TAPPER: A lighter question about heaven. On Facebook we were asked to ask you do dogs go to heaven?
R. WARREN; I’ve been asked that 100 times. And my answer is there’s no verse in the Bible on this — yes. Absolutely yes. I can’t imagine God not allowing my dog into heaven.
TAPPER: What about cats?
R. WARREN: Sure. Why not?
GetReligion noted that Christian opinion has been divided on the subject, down through the ages:
But as Oxford theologian Andrew Linzey has noted, there is “an ambiguous tradition” about animals in Christianity. Thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Fenelon, and Kant and have held that animals do not have rational, hence immortal souls. Descartes defended a distinction between humans and animals based on the belief that language is a necessary condition for mind and as such animals were soulless machines (Descartes, Discourse on the Method)
Others theologians, philosophers and writers as diverse as Goethe, St John of the Cross, C.S. Lewis, Bishop Butler, and John Wesley held the opposite view and believed that animals will find a place in heaven. Billy Graham is purported to have said:
“I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness’ in heaven. If it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.”
Warren noted that the Bible is silent on the matter, but then gave an opinion, without explaining the basis for his opinion. Too bad; I’d like to know WHY he holds as he does.
The Bible teaches that it is Man who is created in the Image of God, and that Man fell, and Man is in need of a Saviour, and that Christ died and was resurrected so that those who will believe in Him, will not perish, but have eternal life. Furthermore, Scripture also teaches that all created things exist for the benefit of Man, to use and to be stewards of them. Adam was even given the task of naming the animals.
It seems fairly clear to me, that animals exist for our benefit; that we get to rule over them; that their existence is merely temporal; that, not possessing consciousness, they are neither capable of sin (and thus not in need of a Saviour), nor belief in a Saviour; that the Bible’s warning about damnation and message of salvation does not apply to them. Therefore, I see no reason to believe that animals possess souls, and go to either heaven or hell when they die, and am inclined to believe that belief that animals, esp. pets, go to heaven, is mere sentimentality on the part of those holding such beliefs. That said, since Scripture is officially silent, I see no reason for the Church to take an official position either way; we don’t have to have official doctrines on subjects ignored by the Bible, surely; moreover, the Bible was written for people, and not for animals.