Jesus & Extra-terrestrials’

‘Jesus & Extra-terrestrials’

There are a number of nouns that are synonymous with the word extra-terrestrials: Little Green Men, Space Beings and Martians come to mind. Oddly Angels are, most often, not included in this category though sceptics may suggest that, however, defined, these creatures are too ‘anthropomorphic’ to be taken seriously. Though we get the point, we think that this is an argument that has seen better days. Moreover, it is not the basis for any kind of evidential thesis.

The Genesis text unequivocally states that God’s conclusion, on ‘the sixth day’, was that the creation was, indeed, ‘very good’. The question, however, arises as to how this ‘very goodness’ can apply to an evolutionary creation. The key, we suggest, is in the literary function of the “And God said” phrases—sometimes referred to as ‘divine fiats’—occurring, as they do, at least nine times in chapter one of Genesis. Firstly, it should be noted that there is no need to assume that the ‘time’ and location of the creation of the devil (an Archangel) and the other angels should be accounted for in the Genesis story of creation. Moreover, it is important to maintain the notion of these extra-terrestrial beings as having the will to choose ‘wrong’ from ‘right’: to bring about a state of affairs that might not be the preferred will of God but, rather, the outworking of minds opposed to the good. NB. This is not to say that God’s ultimate purposes were subjugated by the will of created beings—whether angels or humans…

There can be no reason why angels could not be endowed with the kind of abilities with which, even scientists, have no present/personal acquaintance. Indeed, even though God may be incorporeal, i.e., without physical form—God, nevertheless, cannot be restricted to any particular ‘reality’ designated by either science or philosophy—as if God, who is spirit, could not possess, within God’s life, such things as personality, will, intellect and ‘personal existence’. Angels (both holy and unholy), though usually without form (incorporeal), may, as Scripture makes clear, inhabit the ‘physicality’ of carbon-based life forms. Moreover, as with God, who is Spirit, angels have personal qualities that are far superior to that of mankind. These creatures were, according to Scripture, privileged beings with powers that far surpass those of human agents. ([1]) Hebrews 2:7-9 (also Psalm 8:5) refers to the ‘position’ of the incarnate ‘son of man’ who was, ‘…for a little while lower than the angels.’ ([2])

Made a little lower than the Angels

That God is ‘Triune’ is an essential element of the Christian faith—the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity an essential part of the ideas in this book. The notion that Christ ([3])should be no more than a prophet or an angel is therefore in error. It is not only in error in terms of unwarranted assumptions from other worldviews, which is particularly the case regarding the teachings of Islam, but it is also in error because it implies a misunderstanding of the person and character of God.

That Christ was a prophet or an angel rather than the second person of the Trinity is not a new idea—though this notion has been rigorously championed—especially since the 19th century, and further explored by others as a part of the ‘quest for the historical Jesus’ (2000). Or the  ‘quest for evidence’ that would either prove that Christ was a non-historical person, or that Christ was simply ‘a man’ or [perhaps] an ‘angel’—but not ‘The Son of God’. (Ehrman, 2014). Louis Goldberg notes that the connection between the angel of the Lord and the pre-incarnate appearance of the Messiah cannot be denied:

Manoah meets the angel of the Lord and declares that he has seen God. The angel accepts worship from Manoah and his wife as no mere angel and refers to himself as ‘Wonderful’; the same term applied to the coming deliverer in Isaiah 9:6 (Judges 13:9-22 ). The functions of the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament prefigure the reconciling ministry of Jesus. In the New Testament, there is no mention of the angel of the Lord; the Messiah himself is this person. (Goldberg, 2009)

Goldberg’s conclusion is disputed by others who argue that—while New Testament authors could regard Jesus as “..pre-existent and present with the Israelites in their sacred history (see 1 Corinthians 10:4,9; Jude 5), there is no indication that he was ever identified with the angel of the Lord, not at least until the time of Justin Martyr in the second century.” (2014) Much has been written and continues to be written on the subject. The apostle Paul makes much of the subject—especially with regards to the resurrection of ‘Christ’, whom Paul assumes, was not an angel and did not become an angel—post-resurrection but rather is THE incarnate Deity—the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity. The apostle’s words in 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen clarify Paul’s conviction regarding the resurrection of the ‘man’:

