• johned@aibi.ph

UFO's and Cults

The suicide of 39 people associated with the "Heaven's Gate" UFO cults has brought cults back into the spotlight. UFO cults are a good example of syncretistic Christianity where Christianity is mixed with and adapted to fit into another philosophy - in this case a belief in extra-terrestrials. UFO's, extra-terrestrials, angels, demons and the Bible have been mixed together since at least 1882 when the book 'Oahspe' came out. Von Daniken's "Chariots of the God's" was one of the more well known of these UFO-Bible theories though later it was exposed as fraudulent. (Clifford Wilson "Crash Go The Chariots").

Christians and UFO followers both share the outlook there is "something out there that is greater than us". This apparent similarity can be quite deceptive. Where they differ is in their attitudes to the historical person of Jesus Christ the Son of God, come in the flesh. UFO cults trivialize Him while Christians worship Him. The UFO cults have used science-fiction, not Scripture as their explanatory framework. This is added to by the quite idiosyncratic, loud and clamant "revelations" of their leaders. This article will attempt to look at what the Bible says about UFO's and also answer some of the questions emerging out of the Heaven's Gate cult.

Q. Does the Bible mention extra-terrestrial life-forms?

A. The Bible certainly talks about sentient beings other than humans and there are certainly beings who are wiser and more powerful than we are. But these are spiritual beings not little green men or flying saucers. These spiritual beings seem to fall into classes such as angels(Hebrews 1:13,14), demons (Luke 4:33), living creatures (Rev 19:4), elders (Rev 19:4), ghosts (Deut 18:11, Luke 24:39), departed spirits in Sheol (Deut 18:11, Isaiah 14:9-20) righteous men made perfect and living in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-24) and martyrs(Rev 6:9-11). They have different domains but the domains are not mentioned as being other planets, stars or other worlds. They dwell "in the heavens" which seem to be dimensions of reality parallel to our own and which at various times are "opened" so that people can see into them. (Acts 7:56, 10:11) Travel to the heavens is nearly instantaneous and does not need any kind of vehicle. (Acts 1:9-11, Rev 4;1,2; 2Kings 2:11) Many of these beings have wings.(Isaiah 6:1-3, Ezek 1:6) and some have strange "combination bodies" (Ezek 1:10, Rev 4:6-8). Ghosts do not possess bodies but are discarnate entities (Luke 24:39) demons are also discarnate but seek a body to dwell in (Luke 11:24-26). Angels have bodies which can be human in appearance so that they can be mistaken for ordinary men (Genesis 19:1-26,Joshua 5:13-15) or distinctly heavenly. (Daniel 10:5,6 Isaiah 6:1-3). )

These beings belong to two "kingdoms' - the Kingdom of Light headed by God and the Kingdom of Darkness headed by Satan (Colossians 1:13, Ephesians 5:8)). These two kingdoms are at war.(Ephesians 6:10-21) Satan is seeking to take over heaven (Isaiah 14:13-15) while God is seeking to defeat him and the powers of evil (1 John 3:8). The human race is at the center of this contention. It is unique in being made "in the image of God" possessing His likeness and a portion of his authority. (Genesis 1:26-31) There is no suggestion of any other beings being made in the image of God. This image was retained after man sinned but has been damaged in some way. (Psalm 8).The human race is divided into two races depending on which Master they follow (Romans 8:14, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 3:8-10, John 8:44) they are "sons of God"(Christians)or "sons of the Devil" (unbelievers).

No other beings possess the central importance of Christians, not even angels (Hebrews1:13,14). Christians are renewed in the image of him who made them (Colossians 3:10) and have regained the authority lost in Eden, (Ephesians 2:6,7) consequently they will become very powerful and one day they will judge the angels(1 Corinthians 6:3)whose job is to serve Christians (Hebrews 1:13,14) and with Christ shall rule the nations of this world.(Revelation 2:26,27, 19;15). The human race and particularly those who are "born again" is portrayed as the pinnacle and the center of Creation such that our destiny affects all things.(Romans 1:18-25, Psalm 8). Thus we need to see ourselves as incredibly important elements in a cosmic struggle whose center-point is the cross. (Col 1:19,20, 2:13-15) and whose consummation is the return of Jesus Christ to judge the world. (Revelation 19-21).

