No, Virginia, all dogs don’t go to Heaven!

I was asked a while ago if our pets will go to heaven. I’ve been IMG_0866asked this before, and every time I try to give an answer I always get some pushback from parents who have been telling their children that their beloved pet will be waiting for them in heaven, and they are very upset that I would suggest otherwise. It’s as if the “All Dogs Go to Heaven” line is the untouchable doctrine of our squishy theology – right there next to Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.

We are living in a generation that has rejected the Authority of Scripture; treats our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as though He were that really good friend you only call when things get really tough because He’s always there to bail you out; and the Church is nothing more than a social club that would have a whole lot more people there if they could finally get the music right and make the preacher stay under 15 minutes.  I guess it should not surprise me then when I face an uproar because I had the audacity to tell someone that while our pets are wonderful gifts from God, we have no assurance that we will meet a resurrected Fluffy when we enter into paradise.

Was Fido created in God’s image and called into fellowship with his Lord? Did he fall from grace in sin? Did Christ come to bear the guilt and wrath for his sin? Was Fido’s righteousness found in the righteousness of Christ, evidenced by faith and the fruit of the Spirit?

What about the inherent “Petism” that is revealed here? Am I the only one whose noticed this? Sure, we tell out children that our dogs and cats will be waiting for us in heaven, and maybe when we flush the goldfish we are sending him to paradise via a Potter-esque means – but what about the Cows, the Hogs, the Chickens, and even the Rats, Bats, and Snakes.  If all dogs go to heaven, then what about the other animals?

It never fails to amaze me how little we turn to scripture for the answers we need for eternity.  I should be used to this by now.  Already Christians act as though the 4th Commandment (Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy) didn’t exist; we are silent on the issue of the sanctity of life (how is abortion not a violation of the 6th commandment); the Church has acquiesced on the teaching of sexual purity and honoring marriage (thou shall not commit adultery!)… and I could go on. I suppose that when it comes to our understanding of Heaven then, I should expect an “whatever-makes-you-happy-and-helps-you-sleep-at-night” attitude.

Here’s the principle we have to come to terms with if we are going to profess to be Bible-Believing Christians: Anything beyond what scripture teaches is pure speculation. God’s Word is inspired and authoritative, it is our only rule of life and faith.  When we sit down to teach our children the matters of faith, it isn’t up to us to “make it up as we go along.” You can’t just repeat some explanation you heard on your favorite TV show, or say whatever you think will make them happy.  We turn to the word of God, and we pass that faith from generation to generation.

But it’s not as if we are without a witness; Scripture does tell us what we need to know.  Heaven is the place where those who have been redeemed in Christ finally come to rest in His glory (Hebrews 4:9), where we enter into the eternal joy of our heavenly Father (Matthew 25:21). Only those who have been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ, only those who have been covered in the righteousness of Christ by faith in Him will know the blessed delight of eternal life (John 3:16), and Christ is the only way unto our Heavenly home (John 14:1-7).  This is not exhaustive, but it is a start.

This is not to say that animals will not be present in the new Heaven and new Earth.  The wonder and diversity of creation will not cease to exist in God’s Kingdom, but it will be set right and released from the curse. Still, that which separates mankind from the rest of the created order is that man was created in the image of God, created with a spirit that is designed for eternity. In the resurrection, the faithful are promised a new body, it too fitted for eternity, so that we shall be with the Lord forever.

So many want to find comfort in the fact that their beloved pet has gone to heaven, but there is no biblical warrant for such a doctrine. Some have even said that heaven would be incomplete without their pet there – that they could not find happiness there without their animal.  If your hope for heaven is in anything other than finally being in the presence of the resplendent glory of God Almighty, that is idolatry, and I urge you to allow the word of God to teach and guide you. John Piper once noted on this very question, “It is spiritually perilous to cultivate a love for an animal that has such a prominent place in your heart that you think that you need him for eternity.”

SDG

Addendum

My thanks to my friend Magrey DeVega, who has an abundance of creativity (and apparently free time), the artist responsible for the included image.

Here is a link to the interview with John Piper:

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/do-pets-go-to-heaven

A Modern American Creed

“Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints…”
(Jude 3 ESV)

While laboring away on my roof this Labor Day weekend, my mind had freedom to wander, and wander it did.  I began to ask myself, “Does anyone today really take their faith seriously?  Do I?”  From there the thought progression evolved into, “If we were really honest about what we believe, what would our credo be?”  The following is the result of such unconstrained meanderings through my mind.

