11 May 2007

Sentimental theology

by Dan Phillips

Forward: This is a subtle forward to a post I am fomenting for next week. (Is that a threat, or a promise? You decide!)

We must base our theology on Scripture,
not sentiment

Assuming an Evangelical readership, I take it we all "Amen" this proposition. "Your word is truth," our Lord prayed (John 17:17) — not "Each individuals' feelings about Your word are truth." The Word of God is forever fixed firmly in the heavens (Psalm 119:89). This places revealed truth above the matrix of our experience and emotion. The Word speaks into the human, subjective maelstrom, but is never merely its product (2 Peter 1:21, correctly translated and in context).

All Evangelicals affirm this, in theory. Yet it seems that, when personal situations arise, even the best theory can get trashed.

Since 1998 I have frequented a political/current-events forum called FreeRepublic. I mention it only to say this. "FR" (as FReepers affectionately call it) is a very diverse collection of political conservatives, who range from "get your hands off my money and shut up about my morals" atheists and libertarians, to Roman Catholics, to agnostics, to evangelicals of about every variety.

I've found a lot of value in the site, had many opportunities to speak of Christ, and have had a lot of heartburn. My point isn't at all to evaluate, commend or condemn it per se (and I don't want the comment thread to go off on an FR tangent). I focus on only one aspect.

Through the years I've found in FR an incredible amount of sentimental theology. (I won't link to any specifics; as you will see, it would be cruel in some cases.)

What about Rex? Least harmfully, perhaps, you see it when someone's beloved pet dies. Sympathetic and good-hearted posters overwhelmingly assure the grieving owner that Fang or Muffin is in Heaven, and they do it in the most absolute and certain terms. They speak as people who Know.

It reminds me of Dr. "James Herriot" (pen name of Dr. James Alfred Wight), the veterinarian who wrote the delightful All Creatures Great and Small books. Herriot never delivered himself of any religious opinions...except when mourning dog-lovers or cat-lovers would ask him if he thought they'd see their pets in Heaven. "I'm sure of it," he always told them.

I don't recall him ever explaining how he could be so certain.

Nor is this a question entirely of small moment. Think of it. The next life. We know absolutely nothing of it by experience, nor by normal data. We are wholly shut up to authority of some sort. Yet here, absent any authority whatever, folks feel perfectly free to pronounce on matters not even remotely in evidence.

More seriously... what about Bob? It takes a more harmful turn at FR (and elsewhere) when people die.

If someone the populace there does not like dies, he is consigned instantly to Hell. I seem to recall that a famous (and hated) figure died, years ago, and a thread was named "_____ spends his first day in Hell."

We all know that rabid anti-Christians like to paint Christians as, to a man, relishing the thought of Hell, and delighting at the notion of eternal torment for people who disagree with us.

And we all know this is utter bosh.

But I have seen writers at FR speak in unashamedly gleeful tones of the eternal torment of their enemies. That they hate them seems to be reason enough for them to be sent to Hell.

The reverse is equally true.

When a FReeper dies, or when a relative, or a "good guy" dies, he is immediately sent to Heaven, no questions (dare to be) asked. Nor is this necessarily premised on any saving faith in the Gospel of Jesus. In fact, the ruling need no premise at all. And of course it would (genuinely) be rude to ask how everyone is so sure. So nobody does.

I've seen it equally among professed Christians. A family of never-attending church members son died very sadly. Though no one who knew him could adduce any signs of Christian faith since early childhood, all were sure (beyond even broaching the question) that he was in heaven. Our Johnny? Of course he is.

Those we like go straight to Heaven. Those we don't, reverse-course.

Sentimental theology.

You're all right with me, aren't you? I sense a lot of nodding.

So let me ask you what may be a less comfortable question.

What is apostasy?

Some would define "apostasy" very narrowly, as (say) a formerly-professed believer renouncing every trace of Christian faith. Well, that certainly would be apostasy.

What of renouncing a Biblical Christology? We'd be hard-pressed to deny that this would be apostasy (cf. 1 John 2:22-23; 4:1-3, etc.).

But is that all?

Well, no, not as long as our Bibles contain Galatians 1:6-9. Paul had a point to make, and he made it very forcefully:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
He underlines it again later, in Galatians 5:4 — "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace." I would suggest that the fearful warnings in Hebrews are to very similar effect (cf. Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-31, etc.).

So apostasy would include denial of the faith, denial of Christ, denial of the Gospel of justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. Any of these would put a man or woman in the "They went out from us, but they were not of us" (1 John 2:19a) category.

