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UFOsDoes Anybody Care?
The Need for a Cutting-Edge Apologetic
By Carmen C. DiCello
They're everywhere. From television shows and cinema movies to bookstores and countless Internet sitesthe theme of life from other worlds is alive and well. How ironic, then, with all the proliferation of UFO material, that the Christian Church would remain so silent, so uninformed about what is certainly one of the most influential movements of our day.
There are, of course, a number of reasons for the Church's absence from these affairs. For some, the claim that extraterrestrials are among us seems too extreme and far-fetched to be taken seriously. For others, their ignorance stems from the simple lack of contact with the people and happenings of the real world. But whatever the cause, most Christians have done little to stem the tide created by belief in what might be termed the alien agenda.
It is high time, therefore, for informed believers to enter the fray of ufology and provide a Biblical framework for understanding and interpreting the UFO phenomenon. Of course, few will take us seriously unless we can supply convincing arguments as to the legitimacy of such investigation. This paper is written to that end: to show the validity of UFO research by believers and to provide principles for interpreting this modern mystery.
Why study UFO's?
1. It is the duty of the Church to confront (and offer alternatives to) the prevailing trends of the age, and one particularly dominant motif is the UFO phenomenon.
Since its inception, the Church has had to cope with the numerous spiritual counterfeits that threaten its existence. From faulty views of the Person of Jesus Christ to heretical teachings on salvation, error has always required analysis, denunciation, and the implementation of Biblical alternatives.
But none of this can occur unless Christians become watchers of contemporary culture. Thus, for example, when Paul went to Athens, he looked at the surroundings and sought to make sense of what he had observed (Acts 17:16ff). As a result, his presentation of the Good News was contexualized. That is, he was ablebased on what he knew of the Athenian cultureto communicate the truth in relevant ways. One major factor in Paul's efforts to evangelize, therefore, was his cognizance of culture.
It is important for us as well to know something of the cultural milieu in which we find ourselves. Among the ideas permeating society is the UFO phenomenon. Anyone paying attention to the times would have a difficult time ignoring the great UFO influence. This being the case, it is only right for Christian apologists to look into and offer suggestions for interpreting this phenomenon. In other words, it is indeed reasonable and proper for believers to construct a UFO apologetic.
2. The rampant pluralism of our day has created an environment in which almost anything, including UFOs, is given credence.
We live in a time when nearly everything is deemed acceptable, and nothing absolutely certain. Live and let live is an apt description for many people today. This explains, in part, the emergence of so many new religious beliefs. It is becoming increasingly common to find an array of world views, from Hinduism to New Age thought. Such diversity has made it easier to believe just about anything. If you want to worship an idol, not many will stand in your way. Would you prefer to channel a higher power? Few will object.
Freedom, of course, is a noble concept. But freedom apart from parameters can only lead to anarchy and the toleration of nearly any world view. Predictably, then, as the Western world succumbs to this twisted version of liberty, many things which society used to frown upon receive approval.
It is no surprise, then, that all kinds of fringe ideas have become mainstream. One such example is the UFO phenomenon. Though there is a huge UFO sub-culture (see below), it is impossible to miss the more obvious influence of aliens on our society. If just about anything is allowable and if men and women are encouraged to give expression to their beliefs, it is inevitable for movements once considered ludicrous to flourish. Such is the fruit of religious and philosophical pluralism.
3. There is a growing and influential UFO subculture.
Besides the fact that aliens have become a popular theme, another less-known factor also threatens the Christian Church. This threat comes via the information highway, i.e., the Internet. As a quick investigation on any of the search engines reveals, UFOs and UFO religion are major topics. The sheer number of Web sites should cause us to take notice, while the contents of some of them ought to breed a greater amount of seriousness among the Christian community.
As many believers go their own merry way, paying little attention to ufology, an often insidious UFO subculture promotes its agenda. Ironically, the lack of interest among Christians, coupled with the anonymous nature of Internet communication, may actually serve to fuel interest in UFOs.
On the one hand, there are those who make light of the possibility of any serious UFO discussion. On the other hand, many who do investigate this subject come away convinced that something really is going on.
Where, then, is a person, convinced of the reality of the phenomenon yet too embarrassed to speak about it, to turn? That's easy: The Internet. Cyberspace provides a perfect environment for soaking in the phenomenon, without having to publicly admit it. Christians, therefore, need to become aware of this powerful underground movement.
