I’ll probably take a lot of flack for this post, but I really don’t care. For years I’ve quietly disagreed with the leaders of mainstream Christian denominations who tell us animals will not live beyond this life because they don’t have a soul in the sense that a human does. The truth is, that’s all opinion and speculation. The Bible does not specifically address this issue, and for good reason. The Bible is God’s message of redemption for mankind, not animal kind. So its pages only hint at his intention toward animals. Therefore, my opinion on this matter is as valid as theirs. And from what I understand of scripture, my opinion makes a lot more sense.
Now I totally agree that humans and animals are different. God made man in his image and gave him a special ability to commune with him. Man holds the highest place in all creation. Yet God made animals, too, and he called them “very good.” They pleased him. And they had purpose: he made them for the companionship of man and for his own glory. God also demonstrates his concern for animals throughout scripture by providing the ark and by ordaining laws for their humane care. He provides for the wild ones. He sees them when they fall. It’s clear God loves them as part of his creation. And as you’ll see, they were meant to be an eternal part of that eternal creation.
God made three distinct groups of living creatures: angels, man, and animals. All three he created immortal. In the beginning, there was no death. Angels had a choice to follow God or not. Some did. Some didn’t. They do not taste death. Some will live forever with God; others live forever in torment, according to their choices. God made no way to redeem angels.
Man was also given the choice to love or reject God. One man’s choice doomed all mankind to death (though it is true we each reject him individually). Man also doomed all creation with himself. God provided a way of redemption for mankind which we can choose or reject. He also promised to renew all creation.
God also created animals with the intention that they would live forever. But when mankind fell, animals were doomed to death as well. They were innocent victims of man’s sin. Their innocence is accentuated by the fact that it was their blood that was shed for the remission of sin until the innocent Son of God, whom animals pictured, shed his blood once and for all. Animals did not reject God and therefore have no need of redemption. God promised to renew all creation, of which animals are a part.
Christian leaders tell us animals don’t have souls. It is true they don’t commune with God in the way mankind does. But to say they just end seems a stretch to me. Animals were created with the same unique life that men and angels share. They have emotion, spirit, personality. They love, they feel, they think, they suffer. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the unique life of men and animals. They’re animate. They live just as man does, unlike rocks, trees, or stars. In the beginning that life was intended to continue indefinitely, even though they couldn’t commune with God as man could. Why would that difference exclude them now? Why would their spirit not continue as it was meant to? How could it not, if their life was created as an eternal essence? How could the unique life God gave them just uncreate?
Also, we know there are animals in heaven. The lion and the ox, the wolf and the lamb, the white horse. I’ve been told those can’t be the same animals created on earth. Why not? If God created angels to live forever, and they do, and if God created humans to live forever, and they do, and if God created animals to live forever, and obviously they do too, why would God create new ones for heaven and uncreate the originals? That’s just not in keeping with what I understand about God’s plan for his creation or his plan for other eternal lives. Even wicked men and angels continue. Why would God not renew the original animals when all creation is renewed?
Let me emphasize one more time that man is more precious to God than animals. God strongly desires that men turn to him. That is why he gave us the Bible. That’s why he sent his Son. Man is the epitome of his creation. Animals are subservient to man. God eventually gave man permission to kill animals, to eat them, to sacrifice them. Animals turned fearful, turned predator. We are all fallen together. Yet animals are one of only three classes of creatures that God gave spirit, that he gave life. Nowhere in scripture do I see that God revoked this original intention. Everywhere I see that the original will be restored. Animals were a part of God’s eternal plan for creation in the beginning, they still are, and they will continue to be beyond the borders of this present, fallen age. Animals were created to live.