Let's be yet more specific.

What if someone left a Biblical profession for Buddhism. He seemed like a Christian for months, years, decades, then poof! gone. Buddhist now. Would that be apostasy? How about if he became a Jehovah's Witness? A Mormon?

A Roman Catholic?

And what if the person who did this was a really good guy, someone we like a lot?

What would it be, then? Is it not "apostasy" anymore, if we really like him?

Does how we feel about him change the gravity of what he has done, or our responsibility?

Sentimental theology isn't just something They do, I find.

Think it over.

Dan Phillips's signature


Norman said...

Francis Beckwith I presume?

Buckley said...

tee hee! I get it!

>wink wink<

Kaffinator said...

I vote "threat".

Even So... said...

Thank you for trying to get us to focus on a real issue that will not simply go away, and one that is not best served by just letting it go and playing nice.

It just so happens that I am preaching on the doctrine of "perseverance of the saints" this Sunday, and yes, we are going to explore this question of defection.

Recent events have brought this question into bold relief for the evangelical world, and I am glad you went there. It is not about an individual, isolated incident, but the larger question, "How much is too much, how long is too long, how far is too far?"

Perhaps we may not be able to answer that question definitively per person, not our judgment to make, but we know what it looks like, and can call the scriptures to witness on this. The warning are eral, God ordains the end and the means, and some, in denying these things you bring up in the post, are living examples of 1 John 2:19. Not out from the evangelical camp itself, but out from the fold, and the question is answered by determining what the scope of that "fold" is. If we have determined the extent prior, and somenone leaves that, then the person in question, to our knowledge, is out from among us.

The real question is, for those that would still say they cling to Christ, is where they are within the pale of orthodoxy or not? Regardless of individuals or our affinity for them, THAT is the standard, based on the Word of God.

Caddiechaplain said...

You cant VOTE when there has not been a formal motion made! So then, I so move . . . .Do I hear a 2nd? Fine, all those in favor? The THREAT's have it!!!!!

DJP said...

Thanks, Even So; what a great, substantial response.

The lines certainly are not easy to draw. But some lines MUST be drawn, and they MUST NOT be re-drawn, simply because someone we really like steps over them.

DJP said...

Francis Beckwith I presume?

Does it matter?

(HINT: remember the stated point of the post)

Daryl said...


Excellent article. You've made me look at what I believe and ask some hard questions. Am I where I need to be? Do I believe correctly? Am I guarding the truth I have been given?

James White made a telling statement with regards to Mr. Beckwith, although I think it applies equally to all of us.
It was something along the lines of - If we don't value the truth, God may take it from us.-

God protect me from that.

Thank you.

Unknown said...

I'm thinking really hard right now. Thanks.

brentjthomas said...

I agree with your post, and the seriousness of the matter. Just out of curiosity, what do you actually say, Mr. Phillips, when asked about the destination of someone's beloved pet? I am not a pastor or a theological scholor, and humbly wonder if you could write something about Romans 8: 18-25, in which creation is discussed, if this should or could be discussed, in some way, with one who is genuinely grieving about a pet. (I am often hired to draw portraits of pets, living and deceased, and the subject routinely comes up). I do not want to be guilty of basing theology on sentimentality, but desire to live wholly by God's word, and in all things to commend Christ.
On a different subject, just an observation, I have recently become the owner of a beautiful cat, and have noticed that the Bible is silent, utterly, with regard to domestic cats. I might have missed a verse, of course. The scriptures often refer to dogs (usually negatively), but seem to say nothing about domestic cats, which certainly existed in the region. Why? (A question sentimental, archeological, and scriptural).

Stefan Ewing said...

It's funny, but I've been working on a similar question, but from an alternate approach: what is the absolute baseline, line-in-the-sand, nonnegotiable core of the Gospel that all Christians must affirm if they are to be by saved?

It would seem, for example, that whether one is a dispensationalist, historicist, partial preterist, pretrib millenialist, or whatever doesn't have a lot to do with whether one is a Christian or not, nor whether one considers Creation to have been 6 literal days or 6 long periods described as days (nor possibly a more liberal view of Gensis 1?). On the other hand, rejecting that God is three persons of one essence is treading into dangerous territory. Questioning the bodily resurrection of Christ would also be walking on thin ice. Doubting the existence of Hell, and so on.

