January 26, 2013
In my last post, I discussed how a growing body of theologians and Christian scholars have come to suspect that the massive falling away predicted in biblical prophecy could be connected to an extraterrestrial disclosure event. NewsWithViews is on the cutting edge as this material is premiering a work in progress, Exo-Vaticana, with co-author Thomas Horn. Please take a moment to check out the video trailer as well. This post will survey the scriptural basis for positing an ET deception as a plausible means by which prophecy is to be fulfilled.
The Bible presents itself as an ultimate account of history, arguably a cosmic scope. God is the creator and sustainer of all things (Gn 1:1; Jn 1:14). From Genesis to Revelation, a cosmic conflict centering on humankind is the focus. It begins with an innocent man and woman in a perfect garden, who are subsequently corrupted by a usurper, and ends in that garden with the enemy bound and the conflict resolved. The bulk of the scriptures describe that redemptive process in between, salvation history, as God’s relationship to humanity. How one views its scope is crucial.
A biblical philosophy of history accounts for the range of events from the dawn of creation to the return of Christ. While the Bible is silent concerning the existence of extraterrestrials, the silence is suggestive considering its comprehensive nature. For example, universal language describes God’s covenant with Israel, “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of.” (Dt 4:32, underline added). This language implies the covenant is unique to earth and exclusive to humans. It follows that the incarnation, delivered via Israel, is similarly exclusive. It seems that even angels long to look into these things (1 Pt 1:12). While an argument from silence is tentative, a huge paradigm shift like ET disclosure does not seem to fit a biblical philosophy of history but a deceptive ET ruse does.
In view of that, Peter’s prophetic warning “that there shall come in the last days scoffers,” is especially prescient in that it connects skepticism of second coming with the denial of divine creation (2 Pt 3:4-5). While scoffers may question the reality of His return, the delay actually reveals God’s desire that many will come to repentance and faith. Furthermore, Paul specifically connected the denial of God as creator to humankind’s increasingly futile thinking, idolatrous religion, and immorality (Rom 1:20 ff). It seems prophetically significant that intelligent design has been castigated to the point that today it cannot be mentioned in the classroom. Divine creation is foundational to all other doctrines and skepticism in this area contaminates all others.
The doctrine of creation affords a unique blessing on man. Having been endowed with the image of God, humanity is exceptional (Gn 1:26-27, 9:6). Theologian Millard Erickson concludes, “The image is something in the very nature of humans, in the way in which they were made. It refers to something a human is rather than something a human has or does.” Implicit in the image is our purpose to know, love, and serve God. In addition, the New Testament grounds the Gospel in Christ’s humanity (Heb 2:14, 4:15; Jn 1:14; 1 Tm 3:16). God’s incarnation as a man and humanities’ exceptional status are theological pillars on which the Gospel stands. Thus, it comes as no surprise that John specified the incarnation, “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” as a specific test for antichrists (1 Jn 4:2-3). It naturally follows that the satanic conspiracy predicted in end time prophecy will likely encompass an attack on creation, human exceptionalism, and the incarnation. The existence of an intelligent ET could be argued as a defeater for all three.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him about His coming at the end of the age, He began with, “See that no one leads you astray” (Mt 24:4). He warned of increasing numbers of false prophets (Mt 24:5, 11). While those warnings apply generally to false doctrines and religions, he narrows his focus explicitly to a time “as not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Mt 24:21) a reference to Daniel 12:1. At this time, the deception will become so convincing it may “lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Mt 24:24). While it is clear that the time prior to His return will be one of unmatched deception, Jesus prediction concerning, "people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world...." (Lk 21:26a, underline added) seems to infer something believed to be not of this world, i.e. extraterrestrial. Paul’s writings confirm the teachings of Jesus.
