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I've heard it both ways , but can't seem to find it. Some have told me dogs have no soul so they can't go, but I am sure my dog feels guilt when he steals food from the cat. Is that not a sign of a soul?

I understand that the question of whether or not they do go to heaven has been addressed in Do animals go to heaven/hell? but this is a different question. The answers there deal don't directly state whether or not there is a direct Biblical statement on this.

Can anyone tell me, all personal interpretation or doctrinal extrapolation aside, is there any clear, unambiguous, direct statement in Scripture that tells whether or not animals/pets can go to heaven?

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I hope you don't mind, but I edited this for you so it could be re-opened. The title of your question didn't match the body - "Do they go?" is a different question than "Is there a clear statement in the Bible?". The title was both on-topic for the site, and not a duplicate of that other question, so I just changed the body a bit to match the title. –  David Stratton Jul 3 at 11:12
    
By the way, welcome to the site! When you get a chance, please see the help page and How we are different than other sites?. –  David Stratton Jul 3 at 11:18
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There will be sheep (Rev 5:6) but not dogs (Rev 22:15). –  Jas 3.1 Jul 5 at 3:09
    
Just a thought: God didn't start anew (which may have been easier), but maintained the lineage of the animal kingdom (from creation) by asking Noah to build the ark to house the animal kingdom. Most probably they (God and animal kingdom) have a separate relationship (see Rev 5:13) which we cannot fathom?? –  ties asvWil Jul 5 at 15:55
    
Your question title is a bit off, since you are looking in the Bible, not "ANYWHERE". –  Paul Draper Jul 22 at 7:16

8 Answers 8

"...is there any clear, unambiguous, direct statement in Scripture that tells whether or not animals/pets can go to heaven?"

No. The topic isn't addressed in scripture anywhere.

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Very concise and correct response to a yes-or-no question. –  Steve Jul 3 at 12:01
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I almost posted this word for word last night. –  Affable Geek Jul 3 at 13:27
    
I was super tempted to just say "No....." and then add enough dots to meet the 30 char minimum. Self control. –  LCIII Jul 3 at 13:31
    
This, and @Narnian's answers (and affable's too) are the only answers that actually answer the question. ALL the rest of them go off on whether animals do go to heaven. Good job sticking to answering the actual question. –  David Stratton Jul 5 at 21:45

No, there is no definitive statement in the Bible on this matter. It should be noted, however, that God asserts that both the current heaven and the current earth will pass away.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 NASB

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10 NASB

Not to worry, though, there will be both a new heaven and a new earth.

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 NASB

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1 NASB

The Bible does speak of a time when "the lion will lay down with the lamb." Depending on one's eschatology, this may occur in the millennial reign on this earth or on the new earth.

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. 7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. Isaiah 11:6-8 NASB

The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord. Isaiah 65:25 NASB

So, it seems there will be a time when all animals will live as herbivores with no more death. This could be in the current earth in the millennial kingdom or perhaps on the new earth. I'm not sure this is a possibility for heaven itself, but a new earth will be a part of the afterlife apparently.

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I might add, though, that although I love my parents' dog very much, he is extremely selfish, so there is little chance he would ever go to heaven. –  Narnian Jul 3 at 14:17
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Isn't that works-based theology? I've seen All Dogs Go To Heaven! Clearly, you're talking heresy! :) –  Affable Geek Jul 3 at 15:18
    
@AffableGeek What I am suggesting is that the dog shows no signs of regeneration whatsoever. The old has not passed away, and the new has certainly not come. :) –  Narnian Jul 3 at 15:58

As LCIII has noted, the answer to your question is "No, there is no clear, unambiguous, direct statement" to the question.

So, how can anyone say that definitively? There are easily accessed tools that you can use. This post goes over a few that would probably be useful.

1. A Concordance

The first tool that just about any pastor is going to use to answer a question such as this is a concordance. A concordance is nothing more than an index of words in Scripture, arranged in dictionary form. The best concordance, of course, is the one in our heads. The next best one is one in a book. The classic work here is Strong's Concordance, which originally indexed the KJV bible. Other editions look at the Greek and Hebrew words underneath, or use other tricks to better index the words. Using google, by the way, is another easy way to find verses you sort of know, but don't know where they are. Searching for 'pets' you will find nothing. Searching for 'dogs,' you will find that it is usually an insult to a person, not anything about the animal. (Clearly, the writers misguided cat-o-philes, I suppose. ) Regardless, the point is that if you look up any of the words you might think are useful, you just won't find anything.

One word of warning: It is tempting to think a concordance can answer everything. It can't. And, references always need to be read in context. But, it is a good place to start.

2. A Topical Dictionary of the Bible

Sometimes, a word might not appear in Scripture, but an idea does. The word 'Trinity' for example, appears nowhere in Scripture - BUT the idea certainly permeates the whole. For concepts, a topical dictionary like Nave's or one of these are useful.

In these dictionaries, key words will be explored, and centuries of Christian knowledge will be summarized, as a useful starting point for where you are heading. Again, you need to read what they write in context, but it will show you where to focus your study.

Nave's lists Pestilence (hey some people keep spiders as pets!), Peter, and Pethiah - so, yeah, maybe not.

3. A Systematic Theology

Finally, for larger topics, one should consult a systematic theology. Several (if not most!) theologians will write books that seek to put a propositional order to everything in Scripture. Typically, this means they will start with questions like "The Nature of God," "The Nature of Man," "The Nature of the Bible," etc... If you know what transubstation or predestination ante praevisa merita is, you jump straight there and learn a lot - but more likely, you need to be exposed to the terms and directed as to why these things are important. That's what a systematic theology would do for you.

In this case, looking at the nature of the soul, the curse of the law, and the need for redemption only when there is transgression, one could begin to formulate questions around whether or not animals have souls, whether or not the "image of God" is a necessity for heaven, and the like. But that takes work!

And, that ultimately, is where all of the tools need to be placed in perspective. Each of these tools is a map to a microscope. If you don't have an overall picture, these tools won't provide a lot of light. But, with regular reading, the overall map takes shape and you will be able to find these answers.

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This is really great content, but it looks like it belongs to another question - perhaps it could be appended to a broader question title that will help people to see it for more general enquiries of this nature? –  bruised reed Jul 3 at 14:06
    
eg. this one: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/30541/… - feel free to suggest an edit if appropriate, or if not judged to be useful as is, I can just delete. –  bruised reed Jul 3 at 14:13
    
I will move this when not on a phone. –  Affable Geek Jul 4 at 13:32

The answer to your question (assuming there is one) needs to be approached indirectly.

A key question to ask might be,

"Does the Bible indicate that animals possess a soul or spirit?"

There are some indications in Scripture they do.

  • Genesis 1:30 - "'And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.' It was so."

  • Leviticus 24:18 - "One who beats an animal to death must make restitution for it, life for life."

  • Eccelsiastes 3:19 - "For the fate of humans and the fate of animals are the same: As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath. There is no advantage for humans over animals, for both are fleeting."

  • Jonah 4:11 - "'Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?'"

It is obvious that human beings and animals have at least a few things in common:

I. The same Creator created them both.

II. The same breath of God which animates creatures created in God's image is the same breath which animates the animals.

III. While animals do not have the same value in God's estimation as the human beings whom He loves, God still has compassion on animals (see Jonah 4:11, above). Jesus said,

"'Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?'" (Matthew 6:26 NASB Updated).

IV. After the fall of our first parents, the animal kingdom felt the repercussions of that fall in physical death. For that matter, Paul tells us, all of creation

"was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subject it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans 8:20-21 NASB Updated).

Neither the death of human beings nor the death of animals was part of God's plan from beginning. If it weren't for sin, humans and animals would have lived forever. Because of sin,

"we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now" (ibid., v.22).

The good news, however, is that a day of freedom is coming, and nothing can stop it. When it finally comes, we human beings will experience the redemption of our bodies (ibid., v.23). Animals, too, will experience liberation from death. As Narnian above has already observed, Isaiah predicted a day when animals would no longer be either prey or predator, but would live at peace with one another and with the human race as well (see Isaiah 11:6-8 NASB, and Isaiah 65:25 NASB).

Years ago, I heard a famous preacher admit openly that on more than one occasion he wondered if there was going to be golf in heaven. Somehow he just couldn't picture life in heaven without his favorite game on earth! The answer which came to him was simply this (and I paraphrase): Why do you think that just because you'll be in heaven, God would of necessity put the kibosh on your having a good time doing something you enjoyed intensely while on earth? Why wouldn't God want you to enjoy yourself in that way?

Where did we get the notion that all we'll do in heaven is "attend church and play our harps of gold"? Certainly not from the Bible. What did Paul say in 1 Corinthians chapter 2?

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (vv.9-10 KJV).

If with the help of the Holy Spirit we look deep within our spirits and exercise our sanctified imaginations, we'll begin to realize God has no intention of depriving us of anything in heaven. Will there be times of praise in heaven? Yes. In addition to a few harps in heaven's orchestra, there will also be more than a few trumpets, guitars, violins, doublebasses, flutes, clarinets, tympani, cymbals, organs, and maybe even a didgeridoo! God is a God of variety and creativity. There will probably be instruments in heaven we have never even heard of, let alone know how to play! But we'll learn.

ALL THIS TO SAY: If a pet animal was very dear to you on earth, what makes you think you will never again see little Rover or little Miss Kitty? Let's not put limitations on God just because there isn't a verse in the Bible somewhere which says explicitly and unambiguously, "All pets go to heaven."

Now the argument could be made that on this side of heaven, what we deem to be so special and impossible to live without, God will replace in heaven with something much, much better, inconceivably better, even. Just because the argument can be made, however, does not make something either true or false.

I'm sure God is not the least bit offended by the sentiment expressed by Hank Williams, Jr., in one of his songs, though Williams's theology does need a little fine-tuning:

"If heaven ain't a lot like Dixie, then I don't wanna go."