Now, if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God because we testified about God that he raised Christ,…But, in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

(1 Corinthians 15:12-14,20)

Ecce homo’ (Behold the Man) John 19:5

Michael F. Bird argues that:…among the Church Fathers, the strange ‘angel of the Lord’ in the Old Testament was regarded as an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ (i.e., a Christophany), a tradition that is as early as Justin Martyr in the mid-second century…the descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-16 and 14:14-16 do have angelomorphic qualities as Jesus is described in terms reminiscent of angels…So, is Jesus simply the human manifestation of the ‘angel of the Lord’? Did Jesus morph into an angel after his exaltation to heaven? (2014) Bird most certainly refutes the likelihood of the above though others continue to look for answers that are considered more acceptable. Bird makes the point in ‘of Gods, Angels and Men’ that anyone whose presuppositions will not enable them to consider the existence of God, let alone the incarnation are not likely to be persuaded otherwise—though an angel may be acceptable for some. ([4]) Larry Hurtado makes the following apposite comments—referring to the ‘remarkable’ feature of early Christian devotional practice where Jesus was given the sort of place that was otherwise reserved for God alone:

Also among the constellation of specific devotional actions involved were songs/hymns concerning Jesus (and sometimes sang to him) that formed a characteristic feature of early Christian worship, the well-known passages commonly thought to be ‘Christological hymns’ and thus the earliest extant artefacts of this particular practice. (Hurtado, 2005)

Michael Heiser notes that: “…as Christians affirm that God is more than one person and that each of these persons is of the same essence—we affirm that Jesus is one of these persons. He is God. But in another respect, Jesus isn’t God—he is not the Father. The Father is not The Son, and the Son is not the Father. But they are the same essence.” (2015) In his comprehensive work on the identity of the ‘Angel of Yahweh’ Heiser puts forward the following arguments, which are offered here in a condensed form rather than in their entirety; though even in this condensed form they are easily identifiable as being of sound argument. Firstly Heiser points out the fact that the concept of a  ‘Godhead’ in the Old Testament has many facets and layers. Abraham’s spiritual journey includes a divine figure—that is integral to Israelite Godhead thinking: Heiser refers specifically to the appearance of the Angel of Yahweh in Genesis 22:1-9. This passage relates to the appearance of the Angel of Yahweh to Abraham as, under God’s instructions, he proceeded on his journey to Mount Moriah—where he would offer his one and only son as a burnt offering. Heiser points out that the angel speaks to Abraham, but immediately after doing so he commends Abraham for not withholding Isaac ‘from me’! “There is a switch to the first person, which given that God himself had told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2), seems to require seeing Yahweh as the speaker.” Besides this one example, Heiser highlights other examples—offering the strong possibility that the Angel of Yahweh—is:

Y-H-W-H.

Genesis 26:1-5 marks Yahweh’s first appearance to Isaac: “Isaac went to…Gerar…and Yahweh appeared to him.” In Genesis 26 (vv23-25), Yahweh appears to Isaac again—Isaac receives the same divine approval—in a series of ‘visual encounters with Yahweh. In Genesis 39: 28-29, we read that Jacob names the place Bethel—‘House of God’—and erects a pillar to commemorate the conversation he had had with Yahweh (18,19). Genesis 32: 28-29 makes it [reasonably] apparent that ‘the man’ with whom Jacob wrestled was a divine being—indeed this mysterious combatant himself says: ‘You have striven with Elohim’—a term that can be translated either as ‘God’ or ‘a god’. According to Heiser, the narrative, “…nowhere says Jacob’s encounter was only a vision. This Elohim is tangible and corporeal.” NB. The apparent  ‘corporeal’ nature of the Angel of Yahweh need not be confused with that of the future incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity—as being in the form of mankind—but that it was, in a real sense a tangible presence—perhaps akin to the resurrected body of Christ. This is, of course, speculative but not beyond the realms of possibility.

