(Photo: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann)
Passages about the afterlife and the new Earth in the Bible seem to leave Christians with many questions about what eternity with God will be like, and if we will keep the same identities we've had here at present?
For our time here, many Christians want to know if we will still love the people we loved, be able to recognize family members, and even get the opportunity to be reunited with the pets that we lost during our lives once God restores the universe to perfection.
And although there's no precise evidence for animals dwelling in the afterlife in the scriptures, The Christian Research Institute's president and very own Bible Answer Man Hank Hanegraaff was posed this question by a caller on his daily radio show this week, and had an interesting perspective on pets living on the New Earth.
A listener phoned in and asked Hanegraaff his opinion if he thought believers would see their pets again after they are resurrected during the second coming of Christ.
His reply encouraged the listener and made some interesting points based on his understanding of the scriptures.
"Well, I think there is a good possibility that we will," said Hanegraff regarding seeing pets on the New Earth. "The Bible doesn't speak to it directly, so we can't say for certain that pets we enjoy today will be resurrected in eternity, but there's nothing in the Bible that precludes that possibility."
"In fact, I would say this," continued Hanegraff. "At first the Garden of Eden was populated by animals, and therefore there's precedent for believing that Eden restored will be populated by animals as well."
He also explained the Biblical proof for animals having souls
"Secondly I would say this, the Bible from first to last, suggests that animals have souls," said Hanegraaff. "And this is something that is often misunderstood. Moses in Genesis, John in Revelation, everything in between communicates that the creator endowed animals with souls."
"Now when I say that, I recognize that the soul of an animal is qualitatively different from the soul of a human being," continued Hanegraff. "Animal souls function in clear dependence on animal bodies. The human soul however gives evidence of being self subsistent of existing in its own right apart from the body."
And by soul, Hanegraaff seems to be referring to one's identity and that animals can distinguish themselves from one another. Whereas human souls will go to be with the Lord once their body dies, animal souls need a body to exist, therefore they cannot function alone in the spiritual realm.
But in the restored Earth, promised by Christ in the book of Revelation, men will return to their perfected bodies and animals will once again be able to coexist with them, according to Hanegraaff.
He also highlighted some of the misconceptions believers have had pertaining to animal souls.
"But it wasn't until the advent of the seventeenth century enlightenment that the existence of animal souls was even questioned in Western Civilization," he continued. "So there's a big misnomer in our culture and as a result of that people think that there won't be animals in heaven."
"But certainly there will be animals in heaven, I think there's a great prejudice that would preclude animals and say there'll be trees and plants. After all this universe will be restored to what it would have been when sin entered the world. So paradise lost will become paradise restored, and paradise lost had animals so we can suppose paradise restored will have animals as well," added Hanegraff.
He finished by stating that there is no reason to believe that the listener's pet would not be resurrected in the New Earth.