Here is some real theological debate

See attached for some serious theological debate.
dogs-to-heaven-jpegs

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About Kleiner

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

6 thoughts on “Here is some real theological debate

  1. Kleiner Post author

    Let’s evaluate each claim:

    Catholic: ‘All dogs go to heaven.’
    Presby: ‘Only humans go to heaven; read the Bible.’

    This is a matter of some debate. For clarification, I take it when one says that ‘dogs go to heaven’ they mean ‘this dog, Fido, will go to heaven.’ In other words, the claim here is not necessarily whether there are dogs in heaven, but whether I will see my pet dog in heaven (continuation of identity persisting through death and to the resurrection).
    Whether Abby (the name of my chocolate lab) will go to heaven is a matter of some debate.
    Aquinas – Dogs (and all ‘beasts’) do not have subsistent souls since they are not rational. A dog’s soul has vegetative, sensitive, appetitive, and locomotive powers, but each of those powers depends on the body for its action. Only the rational power of the soul has a per se operation apart from the body. As such, only rational souls are immortal.

    CS Lewis – Lewis is as orthodox as they come, but he is very sensitive to the question of animals. There is a whole chapter on animal suffering in his Problem of Pain, and he gives serious consideration to the idea that animals might be in heaven. Since, at the general resurrection, there will be a ‘new creation’, that implies that there will be animals. But what about Abby, my pet? Here Lewis treads on thinner ice – since animals get their meaning in relation to man (Gen 1:28 and 2:19), the abundance of life would flow from God to man to man’s beasts. If the latter is so, God would need to hold the dogs identity in place absent the body that individuates it.

    Catholic: ‘God loves all his creations, dogs included.’
    There is plenty of Scriptural evidence that God loves ‘the whole world’ and wants the ‘whole world to be saved and born anew’. Still, we would need to return to the previous questions. Are animals properly the objects of love? Can you only love persons?

    Presby: ‘Dogs don’t have souls. This is not open for debate.’
    This looks false. Dogs have souls (latin is ‘anima’ – that which animates). Broccoli has a ‘soul’ in this sense. The question is, do dogs have immortal souls?

    Catholic: ‘Catholic dogs go to heaven. Presbyterian dogs can talk to their pastor.’
    The first part is up for debate. I would hate to be the Presby pastor who has to break his bad news to his dog.

    Presby: ‘Converting to Catholicism does not magically grant your dog a soul.’
    Again, your dog does not need to get a soul through ‘magic’, it has one because it is a naturally living thing. The question is whether its soul is immortal.

    Catholic: ‘Free dog souls with conversion.’
    Now this is starting to get silly. Conversion is possible only for free creatures, dogs are not free, so dogs cannot be converted. That said, this does not entail that dogs won’t be swept up in the salvific story.

    Presby: ‘Dogs are animals. There aren’t any rocks in heaven.’
    Catholic: ‘All rocks go to heaven.’
    Yes, dogs are animals. Good thing we have the Presby pastor to clear that up.

    Why think there are no rocks in heaven? The assertion actually suggests a secret Gnosticism that Christians should reject. Various early Church heresies rejected the material world, and thought of heaven as a city of souls. But this forgets the (a) dignity of the body and (b) the goodness of creation and (c) the resurrection of the body. Why wouldn’t there be rocks in heaven, if there are bodies and a ‘new earth’?
    Of course, rocks don’t have souls at all (are inanimate), and so there is really no reason to think that this rock will be in heaven. So, depending on what the Catholic means here, they may or may not be in error (in error if they have in mind continuation).

    The lesson from all this? —
    Love God, pray for men, ask for guidance about dogs and care for them since you might have them forever, and don’t get too attached to your pet rock.

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  2. Jon Adams

    The First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund):

    He made the tadpole and the ape, the lion and the elephant but He did not make them in His own image, nor endow them with Godlike reason and intelligence. Nevertheless, the whole animal creation will be perfected and perpetuated in the Hereafter, each class in its ‘distinct order or sphere,’ and will enjoy ‘eternal felicity.’ That fact has been made plain in this dispensation (D&C 77:3). – Church First Presidency Message, Christmas greetings, Dec. 18, 1909

    Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith:

    Animals do have spirits and that through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection, to enjoy the blessing of immortal life. – “Answers to Gospel Questions” Volume 2, Page 48

    There may even be room for the Christian to believe in the immortality of animals, given certain readings of 1 Cor. 15:22: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

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  3. Adam

    I love these billboards! They are truly comical. I wonder if the Priests of each congregation are good friends, and this is how they liven up their lives and all those around them. Goodness gracious, the many, many, many interpretations of the Bible!

    It seems a big part of most people to live according to some sort of truth. It also seems very prevalent in most people I have met (including myself)to try and hang onto ‘truth,’ and be ‘right.’ I guess the reasons for this is because ‘if I am wrong, then I have to change all of my life.’ And – ‘I have believed this for so long, and done so much work on behalf of believing this ‘truth’ – how could I be wrong?!’ And I think that this is truly frightening for most all people to admit these things, for the ‘truth’ has been such a big part of their life (including myself). I still wonder, though, why it isn’t a more widespread part of society to search for truth. Why is it we desire to fight instead of reason, hate instead of love, why is it so hard to admit “I am wrong!”
    In my life, the times I have grown the most is when I realized I was wrong – for then I realized there was something I needed to learn.
    Anyway, with regards to these billboards, who knows if it is just a comical ‘town thing,’ or if it is a serious conflict. Nevertheless, wars have been fought over the meaning=>understanding=>application of words on a page, and I suppose this will continue to be the case. My question is…why can we not agree? (boy, I haven’t heard THAT question before!! haha)

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