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We finish up Chapter 5 of Christopher Southgate’s The Groaning of Creation.
One of the things that our group has learned, especially in this chapter, is how theology can be so speculative. This proves to be true when dealing with a possible afterlife of animals. This in turn transfers over to the speculative nature of what happens after death for humans as well. In other words, there’s a whole lot of guessing and head-scratching involved, and including animals into the mix complicates it way more.
In Christian tradition or theology, it seems someone clear-cut as to what happens after death since we rely heavily upon the Bible as to what happens. However, when you dig deeper, you will see that it is not so clear-cut as you would’ve liked it to have been. For instance, early in the Old Testament there was a belief that all living souls went to an under-realm for the dead called “Sheol” which was very different from more popular understandings of heaven or the afterlife. A post-mortem existence and possible afterlife and a resurrection of the dead appears in the post-exilic portion of the Old Testament (the book of Daniel in particular) that is further developed first by the writings of Paul and then the later gospel writings to varying degrees.
In other words, the Bible carries within it multiple views of what happens after death. Even sparser or non-existent are what happens to animals after death.
Here are our essays related to these topics.