Is the True Gospel in the Stars?
Question: I recently read two books, Witness of the Stars by E. W. Bullinger, and The Gospel in the Stars, by Joseph A. Seiss. They were interesting, but something about them troubled me. Is it true that the gospel is really in the stars and that ancient men even before the flood had this witness and knew what it meant?
Response: No. Although the Bible frequently states that the heavens are given for “signs,” it never even implies that these “signs” present the gospel. The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm:19:1) and that every person, no matter what his language, understands that message (Psalm:19:3). Indeed, all of creation reveals God’s glory and power, which are “clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Romans:1:20). Never are we told, however, that the heavens or any other part of creation declare the gospel. That is presented only by God’s Word.
Those who promote this view admit that the gospel can’t be seen in the stars without considerable imaginative interpretation. Seiss confesses that “the starry worlds…do not and cannot declare or show forth Christ as Redeemer…” (Joseph A. Seiss). But without Christ as Redeemer, there is no gospel! D. James Kennedy, who promotes Seiss’s thesis, admits in his sermon The Gospel in the Stars: “You can look at the stars in Virgo until you are green in the face and they would never look like a woman!” But Paul says that what the heavens declare is “clearly seen” by anyone who looks at them. Obviously, Paul is talking about something other than what these men promote.
If God had intended the stars to present the gospel, He would have had to arrange them in such a way that they would clearly form the images He wanted man to see in them. Obviously, He didn’t do so. Furthermore, there is no way that mere visual images, no matter how clearly the stars had been positioned, could present the gospel. The clearest image the stars offer is the Southern Cross. Yet who would know by merely looking at such a configuration in the sky that Christ would in the future die, or had already died, upon a cross for our sins and that He was the perfect, sinless Son of God who was paying the penalty demanded by His own infinite justice? No visual image could explain those facts!
In fact, the “images” imaginatively associated with certain constellations are open to almost limitless interpretations and thus do not carry within themselves any safeguard of their alleged message—a message that Seiss acknowledges has been badly corrupted into astrology and occultism. A major purpose of Seiss’s work, then, is to tell us what these alleged “signs” really meant in ages past. He claims to have recovered this true meaning through much research—a meaning that again he admits has not been ordinarily assigned to them for many centuries. So these marvelous signs have actually failed to accomplish their purpose because it is in fact impossible for them to do so in and of themselves.
Without the Bible, and with only the stars themselves to observe, we could not possibly understand the gospel. That obvious fact undermines this entire thesis. 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 people and must be perfectly clear and understood for it to be of any effect. The alleged “gospel in the stars” fails to meet these criteria. Moreover, Matthew:24:14, Mark:13:10, etc., indicate that the gospel must yet be preached to all nations. Thus it clearly had not been preached in the stars—certainly not in “all its length and breadth,” as Seiss enthusiastically declares.
The Bible states that the gospel began to be preached with the advent of Christ (mark 1:1; Philippians:4:15; 2 Timothy:1:10) and indicates that it had previously been a mystery until then “kept secret since the world began” (Romans:16:25). This is hardly consistent with the theory that the gospel had been proclaimed in the stars for thousands of years before Christ. Yet Seiss ardently declares that “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 gives him a revelation of truths and hopes precisely as written in our Scriptures, and so fondly cherished by all Christian believers.” The Bible never once even hints at such a presentation