Christian Answers: What does the Bible teach about angels? has considered, Bible-focused answers, ably hyperlinked to relevant passages. Commenting on the painters' puti the author notes:
"Angels in the Bible never appear as cute, chubby infants! They are always full-grown adults. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe, not to reach out and tickle an adorable baby."
Clarifying Christianity takes a minimalist, fundamentalist approach to angels. The author is also intent on damping down enthusiasm for angelic communication and intervention. Some highlights:
Summaries (and warnings)
Angelmania: Has the media taken the holy out of angels? by William D. Webber. Reviews the 90s explosion nicely, but then veers into a disussion of scripture as against "Touched by an Angel."
"Close Encounters of the Celestial Kind: Evaluating Today's Angel Craze" by Ron Rhodes, "Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries." Lengthy analysis of the 90s angel craze. Begins with an attempt to classify and understand the "craze," then, using the Bible, questions its implicit assumptions and goals. If there is a flaw here, I think it is the author's implicit division of angel-ideas into Biblical and New Age. The 90s angel craze was not exclusively a New Age phenomenon. We cannot expect Jewish, Catholic and Orthodox angelology to please Protestants of Rhodes' stripe, but they must admit these traditions do not partake of all the tendencies he criticizes. There is, for example, nothing new or uniquely"New Age" about the veneration of angels. The notion that angels are there to "reprogram" our brains is another matter.… (also here.)
"Angels: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" by Sue Bohlin, Probe Ministries. Article relates a number of angel visitations ("the Good"), a warning about bad angels ("the Bad"), and advice on how to distinguish the good from the bad ("the Ugly"). One tip-off: a fancy name. The page serves as a gateway to other Probe Ministry articles on angels. Highlights include "Can You Recommend Good Literature on Angels?" and "Bad Things Are Happening After I Talked to My Angel" where a young Christian writes that, prompted by her manager, she prayed to an angel in a New Age-y way. She subsequently had a bad dream, felt her bed shake and caught knocking noises in the wall behind her head. Bohlin is unequivocal in her reply: "it was an unholy angel who answered."
Non-Christian Response: Lindsay O'Neill's very acid critique of Bohlin, for not being objective, and, basically, for being Christian. ("Sue Bohlin can keep her biased, Pro-Christian opinions to herself and let the rest of us decide on our own.") I'm not sure where O'Neill got the idea that Bohlin's essay was intended to be objective.
Angels, Demons and Satan. by Dan Corner, Evangelical Outreach. Passage-by-passage, point-by-point examination of scripture.
"New Dimensions in the Study of Angels and Demons" by Robert V. Rakestraw, published in New Dimensions in Evangelical Thought (1998). Lengthy, reasoned, footnoted study of angelology and recent angelography from a evangelical perspective.
See also Satan, Demonology and the Occult: An Annotated Bibliography of the Spirit World by Robert V. Rakestraw, Brian T. Johnson, Paul R. Eddy. This is a very selective bibliography. It's fine for the theology section to exclude theologies which don't mesh with the authors' own, but you can't cover witchcraft, magic and the occult without referencing the sociological and anthropological literature. (The exception, Murray's 1921 The Witch Cult of Western Europe, proves the rule.) Instead we have an echo chamber of evangelicals trading occult-practice laundry lists and counseling stories.
Jehovah's Witness: "The Truth About Angels" the Watchtower (November 1995) warns against contemporary angel thought.
"Touched By An Angel - But Which Kind?" Attack on the angel craze, particularly the TV show "Touched by an Angel." Author objects to television angel telling a father to love his gay son.
"What about Angels?" from the North American Mission Board, raises an idea I haven't seen elsewhere: that we are in a period of low angelic activity (between the Biblically-documented Old Testament times and Biblically-predicted End of Days).
"With the full revelation of God in Christ, with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, and with the complete written Word of God available to us now, we might reasonably expect less involvement of angels."This resonates somewhat with the Rev. Mast's comment (below) about angels being virtually absent from his faith.