If what you've cited are examples of "theology by what feels right," then I guess I'm thinking of instances of "theology by what I think is right." And it comes down to the same fundamental problem: who are we as sinful humans to dare presume to judge what's right and what's not? Who are we do decide for ourselves what God really meant in this or that passage of the Bible? That way—the way of Modernism—lies, ultimately, complete loss of faith, which is fine if one wants to see a world of atheists, but not if one wants to see a healthy, vigorous, Gospel-based Christianity.

Stefan Ewing said...

...I know from experience, because I've gone down (actually, started out on) the road of liberal theology and Biblical criticism, and ended up with a totally empty faith, and nothing to believe in. I thought the Bible was the product of mere humans with, at best, maybe the subtly guiding hand of God in the background. As a human product, I could accept what was appealing and reject what was repellant. But so much of modern liberal Christianity takes exactly this same approach, and what do they have to offer the world for it? There is no compelling Gospel there. God is not there. Behold the world of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach, where love (human, not divine) is the only verity.

So indeed, when folks practise "sentimental theology," they are partaking in an exercise that weakens the Gospel, that weakens God's Word in the world. We need to have an unpalatably uncompromising attitude to the Gospel, because anything less is not truly proclaiming the Gospel, not truly proclaiming the Word of God.

Sorry for "preaching to the converted" (literally!).

Sharon said...

From what I understand, the Scripture is clear that all of creation will be perfect during the Millenium ("lion lies down with the lamb, young child plays in the adder's den," etc.). Whether these animals include Fluffy or Fido specifically is not explained, but I tend to think not.

However, there is no mention of animals nor plant life (except the Tree of Life?) in Revelation, describing the New Heaven and New Earth. I believe we will be so caught up in glorious praise, we won't even think about what we left behind on this sin-cursed earth, whether the taste of fresh strawberries, the gentle paw of a cat, or the smell of a rosebud about to bloom.

As much as I have loved and cherished my cats over the years, I am anticipating being in the Lord's presence so much more!

P.S. BrentJThomas: Does the mention of Lions in the Bible encompass domestic cats, seeing as they are both a part of the feline community? :-)

James Scott Bell said...

Randy Alcorn's book Heaven makes a compelling case for animals -- including Fido -- on the New Earth. And not a sentimental case, either; it's bathed in Scripture. He has two chapters on this. Check it out.

He writes:

"Some may think it silly or sentimental to suppose that nature, animals, paintings, books...might be resurrected. It may appear to trivialize the coming resurrection. I would suggest that it does exactly the opposite: It elevates resurrection, emphasizing the power of Christ to radically renew mankind—and far more."

Even So... said...

Lets not let this thread go to the dogs...

DJP said...

Well, of course (and briefly), there is a difference between affirming that animals will inhabit the Millennial Kingdom on the one hand, and that your specific kitty or doggie will be resurrected to join you in eternity. I certainly do affirm the former; I see no basis for the latter.

James Scott Bell said...

No basis against it, either. In fact, the character of God, who loves to do more than we can ask or imagine, there is certainly no basis to say No way, Jose.

DJP said...

Well, there's no basis against saying we'll all be green like pickles, either, as far as I know. But that's not much of an argument for.

brentjthomas said...

I think that one can take very great comfort, each day, in Mathew 10: 29-31 and Luke 12: 6-7. Jesus affirms that sparrows (and we) are regarded by God. In Luke He says, of sparrows, "...and not one of them is forgotten by God." (ESV). Humanity is given the greater value, but it is clear that creatures are valued, too. Nothing terribly clear about resurrection in those verses, though, as Mr. Phillips has stated.
Sharon, although references to Lions are plentiful (too plentiful from Daniel's point of view, probably), I find the absence of domestic cat references interesting. Jesus constantly refers to nature, in scripture, as did David, and other prophets. I am really curious about this. I think the ancient greeks called domestic cats a name which translates to "tail-waggers".

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

"What if someone left a Biblical profession for Buddhism. He seemed like a Christian for months, years, decades, then poof! gone. Buddhist now. Would that be apostasy? How about if he became a Jehovah's Witness? A Mormon? A Roman Catholic?"

I'm not entirely sure about the last example (RCism), but in every other case church discipline should clearly be brought against the person in question. If he refuses to repent, he should be excommunicated...officially deemed apostate by the Church.

My squishiness on the RC matter may, I confess, be informed by sentimentality, but I think I have a real, biblical basis for my reluctance to automatically lump RCs with the rest of the heathens. And here's the gist of my reason: The Apostles' Creed is a good barometer of absolutes -- a summary of non-negotiable biblical doctrine. And Roman Catholics can profess it. IOW, I think it's possible to be RC and have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

I also think there's a whole lot of RC teaching that's really, really bad. But there's really not so much uniformity of belief among RCs that I would assume that any given RC believes the really, really bad stuff.

