Thursday, September 24, 2015

Do Dogs Go To Heaven?

Now, about Rover, the dog—though for roving, I hardly remember him away from my side! ...I almost believe that at one period, had I been set to say who I was, I should have included Rover as an essential part of myself. His tail was my tail; his legs were my legs; his tongue was my tongue!—so much more did I, as we gamboled together, seem conscious of his joy than of my own! Surely, among other and greater mercies, I shall find him again! —George MacDonald, The Flight of the Shadow

We had to put our Westie to sleep last week. Partially blind, deaf, mentally confused and in pain, it was the kindest thing—but I do miss her.

In her last months she seemed bewildered, dogging our steps, never allowing us out of her sight. If I left the room she followed me and found a place on the floor near my feet. She was “an essential part of myself.”

I mentioned several months ago that while recovering from back surgery I exercised by walking up and down the hall. Dolly, though arthritic and in pain, trudged after me dutifully as though we are on our usual outdoor walk. Her loyalty and unconditional love tugged at my heart.

I wonder, will there be dogs in heaven? The simplest answer is: Why not? One day there will be a new heaven (sky) and a new earth  (Revelation 21:1). If a new earth, why a dead earth, like the moon, rather than an earth filled with trees, mountains, rivers, and flowers like our present world? Why would God allow plants and flowers and other aspects of this world, but not animals into heaven? Would He take from us there what He gives us here for our joy? I think not. C.S. Lewis’ speculated that in heaven we will be "between the angels who are our elder brothers and the beasts who are our jesters, servants, and playfellows” (That Hideous Strength).
More to the point, will my dog be in heaven? C.S. Lewis thought so. He believed that our animals are saved because of their association with us. They achieve heaven because they are caught up in our lives, an essential part of ourselves (The Problem of Pain). In another of his works, The Great Divorce, Lewis describes a woman in heaven surrounded by a gaggle of young children, angels, birds and beasts.
“What are all these animals? A cat—two cats—dozens of cats. And all those dogs... Why, I can’t count them. And the birds. And the horses.”
“They are her beasts.”
“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”
“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
Would God, who created animals, who preserved them through the Flood, who promised to redeem them, who made us with the capacity to love them and grieve them when they’re gone—would he revoke his decision to put animals once again under our care? I think not. Perhaps then, among other and greater mercies, I shall find Dolly again!

David Roper
Sept 30, 2015


Steve Bower said...

How poignant and timely. We too lost our dog, a 6 month old puppy, unexpectedly two weeks ago. My dear wife read this with tears of grief mixed with unexpected hope. Thank you, as always, for your insight and encouragement.

Dieter Schlaepfer said...

The Bible is silent regarding the eternal fate of earthly animals, but the message that animal life is to be treated with respect is clear.

Peoples' love for animals reminds me about Adam changing the name of his wife from Ishshah, originally a name rather than a gender, to Chavah (or Zoe in Greek, zoh-wee) because . . .

"Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Genesis 3:20-21 NASB

My interpretation is that Ishshah mothered all the animals, so Adam responded by giving her a nickname. God wisely chose not to take sides in verse 21.

Brian K said...

I think your summary is a fair one ("why not"). Many surprises await the elect in our prepared place! Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him.
One comment though about our culture's love affair with pets; it seems so obvious to me that the inclination has reached the Romans 1 stage as a society--we give animals too much credit and God too little! Why do people love animals the way they do? I personally think it is a control thing; for the most part, animals will not break our hearts like people can and often do. We can leash up our dogs, but not people. We typically know how to manipulate and control rover, but people is a more difficult creature indeed.
I realize this is just an observation of the unbelieving world, but if were not careful, it shows up in the church too.
I have on more than one occasion seen advertisements from church banners regarding the "blessing of the animals", which is alarming to me only from the standpoint that I perceive that yes--all the animals are probably "blessed", except for one (the Lamb of God), who often goes along ignored, because there is no room @ the inn. Sad indeed.

Brian K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dieter Schlaepfer said...

Good points, Brian. Unlike people, you always know where you stand with your pets. Their emotions are transparent, as is their hypocrisy when you have food. As they say, "When food is involved, all dogs are liars."

There may be more to it. This morning at a men's prayer breakfast, a man told me how he takes special dogs to our local hospital for "dog visits." He related how a man he described as a big biker dude was given a small dog to hold. The man was recovering from heart surgery and had very high blood pressure. The man's blood pressure was taken before and after the dog visit, showing a remarkable drop.

Considering Adam's original mandate from God, his job was to manage (control, rule) the animals of the earth that God had blessed, and to cultivate and guard the garden that God had planted. Maybe there's some resonance in people when they engage in these activities.

Sewhappy Patty said...

Oh...I'm sorry David. We also had to put down our 16 yo Maltese, Daisy. She was so loved bsy our children(she helped them to grow up into young adults!)
We will see them again.
You were our Pastor in Boise 1985 CCC.
Love your writings!

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