Author Archives: Matt Douglass

Matt Douglass ~ Baptism and the Missing Mind: My Baby

Philosopher of religion Dr. Matt Douglass and his wife, physics professor Dr. Angela Douglass recently had their second child. Shortly after their gender-confirming ultrasound they discovered their new baby was at high risk in the womb and, if surviving to birth, would be born with severe brain deformation, likely resulting from a very rare disease, Walker-Warburg Syndrome. The Douglasses learned that, “she may have some awareness, possibly emotions and pain and sensations. However, language development and abstract thought seem unlikely.” They decided to name their little girl Joy.

Joy was born in May. She experiences seizures but she is stable. Her cognitive disability means that it is likely she is unable to recognize pain. Joy’s life expectancy is two to three years. Dr. Matt Douglass wrote his PhD dissertation on theodicy – the problem of suffering.


We were worried that Joy would never be able to travel long distances, but after assurances from the doctors, we drove to Kansas for a week, which started with a wedding, ended with a baptism, and had some good and bad times in between.

Our oldest daughter Amelia was dedicated at our church in Arkadelphia.  We had considered whether to baptize her, but ultimately we decided not to. I know the basic arguments from the various traditions, but I still don’t have a settled opinion on the issue. The Nazarenes will dedicate or baptize infants, depending on the family’s wishes, but the Nazarene culture seems to have a preference for believer’s baptism.  But that’s not an option for Joy.

We could have dedicated Joy, as we dedicated Amelia two years ago, but the idea seemed…not pointless, exactly, but anemic.  Typically at a dedication the parents promise to raise the child in the church so that, eventually, she can adopt the faith for herself.  The church, in turn, promises to show love to the child and help incorporate her into the body of Christ.

But such things apply to Joy, if at all, in a far diminished way.

I sing the Lord’s Prayer to her, but she’ll never learn to pray.  We’ll bring her to church, but she’ll never learn the basics of the faith.  We’ll take care of her physically, but to what extent can we really meet her spiritual needs?

Baptism symbolizes the new creation that comes with salvation.  It also represents our eventual death, burial, and bodily resurrection.  More than this, though, we (Angela and I) believe that baptism is a sacrament, a true means of grace, not merely a symbolic ritual.

And, this side of heaven, it is the only sacrament Joy can participate in.  (I suppose there won’t be any baptisms or marriages in heaven, but perhaps communion?  I hope so.)

Fortunately, my dad got his district license from the Church of the Nazarene in July, which gave him the proper authority to baptize Joy for us.  Our church manual includes a ritual for the baptism of infants, which my dad amended for the occasion.  Here is part of it:

[To the congregation]:

Dearly Beloved: The sacrament of baptism is the sign and seal of the new covenant of grace.

While we do not hold that baptism imparts the regenerating grace of God, we do believe that Christian baptism signifies for this young child God’s acceptance within the community of Christian faith on the basis of prevenient grace.

At this time we are unsure to what extent Joy will be able to have a personal knowledge of faith in Jesus Christ. We are convinced though that she is able to sense and absorb the Christ like love that surrounds her.

[To the parents]:

In presenting this child for baptism you are hereby witnessing to your own personal Christian faith and to your purpose to continue to extend to her Christ like love and affection. To this end it is your duty to take her as often as feasible to the sanctuary where she may sense the presence of God and of godly fellowship. To share with her often the assurance of God’s love for her and as much as in you lies, to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Will you endeavor to do so by the help of God? If so, answer, “I will.”

[To Joy]:

Joy Ana Douglass, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It was a solemn and emotional occasion.



Follow the Douglass family at 

Matt Douglass ~ The End Is the Beginning, but Better: A Biblical Argument for Animal Resurrection

In a previous post, I argued that if God is perfectly loving, then at least some animals would be resurrected in heaven—namely, those creatures whose life-ruining suffering was never redeemed during their earthly lives.  Here, I will give a Scriptural argument for animal resurrection, focusing on the beginning and end of the grand biblical narrative, specifically the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2, the flood narrative of Genesis 6-9, and the promise of final restoration and renewal as described in Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22. In a nutshell, the argument goes like this:  Animals are featured prominently in Genesis 1-9.  They are, therefore, a significant part of God’s plan for creation.  And, according to Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22, God plans to restore and renew all things, presumably animals as well.  Thus, just as humans can hope for the redemption of their bodies through resurrection, there is good reason to hope that animals will be resurrected as well.

