Cats and Dogs Reigning at Communion
Animals can be a great addition to a person’s life. They can serve as an unpaid, ever-dependable, and quite invaluable work force as they help the farmer plow a rough field or the blind person cross a busy city street. They can provide joy and companionship for young and old alike. They can be a boon to mental health, especially for sick children and the infirm elderly. Surely none among us would doubt the many benefits that accrue as a result of the presence of animals in our midst.
Some religious groups within Christendom, however, have crossed the line in accommodating the love that people have for their pets. In an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal on March 10, 2004, Elizabeth Bernstein documented how a growing number of denominations are beginning to include pets as participants in their worship. “Churches such as Manhattan’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine have long held annual services to bless everything from rabbits to elephants,” said Bernstein. “All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has doubled attendance at its Sunday evening service since it began last summer to invite pets once a month.” This past January, however, the St. Francis Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut, went even farther to include animals in worship when it began a new monthly program called “Holy Communion for pets.” In this “service,” cats and dogs actually “receive the host” and have “a special benediction” performed for them.
Unbelievable! I have long believed that the services of various groups claiming to be New Testament Christians were more of a circus than a legitimate, Christian worship service. Now, what little doubt I (or others) may have had, has been completely removed. The “sacred” has indeed become a “circus.” Soon, little children will be bringing their pet frogs, mice, lizards, and snakes to “eat the bread and drink the cup.” Blasphemy! The sacred memorial feast has been demoted to a snack session for Tom and Jerry.
A first-century church once trivialized the Lord’s Supper and was sternly rebuked by the apostle Paul. He warned:
Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
Jesus gave His life to save mankind, not animals. He saves the immortal souls of penitent sinners who have the capability to know Him and obey Him (cf. John 3:16; Acts 2:38; Hebrews 5:8-9). Animals have no souls (see Thompson and Estabrook), nor do they have the cognizance to know Who Jesus is. Why, then, have certain religious groups within Christendom deviated so far that they will now even offer animals the sacred communion instituted by our Lord the night before His crucifixion? Obviously, it is all about numbers. As Bernstein reported, they want to “attract people.” Instead of preaching the true Gospel of Christ, which has the power to change sinners into saints (Romans 1:16), they have chosen to manipulate God’s Word and His sacred service “to their own destruction” (cf. 2 Peter 3:16).
Bernstein, Elizabeth (2004), “Houses of Worship Reach Out to a Flock of Pets,” The Wall Street Journal, [On-line], URL: http://www.dowjonesnews.com/sample/samplestory.asp?StoryID=2004031004010005&Take=1.
Thompson, Bert and Sam Estabrook (1999), “Do Animals Have Souls,” Reason & Revelation, 19:89-92, December.