Do Dogs Go to Heaven? Animals and Salvation in a Christian Context - Abstract
On 11th December 2014, the New York Times published an article under the headline 'Dogs in Heaven? Pope Francis Leaves Pearly Gates Open'. The story made headlines worldwide, despite being based on a misreport. The intense interest in the pope’s views about afterlife for non-human animals reveals a concern about this topic that goes far beyond the audience for other similar issues of Christian doctrine. It suggests that the question touches a nerve: our uncertainty about how to give an account of human life in relation to that of other animals. The issue is not merely speculative: John Wesley argued in his 1781 sermon ’The General Deliverance’ that Romans 8 clearly stated that animals would be redeemed, and that this had practical implications for Christian opposition to animal cruelty in the present. This lecture will outline the case for thinking about salvation in a more-than-human context and for the ethical implications of this understanding of salvation.
Victoria University of Wellington