Gone to the Dogs?

The Times-News headline several years ago read, “Gone to the dogs: church starts pet service.”  The AP story was about a pastor in Los Angeles who, wanting to add more bottoms in the pews, decided it did not matter how furry those behinds were. He started a service for dogs, “complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats.” Pastor Eggebeen’s, um, support, for this idea came to him through close examination of the Scriptures. I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Here is the pastor’s logical leap: “The Bible says of God only two things in terms of an ‘is’: That God is light and God is love. And wherever there’s love, there’s God in some fashion. And when we love a dog and a dog loves us, that’s a part of God and God is a part of that. So we honor that.”

I shudder at the influence of such men who are willing to twist for their own purposes what the Bible really says. Many who read this column will have had the same visceral reaction to Eggebeen’s statements that all we know for sure of God is that He is light and love. We also know that He is holy, just, good and glorious. We know that He came to earth in human flesh to “seek and to save that which was lost.” We know that in the person of Jesus Christ, God said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We know that God created all that we see and all that we cannot see and that into man alone He breathed His Spirit.

We also know that humans alone have souls and can therefore be saved from sin. At no time while Jesus was here on earth is it recorded in the Bible that He stopped to bless an animal or heal someone’s pet. He mentioned animals at times in His teaching to show sinful man what it means to trust God. He cares for the ravens, for example, “who neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them.” What is the point? Jesus says, “Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Jesus did not come and give His life for dogs, cats, birds or iguanas, but for the one species that is made in God’s image: mankind.

I understand our love for our pets; we have had dogs and cats and I grew up loving the pets I had as a child. But we must not pretend that our ability to love something brings it into the sacred realm or puts it on the same level as human beings. I admit that I laugh when I read a bumper sticker that says, “My Yorkshire Terrier is smarter than your honor student.” But that honor student was made in the image of God and has a soul that will live forever and was created to know and please and worship the Creator. The Yorkshire Terrier, as cute and as intelligent as it may be, was created by God to serve man, to live to please man, but it cannot know God or understand grace and forgiveness.

Pastor Eggebeen, like many others, may have the very best intentions with his pet-centric services of worship. But I would suggest that letting the church go to the dogs is not the answer to his attendance woes. It will simply prolong the inevitable. Where man’s “wisdom” is elevated above God’s Word, that church simply cannot survive.

By the way, one final note: church services for people will resume soon. In fact, come to Antioch Community Church in Elon next Sunday at 10am and bring your lawn chair for an outdoor time of worship and study in the book of Mark!

4 thoughts on “Gone to the Dogs?

  1. I don’t think it is right that some people can spend so much money and give so much attention to the point that they care more for their pets than they do for the kingdom of God. I’ve met a couple of people who tell me they love cats more than they love people. I think that’s just sad…

    Glad to hear that the Antioch church is planning to meet together again soon. If I ever visit the States and not far from the area, I’d love to visit you all. May God be with you all.

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  2. I remenber when Eggebeen’s church went to the dogs. Last year an acquaintance complained to me that a lady brought her dog into his church one Sunday morning. Let’s hope that this does not turn into a pandemic. The picture of all those dogs was attractive. The only problem is that my Basset Hound was not represented. Some time ago a large number of dog owners were asked which breed of dog they thought was the most intelligent breed. The vote was unanimous. The name of the most intelligent breed is “MINE.” It will be good when people can gather together inside their churches for worship again. Blessings! Ted

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