Friday, March 05, 2010

Defintive Biblical Evidence AGAINST Dogs Going to Heaven

Anyone who's ever taught a High School Religion course knows that at some point, that perennial question that has troubled theologians for centuries and continues to plague modern and post-modern young people will arise: "Do Dogs go to heaven when they die?" To answer this question positively is to give comfort and consolation to the fearful souls of students.
But God forbid you answer this question negatively. As one of my former students learned in his first year of teaching, to even suggest the possibility that dogs might not go to heaven (e.g., because they do not have immortal souls, or that they are not persons, or for some other reason)--much less to unequivocally declare that they do not--will arouse the wrath of students and the ire of their pet-loving parents (not to mention a potential trip to your supervisor's office for teaching such 'rigid' and 'disturbing' doctrines).
Up until now, when asked how to deal with this situation by students, I've simply suggested that they use reason (Hah!) and philosophy (double Hah!) to attempt to persuade the students that the longing to be with 'Fluffy' forever in the heavenly Jerusalem may in fact go unfulfilled.
However, I recently discovered that there is actual biblical evidence against dogs going to heaven. Well, this is entirely different. It's one thing to make a philosophical argument, but quite another to have Sacred Scripture on your side. So here it is. In the final chapter of the Bible, the Book of Revelation is describing the heavenly Jerusalem come down to earth, and in this context explicitly states:
Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city [the new Jerusalem]; also, on either side of the river, the Tree of Life... Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood (Revelation 22:1-2, 14-15)
There you have it, in black and white! Even the Greek is clear: Outside are "the dogs" (kunes). The Heavenly Jerusalem has a sign, and it reads: "No Dogs allowed." So, for all you dog-lovers, sorry. Dog's don't go to heaven; the Bible says so; that settles it. Whatever you may hope for, you won't be seeing Rover in the New Jerusalem.
P.S. I might note in closing that this brings me no particular grief. I'm a cat person, and of cats being excluded from heaven the Bible says nothing.
P.P.S. It might have helped the now-famous church sign debate over the issue for somebody to actually proof-text Scripture. That is, after all, the usual exegetical method of such signs.


Pintradex said...

My 5 year old son told me that dogs go to dog heaven, squirrels go to squirrel heaven, and so on. Then we wondered if souls from one species could go visit the heaven of another species. "Yes" he proclaimed. "On a space bus."

Unknown said...

As a dog person I am going to disagree with you on one point. Although it is true that dogs who die today are not in heaven tomorrow, the passage you cite does not actually speak to that. "Dog" is used in the NT when referring to pagans. Look for the passage where Christ is speaking to the pagan woman and she says, "even the dogs eat scraps from the master's table."

But, as far as I know, the Church does not rule out the possibility that God will recreate our furry buddies in the New Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

Two comments: First, judging from the context, the quote obviously means that "sinful" dogs will not go to Heaven! ;-)

Second, while it is true that dogs, and other less savory animals, probably won't go to Heaven. There is still hope for their presence after the recreation of all things. When the present Universe will be rolled up like a scroll.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more ... I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God). He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away." (Rev 21.1,3+4 NAB)

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. ( Isaiah 11: 6-9 NAB)

At least, that's my theory.


Keener said...

Sometimes it's better to just remain quiet.

Targuman said...

A troublesome passage but relevant:

Eccl. 3.19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth?

Brant Pitre said...

Thanks Everybody,

One quick point for Keener and lozeerose:

If you couldn't tell from my satirical tone throughout, or the satirical picture that accompanied the post, or my satirical p.s. about Church signs prooftexting, I WAS JOKING about Revelation 22 having anything to do with dogs going to heaven. Of course it's not about actual "dogs," as the context clearly shows (It's an image for the spiritually unclean).

I just thought it was funny that this verse isn't actually used by debaters over whether dogs do go to heaven as a prooftext.

Unfortunately, it takes all the fun out of satire when you have to explain it. I'll try to do better in the future, or avoid it altogether.

Unknown said...