In Exodus 3:12, we read that the Angel of Yahweh appeared to Moses out of the burning bush. Verse 6 informs us that ‘Moses hid his face.’  Why would Moses have hidden his face from a burning bush—apart from wishing to protect himself from the heat? There was clearly an appearance—a Theophany—the Angel of Yahweh. What does the ‘angel’ say? Well, according to the text, the ‘Lord’ speaks in the first person—about His dealings with the people of Israel. In verse 19, we read that—“Moses said to God”—not to a mere angel but to the Angel of Yahweh, who is, most likely, Y-H-W-H. Joshua 5:13-15 and 1 Chronicles 21:16 both explicitly name the Angel with the drawn sword as the Angel of Yahweh. Heiser argues that the connection is unmistakable—on two accounts. 1) Joshua bows to the man—an instinctive reaction to the divine presence. 2) The commander orders Joshua to take off his sandals—because the place on which he stood was holy. There is a lot more to say on this issue, but space will not allow for further comment. The point is that the Christophany referred to as the Angel of the Lord can be identified as the second person of the Trinity—the ‘Word’ that was to take on the form of man.


[1]These references pertain to the ‘position & power’ of angels: Psalm 34:7; Psalm 82:1; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Isaiah 37:36, 63:9; Ezekiel chapters 1 & 10. Ezekiel 28. The book of Revelation is replete with examples of such creatures as angels. Genesis 6 also makes mention of their being creatures other than humans ‘on earth’; this it can be assumed was a reference to pre-history.

[2] As Christ was made in the form of a man and had subjected himself to this position (Philippians 2:7-8); he, temporarily, had made himself ‘lower than the angels’.

[3] Son of Man: Daniel 7:13;John 5:27:Matt. 24:30;Mark 13:24,27; Luke 21:27 Angel of the Lord: Genesis 16:7-14; Judges 5:23, 13:9-22; 2 Kings 19:35; Joshua 5:13-15; Isaiah: 9:6; Zech.1:12. J.

[4] Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, Simon J. Gathercole, Charles E. Hill and Chris Tilling add considerable weight to the opposite notion that—Indeed Jesus Christ is the Son of God and not an angel. (2014)

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djwimago

First and foremost, I became a committed follower of Jesus Christ in 1976, previously having had ‘strong leftish/ atheistic tendencies’.I’ve been married to Jackie since September 1963. We have four [grown] children and ten grandchildren—the  latest, Faith Jemima, born on 1/8/18. Four of the grandkids live, with their parents, in Australia, and three in Scotland. We also have two great-grandsons. I have been (present perfect tense) in Christian leadership in various roles: An elder (eleven years) at Bournemouth Community Church,a deacon at Lansdowne Baptist Church Bournemouth (nine years) ,a founder director of the International Training Network, Bournemouth, training centre/center for the teaching of English as a foreign language, and a teacher/principal/director [1987-2010] at the Christian English Language Centre/Center in Bournemouth and Christchurch, England. Since December 2014 my wife and I have been attending St Mary's Church Ferndown, where we are seeking to use our gifts for the Mission of Christ. Publications: I I am the joint author (along with Rosemary Griffiths) of a book entitled ‘Walls that Divide’, which is 'due'to be revised/re-edited. I am also hoping to re-publish my MRes thesis entitled ‘God, Evolution and The problem of Evil: Towards a Solution’—under a new title.... My ‘academic’ background includes forays into the world of:Sociology, Theology,Philosophy, English-Language pedagogy,linguistics and Philosophical Theology in The Open University, The University of Sheffield, Canterbury Christchurch University, Trinity College, Newburgh USA, and The University of Exeter. I have #begun the task of editing my MRes Thesis (awarded by The University of Exeter in 2015), with the view of either publishing or developing it further...God,Evolution and The Problem of Evil.., Derek J. White: In the year of the Global (Chinese #people’s Republic) Pandemic—May 6th 2020.

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