Re: C.S. Lewis on ETs and theology

From: Steve Petermann (
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 17:10:50 EDT

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    Thanks so much for your response. While this is still a sticking point for
    me I appreciate the dialogue.

    Steve Petermann

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Dr. Blake Nelson" <>
    To: "Steve Petermann" <>; <>
    Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 3:52 PM
    Subject: Re: C.S. Lewis on ETs and theology

    > 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
    > them.
    > > 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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