Truman Bethurum and the Origin of the Demonic Theory of UFO – Part 3

The earliest full-fledged expression of the Demonic Hypothesis of UFO comes from a 37-page book written by Rev. Walter Vincent Grant, Sr. (1913-1983) called Men in the flying saucers identified: not a mystery!

The book was published in late 1954 [the earliest advertisement I could find for the book was in the October 1954 edition of Voice of Healing] and was written after WV Grant heard a “Mr. B” speak at Angelus Temple (Los Angeles, CA) sometime during the 25 service “WV Grant Revival” which began March 14, 1954. It was evident from the description he gave of this contactee and his saucer tale that Mr. B was none other than Truman Bethurum, a well-known contactee and author of Aboard the Flying Saucer (1954).

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Before Christian leaders encountered the contactees, the standard view of flying saucers was that they were signs in the heavens, perhaps even angelic cherubim, who are harbingers of doomsday but agents of God nonetheless. After meeting Truman Bethurum and hearing his contactee story, Gordon Lindsay, editor of the Voice of Healing, decided that some kind of Satanic delusion was behind these contacts in the desert and therefore flying saucers in general. By comparison, Rev. WV Grant’s reaction to the contactee who’d been allowed to speak at the revival he was holding at Angelus Temple was nothing short of visceral!

Concerning flying saucers, Grant writes:

“I do not doubt they saw these things—But God told me they are “SEDUCING SPIRITS—seducing spirits.” I believe there are FLYING SAUCERS, and that there are supernatural spirits in them, THAT have supernatural power to bring fire down from heaven; but when they say “peace and safety” then suddenly destruction comes.”

He readily objected to Bethurum’s vision, especially where it involves an extraterrestrial message of peace for the entire world. Bethurum’s claim that the extraterrestrials said “there was no class distinction on their planet—there were no extreme riches or no poverty, that everyone had everything” seemed to have raised his McCarthyist hackles as well as his biggotry:

“Some more of the communistic doctrine! Some more of the World Government doctrine! It is all antichrist doctrine! They would like for the white girls to marry the negro boys, or mate with them without marrying. One World Government idea!

“The devil wants to send antichrist from “another planet” to make Heaven on earth without the help of Jesus.”

In fairness, he does note the occult associations of many of the contactees:

“One of these men wrote a book explaining the origin of man and the coming of the golden age. One taught telepathy for 30 years. One wrote a book, an occult novel correlating Christian Mysticism from ancient Egypt. One has written a book about invisible guidance, psychic faculties, metaphysical societies, automatic writing, human radio channels, natural healing, “new way to tune in,” and one is an experienced metaphysical practitioner. They are trying a new technique to “reach the source of all good.”

It should be noted that Bethurum invited the masses at Grant’s revival to attend the very first Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention (April 3-4, 1954) hosted by another contactee, George Van Tassel. This is undoubtedly the source of Grant’s information. Hrant is certainly referencing contactees who attended this event, and it appears safe to say that much of his reaction came from a fire baptism in the contactee movement.

Aside from Van Tassel and Bethurum, this event featured George Adamski, Orfeo Angelucci, Harold Arnold, Gene Dorsey, Gerald Heard, Donald Keyhoe, Mead Layne, Desmond Leslie, George Hunt Williamson, Silas Newton, Frank Scully, Ray Palmer, Daniel Fry and Gabriel Green. Most of the featured guests were contactees like Van Tassel. Almost all of them were selling their books. And yes a majority of them already had a background in the occult at some level.

Since the first Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention reportedly drew estimates of 3000 to 6000 people, to Grant it must’ve seemed as if the contactee movement was an occult explosion!

Bethurum himself moonlighted as a fortune teller and spiritual advisor prior to his career as a contactee. A business card he gave to 1950 radio talk show host Long John Nebel read:

Construction Engineer; Analytical Research; Author of Books on Extraterrestrial Beings and Travel; Reader, Analyst and Appraiser of Unseen Human Vibrations – Appraisal by Special Appointment Only.”

Of course, when you read WV Grant’s book, you get the sense that this is just corroborating evidence. As with Gordon Lindsay’s critique of Bethurum’s contactee claims, it does seem to be the idea of world peace apart from Christ that causes Grant’s chief suspicions. He is adamantly against the idea that extraterrestrials have come to save us from ourselves. Of course, the charismatic and Pentecostal traditions hold to a Dispensationalist theology, which sees the world uniting in peace through the lens of eschatology concerning a One World Government united under the leadership of the Antichrist. The Dispensationalist Scofield Reference Bible promises that strife will only cease during the Millenial Reign of Christ after seven years of Tribulation and the Antichrist, culminating in the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming if Christ.

The only way for world strife to cease is for Christ to come in a cloud and rule the world, and not for the antichrist to come in a saucer. The only way for us to have inter-planetary travel is for us to have glorified bodies and make the rapture, be caught up in the air and meet Jesus. The spirits of these men may go out into space at present for a few minutes at a time; but unless they accept Jesus as their only Saviour, and be born from above, their resurrected bodies will go with
their spirits into hell!