I got the sense of sarcasm and I even laughed too. But I remember hearing a protestant minister once, who made reference to pets in heaven and even used this passages to make his overall point about heaven. That we will not remember anything or anyone. It's you and God. He said that is what being like the angels means...

Anyway, I apologize if I jumped in without an equal amount of humor. But you never know what is going people are going to say, especially me.

Albert said...

Those "church sign debates" actually comes from a church sign generator site.

It's a site where you can generate funny messages on a church sign and trick people into believing they are real.

Unknown said...


Typically Ecclesiastes is understood to be a vision of the world without God, or more specifically without salvation. In the Christian context it was written before the revelation of Jesus Christ. God inspired this book to show us how desperately we need His grace.

Sister Mary Agnes said...

Dr. Pitre, PLEASE don't avoid satire in the future! Your post had me laughing so hard I almost fell off the chair! I had a discussion with Michael Barber about this topic a while ago. There definitely won't be any dogs in heaven according to him. But since I was not talking about heaven now but about the New Creation at the end of time, I might have at least tied him in that discussion. After all, God can re-create Fido if He wants too.

I do hope if there are dogs in the New Creation that they are kept on leashes and won't jump on my and lick my face. Yuk. As you can tell, I'm a cat person too!

Thanks for a great post that brightened up my day!

Targuman said...

Matthew, that is certainly one way of reading Ecclesiastes. But even as a "thought experiment" that doesn't mean that all statements in it are false. As it is, I do think these are rhetorical statements, but they are still troublesome.

We might also remember that Gen. 2.7 and Gen. 2.19 each refer to Man and animals respectively as nephesh chiyah "living creature." Humans are certainly are distinct but at the same time we share some basic characteristics with other animals.

BTW, Brant I am not really taking this all too seriously, just pointing out that "we are dust and to dust we shall return."

Michael Barber said...


This is disturbing. You're a CAT person?!

But seriously, I've got an exegetical question. Will there be "sorcerers," "fornicators," "murderers," "idolaters," or "anyone one who loves and practices falsehood" in the New Jerusalem? Or are those references also only symbolic? How is it that you're so sure that these references are literal but the "dogs" are not but only a metaphor? A consistent reading would seem to imply that there are no "sorcerers," "fornicators," "murderers," AND no "dogs" there either.


Unknown said...

Michael, I am going to attempt to rise to your exegetical challenge.

First let me crack open the Haydock Commentary on Rev 22:15, which states, “Without are dogs; meaning unbelievers, and whosever loveth and maketh a lie, i.e. all the wicked, who have not walked in the ways of truth.” This is part of the reason why I make the argument that the verse in Revelation speaks towards pagans, however, unbeliever is the more accurate term.

Next, if we examine the use dog throughout the bible and the references therein we will find form support for my contention that dogs in Rev 22:15 is an allegorical brush to pain various groups. I would venture also to say that the “sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie” are references to particular types of mortal sin for which will cost those who remain unrepentant their salvation. I will provide some evidence for this in a bit.

Back to dogs, Deuteronomy 23:18 states that the Israelites were “not [to] offer the hire of a strumpet, nor the price of a dog, in the house of the Lord thy God, whatsoever it be that thou hast vowed: because both these are an abomination to the Lord thy God.” According to Haydock, many explain the use of dog is “in a figurative sense… to denote the public impudence by which some thought to honour their gods.” The Commentary goes on to explain that the literal reference to dog was taught by the Rabbins because they could not offer “what had been received in exchange for a dog” because of its lack in value and, further in the commentary, “Greeks purified themselves, by making a dog be carried round them…insinuat[ing] that dogs were sometimes immolated[;] S. Augustine and others, believe that dogs are not to be redeemed, as the first-born of other things are, probably because they were too mean, and the price to insignificant to purchase another victim[; and lastly] the dog was an unclean animal…draw[ing] down the indignation of that God, who is a pure Spirit, and loves chaste souls.” Haydock cross-references Rev 22:15 here as well. Much of scripture, when making literal references to dogs, does so in order to denote how lowly the creature is. They are unfit for sacrifice and/or they eat the flesh of carcasses (dogs are predators and scavengers).

