May 1 1989
For the last several months, we have been calling attention to the alarming fact that even among evangelicals, in apparent fulfillment of Paul's warning concerning the last days, sound doctrine is being set aside in favor of myths . These are being foisted on the church by some of the most respected church leaders—and being embraced by millions of Christians, who seemingly have insufficient discernment to recognize today's deceptions. Most of these myths derive from "Christian psychology." This month we will consider one that does not: the seductive and dangerous idea of the "Gospel in the Stars."
This theory was popular in the late 1800s. Some of the books published then have lately been brought back into print, among them E. W. Bullinger's Witness of the Stars and Joseph A. Seiss's The Gospel in the Stars . It is asserted that the signs of the zodiac were originally designed by God to communicate the "gospel"; that this "Gospel in the Stars" was known to those living before the flood; that it was later corrupted into astrology; and that the alleged recovery of the "gospel interpretation" of the zodiac is a great witness to God and His Word.
Not one shred of historical evidence can be offered in support of this theory. It is based not upon fact but speculation. Seiss even admits that the insights leading to his thesis came "in connection with his studies of the marvelous wisdom embodied in the Great Pyramid at El Giza" (p 5). The alleged "Gospel in the Stars" is simply a "Christian" interpretation of astrology and occultism, in the same class as pyramidology—and equally dangerous.
It is claimed that "by way of the Bible itself we reach the idea of the GOSPEL IN THE STARS" (Seiss, p. 13). Not so! While the Bible frequently states that the heavens are given for "signs," it never even implies that these "signs" present the gospel . The Bible indicates that creation reveals God's glory and power , which are "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom:1:20) and that "there is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard" (Ps:19:3). Never does it say that the heavens or any other part of creation declare the gospel . That is presented only by God's Word and preaching—and that not even by angels, but only by men.
The idea of "The Gospel in the Stars" puts an alleged witness from creation on a par with the revelations contained in the Bible. If this thesis is correct, then there are many places (Ps:19:1-4, Rom:1:19-24, Heb:1:1-2, 2 Pt 1:21, etc.) where the Bible could have told us that the "gospel is in the stars"but it does not. Hebrews:1:1, for example, tells us that God "spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" but fails to say that He also spoke in the stars. Why does the Bible never propose this idea? Obviously because creation witnesses to one thing, prophets to something else. The creation witnesses to God's eternal existence and power and wisdom; the Bible takes it from there and explains the gospel. This distinction is destroyed by asserting that the gospel is contained in the stars.
Actually, those who promote this myth admit that the gospel can't be seen in the stars themselves, but that it comes from a "Christianized" interpretation of the fanciful "signs" of the zodiac assigned by the ancients to certain constellations. Nor can these figures be seen in the natural formations of the stars; they are the arbitrary product of human imagination. D. James Kennedy, one of those who promote Seiss's thesis, admits in his sermon "The Gospel in the Stars" that "You can look at the stars in Virgo until you are green in the face and they would never look like a woman." And even if they did, one would not know from that "sign" that the Son of God and Savior of the world was to be born of a virgin—much less that He would die in our place and offer pardon for sin as a free gift of God's grace. One simply cannot derive the "gospel" from the starry heavens, or from any other part of creation!
Therefore, in no way can the alleged "Gospel in the Stars" be equated with what the Bible says the "heavens declare"—a message that Paul reminds us is "clearly seen" (Rom:1:20) and understood by all those who observe God's creation, no matter what their language (Ps:19:3). That this is not the case with the "Gospel in the Stars" is obvious. In fact, the very idea that the "gospel" is in the stars would never have entered the average Christian's (nor pagan's!) head from looking up at the starry heavens. Yet, in complete contradiction both of Scripture and common sense, it is declared that the gospel "in all its length and breadth, stands written upon the stars....(Seiss, p 14). The truth is that the alleged "Gospel in the Stars" is not contained in the stars at all. It is found only in the books that tell us about this supposed wonder of the heavens and pretend to give us the original meanings allegedly conveyed in ancient oral traditions—for which there can be found no historical evidence today.
Even the Southern Cross, which is the only constellation that really forms a somewhat recognizable figure (and thus is "Exhibit A" for those who promote this myth), fails on at least two counts. First of all, the "gospel" is not clear from looking at a cross. One can only wonder that evangelicals, who reject the notion that the gospel is preached by a cross in a church, would suggest that it is preached by a much less clearly formed "cross" in the sky. Even the physical meaning of such a symbol was unknown before Roman times; and to this day the spiritual meaning of the Cross is unknown to those who have never read the Bible or heard the gospel preached by men .
Secondly, the fact that the Old Testament doesn't even mention the Cross is reason enough to reject any suggestion that an oral tradition interpreting the stars presented that truth before Christ's advent. David's statement in Psalm 22 ("they pierced my hands and my feet") was only understood after its meaning had been revealed through its fulfillment in Christ. So even a "cross" clearly depicted in the stars could not possibly have conveyed the "gospel," which was not revealed until after Christ's crucifixion. How much less, then, could any other symbol do so—then or now!
