So far we’ve covered the first three of the four elements 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 were:
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 need to start into number 4 now, but that one will take us a while to navigate. To get the ball rolling, those of you unfamiliar with evangelical jargon related to end times need a primer. To that end, here are links to an academic explanation of two key ideas: the millennium and the rapture. I’d like to offer the quick start version here, though.
First, “millennium” is a word used in conjunction with discussion of the earthly kingdom of God. Some Christians think that this kingdom is to be equated with the Church itself (Church = all true believers in Jesus). Those Christians would therefore say the kingdom of God is already present on earth via the existence of the Church. The only end time thing we’re waiting for is the return of Jesus to initiate the eternal state, which may or may not be a literal new heaven and new earth (it may just be in “heaven”). These Christians are often called “amillennialists” since they don’t buy the next view. Other Christians think “millennium” means a literal 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth that is yet future. They would be the real “millennialists.” They are divided into two groups: premillennialists (Jesus will return to earth and then stay around for 1000 years as King) and post-millennialists (the kingdom on earth is literal, but begins before Jesus comes back – it sort of invites his coming). People are therefore to make earthly life look like the kingdom of God and then Jesus will decide to come back and finish the 1000 year reign on earth. Postmillenialism isn’t that popular today, but it had a strong following in the late 19th and earthly 20th centuries. Two world wars kind of rained on that parade, though.
Second, most premillennialists, those waiting for Jesus to return to initiate a literal earthly kingdom, also believe in a rapture. As the article at the link will detail, there are four views of the rapture. I won’t repeat them here. Basically, Most premillers believe that the millennium is immediately preceded by a seven year period of hell on earth (whole or in part) called the Tribulation period. They believe that true believers will be removed from earth sometime during that period and then return with Jesus to set up the earthly millennial kingdom. The most well known of these views is the “pre-tribulational rapture” (think of the Left Behind novels), which teaches that the Church is removed from earth (raptured) at the beginning of the seven year Tribulation. Seven years then pass (that’s where the Antichrist becomes known and terrorizes Jews and new believers on earth), Jesus returns [note here that a rapture and the "second coming" are two separate events in this view], kills the Antichrist, and the 1000 year literal kingdom is installed. Raptured believers return with Jesus to rule with him in the millennium. After the millennium, Satan is released for “a short time,” tries to defeat Jesus, and then is cast into the lake of fire. This is followed by the eternal state which (depending on one’s view) occurs on a new earth or it’s somewhere else off-planet (“heaven”).
I think it’s 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. I’m sure there are exceptions, but the vast majority I know fall into those categories.
So how does this relate to UFOs and aliens? Simple (on one level). Jesus’ longest sermon in the New Testament is in Matthew 24 (longer than the Sermon on the Mount). That chapter is called the Olivet Discourse (Jesus is on the Mount of Olives). It’s all about the signs of the end times and his return (Jesus is asked about this and then goes into the discourse). Part of the Olivet Discourse reads as follows (Matt 24:36-44):
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The boldface portion is the issue. What was happening in “the days of Noah”? Why, the sons of God were cohabiting with human women and spawning nephilim. So Jesus must be saying *that* activity will happen again just before he returns.
I hope you get the picture. The dominant Christian fundamentalist view of all this is that, just before Jesus returns, we’ll see demonic beings (fallen sons of God – see my last post) cohabiting sexually with human women (= alleged alien abductions) with the result that hybrid offspring will be produced. As an aside, this reading of Matthew 24 is considered to be supported by Daniel 2:43 (Daniel 2 is a prophetic chapter), which has the cryptic phrase that in the end times “they will mingle themselves with the seed of men.”
For me, this is one of those “where do I even begin?” things. There are so many issues / problems/ logical leaps here that it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll ponder that for the next post.