Question: "Do dogs go to heaven?" Rick Warren: "Absolutely yes. I can't imagine God not allowing my dog into heaven."

[scottgreening] My Dad gave me a tip on how to answer this question in a pastoral manner when people have just lost a pet.

His advice was to say something like this:
I know two things for sure. Animals are part of God’s plan for the future and if God needs your pet to be in heaven for you to be happy it will be there.
This has served me well just a couple of months ago I had a single middle aged lady in tears after a service because her dog had died that morning. I used this advice and prayed with her about finding her hope for the future in Christ.

One of the reason’s I know I am not called to pastor. My answer would have been something like “It was a DOG, for crying out loud! Get over it.” Maybe I don’t have the gift of compassion. :)


I am comforted and give comfort from Romans 8:18-25. One doesn’t have to say Fido goes to Heaven (although I believe so); however, you can say as the Bible says, ‘the creation will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.’ What ‘the glory’ is, well, I will let you decide what that is. As well, what does ‘the creation’ include.
Once you give comfort, it is very easy to bring up the gospel. I have done it a few times, and everyone is very receptive to hearing the gospel. The vast majority of people I know who have pets view them as their kids. (even my wife and I do) So, being heartless about a pet dying, for some, is on par with being heartless about a child dying. (I know some of you said things in jest, but just a reminder there are many people that read these forums.)

Responsible pastors should kindly tell the truth … rather than resorting to sentimentality

I think the statement is kindly telling the truth. I strived in the example, and do with each encounter I have with people as a pastor, to speak the truth.

However, I think there is a time and place to communicate truth with kid gloves. In the moment if the individual in question pressed me on the issue I would be more direct with my communication of the truth regarding the future state of pets. She didn’t so I changed the course of the conversation to focus on the comfort Christ can give when we go through difficult times. A lesson that seemed to me as her pastor more appropriate for the moment than debating whether or not her dog will be in heaven.

I think your other examples in theory are similar with a notable exception - some may have a very strong connection with a car for instance but I don’t think most people would view it in the same way pet owners view the companionship of their animals.

Personally, I have never had a pet, other than a gold fish for a few days, so I find the emotional responses of people to their pets and their deaths weird. However, I do believe that there is a pastoral responsibility to grieve with those who grieve. Perhaps we will disagree on this application.

Scott Greening

She didn’t so I changed the course of the conversation to focus on the comfort Christ can give when we go through difficult times.
I understand what Scott is saying… and I like the intention of the suggested answer. At the same time, if your wife is trying to get the children to eat their vegetables and not fill up on candy, and a child asks why, you don’t answer, “Your mother loves you and wants you to eat healthy food. If mom needs candy to help you grow, she will give you as you need to be healthy.” At least in my house, that introduces something as a possibility to a child that I am reasonably certain is not going to happen at that particular time.

The “comfort Christ gives in difficult times” if not rooted in what-ifs and maybes. It is a confidence in him and the sufficiency that he is. If heaven isn’t really heaven without XXXX, isn’t that at the very least, bordering on idolatry? We would not offer similar comfort to a a grieving believer who lost a loved one whose by all appearances never placed faith in Christ, no matter how close and dear that loved one may have been. That doesn’t mean Christ does not provide comfort in that time, even if the person grieving struggles with the reality their relative is in in conscious torment.

At the same time, I don’t think that we have to be abrasive in how we speak of the situation. I am a dog owner, as well as a cat owner. I have dealt with my own children who were tearful when a puppy died at birth. And while I don’t have that sure-fire one liner to deliver, I do know that we can direct to giving thanks for the gift that animal was. You could reflect on things like faithfulness and loyalty. But I would want to be very careful about reinforcing a level of attachment that might just be disproportionate to its real value in the scheme of eternity. Whether it is an attachment to an animal, or a house (say, after a fire), a vehicle… whatever. We are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. The comfort we offer needs to be compatible with Scriptural reality, whether that is always neatly compatible with American cultural quirks.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

but I’m not worried about the presence of canine companions in Heaven… as long as there is coffee.

Seriously, though- when someone is grieving, that’s not exactly the time to correct their theology. You can refocus their attention on what is true, and leave the bizarre speculations for another time when emotions won’t get in the way of a reasonable discussion.

anyone who watched the interview would see that he was kidding. I am not a big fan of his but picked up on his humor on that answer.


We Christians need to get out of the bad habit of talking about Heaven as our final destination. The Scriptures teach us that when Christ returns, the dead and the living in Christ will gathered together and will meet Christ in the clouds/heaven, but ultimately our final home will be on the new Earth(paradise) - after the old heavens and earth are consumed with fire.