This article is served with a suggestion of being accompanied with a modicum of salt.It is a layperson’s musings and not a theological treatise.
Will there be pets in heaven? Logically, the question must be answered by the following related questions:
- What is the nature of heaven?
- What is the nature of animals?
A brief look at heaven
Popular culture has embedded in most people, even many Christians, an erroneous view of heaven.
Say you were to earnestly cross-examine the average guy on the street (or in the pews) on his perception of heaven.He might disavow a cartoonish mental image of clouds and harps butnevertheless hold that heaven is a disembodied and ethereal existence.
However, according to the Bible, the life we will experience after death is physical.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans chapter 8, verse 11)
You will not exist in heaven as a ‘spirit’, but your mortal body will have life anew. Likewise, the rest of creation, currently groaning under the curse of sin (Romans chapter 8, verse 22), will also one day similarly experience full liberation. The curse will be no more(Revelation chapter 22, verse 3).
It may be said then that the resurrection will be a physical reality-and intensely so. It will be the most real ‘real’. The physical come into its own. Earth as it was meant to be.
Therefore, so too the beasts and the birds, the whole of creation, free from the curse, will flourish.
A brief look at animals
C. S. Lewis in his book The Problem of Painnotes that we tend to presuppose that animals are most animal-like when they are wild and untamed. For example, we would automatically believe that the most authentic and natural tiger is the wild and bloodthirstytiger and not, say, the tame and friendly tiger.
According toGenesis chapter 3, just as the relationship with man and God was severed by the fall, man and nature was put intodisharmony. Therefore, wild and hostile is not necessarily the way animals are meant to be in relation to people.
Let us consider then that the most authentic tiger is neither the dangerous predator nor the sad and neuteredpet kept by the rich and inane as a garish showpiece alongside a handbag and a Rolex. Instead, in the new creation we will see tigers more truly natural and in proper coexistence with humanity. At this point I admit that any description I could give on what that might be like is nothing but speculation.
Lewis postulates that we see this most clearly in dogs. To even a causal observer, a well-trained border collie has, in a sense, come-into-its-own. In other words, the border collie working as a sheepdog is more ‘properly’ a dog than some wild mutt not by virtue of its breeding but by reason of its cooperation with a shepherd.
The border collie is at its most dog-like in right relationship with man in the same way that man is most human in right relationship with God.
If we believe that God created humans to reign and rule over nature (Genesis chapter 1), this makes sense. Animals are created to be ruled by people just as people are created to be ruled by God.
Pets in heaven
Our hope in Christ is not to go to sometrans-dimensional and mystical realm called heaven; our hope is to be resurrected like Jesus was into the new creation.
Will there be pets in heaven? Insofar as nature will be restored in its relationship to humans in the new creation, I think yes.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb
And the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
(Isaiah chapter 11, verse 6)
Based in Christchurch, Joshua is married to Jacinda and enjoys writing as a way of keeping his thoughts in order. He also freelances. You can contact him via the bird site (Twitter) @I_do_words