Monday, 19 January 2015

Evangelising Aliens and the Cosmological Scope of the Incarnation

David Fergusson’s latest book, Creation, includes a discussion about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. One interesting question that arises is this: Should extraterrestrial life exist, would it need to be evangelised? Much depends on how anthropocentric a conception of sin and redemption one holds, and Fergusson himself is cautious in his own response to the question:

At present, the evangelization of distant galaxies seems impractical and faintly absurd given the difficulties in communication and our ignorance of other life-forms. Instead, it seems better to retain some openness to revision and flexibility within one’s theological system — the Christian faith should be rich enough and sufficiently capacious to accommodate the discovery of extraterrestrial life — while yet refusing to adopt wholesale changes on the basis of speculative possibilities. As yet, we lack compelling evidence for [extraterrestrial intelligence]. And, for the present, the potential for extraterrestrial life should not trouble a theology that rejoices in the abundance of God’s love and the scope for companionship with other creatures.

David Fergusson, Creation. Guides to Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), p. 111

All this reminds me of a post I wrote almost three years ago on the idea of incarnation having cosmic scope:

On the basis of what has been revealed by the Spirit of God in and through Jesus, and on the basis of what has been attested in the biblical witness, God has deliberately entered into covenantal relations with the inhabitants of this planet – covenantal relations that, realised through Jesus, also have implications for the rest of the universe.

I see no reason to change my mind – for the moment!

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