The Difference Bodily Resurrection Makes

Caring for Animals While Hoping for Heaven

Authored by: Margaret B. Adam

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138592728
eBook ISBN: 9780429489846
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429489846-36

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Abstract

The increasingly popular claim that non-human animals do go to heaven receives support from a wide range of human animals. For Christians, life after death entails bodily resurrection: through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, the bodies of creation will be resurrected–transformed, healed, reconciled, and perfected. The promise of eschatological bodily resurrection does not excuse the neglect and abuse of creatures now (since all will be well bye and bye); neither does it presume that well-intentioned human efforts can bring about the justice and mercy of resurrected life. Rather, the belief that all animals will ultimately share in the bodily resurrection presses Christians to work tirelessly to improve the lives of all animals now. If this does not happen, either some other hope determines our actions (which is often the case), or we are failing to live out the hope we profess. Christians name such failures as sin, which grants the opportunity to confess, receive forgiveness, and recommit to right practices that do reflect our chief hope. Christians who resist dismissing eschatological claims of bodily resurrection as impractical will find rich resources for reimagining and reconstructing relationships with animals. This essay draws on scripture, ancient and contemporary theology, and critical theory, in order to provoke Christians to care for animals now in ways that reflect confident hope in the ultimate reconciliation of bodily resurrection to come.

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