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Aliens and Religion, Part 3 - Protestantism and Other Christian Faiths
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Join Intelligence Officer Brendan Sean Murphy as he voyages into space in a struggle for peace and his own sanity. My first novel Fallen is available for $2.99 on Kindle, free on Kindle Unlimited, and $19.95 on paperback!
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Religion and Aliens
Fallen and Risen Spoiler Free!
This post continues a series of objective, non-judgement views of various religions’ views on the potential of extraterrestrial life. See the previous posts on Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy for more.
A Wide Range of Opinions that Consolidate into a Few Groups
From Catholicism's central hierarchy to Eastern Orthodoxy's decentralized authorities, the previous iterations of this feature looked at faiths that had some level of internal teaching authority. With Protestantism and other Christian denominations, we are going to the other extreme where, except for a few sects, most of these groups allow individual members to have their own opinions.
Like other mainstream and even evangelical groups, Anglicans began to discuss the potential of extraterrestrials after World War II. Cosmologist E. A. Milne stated the crucifixion of Jesus was enough to save all creation and that missionaries should broadcast the message of salvation via radio into space. On the opposite side, theologian E.L. Mascall wrote the incarnation of Jesus was about Jesus becoming man and that if Martians were real, "redeemed Martians will be all one Martians in the Word-made-Martian," thus requiring God incarnating as a Martian. However, famous author C.S. Lewis adopted a middle path, believing that Christian salvation was for all the universe, with some creatures possibly having fallen natures like us while others could have remained in their perfect created states. He wrote the Out of the Silent Planet trilogy exploring these thoughts.
Mainstream Protestantism tends not to comment much on the possibility of extraterrestrials. The United Methodist Church's official podcast Compass tackles the possibility of alien life and proposes questions of how that would impact theology. The attitude on the show mirrors most Catholics: whatever is the truth, it glorifies God.
Pastor Reggie Blount of the sometimes equated to Mainstream Protestantism, majority black membership African Methodist Episcopal Church stated it's possible God created alien life but stresses there is no way to know.
Conservative, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Denominations
It is in these groups where variety comes into play. First, the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church's official magazine, The Lutheran Witness, has a multiple-part answer to the question of alien life: "Are there green and purple extraterrestrials out there? Likely not. Whatever life may exist in outer space, this we can say for certain: It too somehow suffered from Adam's fall. It too somehow shares in the redemption of Christ on earth." However, this isn't a universally held thought. One Missouri Lutheran church blog declares aliens are demons. The basis that they are demons lies in the belief that 1) God only created humans and angelic beings and 2) stories of alien abductions mirror older stories of demonic attacks.
Meanwhile, the more theologically conservative Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Q&A flatly states, "the only extraterrestrial life of which the Bible speaks is that of the angels," and nothing in the Bible suggests anything else.
The demonic connection is a common theme among evangelicals. The popular apologetics website GotQuestions states its disbelief in aliens while warning about the potential of demons disguising themselves as aliens. Ultimately, though, the people behind GotQuestions are confident that the Bible stands as is and the faith can stand even if we encounter aliens.
On the extreme anti-alien camp are people like Jerry Falwell, who dismissed reports of aliens as "the work of the devil" and insisted there is no intelligent life beyond Earth. Televangelist Jack Van Impe believed UFOs were demonic works to delude humans and provide an explanation for the Antichrist to explain away the Rapture. Finally, the creationist Answers in Genesis argues against alien life saying, "The Bible tells us Earth was formed to be inhabited and the other celestial bodies were created for signs, seasons, days, and years. It was to Earth that Jesus came to save us, not to another planet to save another race of beings." In another article, they tie reports of aliens with that of demons.
However, not all conservative theologians are closed to the possibility of alien life. Famous preacher Billy Graham went as far as to say, "I firmly believe there are intelligent beings like us far away in space who worship God." His words imply alien life and that God has reached out to these creatures independently of Earth-based Christianity. Graham's organization has a whole archive dealing with his beliefs about aliens. It makes clear that Graham's personal belief was that aliens were real but states the Bible doesn't say for sure.
