents include Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Watchman Nee, Bill Gothard, C.I. Scofield. This belief is in contrast to dichotomy, the belief that man is made up of two essential parts: material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit).

Pets in Heaven Part III

The purpose of heaven

I begin with a quote from Deem[1]:

"The purpose of heaven is to reward those who love God and want to live with Him forever. Contrary to popular opinion, entry into heaven is not based upon one's good works (e.g., good works exceed the evil deeds), but upon acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of one's life. Those who cannot agree to God's terms are not allowed into heaven, since there will be no evil or rebellion tolerated there. By accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, we give Him permission to change us into perfect beings in the heaven".

I do agree; that entry into heaven is not based upon one’s good works and would be attributed to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as resurrected Lord, and Savior through his atonement. I believe there is more to heaven than just rewards; heaven is how God intended us to live, without sin, without death pain and sorrow. We need to be careful and not become too trivial—viewing or attributing heaven as a membership to Capital One Rewards™ or Speedy Rewards™ card program. I am not saying Deem is making the issue trivial but someone could think so.

Assuming we take Deem literally, so how do we reconcile babies that pass away, or those with mental handicaps that would not be able to come to God based upon works or acceptance of Jesus Christ? In Deem’s view, how can he reconcile this dilemma based upon scripture or his view? If we were to use his rhetoric about one verse in Revelation, then the outcome would be horrifying. One holding Deem’s view perhaps could not reconcile, but does that mean babies and those with mental handicaps will not be in heaven? I would think they would be in heaven (fully restored), but I cannot prove that with scripture, emphatically. Is it wrong to believe so? No, I do believe God is just, reasonable, and fair to allow them into heaven just the same as he would pets. Despite there being no scriptural evidence for such believe on my part, it is reasonable to believe God would allow for such instances. So in essence, those of us capable to choose would be held responsible for our actions and whether we live according to the Bible.

[1] http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/pets_in_heaven.html#n05#n05

Pets In Heaven, Part II

Why are we here on Earth?
4/24/2010 Revision 1

For some a simple answer would be because God wanted us here. But, in his article Deem suggests; “that God created this universe for the purpose of choosing or rejecting Him” and Deem also states that; “Everything has a purpose - most of which is to teach us about love and the difference between good and evil”.[1] In my response, I would first state that God in his aseity (non-dependency upon anything else); is not dependent upon us choosing or rejecting him. It is his glory that he creates the heavens, earth, and all life (pets included), yet he is not dependant upon creation, animals, or us for his glory. Secondly, I think Deem fails to answer “how everything has purpose” within his article. For example; why were the animals created in Genesis?

I do honestly believe that God wants to have a relationship with us. I also agree that we and all things do have a purpose and I believe it is more than to teach us about the difference between good and evil in a superficial meaning. We are to be the light of the world and show love (e.g. helping of others) to one another. Furthermore, I also believe emphatically it was the serpent wanting man/woman to know about good and evil from the beginning, God by his very command specifically told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge, but God ultimately knew they would disobey him. So I would also be in disagreement with Deem on this matter.

Moving forward; in Genesis 1:1 we know that God created the earth and the heavens. In Genesis 1:20 God creates animals to inhabit the earth (before humans), and it was good[2] (key term). And in Genesis 1:26-27 humankind was created to rule over the animals. In Genesis 1:30 And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” It was so. We know that it was good when God created the animals, my question would be if we are to assume it was good as the Bible states, then why would it not be good in Heaven? Keep in mind that this was before the fall of man, and God makes all things new (restoring the good).

In Genesis chapter two Adam names the animals: Genesis 2:19 The Lord God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So we know that animals do play a significant role in creation for our survival. For example; from history we know that we are dependant upon animals for a wide variety of things such as; the food chain, plowing fields, milk, eggs, farmers earning money from livestock, and the study of certain medicines and vaccines.

We also know from Genesis that God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge. The difference (or concept) of knowing good and evil was only after the temptation and the introduction to deception from the serpent suggesting Adam and Eve would surely not die, and they would be able to see good and evil. So we as Christians know that while God warned about this eating from the tree of knowledge it did not stop Adam and Eve, and it was not God’s intention for them to do so (according to his commands). So with that I would disagree that God necessarily wanted humankind to know good and evil at least in a manner of ignoring his commands.

[1] http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/pets_in_heaven.html#n05#n05
[2] Genesis 1:30 And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” It was so.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pets in Heaven

By D. Adams 04/20/2010

After the recent passing of one of my pets, I found myself somewhat depressed. I began to wonder if pets would be in Heaven. I have had several pets throughout my life, but never really questioned if I would see them again in Heaven. While searching for some possible answers, I ran across an alleged answer from Rich Deem from the God and Science website. http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/pets_in_heaven.html#n05#n05 Within this article about pets; Mr. Deem suggests many things about the nature of God within that article, but needless to say I would disagree with his approach and thus his conclusion on this matter.

Before going further, within this article, the goal is not to take away from Rich Deem’s knowledge, his Christian faith, or his work within his website—but to share what I believe to be a realistic and holistic approach to finding a possible answer. I must admit there are no definitive scriptures about pets in Heaven, and there are equally no scriptures about babies or mentally disabled people (neither of which can hear nor understand the word) in Heaven for that matter. I seriously doubt you would find a Christian that would postulate babies not being in heaven based upon no scriptural evidence, and I also would use this same reasoning about our pets. Also, we need to be careful as to not becoming too dogmatic or too fundamental in our approach to find answers where scripture seems to be silent.

You can read more about Richard Deem and his positive contributions to the Christian faith from the website: Reasons to believe

Finally, this topic should be handled with utmost care. Perhaps you lost a pet in the past, perhaps you lost your pet today, or perhaps you may lose a pet in the near future. People can come to know Christ by argument, and by experiences, and by the same token people can be pushed further away from Christ by arguments and by experiences. I feel that triggering conditions (or perhaps stumbling belief forming mechanisms) are much more enhanced or elevated when someone is in depression or despair, so with that I hope to present this subject in a positive uplifting manner that will help the believer achieve a sense of peace and bring them closer to the faith, hope and love we have in Christ.

I will begin by addressing the three points made in Deem’s article by breaking my responses into three corresponding yet separate sections.

1. Why are we here on Earth?
2. The purpose of Heaven.
3. How do pets fit in?

Coming Soon...