The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Looking Heavenward for a Savior

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One of our readers wondered why we are offering Alien Intrusion, a book on UFOs. He asked it this way: “How in the world can this be a part of ‘Equipping and Empowering Christians to Restore America’s Biblical Foundation.’?” This is a very good question. Not only are UFOs in the news, but there is a worldview behind their interest that sees their existence as a competitor to the Christian worldview. Interest in aliens is not much different from interest in Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, New Age Religions, or cults. People are seeking answers to life’s questions. Christians must be ready with an answer when UFO advocates claim that our salvation will come from heaven by way of our advanced alien brothers.

Too many books on the subject of UFOs either capitulate to secular assumptions or develop sensationalistic explanations based upon end-time prophetic beliefs.[1] The modern-day secular interest in UFOs is based on materialist assumptions. M.K. Jessup, an early UFO advocate and author of The Case for the UFO, states in his book UFO and the Bible, “Nothing is supernatural.” He explains away the supernatural events recorded in the Bible by claiming “there is a causal common denominator for many of the Biblical wonders,” and “this common cause is related to the Phenomena of the UFO, both directly and indirectly.”[2] With these operating presuppositions, the Bible is a compilation of myths and legends that can be logically and scientifically explained by a study of UFOs. If this worldview begins to dominate the thinking of a majority of people in our society, then America’s biblical foundation is in jeopardy in the same way it is when Darwinists and secularists try to undermine the Christian faith.

Americans are experiencing a crisis in faith where many no longer believe that science can explain everything and today’s gospel message has reach a state of irrelevance because of the way it is presented. A sizeable number of people consider traditional religions to be narrow minded. They are quick to dismiss anything that does not fit their rigidly constructed worldview. They want more, and they are willing to reach toward the heavens to get it. “Many flying saucer buffs are believers precisely because aliens may offer hope, much like a deity. . . . Americans are desperately searching for hope in an increasingly cynical age.”[3] Carl Sagan makes a similar point:

The interest in UFOs and ancient astronauts seems at least partly the result of unfulfilled religious needs. The extraterrestrials are often described as wise, powerful, benign, human in appearance, and sometimes they are attired in long white robes. They are very much like gods and angels, coming from other planets rather than from heaven, using spaceships rather than wings. There is a little pseudoscientific overlay, but the theological antecedents are clear.[4]

From The Day the Earth Stood Still to Carl Sagan’s Contact (1997), alien encounter movies are projections of evolutionary optimism and messianic hope. The rationalistic worldview of secularism is not meeting the needs of the spiritually deprived. Science needs to be resuscitated and infused with special meaning. More than this, science needs a resurrection of monumental proportions. Hollywood gave science a way out of its materialistic and anti-supernatural dilemma by turning to the heavens. The comic book super hero Superman was the first inter-galactic messianic figure: He was sent to earth by his father, kept his identify secret, exhibited extraordinary powers, emerged to the public when he was about thirty years old, and went about doing good works. In the movie version of Superman, “upon his arrival, [the infant] gives us one more less-than-subtle hint as he opens his arms wide [to his adoptive parents] to suggest a miniature Christ.”[5]

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) also depicts aliens as saviors, as beneficent gods who draw their “chosen ones” to themselves. “It is the alien landing as Epiphany, the coming of the gods rather than extraterrestrials” as menacing destroyers.[6] The aliens go about the world to gather their “elect.”

Similar to Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still, E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial (1983) personified the alien as savior. An infant alien is left on earth where he is taken in by a family in turmoil. “He hides in a shed (a manger) and is discovered and cared for by children (the disciples), persecuted by adult authorities, killed, and then raised from the dead. His ascension is witnessed by a newly formed community of believers.”[7] All the elements of religion are present.

Here was the scientific savior who was sent to earth from above (fulfilling the promise of its “shining spaceship”), performed healing-type miracles in exchange for faith, produced conversion experiences in the innocent and pure (“the little children who come unto it”) and died and was resurrected before its ascension to its “home.”[8]

The E.T. parallels with Christianity are unmistakable. Al Millar, in his “E.T.”—You’re More Than a Movie Star, lists thirty-three parallels between E.T. and Jesus Christ.[9] When Universal City Studios got wind of the booklet, they immediately called on Millar to retract it and cease and desist from any further publication and distribution.[10] What were they afraid of? Certainly not a loss in revenue. Millar sold about 25 copies for $1.00 each. Spielberg did not want his movie to be viewed as having a religious theme storyline.

The rejection of one religion and savior means the adoption of another religion and savior no matter how much it’s denied. The underlying premise of movies like E.T. is that there are aliens in our universe who can perform “miracles” in the same way that Jesus did. The purpose of this idea is to minimize the uniqueness of Jesus. Atheists like Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, downplay the religious overtones in works of science fiction, but they can’t escape them. “If certain parallels exist between E.T. and the Christ story, they are not unlike similar religious parallels contained in the many science fiction works (film or literature) that have been created before.”[11] There is no need for God, even though these aliens display god-like attributes. If we can just contact our distant alien brothers, we will learn the age-old mysteries of the universe and attain eternal life. While the Humanists declared, “we will save ourselves, the new spiritual humanists believe that “Alien supermedicine” will save us all.[12]

The UFO topic is a worldview topic that must be addressed intelligently by Christians. Alien Intrusion takes the first step in doing that.

Endnotes:

[1] Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman, Alien Encounters: The Secret Behind the UFO Phenomenon (Coeur d’Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 1997).
[2] M.K. Jessup, UFO and the Bible (New York: The Citadel Press, 1956), 10. Emphasis in the original.
[3] Quoted in Bill Hendrick, “UFOs and the Otherworldly: Do You Believe?,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (June 25, 1997), B1.
[4] Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (New York: Random House, 1979), 56.
[5] Robert Short, The Gospel from Outer Space: The Religious Implications of E.T., Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1983), 42.
[6] Baird Searles, Films of Science Fiction and Fantasy (New York: AFI Press, 1988), 128.
[7] Peter Fraser and Vernon Edwin Neal, ReViewing the Movies: A Christian Response to Contemporary Film (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 31.
[8] Bobby Maddex, “The Gospel According to E.T.,” Rutherford Magazine (October 1996), 23.
[9] Al Millar, “E.T. You’re More Than a Movie Star (New Port News, VA: privately published, 1982), 4–5. See Donald R. Mott and Cheryl McAllister Saunders, Steven Spielberg (Boston, MA: Ywayne Publishers, 1986), 126, 167, note 41.
[10] “E.T. and Jesus: Virginia Professor Warned to Drop Booklet Comparing Them,” The Washington Post (September 27, 1982), B5. The story of the publication of Millar’s booklet and the response by Universal Studios is told in The Flea’s Reprieve, an unpublished manuscript in my possession and graciously made available to me by Heather Millar Felts, Mr. Millar’s daughter.
[11] Millar, “E.T. You’re More Than a Movie Star, 126–127.
[12] Searles, Films of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 116.

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