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Posts Tagged ‘theology’

Jason Colavito has once again directed the attention of his readers to how people in Christian churches have begun to tout the ancient astronaut paradigm as a tool for understanding the Bible. His post draws on the thoughts of a Lutheran pastor over at the well-known Christian periodical First Things.

As I’ve noted before, this is ill-advised, misguided, and even dangerous. The Bible is not about alien visitation. While certain biblical passages (like Gen 6:1-4) can be read that way (e.g., as abduction narratives, since some of the elements are shared with such “accounts”), just because a reading of the biblical text happens (even if well-intentioned) does not make that reading coherent and does not serve as proof (or even evidence) that ancient astronaut ideas conform to reality. Put another way, using the Bible to prop up ancient astronaut myth does not result in the myth becoming respectable just because the Bible is respectable. That assertion is not a denial of the content or character of the Bible, since the biblical material, taken in its own ancient context, is not an obtuse mystery. There is no need for projecting modern myths on the Bible to make it understandable. It’s coherent on its own (ancient) terms. That people (even or especially Christians) are ignorant of the original languages of the Bible or the mountain of scholarly research from archaeology, linguistics, literary study, and ancient Near Eastern background material for the Bible is no excuse to opt for interpretive nonsense.

Why do Christians opt for this nonsense? A couple reasons come to mind right away. I’ve seen or heard the cycle of Bible boredom hundreds of times. It’s just that the victims don’t all end up resorting to ancient alien bunk to get excited about the Bible. Many others just quit church altogether. But the cycle is the same.

What am I talking about?

Watching Ancient Aliens is easier than doing serious research and engaging in careful thinking. Pastors have spent decades, through shallow (“relevant”) preaching that basically every passage is about Jesus, or tithing, or getting along with others, or healthy marriages, or raising kids, etc. When you’re trained to think that basically every passage you read in the Bible conveys the same messages, there’s no reason to read it closely or seriously analyze it. The Bible loses its mystery and fascination. Preachers do this because they are either lazy, are inadequately taught, think poorly, or go with the flow of their content-intolerant audience. People who want more than self-help therapy sessions facilitated by the Holy Spirit on Sunday morning go elsewhere — physically or out into cyberspace. They come across the fascinating worldview put forth by Ancient Aliens and get excited about the Bible, since some “researcher” (= nimrod) on the Fantasy Channel tells them that’s what their Bible is really describing. If they ever bother to ask the pastor about all of it, they’ll suspect they’re onto something as soon as they get derision or a chuckle as a rebuttal. They just need to love Jesus and forget about all that silly stuff. As if that answers their questions. Then they encounter Christian researchers — people who share their Christian theology — saying the same thing as Giorgio, but in ways that aren’t theologically offensive. Now they’re convinced they’ve found the truth.

This is all painfully predictable. It’s easy to pity the laity. Granted, they share responsibility for thinking so poorly, but I lay most of the blame at the feet of pastors whose sermons range from drivel to self-help pablum on any given Sunday. They underestimate what their people can absorb and their interest level. But the coffee and the worship band are good.

We reap what we sow.

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I just wanted to let everyone know in the wake of my interview on Art Bell’s show Monday night, that the special edition of The Facade is now in print. It’s also available in several ebook formats: Vyrso, Kindle, Nook, iBook, Google Play).

I should also mention that the special edition of The Façade is part of Amazon’s new Kindle Matchbook program -  everyone who buys The Facade in print book on Amazon can get the Kindle ebook for just $3. Amazon Prime users get free two-day shipping.

The special edition contains bonus content:

- the story behind The Facade and Mike’s first Coast to Coast AM appearance
- up-to-date annotated bibliographies for the plot elements
- the first 5 chapters of the sequel, The Portent

I mention all this specifically because of progress on The Portent. I’ll be finishing the draft of the sequel this weekend (for real). In a nutshell, if you haven’t read The Facade, you’ll get lost in The Portent. It truly is a sequel, not just a second book on similar subject matter. If you haven’t read The Facade yet, now would be a good time to do that so it’s fresh in your mind when The Portent becomes available.

A few hand-picked operatives out there will be reading the draft of The Portent for feedback this month. I’ll be making a last pass, too. Then it’s time to turn in the manuscript to the publisher. That should happen by November 1.


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I just wanted to post a convenient listing of the series Cris Putnam has been posting over on his Logos Apologia blog. The series summarizes a lot of heady material into readable segments:

Exo-Vaticana: Ancient Atomism and Extraterrestrial Belief

Exo-Vaticana: Plato, Aristotle, Epicureans and the Apostle Paul

Exo-Vaticana: Extraterrestrials and the Medieval Church

Exo-Vaticana: Nicholas of Cusa’s Learned Ignorance Leads the Way

Exo-Vaticana: Giordano Bruno’s Extraterrestrial Diabolicus

Exo-Vaticana: Giordano Bruno’s Extraterrestrial Diabolicus II

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I saw this essay from TIME Magazine pop up on Twitter today: “Dabbling in Exotheology.” The date of the essay was 1978 (unless that’s a typo). The essay opens with this question: “Can the “image of God” survive in extraterrestrial life?”  An understandable one, but an ignorant one, nonetheless. Anyone who has followed my work knows I’ve lectured on this many times. The answer is “yes” (if what is meant is the survival of the doctrine). It’s “no” if what is meant that ET also has this image.

Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not saying TIME is guilty of theological ignorance. The question really is to be expected. The ignorance is to be found among the many millions of Christians and Jews who would be spooked about the confirmation of ET life because they have fundamentally misunderstood the image of God as some sort of (heretofore) human attribute, like intelligence, sentience, speech, etc. This is the way the image gets talked about all the time, but that notion is not at all coherent.

I won’t take the time or space to rehearse the content of my lectures here. The best I can do is the twelve-page essay on the image of God that I recently wrote for a study Bible published by my employer, Logos Bible Software (the article was for the Lexham Bible Dictionary, also our product, but accessible through the study Bible). Look for the section on the meaning of the image. I could have devoted twelve more pages as to why the “traditional” (attribute-based) view undermines a pro-life ethic and fails because of research in fields like artificial intelligence and animal cognition (and the theoretical study of intelligent ET life), but this will have to do. People who have a high view of Scripture and its teaching about how humans are God’s imagers (to know why I use the verbal phrasing, read my essay), an intelligent ET ought not to be any theological threat. And yet it would be, due to theological ignorance.

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Today marks the release for pre-order of the special edition of my paranormal-supernatural thriller, The Faade. The special edition published by Kirkdale Press contains some great bonus content:

- Behind The Faade: A look into how and why I wroteThe Faade.

- Resources for Further Study: An annotated bibliographic guide to the government documents, covert military programs, UFO controversies, and religious ideas that are part of the plot of The Faade.

- The first five chapters of the highly-anticipated sequel!

The special edition is freshly edited and formatted for your ereader, mobile phone, tablet, and computer. Click here for a synopsis. Readers get 25% off when they pre-order it on Vyrso.

I’ll be revealing a hint about the sequel’s title tomorrow on the blog. Be the first to guess correctly and you’ll get a free copy of The Faade: Special Edition.

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