Thursday, July 14, 2011

Luther and my dog

reflections on my dog dying. In the second chapter of Genesis, the human and the animal are both called nephesh chayah, living beings. In the Greek Septuagint, in the Latin Vulgate, in Pagnini, and in Wycliff, man and beast, or human and animal, are called by the same name - nephesh chayah.

So who was it that first called the animals "animals" and the human a living "soul?" The only culprit that comes to mind is Luther. He translated lebendige Seele for the human, and lebendige Tiere for animals.

I suppose that if you believe in scripture alone, sola scriptura, you might want to make sure that the Bible translation reflected the doctrine that you already hold. I suppose you would not want readers to be lead astray. Even if you are lead astray yourself.

Here is a story about Martin Luther. I don't know if it is true or not. But it probably is. He had a daughter Magdalena who died at the age of 14. Here is the story,
Martin Luther's young daughter asked her father, as she lay dying, 'Will there be horses in heaven?' To which Luther replied, 'If you need for there to be horses in heaven to be happy, then there will be horses in heaven'.
The lesson to be learned is that sometimes there is no lesson to be learned. Sometimes you take away the x-ray machine and the stethascope and you lay your cheek down on the furry beast and listen to him breathe. Give up exegesis, my dear friend. Give up the dead law, and listen to the breath of life.


Anonymous said...

I've always held to a statement my childhood pastor made about John Wesley believing his horse would be in heaven. Ignoring the obvious fact that in circuit ministry a horse is very important, I've always used it as reason enough to say "if I want to believe my dogs will be in heaven, I can do so without fear." Do I believe I'm necessarily right in that? No of course not, but I don't believe I'm wrong enough to end myself up where I won't find out either!

Gary said...

First of all, anyone that has/had a dog or cat as a real pet knows they have as much personality as a human. To me, personality defines soul. Second of all, my cat just died. If he wasn't going to be in heaven, I'd choose not to be there either. I've had enough of people who view animals as something to be used, like a commodity. If that type of person is in heaven, you can have heaven. Maybe in a twist, that is really hell. I'll be happy with my cat, no matter where he is.

Iris Godfrey said...

If there are no animals in Heaven, then we have a problem with Revelation 5:13 which tells us every "creature" in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, ...these are all participating in praising the Lord.

This sealed it for me. I fully expect to embrace them there.

Muff Potter said...

My dogs and my cats indeed have feelings and little souls. If I cannot have them reunited with me in some sweet by and by, then like the writer of the poem "Rags" I'll take my chance in hell.

I have seen more of Jesus in a little beagle mother who takes in an orphaned kitten, suckles it and looks after it as her own, than in all the epistles of St. Paul combined.

Dana said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Suzanne.

For those who need scriptural "proof", I think there is more there to justify animals in the Restored Creation than not. Aside from that, I believe God will give us back our pets, because when we love a living creature we give it life; that's what love does. You can't have one without the other.


R.A. said...

I'm sorry about your dog. I've had thoughts along these same lines many times. Especially reading Genesis 9 where God says He's going to demand an accounting from every animal who kills a human being. How is God going to hold them accountable if they just disappear into nothingness?

Also, just cause I don't want any haters giving your grief about it, you misspelled Wycliff in the first paragraph.

Ann said...

Suzanne, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Ours died just last month, too. What a gift to us are all God's creatures! I appreciated the story about Luther - because, in the end, it's love's presence and promises that sustain us through dying and death. Sometimes it seems that exegesis and its arguments are ways of distancing one creature from another, one brother from a sister, us from Godself. Amen to your last sentence!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you, everyone. I am going to notice the silence more soon when my visitors leave.