Rachael Starke said...

Another question - we have a former family member who claims faith in Christ, but has abandoned his family for another. IOW, his "faith" is orthodox, but his practice is not. Is there any way that the reverse could ever be true - that someone's "faith" is unorthodox, but their practice is? Doesn't God say that we demonstrate our faith by our works?

donsands said...

"And what if the person who did this was a really good guy, someone we like a lot?

What would it be, then? Is it not "apostasy" anymore, if we really like him?"

A good guy to us; but to God it's a different story.
Unless a heart is cleansed by His blood, it is evil to the core. Although this person may be the nicest guy in the world.

God sees it a lot different than we do.

Tom Chantry said...

This is one of the best comment threads ever! It illustrates Dan's point, and in a way that he evidently didn't foresee. No one's really arguing about apostacy, but Fluffy's eternal destiny?

You can't find any verses that prove that Fluffy isn't going to be in heaven, can you Mr. Phillips? I didn't think so!

James Scott Bell said...

What has everybody got against poor Fluffy?

Actually, I THOUGHT this thread was about sentiment v. Scripture. And it seems to me there actually strong sentiment being expressed here, but of the anti-Fluffy variety. Meaning, against a biblically based hope about animals in Heaven. (This is really all that I ever expressed. There's a basis for HOPE, not certainty, about Fluffy. OTOH, it's rank sentiment to rule out this hope completely, to say there's NOTHING to base it on)

See, I don't see anything in the Bible that says being green like a pickle is a good thing or a gift from God (even though the Israelites could have used that gift in some skirmishes.)

But I do see that animals are part of a "very good" creation and given much consideration in the OT.

So the difference between the "pickle propostion" and the hope for animals in heaven is vast. One has at least a grounded basis, but the other has no basis at all. There's nothing about our eternal color scheme in the Bible that I can see.

It's not easy being green, but it is easy believing in the goodness and graciousness of God in all things. Even toward Fluffy.

Coram Deo said...

Oooooohhhh Wheeeeee!!

I can't wait for the next installment of this series.

Nice work, djp.

DJP said...

Thanks, CD. That's one. (c;

JSB, one more time: if the issue is animals in the Millennial Kingdom, the Bible says it, and I believe it.

If the issue is the resurrection of the (fluffy little) body (of my pet), there isn't a hint of it, and I could never (hello? you did read the article, right?) affirm it as a matter of certainty that it will happen because I so want it to, anymore than I can assert that we'll all have Bob's Big Boy Burgers drop out of the sky when we get hungry. It's a silly distraction, raises unprofitable questions. (At the Resurrection of the Fluffy, will there be a judgment? On what basis? Will Good Dogs go to Heaven, and Bad Dogs go to Hell? It's just a silly path.)

A more general aside to all my Gentle Readers: stylistically, I much prefer subtlety to hamfistedness. Sometimes, however, I wonder whether I go overboard in that direction.

When you tell a joke, and then give what you think is a great punchline, but most everyone just keeps talking about "yeah, but what are a priest, a rabbi, and a minister even doing in a bar?", you wonder if you just told it wrong.

James Scott Bell said...

I agree with you, Dan. We cannot "affirm it as a matter of certainty that it will happen because I so want it to." I just say you cannot disaffirm it out of hand, either, because animals are THERE (as you say, even in the M Kingdom) giving us a BASIS. Nothing about Big Boys in the OT. Some NT passages may have it (e.g., Ro. 14:6)

And I ALWAYS read your articles, usually a couple of times, because they're so good, as this one is. Sorry for the tangent down Fluffy Lane.

Kay said...

*giggling inanely at Dan's last comment*

Well, I found this a very encouraging post because it is hard to stand up for the truth even when it offends and hurts people we respect and care about. We are all sentimental to a certain degree, and it is a huge temptation, especially in our modern culture which gets everything so cock-eyed with regards to appropriate emotion.

I mean, come on, our society gets it's knickers in a twist about the use of animals in testing, but we legally allow the murder of millions of children. It's no wonder we get squeamish about telling people we think they are wrong in a spiritually fatal way.

Jesse P. said...

Buddhist, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon...what if a someone became a charismatic? Would that be apostasy?

