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August 19, 2013

Comments

I think I understand your point about the relational aspect of eternal life and that it is something only humans, being made in God's image, can enjoy. However, I'm not sure I'd go as far as you seem to, based mainly upon the idea of the new creation. Paul says in Romans 8 that the creation itself looks forward to the day when it is freed from the bondage of corruption. Furthermore in Revelation 21, we have a beautiful picture of the new heavens and new earth. Wrapped in apocalyptic language as it is, there's a lot of room for debate here, but I believe the image we have is one of God making new, which suggests there is some relation to the old (just as in the resurrection body). All of this suggests to me that it is all creation, not simply humanity, which has something to look forward to. Presumably this would include animals.

Now of course, that does not mean that my personal pets will be in heaven necessarily. Though we do very well at placing our experience of life on our pets (i.e. we imagine them to have human like thoughts, etc.) I don't see any reason to believe that's actually the case. In other words, I don't believe there is a true person involved there. The animal's "personhood" was derived totally from me, which is of course totally fine - it's part of the beauty of human imagination given to us by God. But my point is, just because that certain "person" might not be there, isn't to say there won't be any animals there. Still, I'm willing to court arguments that suggest there is an individual nature to the animals, but I think that would be more philosophical than exegetical.

Of course there's a lot more to discuss here, but I think in my mind God called his creation good for a reason. While I would totally agree animals won't have the kind of relationship with God that we will enjoy, or even enjoy now, I do think we have Biblical reason to believe they'll be there in some form.

Shouldn't you have to prove heaven actually exists before you ask if animals will be there? I guess Greg is just doing what Christian apologists and theologians do: making stuff up.

Or you could do what Boris likes to do and ask what mechanism prevents heaven from existing. Then when you state that he is begging the question, he would claim that it proves that you can't answer his questions.

That mechanism is called reality.

@Boris,

really, unless you have something of value to add, probably better to not antagonize just for the sake of antagonization.

Ah Lumburgh is just mad because I crushed him in our little debate.

Boris needs a hug.
And a lesson in not begging the question.

Thank you for sharing your biblical insight on this matter. Why does Jesus come back on a white horse? Where does the horse come from in mid air? Heaven or earth? Why does God's first revealing to us come through the natural world? Why does God have the dove appear over Jesus as John is baptizing him in the Jordan?
I agree that heaven is pure fellowship with the Father through Jesus the son justifying us through his Son's righteousness ....but creator God loves all of his creation and speaks of total restoration and tells us that there will not be a sea in the new heaven and the new earth. In the modern world we have become so detached from using animals in our day to day life experience. Why do ravens bring food to Elijah? Why does God put the animals in the ark with Noah? Why does the Lion lie down with the lamb? Our God is the God of comfort, provision, healing and so much more but even in The book of Revelation the animal imagery is spectacular! Looking forward to learning more!

Boris,
You're on a Christian website. What else do you expect to find here?

In other words, Boris, the snide remarks aren't appreciated.

"There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of "Heaven" ridiculous by saying that they do not want "to spend eternity playing harps." The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written fro grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolic attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share his splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs." (C.S. Lewis)


It seems the landscape, the geography of Heaven will be something other than "Pure Mind". At least that is my impression from scripture. Only, exactly what that topography will be like, look like, feel like, is, well, I have no idea really. In scripture (the Gospels and Acts) it seems that the Body exists, yet translation through material, space, and even time is nuanced. And yet such a Body eats fish. Now, whether that is because that is what such a Body is like should it exist in this world, or, if that is just what such a Body is like in any world, or, if that is what such a Body is like in the New World, I cannot guess.

A related question - I honestly wonder: Why did God create animals in the first place?

This is the wrong question. The question is, when we are resurrected from the dead and have bodies like Jesus's body, in the new earth that is brought about by God's power (the same power that will resurrect the dead), will there be animals on the earth? I think there might be a hole here in Greg's eschatology. He needs to read some more N.T. Wright. The goal of human beings is not that we go to heaven, but is "life after life after death" so to speak. We will be resurrected with new bodies that are immortal, not just be souls in heaven. This is all over scripture. Also, scripture seems to imply that the state of Eden, a physical creation linked and combined with heaven (the metaphysical space where God is) is actually what will occur. There will be a new heaven and earth, so to speak, and the new Jerusalem is where the two places will meet. If that is the case, then we can probably assume there will be animals on the new earth, along with plants and other types of things that we now presently experience. What that looks like, who knows. I also think we will have jobs, goals, and tasks for the purpose of taking care of this creation and furthering God's purpose for it. As far as, will there be animals in heaven, I think that's the wrong question and is ultimately not relevant.

It seems the landscape, the geography of Heaven will be something other than "Pure Mind". At least that is my impression from scripture. Only, exactly what that topography will be like, look like, feel like, is, well, I have no idea really.

This is true, but we have a little bit of a glimpse in the last couple chapters of Revelation. At the least, we know that there will be a new Heaven and a new, physical Earth.

