I know that there has been a push to make Christianity cool for Millennials, and I suppose I have to give Alfonzo Rachel credit for looking and sounding very different than his essentially fundamentalist message. He’s an African American political conservative and a biblical literalist, and he’s upset at the idea that anyone could pretend to be Christian and yet find the Flood or the story of Jonah in the fish to be allegorical. “Please stop. You either believe the Bible or you don’t.” However, I was a bit shocked and disturbed to see Rachel promoting the Nephilim as “superheroes” from the Bible, and implicitly equating them with Jesus, whom he identifies as a “real-life superhero.”
Click here to view parts 2-6 on Rachel’s website.
Rachel says that Genesis 6:1-4 is as easy “for any man to understand as pee on the toilet seat.” For him, the biblical story is entirely the story of horny angels who did the right thing by marrying the women they loved and birthing superheroes. These are decidedly not the evil Nephilim of L. A. Marzulli, or the Christian tradition going back to the Church Fathers.
“Do not impose your own piety on the Scriptures!” Rachel said in rejecting the euhemerizing idea that the Sons of God are sons of Seth. In fact, he opposes all scholarship and efforts to understand the Bible in a broader contexts. “Scholars looked right into the face of God, spat in his face, and hung him on a cross,” he said in arguing that scholarship detracts from acceptance of all things divine. “So I don’t buy every word of a scholar just because he’s a scholar.” He calls scholars “elitist-minded egotists.”
Instead, he argues that the Sons of God are the angelic host, and he produces a lengthy argument for why these were not fallen angels but rather regular angels fully possessed of their holiness. They are “the ones that were the most solid,” Rachel said. Rachel argues that Sons of God can’t be evil because they are peacemakers and therefore the two-thirds of the angels who remained uncorrupted by Satan.
Rachel also rejects the Book of Enoch as non-canonical, and in assuming all the parts of Judeo-Christian theology to be equally ancient argues that the Nephilim cannot be evil because the Devil and his angels fell from heaven before the creation of Adam, and the angels could only fall once. Because Leviticus doesn’t forbid angel-human marriages, Rachel says that the angels who married humans “stepped up” and provide a good role model for African American fathers, who would benefit from taking responsibility for their out of wedlock children.
It takes five videos before he actually begins to support the claim that the Nephilim were superheroes (it’s Genesis 6:4, the “heroes of old,” in case you didn’t realize), but before this his videos are rather just a long literalist discussion of biblical passages, which never quite add up to an argument, eventually derailing into a discussion of biblical tax policy and the sexual politics of allotting spouses in heaven. I’m not sure for whom such a discussion is meant, but it becomes quite clear over the course of six videos that while Rachel thinks he is being objective in evaluating the role of the Nephilim in Christian mythos (or, rather, his version of Christian mythos), he’s more likely projecting modern social concerns related to his experience in the African American community onto the brief references in Genesis.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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