There was a lot of animal awareness in my inbox this week. First, I got Cousin Sandy's email:
Catholic Church Sign: All Dogs Go To Heaven
Catholic Church Sign: God Loves All His Creations, Dogs Included
Presbyterian Church Sign: Dogs Don't Have Souls, This is not Open for Debate
Catholic Church Sign: Catholic Dogs Go to Heaven, Presbyterian Dogs can Talk to their Pastor
Presbyterian Church Sign: Converting to Catholicism Does Not Magically Give Your Dog a Soul
Catholic Church Sign: Free Dog Souls with Conversion
Presbyterian Church Sign: Dogs are Animals, There Aren't Any Rocks in Heaven Either
Catholic Church Sign: All Rocks Go to Heaven
Then I got an email with a link from our new friend Charlis; www.animalchaplins.com. Though I'm not sure I agree with every idea there, it does offer valuable consolation for the bereaved pet lover.
Then Tim Challies reviewed the book,'The Little Boy Down the Road". I read the segments of the book that you, too, can read here [link]. I was really enjoying the chapter "The Animal Fair", until I came on the sentence, "More importantly, they knew that Buddy did not have an eternal soul. He was an animal, and that means that when he died, he was gone forever." p.61
As an avid pet lover, as is Mr. Phillips, I was taken back by that sentence. I have wrestled with the eternalness of animal life ever since I was l old enough to remember anything of weight. I have two dogs now that indisputably react with human - like emotion (fear, happiness, excitement, contentment, anger...).
If I remember my seminary Hebrew correctly in the creation account both the creatures and man become (if literally translated) "living souls" (Nephesh Chie) [if you look at both chapters 1&2 of Genesis]. I guess I had a pet loving professor, as he made a big point of that connection and pointed out that both were called living souls. I will lay my cards on the table. I want to see (some) of my previous pets in heaven. I don't see the Word intimating anything otherwise.
If Isaiah 11:6-8 is more than allegory then there is ample evidence that the next life will be inhabited by a fully redeemed nature.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (NIV)
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons 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 glorious freedom of the children of God." Romans 8:18-21 NIV
Doesn't creation include all life? What will the Liberation of Creation consist of? Being set free from the inescapable rot brought to it by man into the same freedom we now share as God's Children. Wow! Now, skip forward to Forever.
Revelation (4:6-11) gives us all kinds of New Living Creatures in Heaven. They are real, just hard to describe in human terms. But they are living creatures, not angels, not human. And they are an essential part of the heavenly description:
Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (NIV)
These other worldly creatures are worshiping God. What greater role can any creature serve? They are the initiators of worship, then they are joined by humans. They are called "Living Creatures", remember those words in Genesis?
Then again:Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. Revelation 5:13-14 NIV
In this cosmic climax, Every Creature...Every Where...sets the example, stirring the Four Living Creatures and the Representative People (24 Elders) before the Throne of God on to worship.
Even the last chapter of the Revelation (22:15) mentions the "dogs" being outside the gates of the New Jerusalem, along with all the People who refused to let go of their sin nature. Why would dogs still be mentioned as being around in this last scene in forever-land? We know that the name is analogous of the kind of human that lived like the nasty scavenging animal that all (non-Egyptian) dogs were in those days. The unblessed, the unwashed, the unredeemed do not want to be in the city. If they had recognized their thirst...the parched desert state of their souls ...they could have answered the call:
"Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:13 NIV
Now, you tell me. Are animals made for eternity? I have my answer from a very reliable source. My animals stir me to worship their Creator, even now.
The questionable creatures are those sons and daughters of Adam who chose to live thirsty lives, now and forever. Hear the rolling waters of Life in Christ? Come, Drink, Freely.