When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about His coming at the end of the age, He began with, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). He warned of increasing numbers of false prophets (Matthew 24:5, 11). While those warnings apply generally to false doctrines and religions, He narrows His focus explicitly to a time: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21), which is necessarily connected to the general resurrection of the dead in Daniel 12:1 and cannot be relegated to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, as preterists erroneously assert. Jesus predicted a false messiah would come in “His own name” and would be accepted by the Jews (John 5:43). At this time, the deception will become so convincing that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).While it is clear that the time prior to His return will be one of unmatched deception, Jesus’ prediction concerning “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26, underline added) seems to infer something believed to be not of this world, i.e., extraterrestrial. Paul’s writings confirm the teachings of Jesus.
Paul wrote to Timothy that during the last days, people would depart from Christianity and fall prey to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1–3). Although the “latter days” ensued at Pentecost, the temporal language implies a progression culminating in a distinctively universal demonic seduction. Confirming this idea, Paul taught the Thessalonians that prior to Christ’s return there will be an apostasy and appearance of “a man of sin” who will proclaim to be God (vv. 3–4). This “man of sin” is widely considered to be the Antichrist or the “the Beast” in the book of Revelation (Revelation 13, 17). In addition, Daniel wrote of a king who would “magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods” (Daniel 11:36). The title, “God of gods,” is revealing, as we believe these events will entail a showdown of divine beings who exercise untold power and influence over this world. According to Paul, this tyrant’s appearance will be accompanied by unprecedented signs, and God will allow the unbelieving world to fall under a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Of course, Paul is unequivocal that Satan and his rebel angels will carry this out, and, according to biblical theology, the realm they will operate from is the sky.
The Prince of the Power of the Air
Paul’s description of Satan as the “prince” (archōn) “of the air” (tou aeros) or “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) is indicative of where this deception will originate. This title speaks to the abode of the fallen angels. According to theologian Fred Dickason’s angelology, “This title might be rendered ‘the ruler of the empire of this atmosphere.’ It pictures Satan’s position and activity as a dominating leader operating a kingdom that centers in the atmosphere of the earth.”[i] While more liberal interpreters might think we are pressing a metaphor too far, this is certainly the preferred reading. When seeking to understand an ancient text, it is essential to search for the author’s intended meaning, and for a first-century Jew, this description was literal. Biblical scholar and recent president of the Evangelical Theological Society, Dr. Clinton Arnold, explains:
Paul is using spirit here in the sense of a personal being. Likewise, Paul intended air to be understood in a literal sense; both Jews and Gentiles commonly regarded the air as a dwelling place for evil spirits. The following lines from various Greek magical papyri illustrate this perspective:
For no aerial spirit which is joined with a mighty assistant will go into Hades. Protect me from every demon in the air. I conjure you by the one who is in charge of the air.
A first-century A.D. Jewish document aligns itself with this concept: “For the person who fears God and loves his neighbor cannot be plagued by the aerial spirit of Beliar since he is sheltered by the fear of God” (Testament of Benjamin 3:4).
In Ephesians 2:2, the reference to spirit is simply a reference to a personal evil force, and the reference to air is representative of the common belief that demons inhabit the air.[ii]
Another respected biblical scholar, William Hendriksen, argues that the literal meaning is basic to Ephesians 2:2, asking, “Is it not rather natural that the prince of evil is able, as far as God in his overruling providence permits, to carry on his sinister work by sending his legions to our globe and its surrounding atmosphere?”[iii] In addition, later in the same letter, Paul similarly positions them, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Also note that in Nehemiah 9:6, the prophet speaks of more than one heaven: He saw the heavens and the “heaven of heavens.” These were not peripheral heavens, as taught in Mormonism, but heavenly divisions, as Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:2, saying, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one [was] caught up to the third heaven.” Some scholars believe that when Paul referred to this “third heaven,” he was echoing his formal education as a Pharisee concerning three heavens that included a domain of air or height, controlled by the prince of demons—Beelzeboul, “lord of the flies.” In pharisaical thought, the first heaven was simply the place where the birds fly, anything removed from and not attached to the surface of the Earth. On the other end of the spectrum and of a different substance was the third heaven—the dwelling place of God. This was the place from which angelic spheres spread outward. Between this third heaven, “where dwells the throne room of God,” and the first heaven, where the birds fly, was a war zone called the “second heaven”—the place where Satan abides as the prince of the power of the “air,” a sort of gasket heaven, the domain of Satan encompassing the surface of the Earth. Thus, Satan’s kingdom is the atmosphere above Earth, not beneath it (or in the center crust of it) in hell. No one will be ruling in hell; it is a place of punishment, and Satan will be in chains (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:2). Having a rock-solid biblical basis to locate Satan’s kingdom in our atmosphere, we now turn briefly to Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP), also known as UFOs.
Operation Trojan Horse
While many Christians argue the contactee messages and abductions associated with UFOs and aliens support the demonic nature of the phenomenon, even secular researchers like Jacques Vallée and John Keel have connected the dots. Vallée argues that the phenomenon acts on three levels: 1) physical; 2) biological; and 3) social. First, the physical level constitutes a craft that radiates tremendous energy. Because only 5 percent or so of UAP turn out to be what we term residual (or RUFOs), it is extremely difficult to generalize, but we address the physical more thoroughly in “The Extradimensional Hypothesis.” Second, biologically, they cause a variety of psychophysiological effects on witnesseses, from hallucinations to lasting personality changes, including paranormal abilities that are associated with demons in the New Testament (Acts 16:16–18).
The third area is the most open to analysis. In the social arena, a broad range of researchers have noted that messages coming from UFO entities betray a deceptive nature. Gary Stearman, host of Prophecy in the News, notes:
From 1947 to the present, UFO aliens have presented themselves as everything from Martians and Venusians to Tau Cetians to Alpha Pegasians. As twentieth-century perceptions have shifted, their identities have shifted to meet current social expectations.
At the dawn of our atomic age they said they were here to save mankind from a hideous extinction by fire and radiation.
With the birth of the environmental movement, they suddenly told their victims that they were here to save mankind from climatic catastrophe.
These days they present no excuse. They simply go about the work that has apparently underlain their comings and goings for many years.[iv]
In popular media, movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek, and ET have made UFOs and ETs cultural icons. Books by Zecharia Sitchin and Erich von Däniken, along with television shows like Ancient Aliens, have inspired an alternative worldview. A Lutheran theologian and ufologist, Ted Peters, has noted that ancient astronaut theory and popular UFO belief offers “an ostensibly respectable way of talking about our deeper religious needs.”[v] In other words, these ET beliefs put a scientific gloss on the secularists’ inescapable but embarrassing religious sensibilities. However, the contactees and abductees testify to an anti-Christian spiritual agenda, and many folks believe an ET reality falsifies the Bible.
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Vallée argues, “Our religions seem obsolete. Our idea of the church as a social entity working within rational structures is obviously challenged by the claim of a direct communication in modem times with visible beings who seem endowed with supernatural powers.”[vi] Although he is not a Christian, Vallée has a greater grasp of what is going on than most. He has written:
I believe that UFOs are physically real. They represent a fantastic technology controlled by an unknown form of consciousness. But I also believe that it would be dangerous to jump to premature conclusions about their origin and nature, because the phenomenon serves as the vehicle for images that can be manipulated to promote belief systems tending to the long-term transformation of human society. I have tried to identify some of the manipulators and to highlight their activities, which range from apparently harmless hoaxes such as the false professor George Adamski’s meetings with Venusian spacemen to bloody expeditions that have littered the American landscape with the carcasses of mutilated animals. I have found disturbing evidence of dangerous sectarian activities linked to totalitarian philosophies. The ease with which journalists and even scientists can be seduced into indiscriminate promotion of such deceptions is staggering. In the context of an academic attitude that rejects any open investigation of paranormal phenomena, such fanatical conversions must be expected. For me, that is only one more reason for an independent thinker to remain vigilant against false ideas and simplistic political notions planted by those I have called the “Messengers of Deception.”[vii]
We devote an entire entry to harmonizing Vallée’s “control grid” hypothesis with biblical theology. However, he is not the only secular ufologist supportive of our view.
One of ufology’s most influential and widely read authors, John A. Keel, claimed that he did not consider himself a ufologist but a demonologist, even stating, “Ufology is just another name for demonology.”[viii] While many connections between modern reports of ET activity and the Watchers described in the Old Testament are established within this series, it is essential to note that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain a description of a Watcher that is identical to that of modern, reptilian ETs. Keel concluded after years of research that the UFO phenomenon was a cosmic bait-and-switch scheme perpetrated by the same entities who opposed Jesus and the disciples:
The literature indicates that the phenomenon carefully cultivated the religious frame of reference in early times, just as the modem manifestations have carefully supported the extraterrestrial frame of reference. Operation Trojan Horse is merely the same old game in a new, updated guise. The Devil’s emissaries of yesteryear have been replaced by the mysterious “men in black.” The quasi-angels of Biblical times have become magnificent spacemen. The demons, devils and false angels were recognized as liars and plunderers by early man.[ix]
Keel’s assessment is astounding given that he was not working from Christian presuppositions. He is credited with coining the term “Men in Black” (MIB) and with charting patterns and cycles in UFO sightings. The fact that researchers like Vallée and Keel come to these sorts of conclusions suggests the Christian researchers in the upcoming documentary on GREAT DELUSION who connect UFOs to the prophesied demonically inspired “strong delusion” are correct.
In addition, Daniel R. Jennings has documented a dozen similarities between abduction experiences and classical accounts of demonic manifestations.[x] Accordingly, many abductees have found deliverance in Christ. Shortly after the tragic suicide deaths of the Heavens’ Gate UFO cult, Guy Malone, a former abductee set free in Christ, moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in response to a missionary call to reach the abductees and ET believers. In addition to his own testimony published as Come Sail Away,[xi] he started the Alien Resistance movement, which sponsored several conferences and increased public awareness. Many like-minded Christians have joined forces to this end, believing these events forecast the lateness of the hour in God’s plan. David Ruffino and Joseph Jordan have written:
We think that from what we have seen so far that the act of alien abduction isn’t just a fad that’s occurring, nor it is something imaginary. It is not something that is made up by members of some lunatic fringe; no, it is real and it is a danger to everyone in our society. We think that it is a major part of the “strong delusion” that has come upon the Earth. It fits perfectly into the end time scenario and is a wonderful way to pull people away from the true God and point mankind to the false messiah who will deceive the whole world.[xii]
Supporting the notion that so-called alien abductions are demonic attacks, the CE4 Research Group has published testimonies from former victims describing aliens reacting to the name of Jesus (much in the same way that demons responded to His name in the New Testament) and also finding lasting freedom by living a repentant Christian lifestyle. [xiii]
This makes Rome’s heralded demonologist, Monsignor Corrado Balducci, all the much more exasperating. Whereas the majority of evangelical scholars conclude that the contactee phenomenon is connected to the occult, Balducci asserted that so-called extraterrestrial encounters “are not demonic, they are not due to psychological impairment, and they are not a case of entity attachment.”[xiv] Although he was an official Roman Catholic exorcist, it is not clear what he based this dubious evaluation on. Responding incredulously, Michael Heiser wrote:
Anyone who has read more than half a dozen pages of contactee material can see the connections already (and we’ll get more specific). One wonders how Msgr. Balducci could have missed this kind of information. No…occult connections to UFOs and alien contact here. Maybe he just doesn’t want to see the connections.[xv]
Referring to UFO aliens, Balducci maintains, “We don’t even have to waste a thought on the devil and his demons, who still kept their angelic nature, being fallen angels and therefore also purely spiritual beings, since they are limited in their activity by God and therefore not able to bring all their hatred to us.”[xvi] Balducci was a theologian of the Vatican Curia, a long-time exorcist for the archdiocese of Rome, and a prelate of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. If one were seeking a Catholic opinion on demonology, it would be hard to solicit a demonologist with more clout. He suggests that originating from the spirit realm precludes any material reality, but Scripture is replete with angels who are mistaken for men (Genesis 19:1; Acts 1:10), and the author of Hebrews warns, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2), which hardly seems possible if they were simply immaterial spirits.
The so-called Nordic aliens are remarkably similar to the messengers in the Bible. The classification “angel” only formally refers to these entities, but it is often used as an umbrella term encompassing a variety of entities. The Bible mentions other strange entities like seraphim and cherubim that have reptilian qualities and, as mentioned already in this series, 4Q544 from the Dead Sea Scrolls describes an evil Watcher named Melkiresha, whose “looks were frightening like those of a viper.”[xvii] Some may argue that angels do not need spaceships. However, we have scant evidence that we are dealing with nuts-and-bolts-type craft, and even if so, it is not a matter of need, rather subterfuge to promote belief in space aliens camouflaging demonic entities. Unfortunately, many modernist theologians have stopped believing in Satan and demons entirely. For example, Roman Catholic theologian Richard McBrien (writing as acting chairman of the theology department at the University of Notre Dame) wrote that he considered the idea of a personal Satan to be “premodern and precritical.”[xviii] We affirm the reality of Satan and demons and believe Keel’s analysis was prescient and sound. There is plenty of corroborating evidence in this series supporting this hypothesis. While God does limit their power for now, Balducci ignores the wealth of biblical prophecy that predicts a time when that restraining influence will be lifted (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
UP NEXT: The Arrival Of End-Time Deception
[i]C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect & Evil (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 128.
[ii] Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1992), 125.
[iii]William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of Ephesians, vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 113.
[iv] Gary Stearman, “What Does the Bible Say About UFOs?” Prophecy in the News, vol. 38, no. 11 (August 2011), 15.
[v] Ted Peters, Ufos—God’s Chariots? Flying Saucers in Politics, Science, and Religion (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1977), 9.
[vi] Jacques Vallée, Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact (New York: Contemporary Books, 1988), xiii.
[vii] Jacques Vallée, Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (Daily Grail Publishing, 2008), vi.
[viii] “John A Keel UFO Researcher Has Died at Age 79” National UFO Center, July 8, 2009, http://www.nationalufocenter.com/artman/publish/article_287.php.
[ix] John A. Keel, Operation Trojan Horse (Lilburn, GA: Illuminet Press, 1996), 193.
[x] Daniel R. Jennings “Similarities Between UFO Encounters And Demonic Encounters,” last accessed January 18, 2013, http://www.danielrjennings.org/SimilaritiesBetweenUFOActivityAndDemonicActivity.html.
[xi] Guy Malone, Come Sail Away, last accessed January 18, 2013, http://www.alienstranger.com/seekye1/CSA-UFO-Bible.htm.
[xii] David Ruffino and Joseph Jordan, Unholy Communion (Crane, MO: Official Disclosure, 2010), Kindle locations 720–724.
[xv] Michael Heiser, “UFOs, ETs, and Religion, Part 2 (Balducci’s Conundrum Continued)” UFO Religions, last accessed January 19, 2013, http://michaelsheiser.com/UFOReligions/2008/05/ufos-ets-and-religion-part-2-balduccis-conundrum-continued/#fn-12-5.
[xvi] Corrado Balducci, “Ufology and Theological Clarifications,”Pescara, (June 8th, 2001), viewable here: http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/mar3/balducci.htm.
[xvii] “4Q Amramb (4Q544),” in Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 312.
[xviii]Philip Elmer-De Witt, “No Sympathy for the Devil,” Time, March 19, 1990, 55–56.