Creation and Re-creation:  Genesis 1-9 The Bible begins with a hymn in which God establishes a kingdom[1]:  God commands all things into existences, bestows names and titles, draws boundaries and establishes domains, and assigns various functions to created things.  Humans occupy the top of this earthly hierarchy.  They are created in God’s image and are given dominion over the earth and over all living things.  Yet animals are important as well.  Along with humans, they are blessed and commanded to “be fruitful and multiply” and to fill creation.

The world of Genesis 1 is orderly and peaceful.  Originally, there was no struggle for survival, no competition among species, and apparently no predation: “And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food” (Genesis 1:30). Animals are also prominent in Genesis 2:4-25, where, like Adam, they are created from the dust as potential helpers for him.  Adam gives names to each of the animals and rules over them, though the Bible repeats that Adam is not given their flesh to eat, but is instead limited to the fruits of the garden (Gen. 2:15-17). After just two chapters of peace and harmony, the biblical narrative takes a sharp dive in Genesis 3.  Adam and Eve, who were supposed to care for Eden and all creatures in it, instead are disobedient and submit the whole world to a curse.   Things get progressively worse until, by the time of Noah, the world is so corrupted that God regrets ever creating humanity. On the surface, the flood story illustrates God’s mercy toward Noah’s family and (a select group of) the animal kingdom in the midst of divine judgment.

But reading carefully, we see that Genesis 6-9 both reflects back on creation and foreshadows the new heavens and new earth. Notice, for instance, how the flood narrative imitates the style of Genesis 1 and draws a clear contrast between them.  Originally, everything in creation is as it should be—the refrain “and God saw that it was good” is repeated seven times in Genesis 1 (on the seventh time, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”)  Compare that to the beginning of the flood story: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5)  Again, Genesis 6:11-12 says, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.” The deluge, furthermore, represents a reversal of God’s creative activities.  On the second and third days of creation, God separates the waters, holding them back with the dome of the sky and with dry ground.  But once Noah is safe in the ark, God allows the waters to return, and “on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” (Gen. 7:11) Next, God creates all over again.  The waters recede, once again leaving the sky and dry ground.  God brings forth living creatures from the ark to creep across the ground and fly through the air.  And just like the first time, God blesses humans, commanding them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” and gives Noah’s family dominion over all creatures.

Finally, God establishes a new covenant with Noah, his future descendants, “and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark,” promising never to curse the ground because of humanity and never to destroy the world again by flood. (Gen. 8:20-22; 9:8-17) In effect, when Noah leaves the ark, he’s entering a new heaven and a new earth—a world that is like Eden, but diminished:   Whereas Adam and Eve were innocent and unashamed of their nakedness, Noah’s family is still stained by sin, and Noah’s nakedness is now a cause for shame.  And while there was originally peace among the animals, the violence that infected the animal kingdom after Adam and Eve’s sin—competition, predation, and so on—is still present.  Moreover, Noah is allowed to eat meat, and the fear of humanity now afflicts all of the animals.

At the same time, however, while the great deluge is a means of destruction and re-creation, notice that it is not a complete destruction, nor a complete re-creation.  God could have utterly annihilated the old creation and spoken an entirely new world into existence.  But instead, God chose to fashion his new earth from the remains of the old one. This point is significant because several prophecies use the flood as a foretaste of God’s ultimate plan for the world.  In Hosea, for example, God’s promise to restore peace to Israel echoes the covenant established with Noah: “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground.  Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.”[2]  Meanwhile, Peter predicts that just as “the world of that time was deluged with water and perished…the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire,” which will set the heavens ablaze and melt the elements (2 Peter 3:6-7, 3:10-12). “But,” he continues, “in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (2 Peter 3:13).

Consummation: Romans 8 and Revelation 21-22 According to Scripture, then, the post-deluge world is like Eden, but diminished; in contrast, the new heavens and new earth will be like Eden, but elevated.  Paul’s letter to the Romans paints this picture beautifully:

 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)

This passage continues a line of reasoning begun in Romans 5, where Paul says that “we boast in our sufferings” because they produce endurance, character, and hope (5:2-4).  The cause for this hope, he continues, is Christ, through whom the righteous have been justified, reconciled to God, and freed from sin.  Whereas Adam’s sin introduced death into the world and enslaved humanity to sin, Christ’s death and resurrection bring life, freedom, and ultimately adoption into God’s family.  In the passage quoted above, Paul ties together these themes and extends them to the created world: We should have hope and wait patiently for the redemption of our bodies because all of creation waits in eager anticipation, both for its own redemption and for God’s children to be revealed.[3]  In other words, since God’s plan from the beginning has been to redeem creation (“creation was subjected to futility…in hope that [it] will be set free”), we can be sure that God will bring this plan to completion.

