In the last post, we moved into the fourth element to a Christian fundamentalist view of UFOs and aliens (i.e., that UFOs that are not man-made or other natural phenomena are demonic and alleged alien life forms are demonic). The four elements are:
1. Abductee testimony of the forcible trauma of their experience.
2. The similarity of abductee testimony to early Christian (and otherwise) reports of demonization.
3. The similarity of abductee testimony to the events described in Genesis 6:1-4 (and other ancient Jewish texts).
4. A belief that the events of Genesis 6 (and so, an alien presence) is a specific touchpoint in New Testament teaching about the Second Coming (or, for many, the notion of a rapture which is not the same as what is broadly thought of as the Second Coming).
We started into number 4, which gets into end times (“eschatology”) by providing some links to a few short readings that overviewed eschatological terms like “millennium” and “rapture.” I included this thought in that discussion:
I think its fair to say (my own experience here) that most Christians who are involved in ufology are literal millennialists and hold to the pre-trib rapture view. Im sure there are exceptions, but the vast majority I know fall into those categories.
That brings us up to speed. Basically, most “Christian fundamentalists” are pretribulation and premillennial in their eschatology. Here’s a nice visual to illustrate that view (from the ESV study bible website):
I sort of lamented where to start in my analysis of all this in the last post (“where do I even begin?”). The reason is because (as some of you know) I don’t like any of the eschatological systems in Christian theology. They all have strengths and weaknesses, and some glaring weakness at that. Many pre-trib, pre-millers talk like their view is self evident, as though anyone who just reads the Bible at face value will come away with this view. That just isn’t true. Having taught all this sort of stuff for fifteen years, I know it isn’t true. There are real problems with this view (and all the others, as I noted). At the risking of over-generalizing (and the patience of the reader), the reasons why you should be *very* cautious about embracing the teachings of any self-assured prophecy teacher are twofold:
(1) All eschatological views derive from a set of presuppositions brought *to* biblical prophetic texts. This is inevitable because the interpreter must make decisions about the meaning or trajectory of certain Old Testament ideas before he/she ever gets to the New Testament, and because there are also decisions to be made about how the relationship between the Old and New Testaments “work.”
(2) 99% (and I don’t make that as an exaggeration) of all prophecy “experts” in popular evangelicals are doing their work in the English Bible. That means they have little or no appreciation for:
A. How an interpretation can turn on a manuscript reading;
B. The fact that a grammatical point in a key verse can legitimately be nuanced in several ways;
C. That the New Testament writer is often *not* quoting the Hebrew text of the Old Testament when quoting the Old Testament — the text is often the Greek Septuagint, or (frankly) something the author is quoting from memory;
D. That prophecy is *not* always fulfilled “literally” [i.e., the ideas in the Old Testament have one-to-one correspondences in fulfillment in the New Testament]. If we look carefully (in the Hebrew and Greek texts, not the English), we notice that prophetic fulfillments are declared by New Testament on the basis of analogy, or typology, or echoes and cycles of partial fulfillment.
What does this mean for UFO religions and the Christian fundamentalist view of UFOs and aliens? In a nutshell, it means that connecting ETs and UFOs with things like the rapture is a very tenuous thing at best. If this view fails biblically, then a lot of what is tied to it would also be incorrect.
How to help readers realize the uncertain nature of this prophetic viewpoint is the problem. I don’t want to turn this into a theology blog (I have one of those). I’ve actually been blogging through the problems with eschatology over on The Naked Bible, but I don’t want to direct you there just yet. Let’s start more simply. Here is a post that’s a bit old that overviews the presuppositional problems / issues I alluded to above in #1. I’ll give readers a chance to digest that before guiding you through more detailed posts on presuppositions in end times viewpoints.
Tell Nero’s victims about pre-tribulation rapture. They might think that you were cheating also.
I read a post from a blog where Christians were predicting that the rapture was going to occur on December 25, 2011.
Then they said, “If December 25th 2011 rolls around and nothing happens. Then email me telling me it was nothing. However, it could be of extreme importance to YOU! A time for you to get right with God or to reach out to loved ones who are not saved!”
Now, this quote illustrates a point. The idea is I guess, that if you know the date of your self-assured evacuation from this world, then you can organize your behavior accordingly. You live your life without too much regard for your actions right up until just before the rapture and then that’s really a good “time for you to get right with God”.
I guess the author is underlining the challenges of living a holy life. Why not get right with God as soon as possible, and live a pure life that is a testament to the role of the Holy Spirit on earth?
… But then again this is not a theology blog.
But if the majority of evangelical Christians subscribe to a pre-tribulation rapture doctrine, and that doctrine causes them to think less of the importance of their behavior prior to the rapture or prior to the tribulation, then perhaps this is the strong delusion that is causing such apostasy in the church?
Therefore, perhaps this is what the Lord meant by “even the elect”.
… nor is this a blog on predestination.
It’s nice to know that even the Aquarian Gospel has its own version of a rapture which takes place in the form of ordinary, “new consciousness” human beings assembling intergalactic spaceships powered by zero point energy to relocate.
I realize that there are impoverished, infirm and traumatized people in this world who certainly deserve a better world than the one they’re experiencing, but these people who invent “grass is greener” doctrines to govern their world view are generally comfortable Westerners who are taking for granted their amenities.
Loved the first line!