Will My Dog Go to Heaven?

Gracie - John Niven - cropped 1.jpg

People love their pets, and want to know what will happen after they die. The Bible provides an answer. 

About two weeks ago I saw John at a riverboat party. The general mood was light, but he stood alone in the shadows, his face stained with dry tears. John and his wife, their children long out of the house, had been forced to put their beloved dog, Gracie, to sleep. I listened long and said little as he shared his heart, and soon the party was over. A few days later he approached me at another gathering.

“Mark, you are a minister, right?”

“Yes, I was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister.”

“Will Gracie go to heaven? I have heard both – some people say that she will, and others say that since she doesn’t have a soul, she won’t.”

He paused. There was silence as I considered my reply. John was still visibly distressed, and I had to be right, but I equivocated.

“Well, the bottom line is that no one knows for sure.”

John’s face fell.

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The Bible Story

What is the Bible about? Can you answer that question?

Technology has made life physically easier and information (and misinformation) more available while decreasing the work of living (farming, cleaning, cooking, maintaining, etc.). As a result, more people have more time to edify or to entertain themselves than ever before. Meanwhile, man’s naïve belief that technology would bring about utopia (embodied in modernism) has given way to a belief that utopia is not achievable or even desirable. There is no meaning in the universe aside from what man puts into it and the best we can hope for is personal peace and affluence, as defined by each person (reflected in post modernism). No religion, worldview or other metanarrative is any better than another, much less true for all people at all times.

Since the Bible makes exclusive claims to truth, it is diametrically opposed to such relativism. Over the millennia, many people have attacked the Bible, and this is also true today. People attack the Book and those who believe the Book. Respectful debate is good, challenging believers to think through their faith and non-believers to honestly consider the claims of Christ. Such debate, however, seems rare. Human nature being what it is, mockery, discrimination and violence are the order of the day. Persecution of Christians throughout the world, and even in the West, is growing. Many people across the globe are shedding Christian blood, but believers should never fear; the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.

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The Inevitable Incarnation

Many religions tell of God becoming man, because humans sense that we could not know God otherwise. But Jesus is different…divinely different.  

In 1819 using a razor and glue, the former American President Thomas Jefferson, one of the most brilliant men of his age, cut and pasted passages of the New Testament to create The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, popularly known as the Jefferson Bible. Jefferson’s Bible removed all of the miracles of Jesus, most mentions of the supernatural, the Resurrection, and all mentions of His divinity. In a letter to William Short (1820), Jefferson wrote that “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God.” Thomas Jefferson clearly regarded the man Jesus as a great moral teacher, but rejected the concept of Jesus as God.

He was not alone. The Koran teaches that Allah has no son, and that those who believe that he does will be destroyed. Many critics throughout history have lauded Jesus for his moral example but lambasted early Christians for making him God. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity; without Him Christianity could not exist. At the same time, Jesus is the stumbling block of Christianity; the gospel as written in the New Testament is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:23).

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