And he said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Mark 7:27-28
Pastor Thomas Eggebeen is interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, Calif.
When Pastor Eggebeen started in that church three years ago, he was saddened to see membership was sliding and the faithful who still attended church all seemed to be sporting a lot of gray hair.
Not so long afterwards, a figurative light bulb came on over Eggebeen's head and he was given an idea on how he could save the church. He would turn God's house into a doghouse.
Yes, you heard that right. The church would have 30-minute services, individual doggie beds, canine prayers, and an offering of doggy treats. Pastor Eggebeen is not alone in espousing pet worship. Apparently, he is at the front of a spreading movement that believes in pet evangelism.
Now if it sounds like I'm a bit amused by all this, I have to confess, I am.
Pet church adds a whole new -- and very strange -- dimension to religion. Now I have no problem with St. Francis, or anyone else, if he wants to bless animals or talk to them. On the other hand, red warning flags pop up when I hear Pastor Eggebeen say, "When we love a dog and a dog loves us, that's a part of God and God is a part of that." Pastor, that's not in the Bible.
I get concerned when Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, says, "More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them (pets) to have some kind of soul."
I get concerned because the idea of doggies and kitties and hamsters, etc. with souls are not only not in the Bible, such a belief is a contradiction of Genesis 2:7. There it says man is unique because he is made and because God breathed a living soul into him.
To both pastor and professor I would say, you can't change dogma because you love your dog. (Really sorry about that line, but I couldn't resist.)
Call me "old-fashioned," but the bottom line is simple. God's grace sent His Son to save sinful humanity from damnation. So we might be forgiven, cleansed, reconciled, and redeemed, Jesus lived, suffered, died, and rose. And while I love all pets, it's asking a lot of God to have Him send His Son to suffer and die to save Fluffy and Spot.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank You for "All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all."* For the wonders of this world, including pets, I am grateful, but most of all, I am awed You sent Your Son to save me. In Jesus' Name, I offer my appreciation. Amen.
(*Taken from the poem by Cecil Frances Alexander)
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries