Divine Pets

Over the past months I have had many discussions with people that believe that Jesus' death and resurrection secured redemption and salvation for all of creation regardless of whether they believe or not - atheists, agnostics, Hitler ... and maybe even Satan are included in the mix - their position is that Jesus redeemed them all. They have compelling arguments and scripture to support their thinking. These are all very thoughtful people ... I enjoy exchanging ideas with them - maybe they will offer a comment on this post :)

So here is the question that has been going around in my head these days:
Are we just God's pets?
Some folks seem to embrace a redemption/salvation scenario where God is unwittingly portrayed having an unrelenting purpose to be with His pets forever ... nothing His pets do can change His resolve ... the pets have absolutely no part in His decision ... He loves them unconditionally and does not care what they think about anything - including Him, His Son's sacrifice and the afterlife.

I find that this model of redemption/salvation to be somewhat of an affront to humanity because it robs us of divine dignity and reduces us to people who are handicapped and unable to respond to heavenly love. But maybe that is exactly what it should be. Maybe we are all divine dogs and cats - loved deeply by their Owner but not really respected by Him ... made by Him but not really in His image ... His to play with and stroke lovingly but truly unable to be a collaborator with Him in His kingdom . I find this to view to be somewhat condescending and demeaning.

On the contrary, here is a scripture that I resonate with:
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)
I believe that these words of Jesus restore dignity to us. Believing in Jesus sets us free to be fully human and fully alive - both today and the day we pass from this life to the next. I do not believe that we are heavenly pets with pre-ordained destinations. I don't think that believers are puppets manipulated by a heavenly (puppet) Master. God is my friend, I just can't view Him that way.


  1. I think of God as a Father. I am not my dogs mother. I think that Jesus died for us all. I don't think that we all will take the invitation to be forgiven.

  2. This is forever a tough question. Well, until we all meet our demise.
    I see both sides of this issue.
    As a fleshly parent, no matter what my child did, even horrendous, I would probably forgive them, because I love them unconditionally. I can only imagine the unconditional love and, hopefully, forgiveness that our Heavenly Father has for all of us. Either He loves us or not. On the other hand, I know that there are scriptures to the contrary. So, there I sit!

  3. Yeah, I guess the difference is... we don't CREATE our pets from a piece of ourselves...

  4. karen said:
    "As a fleshly parent, no matter what my child did, even horrendous, I would probably forgive them, because I love them unconditionally."
    This is true, but I think this is our position after we've been adopted in His family. If a neighbor kid comes over and does something horrific, you'd probably send him home.

  5. Well, David...guess that's where we differ.
    When the neighbor kid came over and did something horrific....
    we took him INTO our home. He's been "ours" ever since, (that was 6 years ago) and will make us "grandparents" in November.

  6. KB, I thoroughly enjoyed those discussions with BruceD and others. And like you, I had to really wrestle with some of the scritpures they used. In the context that they used them, they actually made sense. But put back into the context of the entire Bible they didn't say the same thing. It was quite educational.

    Regarding the pets analogy, if we have a pet that is dangerous or destructive, we may attempt some sort of rehabilitation for it. But if nothing works we, at the very least, kick it out of the house to a pound, and at the most, put it to "sleep."

    If we are God's pets (which I do not believe we are, but for the sake of the argument...) then I have no trouble believing God would treat us in the same way. Didn't He call upon the earth to literally open up and help "put to sleep" a few folks in the OT when they wouldn't repent of their destructive ways, even though they were part of His "chosen people? Didn't He "put to sleep" a NT couple that lied to the Holy Spirit, even though they were part of His adopted family?

    But God does not look at us like pets. He looks at us as the "apple(s) of His eye", and "royal priests", and future wearers of a glorious crown, members of His Kingdom, and most exciting of all: heirs with His SON.

    Kingdom VS Dogdom...?

    I'll take the Kingdom.

    (Karen, congrats of becoming a G-parent!)

  7. Hmmm. Interesting. Of all those, who I know and am close to, who believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself this is the first time I have ever seen an opinion that such a belief causes man to be regarded as mere pets in Father’s eyes.

    Speaking from my own experience, through out our years as parents, our family always had pets around. The last was Shultz, a rambunctious little mini-schnuazer. We all “loved” him and many a tear was shed by us all when he died in 1999. However I doubt that the level of love we held for little Scultz could be considered like the love we hold for our children and grandkids. If my children or grandchildren were in the street about to be struck by a car, there is no doubt that I would sacrifice myself to remove them from harms way. I honestly can’t say that I would be willing to sacrifice myself for a pet though….as much as I may “love’ them. The love of a parent far exceeds the love for a pet. Pets can be replaced. Children can not.

    I hardly look at the feast of good news that God prepared for us is dog food, it is a glorious feast prepared for all people. Sadly it seems to take some much longer to respond to it…as even thieves and harlots sit down to eat ahead of them.

    But I will acknowledge this. If some do look at believers in universal reconciliation as considering humanity something closer to God’s pets, even God would smile, and quite favorably I think, at the idea that even the dogs get to eat the crumbs from the Master’s table.