Q. But aren't spaceships and "chariots of fire" mentioned in the Bible?

A. This is a well worn 'urban legend" that has taken on the status of "fact' in some circles. Lets look at the two most commonly quoted Scriptures in support of this. Ezekiel 1 deals with "the glory of the Lord" this is not a spaceship but a huge throne attended by mighty supernatural creatures. It is very incompletely described but the basic elements are four mighty angelic beings, some curiously designed wheels that were under the command of the angelic beings and the throne of God. It is a glorious version of a royal entourage with chariot, throne and attendants except these attendants are "ministers of fire".

There is no suggestion that it has arrived from another planet. It appears several times in the book of Ezekiel (Ezek 3:23, 8:4, 43:2-7) and the impression is given that this "mobile throne" is the center-point of God's Presence on earth at any particular point in time. (Ezek 43:7) The throne is not occupied by a race of extra-terrestrials but by the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The other misquoted reference is 2 Kings 2:11,12 where Elijah is taken up into heaven by "chariots of fire".(2 Kings 2:11-12 NRSV) As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. {12} Elisha kept watching and crying out, "Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

The description "chariots of fire and horses of fire" fits better with the "glory of the Lord" vision seen in Ezekiel than with a spaceship. The chariot was drawn by angelic horses not propelled by an ion drive! Elijah and Elisha were separated by it while walking along. It was Elijah's transition into the next life after years of fruitful ministry. He did not "come back with a message" it was a one-way trip to glory. He was taken up in a whirlwind to the Presence of God not beamed up to a spaceship of aliens This is no suggestion in Scripture that this was in some way an encounter with "another race" but rather it is portrayed as an encounter with YHWH and those who serve Him.. The 'advanced civilization' is that of Heaven itself!

Q. Why is it wrong to mix Christianity with a belief in extra-terrestrials?

A. This is what is called "syncretism" when Christianity is interpreted through the eyes of another belief system or philosophy or closely allied with it. Buddhism and Christianity are often mixed up in Vietnam, spirit worship and Christianity in the Caribbean and materialism and Christianity in the prosperity cults. These are only a few of the myriads of possible combinations. The tragedy is that when the pagan philosophy fails it takes Christianity with it. For instance say a cargo cult waits by an airstrip for Jesus to come in an airplane bringing great wealth. When the wealth does not materialize not only has the cargo cult/magical provision mentality failed but "Jesus" has failed and Christianity is marred. To marry Christianity with a belief in a spacecraft coming to take you to heaven is to invite disappointment and hurt.. Here is a real-life story of one such disappointment.

This particular cult family was convinced that their deceased daughter was a high raised angel in the spirit world and received messages from her daily. This cult family believed that their daughter had instructed them to take all of their money out of their life savings and buy camera equipment. These purchases of camera equipment were to record the celestial event of a huge UFO spiritual space craft landing in Orange County, California. According to the "Channeled" messages, the family's deceased daughter was supposed to be piloting this angelic space craft, and she wanted her father to photograph her arrival in Orange County, California. Needless to say, that when the appointed hour arrived when the angelic space craft was to appear, nothing happened.(From "Cults and the Oahspe Bible")

Q. What do you think underlies the almost fanatical belief in UFO's we see today?

A.(2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NKJV) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. {14} And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. {15} Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into "ministers of righteousness", whose end will be according to their works

Many of these groups that claim to "see the light' are seeing the counterfeit 'angel of light" - Lucifer, otherwise known as Satan or the Devil. Deception is one his strategies and getting thousands of people to believe in extra-terrestrials and to take contact with them extremely seriously is Satan's way of deluding people into "contacting" evil, deceptive and malignant spirits from his realm. UFO's point people away from Christ and the cross to a god of technology and "power". They direct us to look away from our character and its development to having encounters with alien beings and "brain surgery" and instantaneous zaps.

However, you cannot shortcut personal growth and a mentality of the quick fix from outer space just contributes to emotional immaturity. The other responses that concern me include idolatrous worship of aliens and "higher intelligence" which are really demons. The Heaven's Gate cult were in awe of the Level Above Human. The other response is that of fear and paranoia, distrust of other people, churches,governments and anyone who does not hold to the UFO theory. When so much paranoia is present, the Devil is not far off.