But the question of "what will Heaven be like?" should be viewed in light of the continuing story of Creation begun in Genesis 1. From a theological perspective, all of creation began then and is being drawn toward a grand conclusion, culminating in what we see in Revelation 21 & 22...

Deep implications of the Fall, Redemption, etc. along these lines.

I just put my down down two days ago, so this is fresh in my psyche.

For the most part, I do not believe Heaven is intended for creatures other than man. With that said, there is no reason to believe animals will not be there, as the speaker noted, along with 'plants.' However, the Scriptures suggest that for the Believer, Heaven is bliss, and, while 'the former things have passed away,' that bliss is partly informed by the conclusion that 'everything is made right.' Christ redeemed everything, as Nature 'groans' we are told, awaiting the end to its suffering, and while animals may not have souls, they do have 'life' that is precious to God.

We cannot expect animals to be resurrected, of course, but for my personal state of bliss to be complete, the creatures that gave me great delight in this life, as far as I can believe at the moment, will be a part of my state of eternal bliss; though I am not denying the worship of God as the focus of that state.

I think the speaker has less of a bead on this topic because he does not express his own connection to a beloved animal, but instantly genderized them with names like Fido and Fifi which presumes an instinctive, peculiar detachment; to him, animals are plants.

With whatever power I am given to acknowledge the links between here and eternity, I committed the being of my dog Hero on her deathbed to Christ. I don't care about mansions in the sky, that is not a contribution to my eternal bliss, though I am grateful and accept it. But Iwould much rather have my beloved companions here with me there, and my God can arrange for that to be part of my eternal experience in worshiping Him.

U,

Yes, as they say, "deep waters" over in that corner......

Genesis 9:8-10 says "Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 'I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.'" and verse 16 says, "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Like you, Greg, I can't answer for certain. But I do wonder ... if God made an "everlasting covenant" with ALL living creatures could that mean that he has a place for them in heaven? Especially my Pookie! :)

I want to reiterate and add to the good points already made by some of the previous commenters:

- Though animals are less valuable than humans, God is concerned about animals and expects humans to be concerned about them (Psalm 36:6, Proverbs 12:10, Jonah 4:11, Matthew 6:26).

- A strong relationship between a human and an animal is acceptable (2 Samuel 12:1-4), and the death of an animal in such a relationship is something that's expected to be perceived as a significant loss (2 Samuel 12:5-7). It seems that grieving the loss of such a pet is acceptable and to be expected. The desire to see a dead pet again is understandable and reasonable.

- There will be animals in heaven (heaven defined as the entirety of the afterlife of the righteous, including a restored earth), in a different condition than they experience in this life, and passages describing the afterlife sometimes either refer to animals there or use references to animals to convey a point (Isaiah 66:20, Romans 8:19-23, Revelation 19:11-14).

- A resurrection of at least some animals seems to make the most sense of Romans 8:19-23. There will be a transformation of nature (verse 21). The non-human creation is associated with humans (verses 19 and 21), both are referred to as longing (verses 19 and 23), and the human longing is associated with resurrection (verse 23). Even if just a small minority of animals will be resurrected, the pets of believers would be good candidates (the best candidates, I would argue) for fulfilling that role.

- There's early patristic support for the notion of animals on the new earth (e.g., Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 2:17).

Will there be animals in heaven?

Only if they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior

Even if just a small minority of animals will be resurrected, the pets of believers would be good candidates (the best candidates, I would argue) for fulfilling that role. -- A very pleasant and plausible argument :)

Just a note to correct my initial post typo (not sure why we cannot edit posts unless we're supposed to permanently look stupid) where it was obviously supposed to say I just put my dog down two days ago and a comment now that when I look at it as only 48 hours ago it is still fresh and sad as I go about my days now without my best friend. Peace.

"Just consider for a moment what their [the devout's] heaven looks like. Endless praise and adoration, limitless abnegation of self; a celestial North Korea. – Chris Hitchens

"Most people can't bear to sit in church for an hour on Sundays. How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?" - Mark Twain

That would be moot point for you wouldn't it Boris?

It is for you as well Lumburgh.

"It is for you as well Lumbergh."

Prove it!

Interesting, Lumbergh. Rather than intellectually and/or spiritually address the keen cultural observations of the renowned writers listed in Boris' message, you chose to attack the messenger. Apparently your tactic is winning him over :/

I'm not a fan of Hitchins but his bold statement is as he saw things, and even if he designed and/or developed a humanistic agenda or platform from it, Christians who have their eyes open can see that his observation is not without a certain ironic accuracy. Twain, as always, provocative, yet spot on, and if we are honest with ourselves, the kind of questions we may even wonder ourselves.

Even if we don't have answers for addressing these observations, we owe it to those persons who are influenced by them to respect them as valid observations, whether we like their observations and resulting conclusions or not. Christians owe unbelievers answers that, as best possible, stand to reason. When they are faith-based and may not stand to reason, we're not free to attack unbelievers for how they reason this world without sharing the basic tenets we hold to the Christian faith.

