Dluxe's World

Friday, March 31

Purpose Driven Pets

This post is going to offend someone...

A while ago, I read Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" with a friend. I didn't like it. I found it weak and saccharine.

I personally stop short of other Reformalvinist (my term, like it?) bloggers who would burn the book as a heretical tome... Likewise, I don't want to state that 'all' churches or studies using the PDL book are not Biblically healthy. I'll give the benefit of the doubt, ya know?

Still, we have friends who have recently started considering attending another church. I've since learned that that church seems to be progressing towards becoming "Purpose Driven". Now, I could rant on and on (repeat ad nauseum) about the various exegetical and doctrinal holes that I think the PD ideology seems to revel in. Instead, I decided to just take a quick glance at the FAQ from Warren's own Saddleback Church. I submit the following for your review:
Q: My dog died this week, will he go to heaven?
A: I am very sorry to hear that your dog died. I know how very close you can feel to a pet that has been with you, maybe all of your life in this case. The Bible does not tell us exactly where animals go when they die. It does indicate that, in heaven, there will be a new creation. It will not be just a place of clouds, that there will also be trees and animals up there in heaven. Some people have asked me if, when they get to heaven, they will be disappointed because the pet that they loved was not there. I can promise you that this will not happen. Heaven will not be a place where there is any disappointment in our lives. I often tell people, when you get to heaven, if you are longing for your dog to be there then God will obviously meet your need and your dog will be there. Heaven will be a place where there is no more longing, crying or any kind of pain.

Now... I ask you to contrast this with the following quote from John Piper, and some of the eloquent response from Tim Challies on his blog:
Piper is discussing the gospel and the full message it contains. He asks about heaven:
The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever say, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
That question led me [Tim] to put down the book and to spend a few moments in self-examination. I had to admit, to my great shame, that there are many times in my life where I feel that I could be perfectly content to consider a Christless heaven...

I wrote this article this morning after spending some quiet time with God. I can't express the longing that I felt in this time to desire Christ above all else. I can't describe just how much I wanted to long to be with Christ and to desire Him as the great and final gift of heaven and earth. How I wanted to know Him in that way here and now, and not to have to wait for heaven to delight in the Savior in such a way that He is what I want above all else.

I posed Piper's question to a couple friends and we wrestled with it via email. If we are imagining that our longing in heaven will be for Snoogums the Chihuahua, I think we have a problem. I'm not saying that to knock on people who love their pets, believe me. But, I hope we realize that when we're confronted with the perfection and beauty of Christ in heaven all other desires will melt away. And that should be our hope and joy - more than pets, family, or friends.

More fun here:
Q: Will Saddleback Church baptize a person who lives unmarried with another person?
A: The short answer is yes. However, the logic behind that decision is that at Saddleback Church baptism does not confer membership to a person. Baptism is just one of the requirements for membership. We follow the New Testament example of Acts 2:41 (among others) ... and baptize any who confess that they have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and desire to follow Him in believer's baptism.

Color me "totally wigged out". Does it strike anyone else that Saddleback seems to value membership in their church more than the institution of baptism? I know that no one is without sin when they're baptized (Justified and forgiven? Of course). Still, it seems a little odd to baptize someone who is knowingly in rebellion against God's design. If this person even expressed the intent to reform themselves, I'd feel better! But this sounds, instead, like "I'm doing this, and I'm going to keep doing it. So there. When can I be baptized?"

But it's really ok, because publicly displaying them as members of Christ's body - through baptism - is fine so long as you aren't members of the church. *ACK! NOT!* That's backwards!! Every admonition for baptism in the NT starts with REPENT first. How are you confessing Christ as LORD if you aren't at least attempting to subject yourself to His commands?

*chuckle* All this ranting and I haven't even gotten started on my personal favorite rant: So-called 'Proof texting' from the Bible. Take for example the quoting of only Acts 2:41 in the baptism question above. That carefully omits the very important text in the verses leading up to it!

I'll stop now.

Again - In case certain people are reading this: I'm not trying to make an broad attack on a particular church. Still, if my church were becoming "Purpose Driven" I think I'd purposefully attend elsewhere.



  • I liked this post very much and the sincerity within it.
    At this point in my daughter's life (11 years), she love, love, loves her cats. She goes around singing love songs to her cats. We've talked about the importance of not putting her cats before God. However, at the same time, is it possible that in Christ's creation, her cats illustrate his beauty in a way to her. I think it is quite certain that she won't be looking around for her cats in Christ's beautiful presence, but at the same time, maybe her cats minister to her soul in a way, while she is still on this earth for God is glorified in His creation.

    By Blogger sophia, at 7:52 AM, April 03, 2006  

  • While on earth, God (obviously) gives us many, many good gifts of a not-specifically-spiritual nature. I really don't believe that this is solely because our humanity and sin nature bar us from fully enjoying our relationship with Christ. So even when those barriers are lifted, I don't see why He wouldn't keep giving things like that. The Scriptural descriptions that we have of heaven seem to contain a lot of "unnecessary" stuff -- things that don't contradict the idea of Christ as our primary joy, but gifts that God "throws in" to enhance that joy even more.

    Yes, I believe that Warren is way off to cite the possibility of longing for a pet in heaven. But I wouldn't put it past God to include our pets there to enhance our joy.

    By Blogger Brendt, at 4:47 PM, April 03, 2006  

  • Thanks for the comments, Brent and Sophia!

    I had a dog that was, for me as a child, my literal best friend. I missed her so much when she was gone I think I cried for weeks on end. So, I'm not trying to diminish in any way the love people have for pets.

    My real issue with 'dogs in heaven' is simply that the implication is union with God/Christ might not be enough. If there's more, there's grace. But I think that the truth is that being in the presence of God ought to be more than we will ever want.

    I've peeked at both of your blogs and will stop back! Thanks for visiting!

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 4:58 PM, April 03, 2006  

  • FYI, I didn't perceive your comments as down-playing the love people have for pets.

    And you're right. God/Christ is all we'll ever need, and in heaven, all we'll ever want. I just wouldn't be surprised if God keeps dumping on the grace in truckloads and that Muffin was part of that. ;-)

    By Blogger Brendt, at 5:53 PM, April 03, 2006  

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