Today I enter into a controversy that I cannot win. It is in fact, like sitting on a buzz saw: Do animals go to Heaven?
Today I enter into a controversy that I cannot win. It is in fact, like sitting on a buzz saw: Do animals go to Heaven? Most sensible people, not controlled by their emotions, would declare that our time, talents, tithes, and teaching, etc., should be spent trying to get people to go to Heaven.
Please note that I admit that animals can be fantastic companions especially to lonely people. They are very important to the blind and efficient in apprehending drug pushers. They are often great as watchdogs and often beneficial to children. But dogs don’t go to Heaven. Neither do cats.
Les Kinsolving is an excellent writer for whom I have great respect, even admiration for him holding politicians’ feet to the fire; however, in a recent WND column Les went off the rails in a column advocating that dogs and other animals will be in Heaven! He was writing from his heart not his head. He was not driven by facts but by fantasy.
In his column, Les criticized Billy Graham for telling a child “We’re too busy with humans to worry about dogs.”
In his column, Les criticized Billy Graham for telling a child “We’re too busy with humans to worry about dogs.” Les characterized that statement as being “pseudo-orthodox cruelty.” I have been very critical of Graham in recent years but in this instance, Graham was right and Les is off base for calling it false orthodoxy (which it was not) and for calling it “cruelty” (which it was not). Should Graham have re-written the Bible to make a child feel better? I think not.
Les suggested, “If Billy Graham wasn’t concerned about animals at that stage of his ministry, his attitude then was surely unbiblical.” Here Les uses the old bait and switch approach. Because Graham does not believe animals have souls and go to Heaven, it follows that he “wasn’t concerned about animals.” Les is a better thinker than that. Moreover, Graham was not “unbiblical.” Les was.
The writer declares that there are many Bible verses that affirm God’s love for animals and he uses Psalm 50 as proof. There God reminds us “every beast of the field is mine,” but that does not suggest that God loves animals in the way He loves mankind. Then Les goes to Proverbs where we are told that a righteous man regards “the life of his beast.” Again, no suggestion that animals go to Heaven. Les is a fantastic writer but he is a poor exegete.
From there Les tries to get Christ to support his contention using Luke 12:6 as his proof: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings and not one of them is forgotten before God.” However, in this text Christ reminds Christians that God is aware of even the hairs on their head (as well as the sparrows) and God will take care of us. Then He adds, “ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Again, not even a suggestion of sparrows, snakes, or snails going to Heaven! Nor cats, cows, or crows.
Then Les really jumps the tracks when he attempts the bait and switch argument again. He declares, “cruelty to animals is evil in Judeo-Christian ethics” which no one disagrees with. However, he assumes, ipso facto, animals are going to Heaven! It is one thing to protect animals from mistreatment and yet another to suggest Heaven for them. I suggest that Les not quit his day job to go into teaching theology or philosophy.
Then Les asks if the idea of dogs having souls is “any more outlandish than the once-scandalous idea that God even loves Samaritans and Gentiles, too?” He must be reminded that the Scripture in many places declares that “God so loved the world” and “whosoever” (not whatsoever) calls upon Him would be saved. Do the Dogs-in-Heaven people expect us to believe that every individual must repent and place faith in Christ but dogs, ducks, and dinosaurs get a free pass through the pearly gates? If your puppy goes to Heaven then every animal that has ever lived will be there!
It is impossible to have a meaningful discussion unless there is an agreement on definitions. Les provides his own skewed meaning of a soul: “All of a being except the physical; the character and the personality.” He then added, “On that criterion, I have known dogs who definitely had souls.” However, that is not the Bible’s meaning of soul. At the creation in Gen. 2 God created Adam and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” When He created the animals, there is no such reference. Animals have instinct, not souls or spirits.
Les continued his polemic with, “Sixteen hundred years ago, St. Basil, the bishop of Ceasarea, (sic) wrote the following prayer about animals.” I should think the animals-in-Heaven proponent could come up with a better ally than a priest who lived in the fourth century. Basil opined (without scriptural support), “Thou has promised to save both man and beast.” He did not get that from Scripture. The only place where the Bible speaks of animals being “saved” was in I Kings 18:5 when the King was concerned about the nation-wide drought and he wanted to “save” the horses because they were necessary for work and warfare.
Christ came to redeem mankind from the slave block of sin requiring repentance and faith, two things animals cannot do.
Christ came to redeem mankind from the slave block of sin requiring repentance and faith, two things animals cannot do. Lu 19:10 tells us, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Does “that which was lost” refer to animals? If so, then how do they prepare to meet God, and if they do not prepare do they go to Hell? After all, if animal lovers can posit the absurd possibility of animals going to Heaven, is it not reasonable to suggest that they can also go to Hell? If not, why not?
I remind you that during the universal Flood, God killed all the animals that were not on the Ark (no doubt including a few cats and dogs). God preserved two of each kind of animal to replenish the earth plus extras for sacrifices and food. I suppose I need to remind animal lovers that God commanded the Jews to make daily sacrifices of living animals in the Temple.
Les closes with a complete distortion of Rev. 7:15-17 to support his dogs-in-heaven position. Verse 14 identifies those referred to in the following verses as those who came out of “great tribulation” and had been washed in the “blood of the Lamb.” Speaking kindly, eloquently, and movingly of his deceased dog, he commends him (his dog) to the “Everlasting Arms.” Some might consider that blasphemous, but I think it was simply non-thinking sentimental balderdash.
Finally, Les gives a chopped up version of Rev. 7:15-17. I have corrected the punctuation and added the words of Scripture in brackets that Les left out. I have also put in bold and parentheses the words he changed. “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in his temple: [and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.] They shall hunger no more; neither (shall they) thirst [any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.] For the lamb which (sitteth in) [is in] the midst of the throne shall [feed them and shall] lead them into living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from (our) [their] eyes.”
It seems very clear that Les is suggesting that his dog is “before the throne of God” and serves Him day and night in his temple! Furthermore, he suggests God sits on His throne and “shall dwell among them” and “feed them” and shall “lead them into living fountains of waters.” What a preposterous scenario!
No—dogs, ducks, dinosaurs, or monkeys, manatees, or mosquitoes go to heaven. I’m kinda glad of that. I don’t want to scratch for eternity! God can have animals in heaven if he wants to but He did not create animals with a soul to move from Earth to heaven.
I suggest that Les stay with politics. He’s good at that but a disaster at theology.
Copyright 2009, Don Boys, Ph.D.