Truman Bethurum and the Origin of the Demonic Theory of UFO – Part 2

Writing in the May 1955 issue of Flying Saucer Review, Desmond Judge summed up the issue of “Occultism and Flying Saucers.” In the article of the same name, he wrote the following;

“Since 1947, when reported observations of Flying Saucers began to come in from all parts of the world in ever-increasing numbers, there has been a new movement in spiritualist and occult circles. Whereas the spiritual guides and contacts of mediums were once the ‘passed-over’ souls of great people, now they tend to be pilots of Flying Saucers. And, instead of telling us about their ‘etheric’ experiences on higher spuritual planes, clairvoyant now tell us about adventures on Venus and Mars; and give us forecasts of mass landings by Flying Saucers, whose occupants will bring a purer, higher existence to this earth.”

Judge’s advice on this subject was as follows:

“Belief in the existence of Flying Saucers does not automatically demand belief in Occultism. In considering evidence for the mass of people, let us leave out Occultism… We can, and should, always be receptive to new ideas. But let us be on our guard against the lunatic fringe element which us always eager to seize on any new and unexplained phenomena as evidence for its own particular lunacy!”

Not everyone could take his advice. In fact, for those Christians whose awareness of the occult was amplified by their Pentecostal theology emphasizing deliverance from demonic forces, the occult adoption of the flying saucer phenomenon was of paramount importance. Rather than separating the UFO phenomenon from the New Age Contactee movement that was actively seeking to appropriate it for a slightly transformed version of spiritualism, they (quite predictably) tossed out the baby with the bathwater.

Gordon Lindsay, editor of the Voice of Healing, was one of the first to raise concerns about something sinister going on with these claims of the contactees. The August 1954 issue of the Voice of Healing included an article called, “Further Developments On the Flying Saucers.” In that article, Lindsay mentioned:

“Our book THE MYSTERY OF THE FLYING SAUCER IN THE LIGHT OF THE BIBLE is, we believe, the first book which exposes the Flying Saucer  (so-called) ‘contacts.'”

After meeting Truman Bethurum, Lindsay changed his opinion of flying saucers a bit more:

“Since publishing our book, ‘THE MYSTERY OF THE FLYING SAUCERS IN THE LIGHT OF THE BIBLE,’ new developments have occurred – developments which lead us to believe that the warning we expressed was given none too soon…

While we do not deny that some of the objects appearing in the skies may be of Divine origin, yet it is evident that involved in these ‘contacts,’ that are being made in deserts, are seducing spirits. It will be noted that these supposed space-visitors give the impression that the main purpose of their coming is to save the world from suicide from the atomic bomb. The Bible knows no salvation for the world except that in Christ.  Jesus warned against any imposter appearing in the desert claiming to be the world’s savior [Matt 24:26].”

I think Lindsay was getting at the fact that Bible prophecy makes it clear that the only one who can ultimately save the physical and political world is Christ the Returning King. Even so, it’s a shame he conflated the two ideas because saving the planet is not the same thing as saving eternal souls.

That verse about false Messiahs in the desert clearly became the lens he saw the Contactee tale through.

He then listed off seven things that gave him pause about Bethurum’s contactee tale:

1. Bethurum’s aliens worshipped a generic “Supreme Being” like the “demon inspired” mystic religions of the Orient, rather than, you know, Jesus.

2. Contact was initiated by will power, and telepathy was mentioned. So all in the mind, really.

3. Bethurum’s aliens claimed to be an unfallen race but they exhibited sinful behavior like swearing, dancing, having women in authority and other things the Pentecostal Holiness movement disapproved of.

4. Captain Aura Rhanes is keen on having a Roman Catholic priest join them which smacks of an endorsement of Romanism.

5. There was no way you could hide a planet behind the moon for very long. Just saying.

6. By Bethurum’s own account, the unfallen Rhanes lied to him at one point (so a return to objection #3).

7. Rhanes caused a flashlight to dematerialize, a trick spiritualists were supposed to be capable of. In all fairness, thus is also a sci-fi trope and this point seems like nitpicking.

His conclusion was that:

“Further comment is unnecessary. Some kind of Satanic delusion is behind this thing. But what is the explanation of the mystery?”

Unfortunately, this was a false dichotomy because a very good third possibility was being ignored. Lindsay had considered the possibility that Bethurum was telling the truth or that he was repeating a Satanic deception of beings who weren’t who they claimed they were. It never occurred to him in his charismatic spiritual warfare mindset that Bethurum could simply be lying. Satan might be the father of lies, but men as his children are perfectly capable of making up stuff on our own.

While it was possible that Bethurum was getting his inspiration from seducing spirits, it’s equally possible that he simply had a good imagination. Were it not for the heavy emphasis the Pentecostal Holiness movement placed on spiritual warfare, one wonders whether the leap from lying contactee to lying spirits would have

As it turns out, Lindsay was nearly tentative when compared to Rev. WV Grant’s take on the subject.

:Read Part 1

:Read Part 3

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