Attacks on unbelievers, gays, and all people different than who we think we are push people away from the Christ who died for them, and fail to send the message of forgiveness he subscripted to on the cross. They are neither God-driven nor approved, but failed human responses based on shared fear and ignorance.

Steve,

You are making a judgment without proper context.

I was repeating Boris' statement (from the Cosmological Argument thread) to show him how silly and juvenile his demand sounds when it is turned around on him.

You thought that were criticizing me, but in fact you were criticizing Boris.

Thanks for your support.

Lumbergh,

Haha. Sorry about that. Though you are making a judgment without proper consent. I never thought I was 'criticizing' anyone, but responding to an all-too-common online discursive scenario that looks like a possible Christian publicly taunting an unbeliever.

According to your statement, you reacted to content from another forum in this one, yet rendering it out of context so that only Boris and the Readers of All Threads would know your intent. Visitors to a single or unrelated forum are not responsible to piece together the garments you and others may have started weaving with other threads, dropped piecemeal elsewhere without due reference to any other conversation.

Flames aside, I just read the forum comments in the Cosmological forum and can see your connection. I stand by my rhetorical perspective, whether its appropriate audience be you, Boris, or anyone else and do apologize that you so happened to take the brunt of it. However, without proper contextual attribution, how could anyone know any intent?

Peace.

Lumburgh is just mad because I proved he had no answers to several question I posted which proved my claim that Christians have no answers for atheists.

Oh, I see. I agree, to some extent. Most of us are content to leave it with the Scriptures when it says in the Psalms that "The fool says in his heart there is no God." Not really possible to contest that. And understandably so, since we are aware that we have had to undergo our own heart 'transplant' in a sense, and argumentation and persuasion and other rhetorics are not very effective on the heart that way, only a supernatural act can change the natural heart of man, that should be a given.

Then again, if you are looking to other men for evidence, you will always come up short. But it really depends what an atheist's questions are. You seem to think proof is of importance. Well, philosophy and theology are littered with proof in either direction, largely because reason alone does not suffice. Still, God does say, "Come, let us reason together." However, attempts to persuade an unbeliever who is not open to that offer are a waste of time and energy, and the Bible has multiple instances where it pretty much says to simply walk away from the rhetorical situation if God is not in it. We are not to take personal offense or at times to even defend the Savior (Peter did this [physically] and was reproved for it when he cut off the ear of the Centurian). Though this is what 'christians' are doing today. Jesus never told his followers to change the world into something they would be comfortable in at the expense of cutting people off from him.

So, it sounds like you are an atheist and perhaps a provocateur, an evangelist of your beliefs hanging out with people on a web site where believers are expected to be in large numbers. What could you hope to accomplish here apart from stirring up strife, just curious? While there may be a few like minds for you here trolling about with similar intent, what could you possibly hope to accomplish here of value? To get your point across? Is that a 'win' for you? Just curious, as I am unfamiliar personally with the atheist tradition or, as others might put it here, 'agenda.'

It would seem to me if you are running around the Internet with some existential program you feel the need to promulgate, you are misled if you believe your time and energy has any effect or value on people of faith, they don't come away stupid like you wish to suggest, they will always come away satisfied because they know reason alone does not suffice for spiritual answers. If you just want to stir the pot, well, you're free to do that.

But that won't solve any of the deeper issues you are dealing with when it comes to life and death, love and hate, or any of the gray areas for which you don't have answers and which will never be proven to you, often, even if you have faith. Perhaps you were a believer and are now on the other side of that, apostate, I really don't know the root of your determination that there is no God apart from the somewhat human sensibility that if one believes there is no God, then s/he is free to carry on in life with no responsibility to a higher authority than the written law of man, and even then, perhaps not.

People don't take the time to get to know one another today, and the loudest people who claim to be Christian are in a daze about how to respond to their culture appropriately with sensibility because they are afraid of losing 'things' for themselves and their children (group rights, cultural consistencies, societal stabilities, possessions, secure financial futures, marriage benefits, etc.) and are trapped in political structures posing as houses of God, when God left quite a while back. Apart from playing church there is little to be offered by them to a society that struggles with who God may be in a confusing world of crazy religious propaganda and rich churches devoid of compassion and understanding, even among themselves.

Sadly, the Pharisees did not just disappear when Jesus did, they quickly worked their way back into the religious structures they inhabit by nature. Of course, they never really knew God, but liked to judge others religiously in his name so much it became a primary focus for them, ganging up on those who were different and thereby cutting them off from the love of God. Talk about godless lifestyles.

If your goal is to expose hypocrisy, then your work is cut out for you. But that would put you in a quest for truth, and any serious attempt for discovery of truth will have to take you to the source if it. Reality is, you are not that source.

But, I digress, and must now go elsewhere. Enjoy.

Begging the question - logically flawed inquiry. Try again Boris.

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