Similarly, in Revelation God is the Alpha and Omega, the creator of the universe and its perfecter.  The consummation of all things is described in Revelation 21: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:1-5a)

Like Romans 8, Revelation brings us back to Genesis.  John’s description of the new heaven and new earth draws from the prophecy of Isaiah, in which God promises to end the futility and misery of the present world, bring joy to his people and dwell with them, and establish peace, even among the animals.[4]  Revelation 22 makes an explicit connection to Genesis 2: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2) While a single tree of life grew in Eden, the new Jerusalem has several trees of life lining its central river.

The clear implication is that the holy city will be like Eden, but much better.[5] Noting how Revelation 22 merges the temple imagery of Ezekiel 47 with the garden imagery of Genesis 2-3, G. K. Beale argues that the new Jerusalem is a “paradisal city-temple” that encompasses the whole earth.  According to Beale, the Jewish temple was a microcosmic model of creation, and “the Garden of Eden was the archetypal temple in which the first man worshipped God.”[6]  So Adam was the first priest of God’s temple, and his task was to subdue the earth and extend the boundaries of Eden until it covered the whole earth.  Beale continues, This meant that the presence of God, which was initially limited to Eden, was to be extended throughout the whole earth. What Adam failed to do, Revelation pictures Christ as finally having done.  The Edenic imagery beginning in Rev. 22:1 reflects an intention to show that the building of the temple, which began in Genesis 2, will be completed in Christ and his people and will encompass the whole new creation.[7] Full Circle From the above texts, we can take three important points:

  1. When Scripture talks about the end times, it often alludes to the creation and fall stories of Genesis 1-3.

An underlying message in these passages is that the end will be like the beginning, but even better. For example, in his epistle to the Romans, Paul argues that because of Adam’s sin, all of creation is in bondage to death and decay.  In Romans 8, he gives us reason to hope:  Freedom from sin and suffering comes through Christ, not just for humanity, but for all of creation.  What Adam has bound, Christ will set free. Similarly, in John’s apocalypse (which draws heavily from the Edenic prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel), the new heavens and new earth is a cosmic do-over: where Adam failed in the beginning, Christ will succeed in the end.

  1. Other end-time prophecies use the flood narrative as a foretaste of God’s ultimate plan for the world.

For example, recall the prophecy of Hosea 2:18, which echoes God’s covenant with Noah and the beasts, as well as 2 Peter’s prediction that the new heavens and earth will be born, not from the destructive waters of a flood, but from an all-consuming and transforming fire.  In other words, while the post-deluge world is like Eden, but diminished, the new heaven and earth to come will be like Eden, but exceedingly greater.

  1. Animals are an essential part of the creation and flood stories.

From Genesis 1-9 we learn about God’s power and authority and goodness, about humanity’s relationship with God and our place in the hierarchy of creation, and about humanity’s relationship with other living things. According to Genesis 1-9, animals are not an afterthought; they are not simply an embellishment of an already beautiful creation.  Rather, animals integral to God’s original plan for creation.  Indeed, they are so important that God delivers some of the animals through the flood so that he can use them to repopulate the new world.  It stands to reason, then, that God will use the same animals from this world to populate the next. To this point, I have given two arguments for animal resurrection, one philosophical and one biblical.  Perhaps neither one, by itself, is totally convincing, but when taken together, they begin to make a strong case.  In a later post (or two), I will add two more arguments, one that focuses on the relationship between humans and animals and one based on the scope and effectiveness of Christ’s atonement and resurrection.

[1] Sandra Richter explores these themes in a pair of excellent videos, “Reading Genesis 1 in Context.” (Part I and Part II)

[2] Hosea 2:18.  The New Testament authors, and subsequent Christian theologians, typically interpreted Old Testament eschatological prophecies as being inaugurated with Christ and brought to completion in the end times.   Accordingly, it is common to interpret such prophecies about “Israel” as including the church and all of the righteous.

[3] There is some question about exactly what “the whole creation” refers to.  Wesley’s translation of 8:19-22 says “the creature,” which he interprets as “every creature” and “the meaner creatures”—that is, to non-human animals (see “The General Deliverance”, II.2).  The NRSV, however, reads “the whole creation,” which I interpret as referring to all of material creation, living and non-living.  Either way, Paul’s hope extends at least to the animals, for in this passage Paul seems to have Genesis 2-3 in mind, which describes the animals as an important part of creation.

[4]“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress…The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust!” (Isaiah 65:17-19, 25).  Notice the reference to the serpent’s deceit in Eden, suggesting that the new Jerusalem will reverse the effects of Adam’s sin.

[5] For more on this, see Mitchell Glenn Reddish, Revelation, Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary (Macon, Ga: Smyth & Helwys Pub, 2001), 421.