There are also Christian groups that take an indifferent view to aliens as the groups' mission focuses on the present moment. Calling multiple Foursquare Church pastors resulted in long conversations, but each stated their opinion that God's gifts and mission are for the here and now. One said, "If aliens arrive, then it would be clear God wants us to preach to them. In the meantime, I believe He wants us to spread his message to the aliens of our own society."
Other Christian Groups
While the discussion of aliens is a newer topic for most Christian groups, some groups have been open to alien life since their beginnings.
The New Church, Swedenborgians, believe their founder Emanuel Swedenborg visited human-like aliens on other planets through astral projection. Swedenborg stated that Martians were pious, Lunar people were small like children, and those on Venus were either cruel or benevolent. Swedenborg thought that pious aliens saw God visiting them in their own forms. Today's Swedenborgians try to justify his claims of aliens where we have not found them by explaining he either a) was speaking in metaphor, b) he was mistaken as to where he was, c) he was talking to the ghosts of aliens from those planets, or d) the aliens are hidden from us.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, preached in his King Follett Discourse that God-the-Father was once a human from another planet. In the canonical Book of Moses, God tells Moses of other worlds and other inhabitants on those worlds (Moses 1:29-35). Also, early Mormon missionary Oliver Huntington described how when he visited Joseph Smith during the early days of Mormonism, Smith told him that people on the moon were about six feet in height, lived for nearly a thousand years, and dressed like Quakers. The Mormon belief in people elsewhere was even a factor in Senator Harry Reid's push to have the government investigate UFOs/UAPs, according to the new book Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, which Reid provided the introduction for.
While only a throwaway line, Seventh Day Adventism's founder described the inhabitants of Saturn as "a tall, majestic people, so unlike the inhabitants of earth. Sin has never entered here."
As for other groups, Jehovah's Witnesses preach that God created the heavens for the sole purpose of separating day from night; therefore, aliens do not likely exist. Finally, Christian Science denies the possibility of alien life by teaching that "belief in other gods, other creators, and other creations must go down before Christian Science."
Very Short Fiction
VSS365 Word: Sun
Jillian's face basked in the bright visible radiation of the sun. The stale cool space station air offensive taste ceased to bother her. Looking out the window was all she needed to escape the monotony of her deployment, even if it was just a moment.
VSS365 Word: Black
All was black. The only sounds were the clicking on the suits' AV system, indicating the others were near him. Then, a slight color shift in the distance. Malcolm was about to be the first of three humans to witness dawn on an alien world.
I have short story and serial story ideas that will periodically make their way here. Also, I’ll keep updating everyone on Risen!
Other Independent Book Promotions
Military-Related Tales on Kindle Unlimited - Books for sell as well as being free for Kindle Unlimited users
A Small Problem by Nick Steverson - Free Book
Dahkal is on the Journey of Succession, a rite of passage he must first take before he can be name emperor of his race, the Sheingal. He needs to prove his worth and test his mettle. Salvage System seems like just the place to do so!
It sounded simple enough. Go through the Bith gate and come out in Salvage. Right? But what happens when the something is off with the gate code used? The outcome could be disastrous. There’s a reason the Bith provide a full registry to all the active gates. Dahkal and Ryan have no idea where they might emerge and prepare for the worst.
Upon emergence, everything seems calm, and luck appears to be with them, until an odd ship appears. The circumstances go from calm, to confusing, and then to dire. Before long, they find themselves caught in the middle of a war between two planets in this new system. The Iztaka are on their way to subjugating the Lequay, but Dahkal and Ryan have the ability to turn the tide and prevent an entire race from becoming slaves. Dahkal is out to gain experience before becoming his system’s leader and knows an opportunity when he sees one. Besides, no planet should ever be subjugated to another. A bargain is struck, and they join the war for peace in the Herrupa System. Will they succeed, or will the Lequay suffer a fate worse than death?
Until Next Time
Thank you for reading this newsletter update. Next time, I will tackle a personal Afghanistan memory concerning a lost(?) effort for peace there and in the world. It will be tough one to share. Then, we’ll take a look at what Islam has to say about aliens. You might be surprised.
As always, feel free to leave a comment with any questions, reviews, thoughts, whatever about Fallen, Risen, or whatever else I have discussed; I promise to reply!