Further support for my argument of allegory in Rev 22:15 lies in the following passages: 1 Kings 24:15; Matthew 7:6; Matthew 15:26; Mark 7:27 and Philippians 3:2. The verses in Matthew and Mark are probably the most telling because the references come from Christ Himself. He uses the derogative term when referring to unbelievers (some may call them infidels or even Gentiles) and the fact that they are not “worthy” enough to receive sacraments or gifts. Furthermore, consider Our Lord’s harsh comment to the Syro-Phoenician woman who came to Him seeking the deliverance of her daughter who was possessed: (Matthew 15:26) “Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs” and (Mark 7:27) “Who said to her: Suffer first the children to be filled: for it is not good to take the bread of the children, and cast it to the dogs.”

Now contrast this to the following passages which detail many of the sins written after dogs in Rev 22:15: 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-5; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:27. It is interesting also to note that Revelation 21:8 details a list to Revelation 22:15 but uses “fearful and unbelieving.”

Anyway, that is why I feel that Revelation 22:15 is using dogs in an allegorical sense rather than a literal one. But the final arbiter on earth is the Church and until she makes a declaration concerning whether dogs will be recreated in heaven or not we can only speculate and debate, in charity of course.

Bow wow and God bless!

StarbucksMom... said...

Of course, everyone knows that Dog is just another word for Man. ;)

Anonymous said...

I am going to trust that God will make us perfectly happy with or without animals. However, He has placed a particular love in my heart for animals as He did in some of the saints. Also, I have heard stories of the saints (possibly saint Anthony) that even the fish recognize their creator. So, I will not be shocked if when I get to heavan (God willing) that many beautiful creatures will be there with us.

Just a few comments. Not as intellegent as the others!

God Bless

Anonymous said...

I am going to trust that God will make us perfectly happy with or without animals. However, He has placed a particular love in my heart for animals as He did in some of the saints. Also, I have heard stories of the saints (possibly saint Anthony) that even the fish recognize their creator. So, I will not be shocked if when I get to heavan (God willing) that many beautiful creatures will be there with us.

Just a few comments. Not as intellegent as the others!

God Bless

Keener said...


Thanks for the clarification that this was satire. I should have known. However, I have seen entirely too much Bible literalism, and just assumed it was another instance.

As a former believer, turned agnostic/Deist/wants-to-believe-but-finds-it-hard, I occasionally visit religious sites in hopes of finding something that will either help turn me back into a believer or push me the rest of the way to atheism. I would imagine that there are several others like me who occasion upon your site. While conversion is not your "gig," per se, anti-conversion is always a possibility for any religious site.

I was a regular blogger for the first three years after I retired, and know the temptation to write to something so that readers always have fresh material. I found that this caused me to write a lot of articles that didn't have "my heart in them," and it would have been better had I just not published them. That was the basis of my initial comment.

BTW, if there is a heaven, my view is that dogs are probably more deserving of it than humans.


sPaZ said...

Sign generators are fun!

Bunch more of them on :)

Anonymous said...

In Rev 22:15, dogs is a reference to the unsaved. Reference "Strong's Concordance, Supplement page 44"

Anonymous said...

Also, dogs is used to identify male prostitutes in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

First of come across as a ass hole. When the bible is referring to dogs in your quote it is referring to people who are selfish and sinful like your cat. Cats are never mentioned in the bible at all. And the bible also states that God claims all the living creatures as his own. It's pretty pathetic that you went out of your way to crush the dreams of Dog lovers. A dog would never stoop to your level.

Anonymous said...