    I don’t see where belief in a much broader scope of God’s grace, than tradition has taught, at all takes away from ‘divine dignity’. Instead, I see it as only adding to His dignity as the Savior of the World. God is the Father of us all, not just the 'trainer'.

    I find it very common for many who disagree with me to accuse me of saying things I never said.


  8. DITTO Steve!
    The The TRUE Gospel is TOTALLY OFFENSIVE to the religious person who believes that he and his self-righteous belief have a role to play in Redemming himself to our Father.These religious types have made redemption about themselves and what they do in response to Father instead of it being ONLY about Jesus and what He DID! As for me and my house we will give Jesus ALL of the credit and seek NO GLORY for ourselves or our self-righteous belief or non belief! Jesus is in ALL, Through ALL and to ALL!



  9. Doctor KB,

    Your post concept goes far, far beyond its declared scope, and I love it - way love it.

    I was unaware of the universalism discussion, so I will not attempt to build a case here. I'm sure that job has been well done. There are some who will experience the second death, and it is both tragic and irreversible. I trust God to understand the beauty in that, but He does all things well.

    Now, to our role as pets!

    There are some pretty smart pets out there. A smart macaw can outthink a 5 year old child. That's incredible! And pigs. There are some really smart pigs. When a ball is hidden from them, they can use logic to reason out a way to find it. Smarter dogs can do this too.

    So what?

    They don't understand us.

    They are not human.

    They treat us just as if we were alpha birds, pigs or dogs, and we accept their wonderful love. But none of them understands powerlines, or pavement or a wedding ring. They don't get it. They cannot.

    Even so is a fallen, religious human who sings worship songs to his God. We sing love songs to each other, and we sing love songs to God. We study each other, and we study God. We love God as our pets love us.

    The risen human, though! There's a whole new story. The life of Christ has been fused with ours, and suddenly we "get it." Before we could not know the Father, or Jesus Whom He sent, but now we do. Now we know His purposes. Now we share them, and we strive toward His goals, because we love Him and we love the goals that He loves.

    Many dogs know when they should grab their leash for a walk with us. But how many understand that we are walking to visit an ill friend, or to get our thoughts in order? We are beginning to understand the very heart of God.

    Douglas Adams tells the story of walking some dogs every day. They never paid any attention to him - they were too busy with things that were important to them - but they could not walk without him. We are learning to care more about God than about snuffling about for the markings of other people. We are growing beyond just needing God to go with us into our human world, and growing into needing to be with Him, truly with Him.

    It's not a matter of salvation, but of redemption (for which you have quite an eye. :-)

    Thanks, Doc

  10. Hi Kansas Bob…

    Pleased to meet you. I came as I commented on Jason's blog and stumbled on your response and came to read your thoughts.

    I absolutely agree that God is our friend and our relationship was never meant to be slavish, it was meant to be a response to an instruction of a friend Jesus.

    I have a mentally handicapped child that cannot believe as we are expected to believe. You stated "the model of redemption/salvation REDUCES us to people who are handicapped and unable to respond to heavenly love" in other words to be like them, takes away our "divine dignity"

    Are we the people with BRAINS so divine and so privileged?

    I find that statement reduces my son to that of a "pet" as you described and maybe lesser, not sure, and that God would only love my son but not respect him.

    You stated "Believing in Jesus sets us free to be fully human and fully alive - both today and the day we pass from this life to the next" Guess that leaves my son Joshua out of the loop. And you don't find your view somewhat condescending and demeaning"

    However, if I may, you have painted a picture with your words of the analogy of the master/dog or master/slave and connected it to "universal reconciliation," which of course is your rendition/translation of how you perceive this. Which again, we all have a right to share what is on our heart and I would never minimize that. I really don't see it as you see it. Being reconciled is the beginning. This walk about on earth is a progressive walk with Him, and not all men will seek after more, and some men will not seek at all like my son, like those who are so oppressed, and the list could go on.

    I delight in hearing "all men have been reconciled" IF the first Adam we were all born into sin, how much more, the second Adam shall we be saved…..

    Shall we be saved… sounds like an ongoing process to me…

    In Him

  11. Hi Lori,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Not having walked in your shoes I can't comment to your situation or that of your son. I am sorry if my post offended - it was not written to offend.

    For me, I think that John 3:16 may not apply to everyone. Certainly God knows who has the ability to believe and who does not. For those who have the ability to ... those who He has revealed himself to ... these have the opportunity to believe or not. I simply am open to the idea that if God has revealed Himself to someone and they choose to reject His revelation then their destiny may be different than those who accept His revelation. I find this to not be at odds with a God of love because love is relational and needs both parties (God and man) to be complete.

    Blessings to you and your family,


  12. Hi Bob

    No offence taken.

    You stated "love is relational and needs both parties (God and man) to be complete"

    Well Bob... I would definitely agree with you in a human response to love and be loved.... but the Love God gives us is beyond our response.

    Just an example.... I love Joshua with all my heart (he is my developmentally delayed child) but his love is shallow to say the least. His response is not contingent on my love. I love him no matter what.

    Just ask parents with "disabled" children. They will tell you. The childs response to their love is not necessary. Love is just there.... I know, and yet I am so frail and human.

    For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

    The measure of God's love goes way beyond ours.

    In Him


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