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“Will our dog go to heaven?” — Everyone I know
This question comes up all the time. Who hasn’t had a special dog (or some other kind of equally important critter) with which he has shared life, laughter and love?
Who hasn’t shed real tears when that little creature died and left him heartbroken?
Who doesn’t hope that it has gone to a safe, happy place and is awaiting a glad reunion?
Our challenge is to affirm the genuine worth we discovered in our pet without trivializing the business of heaven.
One could answer the question, “Categorically, ‘no.’ ” Heaven is, after all for people. Eternal life in the presence of God is for those who have come to him in faith. Dogs (as far as we know — though I know some who would swear otherwise) do not have a spirit and are not likely able to make a free, intentional, personal expression of faith.
On the other hand, God has used some animals for special purposes — a talking donkey (Num. 22:21-35); bears (II Kings 2:23-25); a colt (Matt. 21:1-11).
We sense that, although we are hard-pressed to find scriptural support for the notion, God has brought special animals into our lives.
On a larger scale, the creation story reminds us that God delights in all creatures (Gen. 1:20-25; 2:18-20). Theologically speaking, “all creation” will participate in redemption (Rom. 8:19-20). John’s apocalypse envisions a new Earth one day in which everything is restored to its original intent and purpose (Rev. 21:1-5).
So, let’s say this: God must love animals. How could he not? He made them so cute.
All creation will somehow partake in his plan of making all things right one day.
Heaven, whatever else it may be, is a place of gladness.
Consequently, God just might have a special place for all living things — especially the creatures, be they dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, rodents, amphibians, etc., who have played such an important role in our earthly journey.