On a serious note, thanks for this. We need a more robust understanding of what the perseverance of the saints actually means. It does not mean that anyone who prays a prayer goes to heaven. It's easy to have that notion, especially for those who grow up in church and never tasted the "really bad" things in the world, who grow up as good people. The American church is full of "good people" who sadly are not good enough to earn their salvation, and could use an awakening to see their sin for what it really is, and realize the only thing saving them is grace, and the only thing keeping them from apostasy is that same grace.

DJP said...

Thanks, JSB; and I realized in re-reading that it could appear that I was saying all your comments have been a silly distracting bypath. That isn't what I'm saying; just that getting too caught up in the "What-must-Fluffy-do-to-be-saved?" question, when Evangelicals apparently can't even say that leaving the Gospel for Rome is apostasy, is a bypath. Hope that's a bit clearer, sorry if I created a misimpression.

Jessie Pwhat if a someone became a charismatic? Would that be apostasy?

Now, now. There's a difference between committing apostasy and just making a huge, disappointing, lamentable mistake.


Thanks for your thoughts; good point.

Strong Tower said...

What's bosh?

How do I know I am saved?

What have I that I have not received?

Study to show yourself approved a workman who needs not to be ashamed.

Scripture was not given for private interpretation but men of old spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Let them speak as oracles of God.

Do not go beyond what is written.

What does it mean to be pro-choice? Is it the belief that I can choose what reality will be? The question of truth is not left up to chance. We are all guilty of being pro-choice when we choose to believe the Scripture means something that it does not. So, I will take us back to the first question:

How do I know I am born again?

The basis of truth is knowledge, but not just bare knowledge. In Christian parlance it is the knowledge of the Word by the Holy Spirit. Our opinions are bosh, what ever that is (it must not taste good even BBQ'ed). If it is an emotional belief it is opinion and vice' a verse' and and biblically not truth. Biblical truth is not separate from the reality that is revealed by. It is like the Truly Truly statements. These kinds of double affirmatives indicate the "real thing." Hebrews 11.1 Puts it this way, "Faith is the hupostasis, the thing within hope, its essence, very hope itself." My paraphrase, but heh! Paul put it this way, "I know him in whom I have believed."

We defend truth though often it is mere opinion because it has not yet become one in substance with us. Truth however, that we know as Truly Truly, has become one with us. We then cease defending it emotionally, but with passion. Zealously, jealously, the two becoming one flesh.

If I see Diogee in heaven, it will be pure hell. She was a loving dog, but what a trial!

Mark B. Hanson said...

There is somewhere a balanced Christian response between "not judging another man's servant" and "with such a one do not even eat". I think that we need to draw the boundary at the church door: If someone can remain a member of the church based on what they believe or do, we owe them the charity of thinking them wrong rather than lost. But when discipline has been carried through and they have been excommunicated, we need to pray for their conversion rather than their repentance.

In this way, we are not trying to read their minds or know their hearts - we are applying the Biblical standards of behavior and profession.

BTW, sentimentality raises its head even among the learned. I once heard a seminary professor say, "I am totally against abortion except in two cases: my daughter and my son. I am not sure whether I could stand against it in their cases." Scawy!

Mark B. Hanson said...

Of course, in saying what I did, I realize that I am overlooking the direct question, which deals with someone that is outside our own church, but whom we have learned to love as a brother or sister. When that person changes course and leaves a church (rather than being excommunicated), things are not so cut-and-dried.

In my opinion, we should probably draw the boundary at the communion table: If we could commune with that person in our church, this means that we accept their profession and actions. If not, then we must be more cautious. But I am currently stymied about how to draw further boundaries in that case...

terriergal said...

Reformed Mommy - re:whether practice can be orthodox without faith being orthodox...

My thought is that it can't. One always does what they really believe. Even your friend who 'professes' orthodoxy but leaves their family for another. In that area, he really doesn't believe what the Bible says about what he should do.

brentjthomas said...

