By Mike DuBose
with Dr. David Hurst, DMV
What happens when our loving animals die? Many children and adults mourning the death of their beloved pets have asked about seeing them again in Heaven. We interviewed seven, senior ministers to explore their beliefs on whether we will see our pets again after their deaths. Opinions varied widely because the Bible didn’t specifically address this question and there were conflicting opinions. All the pastors agreed that the answer lies in how one interprets the Scriptures. We posed the same question to Columbia International University’s seminary staff, but there was no consensus amongst the theologians.
Randy Alcorn, the leading expert on the Christian afterlife and author of the bestseller, Heaven, believes that this extends to animals. He writes, “Horses, cats, dogs, deer, dolphins, and squirrels—as well as the inanimate creation—will be beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection.”
Indeed, the Bible confirms there are animals in Heaven. Isaiah 11:6 describes several types (predator and prey) living in peace with one another “and a little child will lead them.” If God created animals for the Garden of Eden to give us a picture of His ideal place, He will surely include them in Heaven—God’s perfect new Eden. If these animals live in Heaven, there’s hope that our pets could be there too. Dr. Wendell Estep, retired pastor of First Baptist Church, said, “In Revelation 19:11, Jesus is riding on a white horse. So, if a horse is in Heaven—why not my dog ‘Tex?’” Another pastor proclaimed, “We often forget, God can do anything He wants to.”
Martin Luther, “Father of the Protestant Reformation” and founder of the Lutheran church, outlined, “In Paradise, there was complete harmony between man and animals; one day again that harmony will be restored and all creation will be made anew.” New creation—man and animal—will live together in peace.
Other theologians insist that certain Bible passages indicate that animals do have souls (the same word, nephesh, which translates to “soul” is used in reference to both humans and animals) though not of the same kind that believing Christians have. While the Bible doesn’t clearly state whether or not animals have souls (and thus can be reborn), growing numbers of religious leaders are considering the prospect. Pope Francis comforted a boy whose dog had just died, saying, “One day, we will see our animals again in eternity. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” Pope John Paul II later expressed, “Animals possess a soul and we must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren.”
Several ministers commented, “We know that in the Bible, ultimate redemption will extend to the whole of creation: i.e., Romans 8:21—‘that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We don’t know of a reason it would not extend to animals.’” They also referenced Luke 3:6, which says, “…all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
People find companionship and happiness in pets because they add joy and fulfillment to our lives. Billy Graham noted, “We know that God gave animals to mankind for a purpose, because before the great Flood, God preserved every species—male and female—on the ark so they would inhabit the land again. Animals are among God’s many diverse gifts.” He referenced Genesis 1:25 which states that God created animals and “He saw them as good.”
God is known for giving “blessings” to His children—animals are one example of this. Alcorn notes, “It would be simple for Him to re-create a pet in Heaven if He wants to. He’s the giver of all good gifts, not the taker of them. If it would please us to have our pets restored to the New Earth, that may be sufficient reason. Consider parents who’ve acquired a pet because of their child’s request.”
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, saw human beings as God’s representatives, responsible for passing on God’s blessings to the lower creation. When humankind sinned in the Garden of Eden, that blessed relationship suffered along with everything else. He believed that our animals would be resurrected beings able to reason, feel, and relate to us in Heaven. In a new Heaven and Earth, all will be perfect. This will certainly include a delightful animal realm. But what about our current pets? Based on how you interpret the Bible, there’s strong evidence that we will meet our former pets, but also new animals…which may talk. Now, that’s an interesting thought.
We believe that God will restore our beloved pets in Heaven, not because they have souls, but as gifts for our pleasure. As Alcorn writes, “If we believe God is their Creator, that He loves us and them, that He intends to restore His creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth.” Jesus said, “All things are possible.” Based on His declaration and that our all-powerful God created the universe, then we should anticipate a joyful celebration and reunion with our pets, friends, and family in Heaven—a wonderful, exciting place beyond our wildest imaginations.
Visit the non-profit www.mikedubose.com/pets for a single version of all 5 pet published articles.
Dr. Hurst is a licensed veterinarian with Friarsgate Animal Hospital in Columbia, SC. He is a graduate of Newberry College and the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Hurst is the President of his church council, serves on mission teams, and is the Minister’s Assistant during worship services.
The DuBose family’s purpose is to “Create Opportunities to Improve Lives.” Visit Mike’s nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for free access to his books and 100+ published articles, including business, travel, and personal topics, in addition to health research with Surb Guram, MD. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.