4. Ideas are important; and some of the ideas promoted by UFO adherents are extremely deceptive and dangerous.
Heresy breeds more heresy, as one idea spawns another and then another and so on. With UFOs this is especially true. Though there are a number of investigators whose interest is primarily scientific, countless individuals have been attracted to the religious dimension of this phenomenon. Indeed, many are looking for salvation from the skyand it isn't Christian doctrine they are seeking.
One extremely enticing thought for some (with a number of different twists) is the belief that extraterrestrials, not God almighty, created man. Some writers even go so far as to attribute the life and miracles of Jesus to alien technology. Countless people are open to the possibility of a technological deity, a replacement god who comes in the form of extraterrestrial intelligence. As strange as this might sound to some readers, it is nonetheless an increasingly popular notion.
Therefore, because certain strands of ufology are unquestionably dangerous, Christian apologetics surely has a legitimate role to play in deciphering the truth claims of "alien" visitors.
An Approach to the Phenomenon
If the depiction given above is even remotely accurate, we are witnesses to a major new religious perspectiveone which can be as deceptive as it is elusive. In light of these facts, it is incumbent upon believers to probe these matters further.
Whatever the truth about extraterrestrials, the UFO phenomenon has so permeated society that Christians must rise to the occasion and seek answers to this perplexing mystery. Though much more could be said, what follows are some broad categories to guide us in this quest.
1. Be Biblical.
One mistake many investigators make is to attempt an analysis of the creation apart from the parameters and principles laid down by the Creator. But God never intended for us to think, act, or analyze autonomously. Instead, He has provided an inspired paradigm, the Bible, through which we can make sense of reality.
As to the subject of UFOs, it is of course true that the Bible is not some sort of UFO manual. But this doesn't render the Scriptures irrelevant when it comes to studying this phenomenon. Quite the contrary, the basic theme of alien religion is so often intertwined with the UFO agenda that it would be foolish to move forward without God's Word.
The Bible, then, provides a framework for determining the possible identification of the ufonauts, as well as the basis for evaluating the validity of their claims.
2. Be Balanced.
Balance is a rare commodity. When it comes to UFOs, for instance, many are prone to go to extremes. Some become full-fledged UFO fanatics, believers in alien redemption. Others deny the possibility of such stupendous claims, even though there is much research to warrant a serious appraisal of these matters. Believers, unfortunately, are not immune when it comes to excess.
But Christians, of all people, should know the difference between a possibility (something that could happen) and a certainty (something that will happen). As we seek to place the UFO phenomenon beneath the lens of God's Word, let us remember to distinguish between theory and divine revelation. God's Word is certain and sure, but our understanding (of the Bible and, especially, of UFOs) is less than perfect. This means more diligent efforts must be made, both to understand this phenomenon, and to properly assess its significance Biblically.
3. Be Gospel oriented.
At the end of the day, our chief purpose in doing apologetics is to lead people away from error and into the truth. In other words, our aim is to see those who are wrapped up in the UFO movement converted to the Savior.
Let us strive, therefore, to keep the Good News of Jesus Christ ever before the people we encounter. After all, it important not only to expose the dangers associated with this phenomenon, but also to highlight the beauty and attractiveness of God's glorious Son, heaven's true messenger.
1. By UFO apologetic is meant the effort to provide a framework for analyzing, deciphering, and responding to the ideas often associated with this phenomenon.
2. One characteristic of paganism is that is provides no absolute barometer for judging right from wrong. Thus it produces people who, like the Athenians of old, "[spend] their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing." (Acts 17:21).
3. Writers such as Zecharia Sitchen have gone a long way to showing the seeming plausibility of this idea. Zitchen's works include a series entitled The Earth Chronicles (six books in all), and Genesis Revisited (New York: Avon Books, 1990).
UFOsDoes Anybody Care?: The Need for a Cutting-Edge Apologetic. Copyright © 1999 by Carmen C. DiCello. All rights reserved.
About the author: Carmen C. DiCello is one of the pastors of a local independent Baptist church (Word of Life), and also a school teacher in a public school district.
Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
The above article was posted on this Web site March 29, 1999.
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