If the moon and Mars were to be colonized some time in the next 100 years, how would this affect the viability of a pre-trib rapture view?
Or how about this question: How do eschatological views affect the discussion on the existence of extraterrestrial life?
This is a topic I’ve always been interested in. I am a big fan of science fiction novels and programs such as the X-Files and Star Trek. As a Christian, I see these stories as entertaining ideas, or as one science fiction writer called them, “thought experiments.” I don’t believe in UFO’s or extraterrestrials, but I find the concept interesting. Even the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis wrote a Space Trilogy, which like his Chronicles of Narnia series is an allegory relating to Christian theology.
As a high school sophomore, I wrote a science fiction novella about an atheist who invents a space ship capable of interstellar travel. After an argument with his wife, who is a Christian, he decides to travel to the nearest star and discovers a strange utopian civilization. When he returns to earth he discovers that the entire earth is deserted. He is left with no choice except to travel back to the utopian planet. To his surprise, he discovers that his wife and her friends are on the planet. Even though he has traveled many additional light years, they haven’t aged. The situational irony, of course, is that the rapture has occurred while he was en route to the Bernard Star solar system – which people thought at that time was the closest star capable of having a solar system. The novel ends with the realization that the distant planet was heaven. The fate of the protagonist was that he was thrown into a black hole, which according to my story, was the second death described in Revelation 21:8.
The biggest irony in all of this is that when I wrote this story, I was not converted to Christ. I had read the works of Hal Lindsey and seen TV programs on the topic of “The Terminal Generation.” I used to believe that the rapture had to be very close because the Bible spoke only of people being “caught up” in the air to meet the Lord. Once people began to explore other planets, I thought, that would throw a monkey wrench into the possibility of the rapture occurring while people were on other planets. At least I didn’t see any mention of it in the so-called “end-times” prophecies of the Bible.
Then ten years later as a new Christian, I read a book by John Jefferson Davis called, Christ’s Victorious Kingdom: Postmillennialism Reconsidered. Postmillennialism differs from the traditional premillennial view in that there is no “rapture” of the church sometime in a seven year tribulation of wars, diseases and natural calamities. Postmillennialism teaches essentially that the world will become gradually Christianized as time goes by. The Second Coming and the rapture will occur after a long Golden Age of peace and prosperity.
Today as a postmillennialist, I believe that we have enough time left in history to colonize space – and possibly one day travel to other solar systems. I don’t think we will find aliens on other worlds, but I often wonder whether or not God created some of these worlds in a way that would allow men from the planet earth to create biospheres on other planets. Is it possible that the Great Commission involves spreading the Gospel for beyond our own solar system?
More about postmillennialism.