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People sometimes ask me if their dog will be in Heaven. My short answer is, tongue in cheek, “Heaven? Yes. Hell? No!”
I do believe dogs will be in Heaven, but since they are not capable of making moral decisions, Hell is not an option. It is only by God’s mercy that dogs, or humans for that matter, will be in Heaven. Now, before you protest that mercy is reserved exclusively for humans, since only they are responsible for moral decisions, let me explain.
In the first creation account in Genesis, animals were placed under the care of humans. In time, because of humanity’s disobedience, so the story goes, God brought judgment on the earth in the form of a worldwide flood. When God spared Noah and his family, they took animals on board the ark. Animals, incapable of choosing right and wrong, were by God’s mercy, spared. God’s plan for a renewed earth obviously included animals, and I suppose my two Schnauzers’ ancestors were on board then.
But that’s not all. Apparently, God’s plan for a new earth, or kingdom, or Heaven, includes animals as well, if you believe the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, who foresaw a new Heaven and earth where, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.” This harmonizes nicely with the Apostle Paul’s belief that “all creation has been groaning” under the curse of the fall and “eagerly awaits” complete deliverance. “All creation” would surely include animals. (My Schnauzers raced through the house, over and under the furniture, in rapturous joy after I sat them down on my lap and shared this thought with them.)
Of course, some scientists and philosophers scoff at all this as nothing more than poppycock. They maintain that dogs, for example, are nothing more than “social parasites,” which means our canine friends have learned to mimic certain human behaviors, ingratiating themselves to us so that we love them, mistakenly thinking they “love” us. Dogs need us for food and shelter and this explains why they, in the evolutionary course of nature, have attained this ability and raccoons, rats, and squirrels have not: the latter creatures don’t need us for survival as dogs do. (I reminded my dogs how much they needed me just the other day as I chased them down the street and from under the skirt of an innocent neighbor.)
But, this misses the point. Just as all creation “groans,” not just those at the higher rung of God’s evolutionary ladder, so all will be released from the “curse.” And we could assume then, that the qualities of God would be reflected in his creatures. As Randy Alcorn notes in his book, Heaven, “Once the curse is lifted, we’ll see more attributes of God in animals than we’ve thought about.”
All right then, that explains why, when I first let my Schnauzers out of their crate in the morning, they can’t wait to lick me right smack dab on my nose: those aren’t the kisses of a “social parasite,” training me to feed them and let them outdoors; those are drops of God’s love, teasing me towards the anticipation of better things to come. So, when I get home tonight, I’m going to rub my dogs’ tummies, trust that God’s word is right, and throw in with Will Rogers, who said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”
Life Matters, by David B. Whitlock, Ph.D., is published weekly. You can visit his website, DavidBWhitlock.com or email him at email@example.com