All dogs go to heaven. Or do they? As Patrick Madrid says, all the animal lovers cringe when this topic comes up, but Tom in California brought it up anyway. “I love dogs,” he said, “Yet I’m hearing that there’s no dogs in heaven.”
Diving into the can of worms, Patrick looked at the biblical evidence for whether or not our beloved dogs will be in heaven. “The Bible contains illusions to what seems to be references to animals being in heaven,” he said.
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out:
“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor, glory and might,
forever and ever.” Revelation 5:13
“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.” Isaiah 11:6
“So the question is: are these biblical phrases intended to paint a picture that’s not literal? In other words, are these figures of speech?” asked Patrick. It’s possible that these many verses about animals in heaven could be taken literally, or they could be used to convey a certain tone. For example, Isaiah paints a picture of peace and tranquility.
Patrick says that it’s also important to consider the nature of lower animals versus human beings. Humans, we know, are made in the image and likeness of God. “We look at human nature and we realize that there is something different about us from the lower animals, and that is we have a rational soul. We can conceptualize, we can step outside ourselves and consider things from a third-person standpoint, we can see meaning and goals … we have those capabilities and the animals don’t. They operate on the basis of instinct and appetite. Now they have souls, but they are not rational souls,” he said.
St. Thomas Aquinas, a great philosopher and Doctor of the Church, said that an animal’s soul does not carry on after death. That when an animal dies, that is the end of their soul.
The Church’s stance on the issue isn’t clear-cut. “We don’t believe that animals like your dog Fido will be in heaven. But is it possible that there will be some form of animals in heaven that we just don’t know about? That’s also possible. It’s one of those unsolvable riddles that we know certain things to be true on both sides of the equation but it hasn’t been revealed to us yet whether or not it’s all one or the other or some third issue that we just don’t know about,” explained Patrick.
There you have it. Unfortunately, there is not clear answer to give. But one thing is for sure, Patrick told Tom: “As Saint Paul said, ‘Eye has not seen nor has ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him.’ So whatever it is, it’s going to be awesome!”
Listen to the full conversation:
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