I would love to hear more discussion, sometime, from the Pyromaniacs, about Romans 8: 18-25. These scriptures clearly relate to this subject, to creation, hope, freedom from death and decay. A serious issue,since our Savior himself took the time to mention, "What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows". Luke 12: 6-7.
This matter became very important yesterday, for my wife and I. A feral cat (not my beautiful indoor cat Yodi, which I had previously mentioned)which we had been trying to tame, found in our shed, was finally picked up by her, taken to the veterinarian, and diagnosed with feline leukemia. A death sentence, of course, for an infected cat cannot be released to mingle with other cats.
We were very sad. I am extremely sad right now typing this. The question of Rascal's eternal destiny came up. With this Pyromaniac post in mind, I merely conveyed to my wife the Romans 8 verses, the Luke 12 verses, and mentioned that these indicate that God is regarding His creation.
This issue, even though we talk about "Fluffy Lane" jokingly, puts us in the trenches, on the front lines of the battlefield, discussing the nature of our Savior, of creation and redemption. On an almost daily basis, no doubt, health care workers, veterinarians, pastors, and portrait artists (like me), are confronted with the issues of this post, and it doesn't feel silly at all when one is in the thick of it.
I would relish reading a post or posts, written by the fine thinkers of Pyromaniacs, at your earliest convenience, regarding those Romans 8 verses particularly.

Daryl said...

Not to beat a dead horse (or dead dog...) but aren't we, in discussing pets in heaven etc. falling prey to exactly what Dan was talking about. Don't we try to imagine pets going to heaven for the same reason that we try to imagine the nice little old lady down the street going to heaven. Isn't it really just because we like them?

Does this mean biting dogs go to hell? (Unless they bite in defense of their owner of course...)

Seems like this thread proves the point. Those of us who easily let go of pets don't expect to see them in heaven, those who don't so easily let go, imagine that they will see them in heaven.

Who did Jesus come to save anyways? Me or Fido?

brentjthomas said...

Daryl, I would certainly like the nice little ladies down the street to be saved by Grace! I'm striving to somehow yearn for the Salvation, also, of those I don't like, to see them as individuals for whom Jesus came to earth, died, and rose again, for the remission of sins. Anything wrong with that? Your tone is very different, with regard to the creation, than the tone Jesus most often used.(Actually, it's a bit hard to discern tone from typed words). Think about the many times Jesus referred to nature.
I just casually flipped open a Bible by the computer, and Luke 15 came up. I know that this is a parable about we human beans, but listen to the tone of it. "If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived you, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found." Luke 15:4-6
Those words, which have a certain understandable force of sentiment behind them, are not mine. These are Jesus' words. We should see ourselves on Jesus' shoulders, and there is a (gasp) sweetness to the imagery Jesus used, a definite sentiment about creation.
I agree with Mr.Phillips that the scriptures are not clear at all about the spiritual destiny of creatures besides ourselves (and therein, with regard to human beans, the scriptures are, of course, very clear), but Jesus made constant reference to nature in a way that does have a beautiful quality of consideration. Why not. He was the Designer/Artist/Composer/Author of creation, and He is the Redeemer.
I have quoted many scriptures in each of my comments which clearly indicate, when considered together, the passionate, considerate, poetic, loving character of our Savior. We should consider, also, that gnostics, and, in fact, most world religions devalue the creation; whereas it is more consistent to believe that our Creator would love, nurture, brood over His creation.

Daryl said...


Point taken. Perhaps we're talking past each other. I'm not saying we shouldn't want the little old lady to be saved. I'm saying it's our ASSUMPTION that she IS saved which parallels our hope that our kitties make it there too. The reason we think she'll make it to heaven is because we like her and she's nice (like our pets). The reason we HOPE she WILL BE saved is that she is a human being with an eternal soul. Someone created in God's image, whereas the reason we hope Fluffy gets to heaven is because we can't imagine that heaven will be quite so nice without her (it).
We're like the children C.S Lewis describes, happily playing in the mud because we can't imagine what is meant by a vacation by the sea. Our reason for wanting the little old lady to make it to heaven is (I believe) selfless. We love her, we want her to be there. The reason we want Fluffy in heaven is entirely selfish. God is nice, sure, but God without Fluffy...that's an entirely other thing. So we sentimentalize our beliefs.

brentjthomas said...

Daryl, we probably are talking past each other. I agree with much of your last comment. I'll just remind you that God wanted to make Fluffy's ancestors long before we were born, before we grew to ponder these matters. My comments are pointing out, among other things, that our Creator, our Redeemer, giver of all good things, thought up Fluffy (thus, He did not want to be without Fluffy), made Fluffy, and, if Luke 12: 6-7 can be extended to Fluffy, He does not forget Fluffy. I am just trying to respect Our Creator and His works.
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:15-17.

Daryl said...


(Not to drag this out, I just want you to know that I read what you wrote, it didn't get lost in the ensuing topics. :) )
That makes sense to me. I suppose we both conclude that creatures really do matter to God, how that plays out in eternity...we'll just have to wait and see.