[6] G. K Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans ; Paternoster Press, 1999), 1110.   See also Sandra Richter’s Seven Minute Seminary video, “Genesis 2 and the Ancient Near East,” which touches on this Eden-as-cosmic-temple theme.

[7] Beale, Revelation: A Commentary, 1111.

Matt Douglass ~ Why Animals Need Heaven: God’s Love and the Problem of Animal Suffering

One of the most serious obstacles to Christian faith is the problem of suffering.  We believe that God is good and loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful.  It seems, then, that God would not want anything bad to happen in the world, and he certainly has the power to stop them from happening.  Yet bad things—unimaginably horrific things—happen every day.  Over many centuries, philosophers and theologians have attempted to solve this problem by explaining why God would choose to create a world like ours, where humans and animals frequently endure physical pain and emotional anguish.

From a moral and emotional perspective, human suffering is certainly more serious than animal suffering; however, philosophically speaking, animal suffering poses an especially serious problem.  Most of the attempts to solve the problem of evil (known as “theodicies”) focus on human suffering and give very little, if any, attention to animal pain.  In this brief discussion, I want to help remedy that oversight.  To begin, I will explain why animal suffering is a serious problem that we should be worried about.  Second, I will argue that the best (perhaps only) way to solve the problem of animal pain is to say that animals will be resurrected and will enjoy eternal happiness in heaven.

Why Animal Suffering is a Serious Problem

Let’s start with the many ways that animals suffer.  Some animals have excruciating diseases or birth defects.  Others are unable to escape natural disasters.  They are drowned by floods, starved by famine, and battered by hailstones.  Still others are badly injured in freak accidents.  Even worse, a lot of suffering appears to be built into the world, as if on purpose.  There is violent competition for limited resources; parasites consume their hosts from the inside out; prey animals live in constant fear of being eaten, while predators must kill or else starve to death.

The overall amount of animal suffering in our world is also horrific.  Just think about the many billions of sentient animals that have ever lived or will live.  Even if just one thousandth of all animals suffer terribly, that would still mean that many millions of animals will endure overwhelming pain or emotional trauma at some point in their lives.

Leaving these more general concerns aside, consider specific events.  One philosopher famously described a young fawn who is trapped in a forest fire, severely burned, and lingers in agony for days before finally dying.  Even if something good came from the fire, there is nothing good that comes from the fawn’s suffering, at least as far as we can tell.  To us, such events seem utterly pointless and entirely, unequivocally bad.  If there were a good and loving God, the argument goes, there would be no pointless suffering.  And yet things like this happen all the time.

Of course, evils like these affect humans as well, but the most common explanations for human suffering cannot be applied to animals.  They do not benefit from free will in the same way that humans do.  They do not have a sense of right and wrong and thus cannot become morally better because of their suffering.  They have no awareness of God and cannot draw close to God for comfort.

A common strategy for explaining why God allows animals to suffer is to show that they are a part of God’s plan and that our world is very good overall—better, in fact, than if God made a world without any suffering at all.  The problem with this thinking, as I mentioned before, is that these accounts fail to show how God can be loving toward every creature.  A successful theodicy, therefore, must not only vindicate God’s goodness, but his perfect love as well.  The most plausible solution, in my opinion, is that animals will be in heaven.

An Argument for Animals in Heaven

Since the debate about the problem of evil is extremely complex and nuanced, a short article like this cannot hope to address every point, counterpoint, and counter-counterpoint.  And since a detailed, formal argument for heaven would have too many caveats and qualifiers to be useful, here instead is a simplified, “business casual” argument:

1. God loves every creature completely and perfectly.

A being whose love is flawed somehow or fails to love at all would clearly be imperfect; however, God is perfect in every way.  Therefore, God loves every creature completely and perfectly.  Or, as 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 put it, God is love: Love is part of God’s essence and thus is one of God’s defining traits.  Consequently, God could no more fail to love than a square could be five-sided.

In 1 John and throughout the New Testament, God’s love is denoted by the Greek word agape.Although agape is difficult to define precisely, Christ’s earthly life gives us a perfect illustration.  Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, befriended sinners and the unclean, washed his disciples’ feet, and ultimately died for the whole world.  In each of these actions Christ was meeting the needs of those around him, even at great cost to himself.  He was genuinely concerned for the well-being of others, and desired what was best for them.  He valued them for their own sake, not because of what they could do for him or how they fit into a greater plan.