Luther's Table-Talk essay on angels. This paragraph leaps out:
"I believe that the angels are all up in arms, are putting on their harness, and girding their swords about them. For the last judgment draws nigh, and the angels prepare themselves for the combat, and to strike down Turk and pope into the bottomless pit."
Letter of Michael J. Pryse, a Lutheran Bishop in Canada. Bishop Pryse writes on the occasion of the "festival of St. Michael and All Angels." You don't commonly read religious leaders deliver these sorts of qualms on the web:
"At the same time, I need to acknowledge that this festival also makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable by reminding me of aspects of our faith that I am less sure of than others. It's a feast day that starts me thinking about angel choirs and fire tongued seraphim, of burning bushes and whale bellies. It presses me to seriously reflect on the many and multitudinous ways that God chooses to be made known in the natural-and yes, supernatural worlds-that we inhabit."Pryse also paraphrases an account from one of Sophie Burnham's books.
"Messengers of God" by Susan R. Garrett, Presbyterians Today (April 2000). This is a considered Presbyterian response to angels and the "angel craze." Two paragraphs stand out rather starkly against the general crush of internet angelology.
"The diversity of Biblical portrayals makes it hard to generalize about "the Biblical view of angels." But many modern authors who survey Biblical depictions of angels overlook the diversity. They often assume that all Scriptural teachings are consistent; what is said of angels in Genesis can be used to shed light on what is said in Hebrews, and so forth. Such an approach leads to an impoverished understanding of what the Bible actually says on this complex topic."
"Today some Christian authors imply that since angels were a part of "the worldview of the Bible," they must also be a part of our worldview. But a goal of duplicating "the Biblical worldview" (on this matter or any other) is unrealistic. Even those who claim to do so do not: for example, such persons do not share ancient views of the construction of the human body, of disease transmission, or of the nature and operation of the planets and stars. We must decide which elements of the Biblical texts are central for our faith and obedience. The creeds and confessions of the church, which serve as our best guides in this endeavor, center, not on the reality or purpose of angels and other spirit beings, but on God's reconciling work in Jesus Christ. We need not believe in angels in order to be a faithful and devoted Christian."
What about Angels by A. L. Barry, President of the The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. Pamphlet providing "a Biblical perspective on angels." Fairly standard stuff.
Does the Reformed Church believe in angels? by Gregg Mast (1995).
"[I]n twenty years of ministry, angels have played a very insignificant role in the faith of those I have served. Folks talk often about God's presence. People search for God's will and strive to feel God's peace, but, quite frankly, seldom talk about angels."
Angel Books Reviews anonymous reviewer (Fr. Fraser or Steven Olderr?) from St. Paul's Parish, a Episcopal/Anglican parish in Riverside, IL. Sit back and watch an episcopal divine go on a denominationally-uncharacteristic tear:
Some books and reviews
Amazon. Angels by Billy Graham.
Non-Protestant response: "Angel Popularity on the Rise" by John A. Hardon (a Jesuit) commenting on New Age, Protestant and Catholic angelology. This long article includes an interesting response to two Protestant angel booksBilly Graham's Angels and Ron Rhodes' Angels Among Us. Hardon characterizes Graham's book as "beautiful," but traces Graham's unwillingness to approve prayers to angels as stemming from the supposition of predestination. He dismisses Rhodes' belief that prayer to angels is "Celestial Quackery." Hardon is optimistic about the angel craze, and gives Catholicism some of the credit:
"It is heartening to see the popularity of the angels rising in countries like our own. No doubt one reason for this phenomenon is the influence of Catholic teaching on our separated brethren."
Amazon. What The Bible Says About Angels by David Jeremiah.
Amazon. The Angel of Eleventh Avenue by Roy Bates.
Review by Heather Hunt, This Christian Life, who identifies three errors: (1) angels are comforters, (2) there are guardian angels, (3) some angels are former people. Dickens' "Christmas Carol" is singled out as similarly unbiblical.
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