Now this thought won’t fit all subscribers to Christendom’s post-millennialism, but it came up in one of those late conversations with old friends from college and it seems to be something that is an interesting ponder.
Obviously anyone who has read the Bible understands that it is a collection of ancient writings of all sorts of genres that fit together somehow around a common theme; that is the story of a God who created a world that became corrupted, and that God’s desire to restore that world back to the perfection He first created. There’s poetry, and proverbs, personal letters, and historical narratives. Many of the events that can be read about seem like everyday occurrences, but there are also many puzzling and mysterious events that can only be described as supernatural.
In the modern world, many of us are more empiricists than we like to admit, and dismiss many of these supernatural tales as a confused people attempting to describe things they didn’t understand. Yet many of us believe that while we may not understand, those events still did occur. Either way as Christians we have written precedent for the strange and unusual.
Pre-millennialists, as in those of us who are waiting for the rapture to whisk us all into heaven any minute now, have much less reason to believe in any type of life on another planet; at least not life that we will ever come into contact with. They view the book of Revelation at the end of the Bible to be a prophetic telling of the events that will happen leading up to the end of the world. There are many confusing elements, but there seem to be no extraterrestrial players, save for spiritual ones, in the various battles and plagues being presented. Their view of the story ends with Jesus returning and saving believers from a mutually assured destruction that is man-made. Now I don’t propose to be one of them, but there are those, assuming this view of a man-made war against God is correct, who feel they have a pretty good handle on this prophecy and that it doesn’t leave much room for any little green men.
Post-millennialists on the other hand, probably wouldn’t like to admit it, but they are confronted by another possibility. There are obviously many different ways to view what I’m about to explain, some of which may of course not allow for what I’m about to suggest, but the basics are this. That Revelation was a prophecy, but it did not talk about the end of the world in some distant future, but about the destruction of the city of Jerusalem that took place not long after the book was written. Setting aside the possibility of it being a dual prophecy, which most don’t subscribe to anyway, this would mean that there is no book that outlines events, generic or specific, that will occur in the future. This opens us up to all kinds of possibilities.
The basic post-millennial idea is that the world was plunged into the darkness of sin with the fall of Adam. With the death and resurrection of Christ the overreaching effects of sin have begun a reversal. Satan was once the ruler of the earth but now Christ is. Why is there still so much pain and suffering and unbelief? I’ve heard it explained in this way: Picture a medieval kingdom that was once ruled by an evil prince. Christ then stormed the castle and vanquished that prince and established his own rule. Christ is now seated on the throne, and technically rules over all the land, but it is now the job of his various knights and those under him to go out into the deepest reaches of the kingdom to share the good news. So there is already a new ruler but the entire countryside is still in darkness and ignorant of the fact until the good news is brought to them. Things will get better incrementally as this news spreads. The view is that this will take years and years and indeed it has taken us already about 2000 years to see the “progress” we’ve seen thus far. It may very well take another 2000. The idea is that however long it takes, eventually the entire world will becoming Christian and then Christ will return. (For all you cool theology majors out there please spare me the ticky-tack comments about how I missed this and overlooked that, that I know you guys are just itching to leave, and go with me on this one.)
So since this view has no imminent demise for all of mankind in its sights, and it views things like technology, and medical advances as the natural course of a world that was once plagued with evil and demons but is now being renovated back into perfection, one generation at a time, this idea of advancement or just the longevity of humanity is left wide open. And just like how the discovery by Europeans that there were people already living on a once forgotten continent way across the Atlantic had no baring on their idea of how God and religion worked, so we should not let the idea that science and even the discovery of extraterrestrials shake our faith.
We often think that since the Bible doesn’t seem to mention physical extraterrestrials that it is speaking against the Bible to even suggest the possibility. After all, if they did exist the Bible would have mentioned it. Well why do we think that exactly?
The Bible does of course give great insight into not only the workings of the soul, but it also hints at concepts and facts in math, and physics, and biology, and psychology and a whole host of others that weren’t rediscovered by the western world for millennia. I would say that the facts found in the Bible are true, but that they are not exhaustive. God left so much out there for us to discover, with His help, on our own. God did not say that there was a dark continent on the other side of the ocean that had people living there that needed to hear about His son. He told us His story with a particular people and how he sent his son to come and that his work would be to conquer the entire kingdom, and then it was our job to go and reconcile that kingdom, far and wide, to the new ruler, the original ruler. It would be centuries later that our ancestors would discover, what to them at the time was described as, an entire new world that had always been there, and perhaps always had inhabitants, but who were still sinful, and still human, and still needed to hear the good news of the new ruler, just like us.
Would it really change things at all to discover another new world, a new planet, with inhabitants, also effected by the darkness of the old kingdom, who needed to hear the blessing of the good news as well. Sure we’ll argue and fight and try to force each other into being subservient, but that’s what creatures who struggle under the old regime do. God, who created the universe will still be overseeing it all from his eternal vantage-point, and his word will still ring true. Just as a whole earth full of people once existed, yet God chose to speak with a small and insignificant band of slaves, the Israelites, to use them to eventually bring light to the entire world. Perhaps the entire world as we know it may one day function as that small and insignificant tribe that will bring light to an even larger array of created beings.