September 18, 2012
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 18 SEPTEMBER 2012
Ontology is a philosophical term; it is derived from the Greek word ontos meaning “being” or “existence.” Ontology is the theory of reality, or the study of being. To know someone’s ontology is to know his/her view of what is real. For many who do not believe in a Creator (and thus the need to be accountable to this God as Lord and Savior), their ontology is materialism, which means they believe only the physical world is real (i.e. nothing exists that is not physical, thus their pursuits in life are only concerned with the physical world). A materialistic ontology is so pervasive that it has even penetrated the beliefs of the church. The classic example of this pervasiveness is the loss of belief among God’s people in the existence of the souls of animals.
The Bible is unambiguous that animals have souls. If one studies church history, he/she will have great difficulty identifying an early church father, medieval doctor, or Protestant Reformer who did not believe that animals have souls. For most of church history, there were even fairly complex arguments as to animals souls differed from human souls. The fact that a Christian may be amazed to hear that animals have souls demonstrates how pervasive the non-Christian view of ontology may be, and that secular history is sometimes more influential than the history of Christianity.
The obvious question that usually arises with regard to the souls of animals is whether they go to heaven upon death. The reason for that question is failure to understand what the soul does. For instance, it rarely occurs to people that thought is the effect of the soul. If a dog is conscious, it is only because the animal has a soul. Some people will say it is the brain that is conscious. However, if correct, it would mean that God has a brain, which certainly is not true (John 4:24). Brains are not conscious; they are dead matter; it is the soul that is conscious. If a dog is conscious, it is only because it has a soul. In other words, there is something more to the dog than just the body.
The existence of animal souls is a major argument for Christianity. Why you ask? The answer is that Christians believe in an unseen, eternal, immaterial world. There is an eternal and invisible world occupied by spiritual beings, which would include God, and also angels and demons. The office in which you work is populated by unseen souls in each body, which you and I cannot see. Christians should have no problem believing in a disembodied soul because we believe in an embodied soul. If one does not believe in the existence of animal souls, then the obvious conclusion would be why believe in human souls, angels, and demons, or an eternal and invisible God?
The truth is that there is a world beyond the one in which we live and know. For this reason, “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). Christians can know that our “light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). Praise “the God of peace” who makes us entirely holy through a trust relationship in Jesus Christ. He will persevere the “spirit and soul and body . . . without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:23).
Yours in Christ Jesus,