Thursday, November 3, 2016

Do Exoplanets Shake Your Faith?

Courtesy of NASA/JPL
Not that long ago it was a doubtful idea that we would ever find planets outside our solar system. Yet according to Wikipedia we've now found 3,537 extrasolar planets since 1998. Once in a while you will see this fact (or the possibility we may find life on one of those planets) offered by journalists as something that might, well... shake the faith of Jesus' followers right down to our boots.

Because faith is such a precious, fragile little thing, you know.

There are a number of reasons people offer as to why life on other planets might disturb us, one of which is the notion that Jesus would have to visit each and every one so he could die horribly all over again. As one theologian recently put it, "It's been argued for a couple of centuries now whether one incarnation of God as Jesus Christ for the entirety of creation is sufficient."

Fortunately, early Christians have already been there and done that.


According to the Apostles, the sacrifice of Jesus is of cosmic significance. It isn't limited to the planet it took place on; it isn't limited at all, in fact. In any way. It touches every person that exists.

The early Christian movement was pretty clear on this. Paul the Apostle, for instance, told Jesus' roman followers that, "the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God," (Letter to the Romans 6.10). The Letter to the Hebrews is even plainer: "He came to offer himself only once. And that once is enough for all time. He came at a time when the world is nearing an end. He came to take away all sin by offering himself as a sacrifice," (Hebrews 9.26 ERV).

"Christ died for all," Paul succinctly puts it, "therefore all have died," (Second Letter to the Corinthians 5.14).

"Once for all" -- One death and resurrection, infinitely valuable, is able by itself to put the sins of the universe right -- and what other universes there may be.

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