So, if God loves all creatures perfectly, and love is (in part) a concern for the well-being of others, we can conclude that

2. God genuinely cares for animals and desires what is best for them.

The Bible frequently affirms God’s love and concern for animals.  In the creation stories of Genesis 1-2, God creates animals to populate the world and commands them to be fruitful and multiply.  In Eden, Adam and Eve’s primary task is to tend the garden and care for the animals. The re-creation (flood) story of Genesis 6-9 begins with God’s anger at the violence among humans and animals but ends with a new covenant, given to Noah, his family, and to all living things.

In Exodus, the Israelites’ livestock are unaffected by the plagues and are later commanded to rest on the Sabbath.  In Numbers, an angel rebukes Balaam for abusing his donkey, remarking that if it had not been for the donkey, the angel would have killed Balaam and spared the donkey.

My favorite passage about God’s love for animals occurs at the end of the book of Jonah, when Jonah is furious about God’s mercy toward Nineveh.  God could have pointed out Jonah’s hypocrisy; a giant fish had just saved Jonah from God’s wrath and yet now Jonah is full of wrath.  Instead, God explains that he wants to have mercy on all things:  “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:10-11)

God’s love for living things implies at least two things, 3a and 3b:

3a. God will do what he can to provide a good life for every living thing.

In the present, fallen state of things, the needs of one creature often conflicts with the needs of another.  (Why God would choose to make a world like ours when he knew beforehand that it would be fallen and corrupt is an extremely difficult question, but not one that we can address here.)  As a result, God may not be able to guarantee a perfect life for every creature.  Even so, if God truly loves a creature, he will ensure that its existence is good and worthwhile for it.

3b. God will do what he can to redeem the undeserved suffering that each creature endures.

Again, God may have good reasons to allow bad things to happen, but if God is truly loving, he would do whatever he could to make it up to the victim, either by bringing some good out of the pain, or by compensating the victim somehow.

4a. Unfortunately, the earthly lives of many animals are overwhelmingly bad.

Some animals suffer in completely life-ruining ways.  If their whole existence were limited from birth to death, it would have been better for them if they had never existed.

4b. Furthermore, there are many animals whose horrific suffering is never redeemed in this life.

Recall the fawn who was burned in the forest fire.  If any good came from its suffering, the fawn did not benefit from it, and God did nothing to redeem its suffering while it was alive.

Nevertheless, despite these problems, there is good news:

5a. God can guarantee that each animal will have an extremely good existence by granting them everlasting joy in heaven. 

However much pain an animal may experience, God may grant at least as much happiness in heaven.  And since earthly suffering is temporary, it would pale in comparison to everlasting joy.  Therefore, the overall existence of an animal in heaven would be extremely good, no matter how bad its previous life was.

5b. God can also redeem suffering in heaven.

One way to redeem animal suffering is to defeat it—to incorporate it into the animal’s life story in such a way that good comes out of it.  For example, in music there are often discordant notes that sound bad on their own, but when we hear them in their full context, that discord actually contributes to the beauty of the whole song.  An animal’s suffering could be defeated in a similar way.  For instance, God could reveal to that creature how its suffering contributed something of value to the world.  Or, if an animal was the victim of cruelty, it would have a chance to be reconciled with its tormenter.  Perhaps suffering would allow the animal to more closely identify with Christ and thus allow for a more intimate relationship with Him.  Or, perhaps earthly suffering contrasts with the joy of heaven in such a way that the animal can appreciate heaven even more.

Of course, in order for suffering to be redeemed in these ways, each animal’s mind would have to be elevated so that they could know God and understand his plans for the world.  But this should not be a problem for God.

A quick caveat: 5a and 5b mention ways that God can address the problem of animal suffering; however, since God is powerful and wise, there are probably many other ways.  However, heaven is the most plausible option and the one most consistent with Scripture and Christian tradition. (Little-known fact:  Luther, Calvin, and Wesley all argued for animals in heaven on the basis of scripture. More recently, in The Problem of Pain C. S. Lewis argued for it as well.)

6. Therefore, at least some animals will be in heaven.

Namely, those creatures whose suffering has not been redeemed and whose earthly lives were overwhelmingly bad.  Based on the above argument, we cannot say much about organisms that cannot feel pain, like plants and (probably) insects.  Nor can we say much about sentient animals who enjoyed a good earthly life.  Except for this:  It would be good for those creatures to be in heaven, so God has at least some reason to give them eternal life.  And since we can think of no good reason for God not to do it, there is at least room for hope.


There are good reasons—philosophical, biblical, and theological reasons—to believe that animals will be resurrected in heaven.  In this article, I have given a brief philosophical argument based on God’s perfect love and the problem of unredeemed animal suffering.  The biblical and theological cases are even more compelling, but unfortunately they must await another time.