Continuing (and completing) my comments on the exchange between John Milor and Gary Bates. My comments are at “MSH”.


John Milor shares Gary Bates’ third point:

Point 3: Since extraterrestrials would have no hope for salvation, this would mean that any ETs would be lost for eternity when this present creation is destroyed in a fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10, 12). Because of this, some have wondered whether Christ’s sacrifice might be repeated elsewhere for other beings. However, Christ died once for all (Romans 6:10, 1 Peter 3:18) on the earth. He is not going to be crucified and resurrected again on other planets (Hebrews 9:26). This is confirmed by the fact that the redeemed (earthly) church is known as Christ’s bride (Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 19:7–9) in a marriage that will last for eternity. Christ is not going to be a polygamist with many other brides from other planets. The Bible makes no provision for God to redeem any other species, any more than to redeem fallen angels (Hebrews 2:16).

MSH: Gary’s comments assume that the 2 Peter passage is to be taken literally.Maybe, maybe not – and in what sense if it is? For instance, does the wording apply just to our earth and its atmosphere (“heavens”)? Our solar system? The whole universe? Only if it applies to the last two items could Gary’s logic “work” (ETs would be burned up). But that of course presumes that the biblical writers knew about the solar system and the universe, so that those things would have been in mind when writing (no, the Bible was not given by mindless dictation, so that authors were regularly producing information that they knew nothing about; in other words, inspiration is *not* to be understood as channeling). I should also say something about the word “heavenly bodies” (stoicheia) in the 2 Peter passage. It does not refer to the planets. It is often used – interestingly – of cosmic demonic entities. If the latter was in Peter’s mind, Gary may actually have made his point about ETs being toast, though he’d have to give up a modern scientific understanding of the passage to do so.

For once, I actually agree with Mr. Bates, concerning Christ’s sacrifice not being repeated elsewhere. But where I disagree, is with Mr. Bates’ reasoning behind Jesus’ sacrifice not being repeated elsewhere, and also his conclusion that Jesus would be a polygamist if He saved other species in the cosmos. First of all, the scriptures that Mr. Bates quotes as saying that the redeemed church is “earthly,” (Ephesians 5:22-23; Revelation 19:7-9), do not say anything at all about the church being “earthly.” The Bride of Christ is simply all those who believe in Jesus, and no restriction is mentioned in scripture about where they come from, or what species they are.

MSH: Sorry to put it this way, but this is wacky. John is asking us all to believe that the atoning, redemptive work of Christ may have been for non-humans. There is ZERO support for that in the New Testament. Why? Because the only beings that are the object of the atonement are the ones who stand in a sinful, separated, “in need of atonement” situation before God. Genesis 3 (and much of the New Testament) makes it clear that the only beings who fell and now need redemption were humans (see Romans 5:15; 1 Cor 15:3). There is no account of a prior fall before Genesis 3 of non-humans. Humans are always the referent when Scripture writers speak about the body of Christ and actually (pardon the pun) flesh out the description:

1 Cor 6:15 – Paul speaks of HUMAN bodies here who are “members of Christ”

1 Cor 12:27 – God appointed apostles, prophets, teachers for the body of Christ. All these appointees were humans.So, if they were also appointed for ETs (members of the body of Christ in John’s thinking), how did they reach ET? Where are the passages that describe ministering to ET? (See also Eph. 4:12 here). Paul is also speaking to humans here.

Other problems:

1.The whole point of the incarnation and the kinsman-redeemer idea behind it is that the Savior had to become a human – so he could redeem HUMANS.

2.The whole basis of an “ET is part of the body of Christ” is deafening silence. There is simply no scriptural warrant for it.

After Mr. Bates’ three main points, none of which disprove the existence of extraterrestrials, he then attempts to refute a well known scripture that some UFOlogists have used to support the possibility of extraterrestrial life, which is John 10:16. Jesus is quoted as saying ‘I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.’

MSH: This has absolutely nothing to do with ETs. Paul tells us what this refers to: the mystery of Christ – that non-Jews were added to the covenant and given equal standing as children of God. This is actually fundamental to the gospel. See Romans 9-11. See also the parallels in the same gospel of John to the “one flock, one shepherd” idea:

John 11: 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but ?being high priest that year ?he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and ?not for the nation only, but also ?to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Christ – the JEWISH messiah – would not just die for the nation (Israel) but also to gather into one God’s children scattered abroad – which Paul tells us repeatedly in Romans 9-11 were the Gentiles , not ETs.

John 12:32 – And I, ?when I am lifted up from the earth, ?will draw ?all people to myself.”

ALL people, not just Jews; ditto the above.

The shepherd reference, of course, goes back to Ezekiel 34:22-24, a messianic prophecy:

22 I will rescue? my flock; ?they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And ?I will set up over them one shepherd, ?my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And ?I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. ?I am the Lord; I have spoken.

The prophecy, of course, was of the messiah who would come (see Romans 9-11) who would gather in the Gentiles. It is only when the “fullness of the Gentiles” comes that “all Israel” will be saved.

To this, Mr. Bates states the following:

However, even an ET-believing astronomer at the Vatican (thus a ‘hostile witness’ to the ‘no ETs cause’), a Jesuit priest by the name of Guy Consalmagno, concedes, ‘In context, these “other sheep” are presumably a reference to the Gentiles, not extraterrestrials.’ Jesus’ teaching was causing division among the Jews (vs. 19) because they always believed that salvation from God was for them alone. Jesus was reaffirming that He would be the Savior of all mankind.

Just because a Jesuit priest at the Vatican has an opinion about what this particular scripture means within its context, doesn’t mean his opinion is infallible. I believe that scripture is infallible, but I trust no one person’s interpretation of scripture, including my own, as being infallible. I do agree that Jesus was talking about Gentiles, but He may have also been talking about extraterrestrials as well.

MSH: I’m glad John saw the obvious here (the Gentiles) – but it’s nothing more than reading ET into the text when he says it’s about ETs as well. We ought not insert ideas into the text. Earlier I suggested we shouldn’t insert scientific understanding into the text that isn’t there; in this case, we shouldn’t insert ETs (which we have no proof exist). Let the text be.

Lastly, John assumes I am an old-earth creationist in the vein of Hugh Ross. John shouldn’t assume he knows what I think on the subject. I don’t believe Genesis teaches us anything about science or “scientific” origins. I don’t think some of what Hugh Ross does with the Old Testament text is exegetically defensible. Ditto for Gary Bates. Does that mean I don’t think they’re right at all? Nope. I think they’re both right on points. At other points I’m undecided since I’m not a scientist. I’m open to a number of views, and so I don’t like any of them completely. I’m not a scientist. I’m a Hebrew Bible scholar. That’s what I know. My view of Genesis is basically what John Walton describes in his new book (The Lost World of Genesis One), though I have some problems with certain things he says. We’re in basic agreement that Genesis has nothing to do with science or scientific origins. The cosmology laid out in the Old Testament is a pre-scientific one. However, I affirm a Creator and am a firm creationist in that sense. It’s logically, philosophically, and theologically necessary in my view. I also believe a Creator makes the most sense out of science, which has nothing more coherent to offer (I don’t believe in spontaneous generation of matter, and string theory is just an infinite regress – and so functions as an excuse for denying a Creator).