Category: Theology


It’s been interesting how often this topic has come up over the past year or so. It first surfaced as we were preparing for youth thematic month last year, and going through the questions our youths were interested in. Besides other religions and life & death, animal salvation came in a strong 3rd in frequency. So it is not surprising that one would pose this question through our semi-regular segment, Ask Pastor Time, that just started this year.

Animals and pets have been a big part of my life. From my early formative days, I remember my family having an array of pets ranging from fish and terrapins, to parakeets, hamsters and rabbits. But it was only until I was halfway through primary school, when my tuition teacher’s dog had a litter of puppies, that I got my first dog, a cross-breed silky terrier, and my first taste of owning and taking care of an animal firsthand. Sadly, my parents made the decision of giving it away to SPCA when we moved around end of primary school. A few year later, eventually, my younger brother somehow managed to pester my mum to get a pure, toy-breed Maltese newborn puppy (from Australia), and we had “her” for 11 years, until she passed (mainly of old age, & jaundice) just 6 months before my wedding (and I was moving out again).

The Bible is not explicit on the topic of animal salvation. Animals feature greatly in the creation accounts, in fact, they are created before God gives Adam a helpmate, the first woman, Eve. Here we have the Adamic covenant, to rule or have dominion over all creation (flora and fauna). In some camps, this is known as dominion theology. In the early years of Israel’s birth as a nation, God establishes the temple sacrificial system, where animals are sacrificed in place of humans in atonement for their sins. Scattered throughout the Bible, there have been interesting and memorable mentions or God using animals in His grand masterplan of salvation history. The pairs of animals that were saved along with Noah and his family during the flood, the dove that bore the olive leaf after Noah sends it out after the flood, the ram that God provides in place of Isaac asked to be sacrificed by his father Abraham, the first Passover where the blood of sacrificed lambs saved the firstborns of Israel, Balaam’s donkey that rebukes him, the donkey that Jesus rode on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, etc.

Whilst we might not be certain whether animals go to heaven after death, it seems that they have a special place in God’s heart, and feature significantly throughout Bible times. Hope as much we can, ultimately we have to trust and rest in God’s sovereign and perfect plan, and know that whether we will see our favourite pets one day again lie in the hands of our almighty God, who created each of them by His will and word, for His glory and purposes alone.

Related links:
http://www.perspectivedigest.org/article/225/archives/22-2/the-salvation-of-animals
https://jamespedlar.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/john-wesley-on-animal-salvation/
http://www.academia.edu/6106098/C.S._Lewis_and_Animal_Salvation
http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/do-animals-go-heaven

Advertisements

I shared this devotion at our pastoral staff meeting today, reflecting on the miracle of birth, and God’s presence and power.

Psalm 139 is a familiar psalm that speaks of God’s omnipresence, omniscience, and perhaps even omnipotence.

v.1-12 God’s presence (Spirit)

  • v.1 already searched, known

  • v.3 familiar with all my ways, intimately acquainted

  • v.5 hem me in, enclosed, siege, protection, shut in, keep out; wrap around, Lord’s hand laid upon me

  • v.6 response

v.13-18 God’s creation

  • v.14 fearfully, wonderfully made; I know that full well, my soul knows it very well

v.19-22 God’s vengeance, wrath, justice (holiness)

v.23-24 God’s sanctification (search, try, see, lead me)

  • hidden, cherished sin

Notes:

  • David, man after God’s heart

  • caesura (Latin cutting), between v.18, 19

  • God with me, God for me, God in me

This psalm is also recited during the Jewish week of Parshat Bereishit. Bereishit (בְּרֵאשִׁית — Hebrew for “in the beginning,” the first word in the parashah) is the first weekly Torah portion(פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading. The parashah consists ofGenesis 1:1–6:8. The parashah is made up of 7,235 Hebrew letters, 1,931 Hebrew words, and 146 verses, and can occupy about 241 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).

Jews read it on the first Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in October or, rarely, in late September or early November. Jews also read the beginning part of the parashah,Genesis 1:1–2:3, as the second Torah reading for Simchat Torah, after reading the last parts of the Book of Deuteronomy, Parashah V’Zot HaBerachahDeuteronomy 33:1–34:12.

After 20 years from the first edition, Zondervan is publishing a second edition of their Counterpoints series on “Four Views on Hell,” interviewing different authors:

  • Eternal torment – Denny Burk
  • Conditional immortality – John G. Stackhouse Jr.
  • Universalism – Robin A. Parry
  • Protestant Purgatory – Jerry L. Walls

This is a worthwhile topic to explore and compare different viewpoints. Depending on our theological persuasions, bible hermeneutics, and practical experiences, these shape our views on the end times, the final judgment, heaven and hell. It is also helpful to know how Christian scholarship has evolved in the past 20 years on this topic as well.

Find out more through Chris Date’s interviews with them here. You can purchase the book at Amazon or Zondervan websites.

 

Article by Sze Zeng.

Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Teaching on “Doctrine of the Holy Spirit” for LTP 280 Introduction to Systematic Theology, week 5 of 8.

%d bloggers like this: