Re: C.S. Lewis on ETs and theology

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 16:52:52 EDT

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    Brief (due to time constraints) comments interspersed:

    --- Steve Petermann <> wrote:
    > Dr. Nelson wrote:
    > > I did anything but merely pass off your questions,
    > but
    > > tried (apparently not to your satisfaction) to
    > address
    > > all of them.
    > Okay. Here goes: In what follows I'm assuming that
    > there is some *concrete*
    > salvic benefit incurred by the incarnation of the
    > second person of the
    > trinity, life, death and resurrection of Jesus here
    > on earth. I'm also
    > assuming that it would rather arrogant of us to
    > assume that the salvation of
    > all ET's everywhere were dependent on what happened
    > on this planet. So, if
    > there turns out to be ET's out there:
    > 1) Is another incarnation, life, death and
    > resurrection of the second person
    > of the trinity necessary for their salvation? Or at
    > least an incarnation at
    > some point in the planet's history?

    I think the simple answer is it depends, and I don't
    know how we can speculate about it. The point I tried
    to get across is that the actions, life, death and
    resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth were for *human
    beings*. I do not know what biological, cultural,
    etc. factors would go into making *different*
    redemptive actions for the second person of the
    Trinity in union with the nature of some other ET.

    I doubt as an initial matter, if there were more than
    one Incarnation that every Incarnation would be a
    carbon copy passion play. What happens would depend
    on those creature's nature and what God wants for

    > 2) Is there a limited scope to any particular salvic
    > scheme? Country?
    > World? Solar system? Galaxy?

    Why should there be? I would caveat that some
    versions of christianity posit a limited scope, e.g.,
    limited atonement, for christ's action -- now that
    does not apply to world, country, globe or galaxy, but
    to the elect.

    I am not sure what you mean by salvific scheme? I
    think that Jesus of Nazareth may be able to speak to
    ETs who still have had their own experience with the
    second person of the Trinity (or as Howard might say
    The Sacred). They, likewise, may have good news to
    share with us, too.

    I think it odd to say that salvation is geographically
    delimited since even Jesus of Nazareth is not about
    geographic limitation -- quite the reverse. And as I
    pointed out before, to the extent some christians talk
    about exclusivity it is neither ethnic nor geographic.

    > 3) If I move from one planet to another, am I
    > covered by the salvic scheme
    > of my previous planet or the new one?

    Ah, hah! Here I think we are beginning to get to the
    root of the problem!?

    One's understanding of atonement influences what the
    answer to this is. First, like so many things varies
    significantly among and within christian traditions.
    Second, if you are looking at it from a penal
    substitution perspective, which your question implies
    (and I wouldnt necessarily look at it that way), then
    the answer is you're covered by the one from your
    biological planet of origin. Although, I would not
    view it in those terms. Although God is God no matter
    where you go. To the extent that God reveals Himself
    to ETs consonant with their nature, one might suppose
    that it would be most "natural" to understand
    revelation vis-a-vis made to your planet of origin,
    but I see no reason why there might not be good news
    to share as I have said before.

    > 4) If there can be different salvic schemes on
    > different planets does that
    > mean that there can be different salvic schemes on
    > this planet as well, say
    > by another religion in another part of the world or
    > can there only be one
    > salvic scheme per planet?

    Well, I dont think christianity has one understanding
    of God's salvific scheme for this planet.

    I think the broad christian sentiment is God is most
    fully revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. That does not
    make claims, necessarily, about other relligions.
    Theologies differ widely. For the purposes of this
    list, I will stay away from getting any more explicit
    on this question.

    > 5) Assuming that ET's may be very different than us,
    > is salvation species
    > specific? In other words if there are more than one
    > sentient species on a
    > planet, does the second person of the trinity have
    > to incarnate in each?

    Well, I have addressed this already. The first
    question, I presume would be do they sin -- however
    you want to define that. If not, if they have a
    relationship with God that is not broken, an
    incarnation would seem unnecessary.

    Where there is sin, in some way, God would reveal
    Himself to them and join His nature to theirs, which
    is why I suggested that following the example for your
    "species", as you use the term, might be appropriate,
    although not necessarily exclusive.

    As I discussed above, whether an incarnation is
    necessary and what happens vis-a-vis that incarnation,
    I don't pretend to guess, because it will be
    particular to the nature of each "species". (Not to
    eliminate the possibility that where context is
    appropriate it might not be part of God's intent to
    have one "species" evangelize another.)
    > That should be enough. I know it sounds like I'm
    > just trying to be
    > obnoxious but that's not it at all. It was around
    > this very issue that I
    > came to reject the "concrete" idea of the Christ.
    > That does not, however,
    > mean I reject the symbol of the incarnation, cross
    > and resurrection. Can
    > Christianity survive without a concrete Christ?
    > Steve Petermann

    To the contrary, I think the concrete Jesus of
    Nazareth is the greatest hope (and promise) that God
    will join His nature with ETs who are in need of
    redeemption, too...

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