I wouldn't normally write a post like this but for what ever reason I felt compelled to jot this one down. It is worldwide news that today the Pope has said all animals can go to heaven! That is ludicrous, how can a man with so much influence over so many people (I not being one of them) make such a statement. I don't see how that is even possible because doesn't that take away the exclusivity of heaven? While it is true that God created all creatures, he created humans with a special nature. One like his, what is known in theological circles as the Imago Dei. If just anything can enter heaven does it lessen the effect of what Christ has done to allow humans entrance into heaven? We are told in the book of Genesis that God created them after his own image, (Gen 1:27) it no where mentions animals being made in the image of God. The only thing I can think of that even comes close is when Scripture speaks of the new earth and lion and the lamb laying together.
I am not a perfect theologian but I think that the sanctity of the Imago Dei needs to be protected. According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, " In contrast to the animal creation, humankind is made in the image of God in a separate act of creation. Man originates apart from any connection with the animal creation and certainly not from evolution. Also, for the first time in the creation narrative, the divine “let Us” is used in conjunction with the creation act. Added to this, the immediate scriptural context after this introduction of the “image of God” is the additional charge that man “subdue” the earth and “rule over” all of its other creatures (1:26, 28)". That would lead me to think that we will have a heaven while animals will not. We are made to be in communion with God, while animals are made for our benefit.
I am curious where you land on this debate, what are your thoughts?