Divine Pets

I originally posted this on my other blog. When I saw this cartoon I simply had to repost.

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.

If you are of the non-sanctimonious camp (you know who you are) please feel free to comment but please keep the name calling to your own blogs - I'll delete any of that stuff here. I guess that I will file this one under (my newest label) sanctimonious :)


  1. Let's see...I don't think we're pets...and I think deeply about the whole Jesus redeems everyone. I can't stand the term "saved" because deep in my heart I think everyone is...so you and I differ on that arena...and HEY! We're still friends! :-) My hope is that when Jesus says "No one comes to the Father but through me," He means that they will be with Him...even if it's after death.

  2. Thanks for the comment Karen. The core of my issue is around mankind being made in God's image and consequently being endowed with the ability to love or not to love. I am reading John's gospel this week and find it to be soaked in words like believe and faith ... which Jesus spoke. I think that God honors us by respecting our choices in life even if they are bad choices. I think that same respect holds true for eternal choices.

    That said I have to say that if you are correct I will be VERY happy ... I don't want to see anyone perish ... and trust God to sort it all out. However it comes out He is the Lord we both love and worship.

    Your friend Bob

  3. I agree..we aren't His puppets; Adam and Eve couldn't have messed up if we were! ;-)
    I'll read John's gospel this week, too.

  4. "It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me." "I must decrease while He must increase."

    Pets? No. Clay vessels, receiving His Grace. His Spouse (Him being the Bridegroom), receiving His Life. His brothers and sisters, to be united with Him in Heaven. It's INTIMATE, it's union, it's closer than we could ever be to each other.

  5. it robs us of divine dignity and reduces us to people who are handicapped and unable to respond to heavenly love.

    I think you have set up a false dichotomy in this argument. Our divine dignity does not consist in our ability to respond to divine love. The Redemption of God is both from less than pets and to more than pets.

    We simply cannot respond to divine love. None come, unless the Father in heaven draw them. We cannot see the kingdom, unless we are born from above. Before Jacob or Esau had done anything, God said He loved Jacob and hated Esau.

    We are clearly portrayed in scripture as born handicapped, and unable to respond to God's love. The key is that when He reaches down and heals us, we do more than merely respond as humans. We respond as spiritual. The natural man cannot receive the things of God. The spiritual man receives everything.

    So, when you defend that the dignity of man allows him to respond to God's love, the argument elevates the human at the expense of the miracle of new birth. When I reject that the natural man can respond to God I take away his dignity, but I declare the dignity of the spiritual man.

    The paradox arises that God is infinitely good, but man is still evil. If God is infinitely good, why do evil men still exist? Why doesn't God make us all new men? Why do we have to think about hell?

    The Univeralist solves the problem by saying God is going to save us all, but He does so in some unrevealed, future way. The non-Universalist simply says that God saves whom He will, and hardens whom He will, and we don't know why. Scripture is too clear that there is a second death, and that the majority of people will endure it.

    As to being "pets."

    The predestinationist and Universalist both feel the sting of this accusation. I will only answer for the predestinationist.

    Humans are born far less than pets. We are born enemies of God: porcupines whom He could never stroke lovingly and rats whom He could never admit into His home. When we are born from above, we are made far more than pets. We are born again the lovers of God: sons whom He can love and mentor, and friends with whom He can share counsel. Together, we are made a bride worthy to share a yoke with Him.

    But not until His new life is placed within us.

    Until then, there's no dignity of man. There's only a poisoned image of God shaming Him and us in how we even fail to live up to our own potentials.

  6. Thanks for the feedback codepoke ... I simply disagree with your total depravity approach - I think :)

    When I look at Romans 1:20-25 I see human choice ... the God-given ability to respond to His love (this ability is a gift that He gives - we cannot take credit for it). I think that your interpretation of Jacob and Esau is consistent with a predestinationists view but not consistent with a John 3:16 view.

    In a nutshell I believe that God predestines on the basis of foreknowledge (Romans 8:29) ... he foreknew Esau's choice and predestined according to that choice.

    I agree that we are born enemies of God but simply say that through Jesus we are given the ability to become His friends. The fact that we are enemies speaks to the idea that we are not simply divine pets.

  7. Don't let predestination cause you to lay aside the difference between divinely born versus human born. If God foreknows Esau, and predestines accordingly, it does not change that fact that Jacob could not please God until he was made spiritually alive. If I concede that man has to take that all-important first step of believing God, he still can do nothing else without Him.

    The spiritual man is not spiritual because of his actions or beliefs, but because he is a new creature. Man at his holiest is not capable of seeing God, much less loving Him, until John 3:1-21 happens to him. (Why does everyone believe that predestinationists have never heard of John 3:16?) 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    Humans are merely human until they are born of Spirit.

  8. Thanks CP - I agree with your last comment in its entirety.

  9. My son and I were just talking a couple days ago about how seldom those words are heard on the internet. Thank you, Bob.

  10. Well, I have to say you always give me something to think about.


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