How can u fall out of belief? If u were truly saved, then it's impossible! I pray that the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to you and that you accept Christ as your Lord and savior... He died for you, for me and for us all... He LOVES you so much that if you were the only person on earth, He would still die for you do that you may know Him in eternity! Yes, there is a Heaven and He is waiting for you!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood (Revelation 22:1-2, 14-15)

The Heavenly Jerusalem has a sign, and it reads: "No Dogs allowed." So, for all you dog-lovers, sorry. Dog's don't go to heaven; Brant Pitre

I do believe you are incorrect!
Your Bible does not state that Dogs are not allowed in heaven and actually if you reread it, what is says is "Outside are the Dogs". Which would tend to say that dogs do go as far as the gates of heaven, anything past that point is not written. It would be a matter of Faith or what one chooses to believe.

I was give a poem "The Rainbow Bridge" when my Service Dog passed away. If someone wishes to believe that the Rainbow Bridge is directly outside the gates of heaven (mentioned in the Bible) What purpose do you have in your saying that their belief is wrong? What it proves to me is your arrogance! That you think that you can read his word, and then add to it saying there is a Sign outside heaven, that is not mentioned in your Bible.

I have been a loner most of my life and during my childhood, and much of my adult life have have had to relocate often. Luckily I have had a pet dog most of my life. I know that some of my Buddies from my time in the Military will always be with me, for they shall never be forgotten. I know that some of my pets will always be with me, for they shall not be forgotten. This year my Service Dog "Gunny" died he is in a urn (that has a picture of him on it) that I look at often. It is not important to me to prove or disprove whether he will go to heaven.

I don't know if there is a reason that Dog spelled backwards is G_d, yet I'd like to believe there is. If it is blasphemy for me to equate my Dog's pure love with the pure love of G_d, then I think I'd rather be outside the gates with the Dogs, than inside with men like you that would think it is.

P.S I'm not Catholic and know nothing about purgatory, but is purgatory outside the gates? :-)

I apologize for some of my remarks, but will leave as is. Considering yours was meant to be a satire, and yet I believe inappropriate as you presented it as a matter of fact. I do believe further posts effectively refuted you claim

I would like to thank some of the people that commented, I have copied some of them and do think I may research this further, and may look on a Jewish blog for this discussion. :-)

Anonymous said...

The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Faith said...

My sweet pets.throughout my 54 year life, have been sweet reminders of God's gifts of pure, unconditional love and grace. I honestly draw this parallel all the time when I think of His love. There is not a DEFINITIVE passage in the scriptures that promise my beloved furry friends will be in Heaven! But I tend to be convinced that they will be waiting for me. My sweet mother told her worried daughter (me) that God, who loves us sooo much created Heaven to be a place of perfect contentment (one of her favorite words to describe our relationship with Jesusl). She told me that if I needed my beloved Missie to be happy (content) in Heaven...that I would surely find her there! If God doesn't forget the sparrows, I do not believe he forgets the other creatures. In the end, there is no "proof" that our dogs will be there, but I comfort myself with Jesus' words in Matthew 19:26: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." My simple but very real faith instilled in me by my mother and father comforts me. Thanks mom and dad... I cannot wait to see you again one day and I KNOW that Tina, Missie, Wuddles, Concord, Missie2, Hollie and my beloved Maddie girl will come running and jump up and cover us ALL in sweet dog kisses! No doubt in my mind.

Anonymous said...

Do a word study, Dogs in the verses do not mean canines, it is a word for people, homosexuals being one of them, He is referring to humans not animals!! Animals will be in heaven believe me, and the scriptures prove it, read your bible!

Anonymous said...

Right on!!!!!
That Asshole won't go to heaven but my dogs will!

Tarvalon said...

I believe that all the animals that were in the garden go to heaven. Or, perhaps it should be said "into the presence of God". I believe God loves His creation. And, he surrounds Himself with them. I will go further to say that the animal kingdom is by God's design. His hands painted the animal kingdom. So, I believe all the animals when they die go to His presence, wherever He is. To say they don't is limiting God. Because God did not say "they don't". But truth be told, humans should fear for themselves, because God created man with the will to choose. Animals don't choose. We need to make sure our own life's are right with the Creator of all things.