Disclaimer – – Please take what you are about to read with a grain of salt.  This is meant to be humorous hyperbole, an exaggeration of no one particular expression of faith.  That being said, it is intended to expose some of the unbiblical things that we just assume about our faith.  If this lands a little close to home (as it does for me, at times), may it drive you to God’s Word, that you may be established and strengthened in your faith.

A Modern American Creed

I believe in God –

  • That is, I know there is a higher power, someone out there watching me.  I get my ideas about God from what I saw on Highway to Heaven, and Touched by an Angel, though I’d never admit that in public.  I don’t always have to pray or go to church, because I know that God is always there if I need him.
  • I know that God supposedly made everything, but science says that everything started with a big bang and evolution, and since I don’t know which to believe, I think I’ll just not think about it too much – anyone for a rerun of Seventh Heaven?
  • God wants me to be nice, do good stuff, and go to church; but understands when I can’t because it’s opening day for deer season, or when I was at the big game on Saturday and just can’t get up in time for worship. 
  • God gave us instructions for how to live called the 10 Commandments (which by the way I watch every Easter), but since those commandments are impossible to keep we really don’t have to try.  Besides, God is a loving God and would never judge us or hold us accountable for the things we’ve done.  Right?

I believe in Jesus –

  • Jesus lived a really good life.  He was always loving, always forgiving, and would never upset anyone by saying something hard or judgmental. 
  • Jesus wanted us to all get along, to accept each other just as we are, and to keep our noses out of other people’s business.  If you think that Jesus tells you to live one way, that’s fine for you.  But don’t presume Jesus told anyone else to live that way.
  • When Jesus was alive, he talked about how to get to heaven, and never really spoke about what to do with money, sex, or other day-to-day things.  Even when he did, it was all an allegory, a metaphor for spiritual things.  Jesus wants us to be happy, prosperous, successful, and independent.  If I am struggling or suffering in this life, I must be doing something wrong.
  • Jesus called some people to follow him seriously, these were his disciples.  Others got to follow at a distance.  For me, that means that some people can get real serious – go into missions, share their faith with their friends, be a pastor or a leader in their church – but others don’t have to get so committed.

Salvation –

  • I am saved because I am a Christian.  I am a religious person.  I go to church.  I try to help out from time to time.  I can even say the Creed and sing the Hymns on Sunday.  Overall, I am a good person; I might make mistakes, but God loves me anyway.
  • Salvation means I will go to heaven when I die.  It doesn’t really affect me much now, but it’s nice to know I’ll get to see all my family and friends when I get there.

Free Will –

  • God made me with free will, so I get to choose what I will do and what I believe.  I choose to believe in God, and that is why I am a Christian.  I could never believe in a God who would impose his will on others.

The Bible –

  • The Bible is the sacred book of the Christian religion.  People read it to know what God has done in the past.  It is full of stories about people who have followed God and how God has had to fix their problems.
  • The Bible was written by men who wanted to establish their religion.  It has some mistakes in it, and some of the things that were written a long time ago don’t really apply to us today; but overall, it is a pretty good book.

Heaven –

  • Heaven is God’s kingdom, and it is where all good people will go when they die.  When I get to heaven there will be rest from all the hard work I’ve done in this life, and I will see all my friends and family.
  • Those loved ones who have already gone to heaven are angels who watch over me.  They enjoy watching me do well in life, and protect me from bad things that might happen.

Hell –

  • This is the place were bad people go to be punished forever.  Hell is Satan’s kingdom and he lives there with his demons.  It’s always hot there, full of fire and suffering.

The Church –

  • The Church is where I go to worship. 
  • We sit in pews, which thankfully are padded, since the pastor likes to talk for more than 15 minutes. 
  • I have a hard time not napping during the prayers (you try closing your eyes, bowing your head, and doing nothing for more than 3 minutes and see what happens).
  • We sing odd songs, some are really old and use words that I’ve never said outside of church, some try to sound new but are really cheesy. 
  • Usually I don’t get a lot out of church, but every now and then it seems like the pastor’s talking about me (weird, huh).

Friends, I hope this has prompted you to really think about your faith, and what your faith means for your life today.  If you have questions, turn to God’s Word.  Feel free to call or email me, but whatever you do, “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”

SDG