Free Original Storyworld Ideas, Part 10: Alien Angels
This will be the final post in the Free Original Storyworld Ideas series. That’s not because I’m out of ideas I could share, but because we’ve gone over some unique ideas for fantasy worlds (such as Spheres), including magic as technology, some unusual ideas about the near future (in the Coronavirus stories) and distant future (Domesticated Humans and Nanites–which are unusual ideas for Christian writers at least), and some unorthodox ways to look at the spiritual world (Agent Angel). I even explained how to mine the public domain for stories and talked about the relatively new genre of GameLit. This last post, on alien angels, will end with another unorthodox view of the spiritual world, capping a multi-part overview of original ideas for fantasy, science fiction, and Christian paranormal in a way I hope at least some writers of Christian speculative fiction find inspiring.
In a previous post on Speculative Faith I talked about methods Christian writers could use to talk about aliens if they felt led to do so. That’s even though I don’t feel there’s any way for me to know if there are actually any aliens or not.
But once we suppose that there might be aliens, isn’t it possible that angels would take the shape of aliens when interacting with them? Just as numerous Bible passages describe angels as looking like human beings? That certainly makes sense, if we presume angels can change their appearance (and the Devil is said to be able to change his appearance in 2 Corinthians 11:14, so why couldn’t they?).
But let’s take this idea a step further. Let’s imagine that angels, even though they can change their appearance, have a “default” appearance that matches the people they serve. So angels might have different ethnic appearances if they are assigned to different ethnic groups. Perhaps. And, if that’s the case, there might be certain angels with appearances that are permanently non-human because they have the job of ministering to other intelligent life God created in the universe, life other than us. Right?
One could imagine the separate intelligent species God will save will have separate heavens (and by “heaven” I mean “eternal state in the presence of God” which technically doesn’t happen until the New Heavens and New Earth of Revelation 21). But really, why? Doesn’t it make more sense that all the redeemed beings in the universe would be gathered together in one place, just as all the redeemed ethnic groups will be?
Perhaps someone might say because we see the “New Heaven” pegged to the “New Earth,” that means only the Planet Earth will have saved beings—i.e. heaven will be a humans-only zone. Or perhaps one could say, again, that aliens will have their own separate renewed planets in which a heavenly city will come down (such as a “New Heavens and a New Vulcan” ? ).
But even if those other planets really are separate, what if they also are linked to the New Earth? Though “stargates” or by even cooler means? So that the New Jerusalem is the eternal city for all species, even non-humans?
So portraying heaven teeming with aliens might be an interesting angle to take. Plus, writers of science fiction might show aliens interacting with “alien angels.” However, so far this doesn’t constitute an entire story setting. Though it could add some flavor to stories featuring aliens with beliefs in God and the supernatural.
Scriptural Evidence of Alien Angels?
Of course a valid criticism of how I’ve presented this idea so far would be, “What evidence is there from the Bible itself that there’s any beings in heaven who actually look like aliens?”
Glad you asked.
As per a personal blog post I did years ago, recall the Seraphim, a Hebrew word that means “burning ones”? They have four faces in four cardinal directions. One face is human, one is of an eagle, one of a cow/calf, and one of a lion. These four beings are the closest to the throne of God and cry out continually, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.”
Bible commentators have typically assigned the four faces some kind of symbolic meaning. Maybe based on the characteristics of the four creatures. Or the four Gospels. Or four directions of the compass.
But what if the four faces of the seraphim are not symbolic at all?
Certainly the human face would seem to be there because humans are a creation of God and the human face represents a being worshiping him. Human beings don’t seem to have a strictly figurative meaning–so what if God also created aliens with lion faces? Aliens with bovine faces? Aliens with faces like eagles? What if some of these aliens actually had wings?
That would change the meaning of the seraphim—they’d represent four intelligent species God had created. Them worshiping God together would, in that case, represent the species of the redeemed.
What if Seraphim Reflect Four Alien Races?
So imagine a story setting in which humans encounter aliens—exactly 3 species of them other than us. Bovine, leonine, eagle-like. Or perhaps there could be whole sets of species, some humanoid, like Star Trek Vulcans, humans, Klingons, etc. But some “leonoid”—or sharing some aspects of cattle or of eagles. To the degree that the seraphim really do represent a heaven teeming with alien angels?
Such a setting would call on a writer to create a series of stories that feature all these different aliens. Perhaps their relationship with God would be different than ours—perhaps one or more of these species could have remained without sin. Or perhaps one species could have only one member who accepted their Savior through faith.
Such a story setting could perhaps generate a fresh excitement concerning what the Bible says concerning how it relates to God’s create work outside of Planet Earth.
Though it would be important to avoid the notion that these different races visited Earth in the distant past and therefore the shape of the seraphim comes from early humans having seen them—or perhaps a writer could suggest that’s exactly what happened, but then show in the end the seraphim exist as the Bible describes them. Strange composite creatures, who reflect the creative work of God both inside and outside our Solar System…
So what are your thoughts on this story setting, readers? Have you encountered something similar to “alien angels”? Or exactly the same? How about stories about the seraphim faces? And how would you handle this as a story setting?
Hmmm…interesting. I rather like the idea. The concept of four different intelligent species (and their offshoots) would make for some stream-lined world-building in a space opera setting. My personal criticism of mainstream works in this genre is that a lot of them have an “overstuffed” feel to them when it comes to alien races.
There’s sort of an alien ‘angels’ thing going on in Heaven Came Down, which is Bryan Davis’ newest book. It was mentioned in the article previous to this one. Some elements remind me of The Host (that 2013 sci fi show). Not with the angel part, but with the aliens possessing human hosts and needing to be extracted and whatnot.
The angels and demons in my stories can take on many forms, though it isn’t exactly true shapeshifting in a lot of cases. That ability is usually left up to a different set of creatures in my story worlds. I do tend to write angels as taking forms that fit with the beings they live among, though there are usually some key differences. Their forms are usually built in ways that give them extreme survival advantages, as well as give them distinctions that make them recognizable to other angels. So looking more like the mortal species tends to be about adapting, and maybe in the case of the demons, deceiving. Usually they aren’t as worried about blending in unnoticed, though. They usually just want enough in common with the mortal species that they can appeal to them/live among them/gain trust.
Having the seraphim reflect four different alien races would be interesting. At the very least I like it better than four faces stuck on the same head :p