Paul taught the Thessalonians that prior to Christ’s return there will be an apostasy and appearance of “a man of lawlessness” who will proclaim to be God (vv. 3-4). This “man of sin” is widely considered to be the Antichrist or the “the Beast” in the book of Revelation (Rev 13, 17). According to Paul, his appearance will be accompanied by unprecedented confirming signs and God will allow the unbelieving world to fall under a “strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false” (2 Thes 2:9-11). Of course, Paul is unequivocal that Satan and his rebel angels paint this masterpiece of delusion and it seems likely that the sky will be their canvas.
Paul’s description of Satan as the “prince” (archon) “of the air” (tou aeros) or “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2) is suggestive of from where this might originate. Biblical scholar, Clinton Arnold argues, “Paul intended air to be understood in a literal sense; both Jews and Gentiles commonly regarded the air as a dwelling place for evil spirits.” In addition, later in the same letter, Paul similarly positions “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
Another respected scholar, William Hendriksen also argues that the literal meaning is basic to Ephesians 2:2, asking, “Is it not rather natural that the prince of evil is able, as far as God in his overruling providence permits, to carry on his sinister work by sending his legions to our globe and its surrounding atmosphere?” Taken literally, this would denote the atmosphere around the earth, which, according to ancient cosmology, is the abode of demons. Robert Utley elaborates further:
In the NT the air is the realm of the demonic. The lower air (aer) was seen by the Greeks to be impure and therefore the domain of evil spirits. Some see this use of “air” as referring to the immaterial nature of the spiritual realm. The concept of “the rapture of the church” comes from the Latin translation of I Thess. 4:17, “caught up.” Christians are going to meet the Lord in the midst of Satan’s kingdom, “the air,” to show its overthrow!
It is noteworthy how this intersects eschatology. Thus, there is scriptural warrant to posit anomalous aerial phenomenon as a probable vehicle by which the end time deception will be perpetrated. Utley’s mention of the rapture is also suggestive.
Inherent in both the pretribulational and pre-wrath rapture positions is a massive worldwide disappearance of Christian believers which necessitates some sort of explanation from the Antichrist and his authorities (1 Thes 4:15-17). An explanation involving space ships or something similar seems probable. Lewis and Schreckhise argue, “The rapture will be explained away with a mix of pseudoscience, New Age religion, and both fabricated as well as misinterpreted evidence that will seem to prove that the rapture is an alien invasion.”
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Interestingly, recent films such as Knowing have seeded this idea into popular consciousness. After the rapture, the ET explanation still has force. While much of the apocalyptic imagery in the book of revelation is symbolic, one marvels concerning the demonic locust hoards associated with the fifth trumpet judgment (Rv 9). Perhaps, these monstrosities are the referents in Jesus’ allusions to otherworldly invaders (Lk 21:26)? If the Antichrist attempts to explain these events, an “alien invasion” supplies persuasive explanatory power for the predicted judgments. Exo-Vaticana will be published this April containing more details.
© 2013 Cris Putnam - All Rights Reserved
Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 532.
2. Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul's Letters (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 1992), 125.
3. William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, vol. 7, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of Ephesians, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 113.
4. Robert James Utley, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians),vol. 8, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 85.
5. David Allen Lewis and Robert Shreckhise, Ufo: End-Time Delusion (Green Forest, Ark.: New Leaf Press, 1991), 216.
6. In this film select people are saved from a global cataclysm by alien space ships.
Cris D. Putnam is a bestselling co-author of Petrus Romanus the Final Pope is Here and Christian apologist. He holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a a Certification in Christian Apologetics from BIOLA University as well as a B.S. in religion and mathematics. He is recognized for expertise in the area of Christian apologetics, biblical prophecy and other prophetic traditions. In that regard, he has been interviewed on Prophecy in the News, as an expert for the television show Countdown to Apocalypse on The History Channel and in Canada for I Prophesy: The Future Revealed. He has also appeared on many major radio programs and podcasts across the country. He is a member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, the Evangelical Philosophical Society and the Tau Sigma National Honor Society.