David B. Hart on Animals and Universal Restoration

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8 Responses to David B. Hart on Animals and Universal Restoration

  1. I know that to be true. When the cat of my heart, called Precious because that is who she is died this year, I had an experience. Due to covid we were not allowed to be with her when she was put to death. I will not say sleep! Thats a lie to make people feel better. When she was put to death, due to illness that could not be cured, I sat in the car, dejected and stunned. All of a sudden, out of nowhere a cat ‘tail’ appeared next to me. It stayed there a while, then vanished. Like many spiritual things, I ‘knew’ immediately what it meant. It meant all was well. Precious was well. Alive….not this side of the curtain, but the other side..,waiting for me…my beloved dog Onska…who died years before probably got quite a shock when she realised here was the boss Queen again…going to keep her in her place! I cannot tell you how grateful I was to God for how comforting that was. For one thing, I was there when Onska died…and was able to grieve. But I have not been able to cry about Precious but once, until you posted this Father Kimal. Thankyou. Thankyou. I know that my God who loves me lives them also. We seem-to forget the actual words of John 3v16; for God so loved the WORLD, He sent His only Son.’ We are not separate! We are ONE….on so many, many levels. And its only in our thick heads we think we all are separated…thank God He does not think like that.

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  2. brian says:

    I love Hart’s theology, find his metaphysical speculations persuasive and intriguing; there are some places I dissent on matters political or artistic, though his polemical nature is such that I prefer not to engage him when we disagree. It is unseemly for Christians to become entangled in vitriol and ridiculous to quarrel when there is so much common ground. Nowhere do I embrace his view more firmly and with more joy in my heart than here. The Aristotelian Thomists and certain fundamentalist Evangelicals who cherry pick particular proof texts resist the personal nature of all created being. If Christ is indeed the seed from which all of creation is gifted, they cannot be correct. And certainly, our experience of love with unique, irreplaceable animals is part of our identity as much as they’re incipient personhood has been engendered by the specific history of our relations with them. Destroy this and one makes a mockery of resurrection. Further, I think there is an irreducible connection between the angels and creation. There is always a watcher, some attendant spirit of love, both created and Uncreated nurturing persists, so that no rose blooms in the desert apart from the gift of cherishing care. (And to clarify, the world is not simply “out there,” it exists at the level of the soul and God’s presence is our deepest, most interior truth.) Our great battle as the Church is meant to resist the heartless cruelty of entropies, of accident, disease, and malice, of nature afflicted with leprosy (the Old Testament doom is, I suspect, more primordial, some elemental sickness evincing the perversity of the fallen world, it is not Hansen’s disease, horrific as that condition is.) The plenitude of the triune economy is our eschatological destiny and our secret joy, though we yet weep and grieve and pass by the dragon.


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  4. dianelos says:

    “All things would seem to include ‘all things’”.

    This is as true as it gets. I observe that those with little charity in their soul often seem to try to interpret “all” as meaning “not really all, but all under the following conditions”.

    My understanding in this matter is really simple: All things that are good partake in God’s nature and are thus essentially indestructible. Nothing good will ever be lost, not the slightest act of love, not the slightest thing of beauty. It’s an ontological impossibility. So all the animals we have known and loved will be for ever. I am pretty certain about this.

    But beyond all that is good, who knows. What God wishes to keep eternally in being will be kept eternally in being, so if God decides to keep in being every single grain of sand that has ever existed on every planet in every galaxy, so it will be. On the other hand I do feel quite confident that God will not choose to keep evils such as pain or sins around for ever. So I am finding myself qualifying “all” after all. (Some theologians argue that evil things do not exist in a positive sense, but this too qualifies “all”.)

    As for animals being personal beings because they are conscious and have a character with personal traits – I would like to argue that this is not the definition of “personal being” which has been traditionally used in philosophy and theology. Rather by “person” or “personal being” one tends to mean beings made in the image of God. Which entails being conscious, rational, with knowledge of good and evil, free – and thus capable of spiritual advancement up to and including theosis.

    Finally about the metaphysics of animals, I happen to believe that at least the higher animals are indeed conscious beings but are not individual conscious subjects. Rather I believe that the subject who experiences an animal’s conscious life is God himself. Why do I believe this? Because I don’t see any reason why God would create animals as individuals – I don’t see any reason for non-personal individuals. Secondly, if animals were conscious individuals then the problem from animal suffering becomes unsolvable. Thirdly, the premise that all consciousness is personal strikes me as beautiful.

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    • Grant says:

      Why would animals not be capable of spiritual advancement, they are certainly capable of all other advancement, including becoming us in evoluntary terms (afterall there are rodent like mammals, reptiles, fish and single celled organisms that are your ancestors, just like myself). So why can they not attain up to and including theosis, who says they can’t or won’t? I don’t we can attain it either without them, without that grain of sand.

      Secondly why are they not individual conscious subjects? That hasn’t been my experience with animals, they very much individuals, with very distinct personalities, drives and inclinations (this also includes wild animals by the way). I don’t see why you don’t see it, the beauty of so may different types of personalities, all displaying the infinite creative nature of God that goes far beyond us myopic humans (it’s not all about us, after all is the last is first, that places them over us, something to bare in mind). Animal suffering is already an issue once you pay attention to them, and don’t dismiss it because causes theological problems. Which is, don’t force things to fit pre-determined conclusions (that because animal suffering would causes problems for theodicy, to deny the possiblity that they are personal individuals). And I don’t see why them being personal individuals conflicts with all conciousness is personal, anymore than our personal individualness does, since God is personal and concious, all consciousness would be so, even if by differing degrees.

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  6. Jack H says:

    I like Gerhard Lohfink’s take on this. It is not unique, and it seems to be implied by the New Testament and has overtones of Maximus. Man, as microcosm and priest of creation, draws all “lower” things into himself, while man is drawn in to the life of the Trinity. We are not saved from creation, but with it. Even things inanimate, or animate beings that never had a chance, are animated by man and his deification. I believe Pope Benedict XVI went into this as well.

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  7. Jack H says:

    I would imagine Gregory of Nyssa and other universalists would grant that animals, and all things in creation have their own unique “epektasis”.


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