Grant then proposes the very first written account of the Demonic Eschatological Hypothesis that I have thus far been able to discover:

Some of these nights, when they are out on the desert and a “craft” lands, I expect a superman to appear to them who can do signs and wonders, and give them a solution to world peace. This superman will be an imitation of the real Saviour, antichrist instead of the real Christ.

When one man gave a report of seeing men from flying saucers, he was put on television across America and given national publicity. His book is in demand in a big way for $3.00. What will happen when he actually brings back proof that he has contacted a superman, or that he has been possessed with supernatural power so he can do wonders?

What will happen when he can take the FBI, senators, and statesmen into the desert to meet a superman who can bring a solution to our problems from another “planet”—a man who tells that he can keep man from destroying himself and keep us from wars? They will not only have him on every telecast, but in congress, and finally in the United Nations.

What will he be then but a superman who can dictate to the world!

Will not all the world see him on television?

Grant clearly believes that flying saucers were Satan’s lying signs and wonders to herald the antichrist rather than the God’s signs in the heavens to herald the End Times.

“They are trying to bring peace through lies and signs and wonders and seducing spirits. Here is what God revealed to me. The Bible says there will be signs and wonders in the last days, “clouds and vapors of smoke.” The antichrist will have power to perform miracles. He will say he is from another planet. He will say he is a wonderful man and can do wonders. But that will not save this world. There is only one thing that will save this world, and that is the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. [emphasis in original]

He even seems to refer to a scenario in which an alien antichrist takes credit for the Rapture:

“Can Satan actually make men disappear from this earth for awhile? Can he hide them away? I hardly think so. But if it happens once, and he makes men think he did, and endues this man, whom he hides out, with supernatural power, what can the man do when he returns. They will have him at the head of the World Government, telling them all how they run their affairs on the other “planets.”

At one point Grant alludes to a previous teaching about the Nephilim.

“One man has already said that the men from in the saucers are spirits from men who were destroyed before the Flood. He said that some of the men in the saucers are nine feet tall.”

He then quotes Genesis 6:2-5 to make the connection clear. I have been unable to determine whom he is referencing. It is generally held that Gordon Lindsay was the first to connect the UFO phenomenon to the Nephilim of Genesis 6 and Grant probably got this idea from him. Gordon Lindsay was the editor of Voice of Healing, which regularly published articles about saucers beings signs of the imminent return of Christ. His views were particularly influential among charismatics and Pentecostals of the early to mid 1950s. In his 1954 book The Mystery of the Flying Saucers in the Light of the Bible, Lindsay wrote:

“It is believed that an unnatural and illicit affinity developed between the anti-diluvian race and creatures of another order. This belief is based on Gen. 6:4, and is held by a remarkably large group of sound Bible scholars… If true, then this illicit affinity which played a prominent part in anti-diluvian apostacy, may well have its parallel in the days in which we are living.” (p. 87)

Grant further speculated that when “men from saucers finally have intercourse with women who live on this earth, what will the offspring be but spiritual giants! The product will be a god-man (“g” is little). Then all the people of the earth who have not accepted Jesus as their Messiah will be glad to make a covenant with this substitute god-man, or antichrist.”

So there it is: all of the elements of the Coming Great Deception, as LA Marzuli calls it [presumably because he couldn’t coin the term “Strong Delusion”]. If the Demonic Eschatological Hypothesis was born of WV Grant, it was born as a strong reaction against the Contactee movement,

What bothers me about WV Grant’s theory is that at no point does he consider that Truman Bethurum’s tale is the product of human imagination. His assumption is that if it is antithetical to the Bible, it must be demonic in origin. This Flip Wilson view of demonology ignores the people are sinners, perfectly capable of deception apart from demonic influence. As RC Sproul noted, “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.” Unfortunately, a great deal of the charismatic/Pentecostal tradition overemphasizes the role of Satan in our every day lives and the world-at-large and this early take on the UFO phenomenon in light of the contactee movement appears to follow in that tradition.

Nor does Grant ever think to consider the flying saucer phenomenon and the emerging contactee movement separately. Certainly, UFO investigation groups like NICAP and APRO were quick to differentiate between serious saucer investigation and the unbelievable claims of the contactees. So why couldn’t Grant and his peers see that the contactees were irrelevant to question of the mystery of the flying saucers? I think this is likely because they already favored a supernatural answer and the Demonic Hypothesis could be applied to both areas of ufology; everyone’s looking for a universal theory. The fact that the Demonic Hypothesis could be applied to lights in the sky didn’t mean that it should have been, any more than they should have assumed that all contactees tales were products of demonic rather than human deception. Painting with a wide brush is tempting, but almost never adviseable.

For example, in making the claim that truly unexplained UFO reports via the Demonic Hypothesis, its proponents neglect to tell us why the fallen angels masquerade as or flying about in flying saucers but God’s angels do not. The heavenly hosts outnumber the fallen twice over. Why does the Demonic Hypothesis not have anything for them to do? 

In any case, if you ever wondered whence came the demonic hypothesis of UFO, it can all be traced back to a reaction to the contactee movement, specifically to Truman Bethurum and the 1954 Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention.

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