Sunday, February 8, 2009

Will We Be Vegetarians In Heaven?

So, I was listening to the rebroadcast of Jan Markell's radio program today, and she was interviewing Christian apologist, Dr. Ron Rhodes. Rhodes has recently written a book about heaven, and most of Jan's questions centered around Rhodes' interpretation of scripture regarding eternity. Dr. Rhodes brought up an interesting thought that I had never considered before, and I've found myself thinking about it all day: will Christians be vegetarians in heaven?

Now, before I go any further in fleshing out this idea, let me preface my thoughts by saying that whether a person agrees or disagrees with this idea, it certainly isn't something that Christians should fight over. This isn't a vital issue, and there's really no way to determine a concrete answer to the question. We can only look at the scripture and make some educated guesses. So consider that before you start a church based on Christian Vegetarianism. That being said, I think there's good evidence to support the idea that all the inhabitants of heaven will be (and are), in fact, vegetarians.

Rhodes supports this idea by first citing Genesis 1.29 - And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." Rhodes (and many other good theologians) asserts that in the pre-fall earth there was no death. In other words, the Garden of Eden was the perfect place since there was no sin: there was no pain, no sadness, no death, no suffering, no disease, etc. Everything was perfect - very much like what the Bible says about heaven (note: this is not to say that the Garden of Eden was heaven in and of itself, but rather that the Garden seems to share several, if not most or all of the qualities of heaven).

Rhodes also says that the animal kingdom was included in this environment of peace and perfection. Thus the instruction to Adam and Eve to eat only fruit and herbs. Scripture seems to suggest that Adam and Eve were not killing and eating animals - just herbs, and as Rhodes sees it, if animals were being killed for food, then Eden would have ceased to be an environment of peace and perfection, because death would be included in the mix. And death has nothing to do with peace and perfection. It even seems as thoughanimals only ate the herbs and fruit, and not each other. In other words, there were no predatory or prey animals - they all got along and ate the vegetation. Genesis 1.30 - "Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food."

In fact, the eating of animals isn't mentioned in scripture until chapter nine of Genesis. After Noah and his family are off the ark, God seems to finally allow them to eat animals. Genesis 9.3 - Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. God then goes on to give them instructions as to HOW they should eat the animals. So it would seem that this is the first time in the history of the earth that animals are killed and eaten as food.

The first physical death that is reported by scripture is the killing of an animal by God in order to make coverings for Adam and Eve, after they realized they were naked, and after the fall into sin. So once the environment of peace and perfection had been infiltrated by sin, death was a new reality.

All that to say that there was no death in the Garden of Eden - the most heaven-like environment in the history of the earth. Scripture teaches that there will be no pain, suffering, death, or even tears in heaven either. So then, it seems reasonable to conclude that there won't be any killing in heaven - not even of animals, and not even for the sake of food. Meat wasn't a necessity in the Garden of Eden. In fact, it would seem as though meat was completely contrary to the whole idea of the Garden of Eden. So then, wouldn't it likewise be contrary to what we know heaven to be like? If we did eat meat in the kingdom of heaven, that means that something would have to die in order for us to have it. That doesn't seem to jibe with the kind of environment that heaven is.

So what's the conclusion? I don't know. Rhodes' idea seems to work scripturally. But I wouldn't worry about it if you're a Christian who enjoys a good rack of ribs. Like Paul Washer says, you'll be way too busy trying to figure out God while you're in heaven to even be concerned about what's for dinner!


Rachel said...

Maybe we won't need to eat in heaven.

Joel said...

It's possible. I don't think there will be any specific NEED to eat, but I think we still will out of enjoyment. There are several scriptures that speak about eating and feasting in eternity.