In conclusion, can we say with biblical certainty that animals, like humans, have an immortal soul or spirit? I don't know. According to Dr. J.P. Moreland, a scientist, philosopher, and theologian, they may not.

"[Animals] are not simply machines. They have consciousness and points of view. But the animal soul is much simpler than the human soul. For example, the human soul is capable of free moral action, but I think the animal soul is determined. Also, Augustine said animals have thoughts, but they don't think about their thinking. And while we have beliefs about our beliefs, animals don't. . . . The human soul is vastly more complicated because it's made in the image of God. So we have self-reflection and self-thinking. And while the human soul survives the death of its body, I don't think the animal soul outlives its body. I could be wrong, but I think the animal soul ceases to exist at death" (see Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004, pp.262, 263).

Personally, I think Dr. Moreland is wrong. From my perspective, at least at present, there is no particular reason why the soul of a human being can exist forever, but the soul of an animal cannot. Soul is soul, and if a human being's identity derives from something invisible which is inherently more than just the product of brain chemistry, why must an animal's identity stop at the brain, no matter the size?

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Im going to start off with some scripture and then say what I think. There is no clear answer but some thinking might help us out here.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16 ESV

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:8-9

So from these two verses we must believe to be saved you have to believe in God therefore do you think animals, besides humans, can believe in God?

I think animals, besides humans cannot believe in God, no matter how much I might want them too.

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Not bad for a first post. For your reference: Guidelines for writing effective answers and What is a well-sourced, dispassionate answer? I hope to see you post again soon. –  fredsbend Jul 4 at 15:12
    
Thanks, I am a christian programmer so I constantly use stack overflow and I saw that there was a Christianity stack exchange and decided I would use it too –  user3502019 Jul 4 at 16:01

The most relevant scriptures are Ecclesiastes 3:21 and 12:7

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? (Eccl 3:21 KJV)

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl 12:7 KJV)

From the translation found in the KJV it has traditionally been interpreted that the spirit of an animal (i.e. "beast" in the KJV) ceases to exist upon death whereas the spirit of man goes "up" and returns to God.

But obviously more modern translations diverge heavily in their interpretations of 3:21. For example, the NRSV and NIV:

Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? (Eccl 3:21 NRSV)

Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth? (Eccl 3:21 NIV)

The addition of that one word "whether" or "if" changes the meaning entirely! In the KJV its a certain statement that the spirit of animals goes "down" and the spirit of man "up," but in the NRSV/NIV its a statement of uncertainty. Which means a followup question on Biblical Hermeneutics about the proper translation of 3:21 may be in order.

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The Teacher contemplates this question in Ecclesiastes 3:

Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 (NASB)

I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

It seems that a Scriptural response to the question "Do animals go to Heaven?" is "who knows?"

The animals mentioned in apocalyptic writing in other answers (cf. Isaiah 11:6 and these commentaries) are often interpreted as symbols of violence or force, or the passage itself is interpreted as poetic in nature. Also, we should be clear about the distinction between the qualities of a Messianic era on Earth and those of "Heaven."

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I didn't downvote this, but in trying to figure out why someone did, I think the answer is it ignores the translation history of this verse, which shows this verse can provide either answer, depending on the translation being used. –  david brainerd Jul 6 at 0:09
    
@davidbrainerd Well, then we should take a big step back and look at the original text in the original language. –  Andrew Jul 6 at 2:44

Animals Do have a soul. For the Soul is the Breath of God.

In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:10 NKJV)

The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22 NKJV)

It is what you believe

If you believe that your dog will be their, then you will tell your dog to come to life and it will come, All you need to do is get passed the arguments from the unbeliever. For those that can stand from the rejection to the request, are humble enough to receive.

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:14 NKJV)

The error most people run into is that they do not understand what it means to be in his name. So you end up with people saying "In Jesus name give me a million dollars!" Then when nothing happens they give up on the faith. Truly I tell you that millions of dollars have moved by the power of the word. Yet for the purpose of this question. If your animal is alive, then rejoice for it is currently in heaven. And if it is dead, and you have repented and you know how to pray, then rejoice for your animal will be returned to you.

So yes they "Can". But all Authority is given to the "Word", so if the word does not say so. It will not happen. So the real question is, will the word say it through you? And will you ever really learn what faith means? Because if you base your faith on a cross, you do not understand faith. For if Faith came from a cross, why did the Centurion have such great faith? Think about it.

Yet if you want access to the life, and the power to bring back your dog. I will give you a hint. Learn more about the stages of grief. For true faith is the opposite of denial. And Acceptance is the answer to the knowledge of function and dysfunction.

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The last three paragraphs are preachy. We don't do that here. You should know this by now. Please see What this site is about and How this site is different and This is not a Christian site. This is a site about Christianity. –  fredsbend Jul 3 at 22:44
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This doesn't answer the question, which is asking for a clear and unambiguous statement, not your interpretation and extrapolation, even if your logic is sound. –  David Stratton Jul 3 at 23:01
    
@DavidStratton The clear and unambiguous statement is "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:14 NKJV) This answers the question of "Can". –  Only he is good. Jul 3 at 23:06

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