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Goodbye, Charlie
Andy Bustanoby
(C) November 19, 2005

     Charlie is gone.  He is dead.  If you've followed my weekly blogs,
     you've been introduced to him (1-1-05, 1-29-05, 4-9-05).  He was a
       beautiful, big (twenty-two pounds), Coon-Cat.  He was a gentle,
    obedient, loving "house cat."  He knew certain words like "food, eat,
    hungry."  But he also knew to "stay" when we didn't want him anywhere
      off-limits.   He also could communicate to us what he wanted (see
    blogs).  He had all the loving characteristics of a dependent child.
       Fay and I wept bitterly when we learned he was dying of kidney
       failure.  We keep his ashes along with pictures and memories of
                       thirteen loving years together.

   A troubling aside to losing Charlie was a well-meaning piece of prose
   that was included in the felt bag with a container of his ashes.  The
   paper called "The Rainbow Bridge" tells about a pet "heaven" where we
   are reunited.  The troubling thing about it is that it has no biblical
   basis and attempts to deal with the sorrow of this loss with a

   About eight months ago a reader of my blogs, responding to an e-mail
   about a funeral (see blog 4-16-05), raised the subject of the
   eternality of animals (she lost a much-loved dog), and spoke of her
   belief in it.  She spoke of Niki Shanahan's website,  I sent her the following reply.

   I'm very concerned about the Bible teaching you're getting.  I went to
   the website of Niki Shanahan.  What are her theological credentials?  I
   spent four years in seminary taking Hebrew and Greek, the original
   languages of the Bible, and it was hard work.  What are Niki's
   theological credentials?

   Please read carefully.

   First of all, Niki says that Matthew Henry's commentary supports her
   views.  I have Matthew Henry's commentaries and read what he has to say
   on Job 12:7-10, and he says nothing to support her view.  Also, she
   says that John Calvin supports her view.  This is preposterous!

   Second, she says that the Hebrew word nephesh means soul, by which she
   understands it to mean the immortal part of the creature, man or
   beast.  She's wrong again.  The Bible distinguishes between that which
   animates the body, gives it life, and that which is the immortal,
   immaterial part of man that goes to be with God after death.  In the
   Old Testament, the word nephesh is that which gives the animal body
   animation or life.  But the Old Testament word for the immortal part of
   man that goes to God at death is ruach, translated, "spirit."

   This important difference is seen in other Scriptures.  For example, in
   Judges 16:30, Samson said, "Let the life of me  (nephesh) die . . . ."

   This was not his immortal soul.  This was the loss of the animating
   force that we call death.

   Also, in Numbers 31:19, we read, ". . . all of you who have killed
   anyone . . ." (nephesh).  You can't kill an immortal soul.  Again, it
   was putting someone to death--the loss of life.

   On the other hand, the word ruach speaks of the immortal soul.  In Job
   27:3 he speaks of the human spirit (ruach) being breathed into man by
   God and returning to Him--his immortal soul.

   In Ecclesiastes 12:7 it is the spirit (ruach) that returns to God, not
   the nephesh.

   Third, and most important, is the fact that Niki doesn't see the
   distinction that Job makes in 12:10, the distinction between animal
   life and man.  Animal life is said to have nephesh, but mankind is said
   to have breath (ruach).  It says, "In his hand is the life (nephesh) of
   every creature, and the breath (ruach) of all mankind."

   The point that Job is making is that God, the creator, is still in
   control of all things.  He controls the animation of animal life
   (nephesh), and He controls the destiny of man's ruach, his eternal

   One other matter is important, and that is the use of the words soul
   and spirit in the Bible.

   First, the Bible uses the words soul and spirit interchangeably when
   talking about the immaterial part of human and animal life.  But it
   does make an important distinction between soul and spirit when it is
   speaking of that which is immortal and eternal--a distinction that I
   pointed out in the Old Testament use of nephesh and ruach.  In the New
   Testament the distinction is in the Greek words psuche (soul) and
   pneuma (spirit).

   My point is this.  Sometimes these words are used interchangeably,
   referring to the immaterial part of man.  But when it comes to
   describing the immortal part of man, pneuma is used.

   Second, how far down on the scale of animal life do we go with the
   assertion that all animals have an immortal soul?  Are snakes and rats
   included?  Just pets?  How about people who have pet snakes and rats?
   They fit the dictionary definition of animal life.

   So then, where is Charlie?  Charlie is gone.  He is no more except in
   many fond memories, pictures and the presence of his ashes.  The Lord
   giveth, and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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