To suggest that there was an oral tradition connected to the stars that presented the gospel , when even the Old Testament did not present it, puts oral tradition above Scripture and thus undermines God's Word. In the Genesis 3 statement by God that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head, the gospel is contained only in embryo and in mystery, and was not understood until the New Testament revealed it. Even were the "signs of the zodiac" distinct, without the Bible, and with only the stars themselves to look at, no one could understand the gospel from them. In fact, the symbols of the zodiac have universally served to support occultism and astrology since the earliest times. To suggest that the "gospel" was their "original meaning" promotes a deadly delusion.
The word "gospel" is used 101 times in 95 verses in the Bible (all New Testament) and it is never associated with the stars or the witness of creation. The gospel is always preached by men and must be made perfectly clear for it to be of any effect. The alleged "Gospel in the Stars" fails on both counts. Moreover, Matthew:24:14, Mark:13:10, etc. indicate that the gospel must yet be preached to all nations, and thus it clearly had not been preached in the stars—certainly not in "all its length and breadth..." as Seiss, et al. enthusiastically but erroneously declare.
The Bible indicates that the gospel began to be preached with the advent of Christ (2 Tim:1:10). Paul refers to "the beginning of the gospel" (Philippians 4:15) and states that it had been a mystery until then " kept secret since the world began" (Rom:16:25). It is a contradiction of Scripture to suggest that for thousands of years before it was made clear in the Bible, the gospel had been proclaimed in an oral tradition associated with the stars. Yet Seiss claims that "men who lived almost a thousand years [i.e., those before the flood]" were taught the "gospel" by God from the stars. Then why did Christ, during His time in Hades, preach the gospel to those who had lived before the flood (see 1 Pt 3:19-20)—and why didn't Noah, in his preaching to these people before they died, present the "gospel" that was in the stars?
It just doesn't add up from any angle. Yet Seiss, for example, swept up in an enthusiasm that carried him far beyond facts and reason, expansively declared: "...all the great doctrines of the Christian faith were known, believed, cherished, and recorded [in the stars] from the earliest generations of our race, proving that God has spoken to man, and verily given him a revelation of truths and hopes precisely as written in our Scriptures, and so fondly cherished by all Christian believers" (p 15). That is quite simply false. And such speculation, far from supporting the Bible, actually undermines it and gives mankind an excuse to look to oral traditions instead of only to God's written Word.
If the "gospel in the stars" is biblical, why doesn't the Bible even once refer to it? Why didn't the prophets mention it for support and build upon it? Why on the day of Pentecost didn't Peter, who referred to signs in the sky (Acts:2:19), use this great "sign"? One would think that such a witness would have had a powerful effect upon Jews "who require a sign." Why didn't Paul, in reasoning with the Greeks at Athens (or in his many debates with unbelievers elsewhere), along with referring to what their "own poets have said" (Acts 17), mention this great "sign" in the heavens? Why didn't Jesus, who quoted so often from the Old Testament and continually used illustrations, make at least one reference to the gospel in the stars?
Such total silence throughout Scripture upon a topic that we are now told is of great value disproves this thesis. Notice that Paul, in reasoning with his audience from creation, did not go beyond what creation declares plainly to all and that which is known by all in their consciences. The very claim that the "gospel" is in the stars is inconsistent with the knowledge that Scripture attributes to creation and with the manner in which Christ and His apostles referred to creation for a witness. When it came to the gospel, Paul based what he said upon Scripture and Christ's life, death and resurrection—not upon the signs of the zodiac!
Why devote a newsletter to the "Gospel in the Stars"? We do so because this currently popular myth encourages a deadly mixture of humanism and Christianity—the very ecumenical/syncretistic delusion that is growing in our own day. It is similar to the "All truth is God's truth" myth that makes Freud, Jung and other godless humanists—or Buddha, Krishna, Mary Baker Eddy, et al.—legitimate sources of God's Truth. Preaching the gospel from the signs of the zodiac is like presenting it from Star Wars or other occultic stories, which some have done. Seiss himself fell into that trap.
In his chapter titled "The Suffering Redeemer," Seiss declares (p 38), "In the divine triad of Brahmanic deities the second, the Son, the One who became incarnate in the man-god Krishna, sits upon his throne cross-legged, holding the cross in his right hand; and he is the god of deliverance....It is the same story of deliverance and salvation through the Cross-bearer, the divine Son of the Virgin." This is the kind of syncretistic folly presented by such cults as Unity and Science of Mind, and which is now coming even into the evangelical church in so many ways. Though its promoters may be sincere, the "Gospel in the Stars" is just one more means of causing similar deadly confusion. Let's devote ourselves to the study of God's Word as our only and sufficient source of Truth! TBC