Q. Is there an ongoing battle between good and evil beings?

This earth is temporarily under the control of dark forces which are attempting to throw off God's rule and authority. (1 John 5:19) However God is ultimately in control and will finally take over completely.(Rev 19:11-21) The Bible calls this period when the earth is subjugated to Satan as 'this present evil age'(Galatians 1:4). Evil spiritual beings who are cruel, greedy and who ruthlessly lust for power are the controlling forces behind many of the key structural principles such as international trade, arms and agriculture (see the word "trade" in Ezek:28:5-16). This view is supported by two key New Testament references...

Firstly, before the cross in Satan's temptation of Jesus.(Luke 4:5-8 NRSV) Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. {6} And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. {7} If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." {8} Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"

Secondly, after the cross in about 90 AD as the apostle John was writing to a persecuted church. (1 John 5:19 NRSV) We know that we are God's children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.The controlling level of "intelligence" that is contacted by UFO cults is in fact the demonic realm of dark principalities and powers that control this present evil age. The cross has fatally weakened their power (Col 2:13-15)and set in motion the destruction that will finally and completely dislodge them from their strongholds.

The Christian church is God's "resistance movement" on earth.(2 Corinthians 10:3-5) When the church has done its job Jesus will return with His heavenly armies to "retake earth"(Jude 1:14,15). This will be fiercely resisted by the Devil and all who follow him. But they shall lose. (Revelation 19:11-21). Part of the deception of UFO's is the portrayal of a good earth invaded by bad aliens. This is the opposite of what will happen at the return of Christ. Satan may try to portray the hosts of heaven as "alien invaders" as part of the deception that gathers the kings of the earth for war against God.(Rev 16:13,14) The war against the "alien invaders" will in fact be a hopelessly unequal war against God! (Revelation 19:11-21).

People who do not want God's authority over their lives will be destroyed at this time while those on the side of Jesus Christ and the Creator's legitimate claim to rule this planet will be rewarded.(Matthew 13:41-43 NRSV) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, {42} and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. {43} Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

Q. So why is it all happening now?

A. The Bible speaks of powerful deceptions being let loose in the last days along with many false cults and Messiahs. Here are just a few verses to back this up.(See my article on False Miracles In The End Times for more info)

(2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 NRSV) And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. {9} The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, {10} and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. {11} For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, {12} so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

(Matthew 24:24 NRSV) For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

The UFO phenomenon is part of Satan's murderous hall of mirrors. It is not his main delusion but it is a powerful and well crafted one that can be turned to all sorts of ends and could perhaps even provide a false framework for explaining the rapture and the return of Christ. Lies that attack key points of doctrine can be very effective weapons. For example - the lie propagated by the Jewish authorities that Jesus had not risen from the dead but that His body had been stolen by the disciples. (Matthew 28:12-15) It kept many people from believing in the resurrection. (Matt 28:15) Lies are useful to hinder the work of God, to cause people to go astray and to lead them into death and destruction. UFO's are one of the Devil's more effective lies.

Q. What can I do to escape all this ?

Become a committed Christian. Faith in Jesus Christ makes us a son of God and puts us on the winning side in this conflict. (John 1:9-18 NIV) The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. {10} He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. {11} He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. {12} Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- {13} children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. {14}The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. {15} John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" {16} From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. {17} For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. {18} No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

You need to believe in Jesus. You need to believe that God sent Jesus to earth as the "true light" and that what Jesus says is true in every sense of the word.. Secondly you need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God full of glory, grace and truth. Thirdly you need to receive Jesus. That is to take him into your life as a guest who stays forever. You can do this by praying the following prayer:

" Dear God I would like to become a Christian. I know that I have not lived as you want me to. I know I need you to forgive me for all the sins I have done. I ask that you will please forgive me because of what Jesus did on the cross. I believe He died on that cross to take my sins and that You raised Him from the dead. I want to have eternal life from God so that I can follow Jesus and obey Him forever as my Lord. I want to receive Jesus into my life, become a son of God and live a life full of grace and truth. Please hear this prayer and make me a Christian now. Amen." For more info go to the "How To Become A Christian" page.

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.