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This page attempts to summarize various religions' theological positions regarding Angels. Wherever possible, the reader is directed to a scholarly text written by a clergy member or official representative of that faith or denomination for further reading or study.

There can be no argument that a resurgence of interest in the existence of angels has taken place within the last few decades. But is there any "proof" that angels actually exist? 

In 1993 cover stories in both Time and Newsweek magazines attempted to investigate the existence of angels. The Time Magazine article "Angels Among Us" (written by: Nancy Gibbs; Sam Allis; Nancy Harbert & Lisa H. Towle; Dec. 27, 1993) is one of the more accessible and comprehensive "secular" treatments of this subject.  There it is conceded that: "If there is such a thing as a universal idea, common across cultures and through the centuries, the belief in angels comes close to it. Jews, Christians and Muslims have postulated endlessly about angels' nature and roles, but all three religions affirm their existence. There are angels in Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism; winged figures appear in ancient Sumerian carvings, Egyptian tombs and Assyrian reliefs."

Nine pages follow, recounting actual "encounters" that credible, contemporary individuals have had with angels in their everyday lives. 

Judaism -

In the article "Angels",  Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis acknowledges that "in the last quarter of the 20th Century, there has been renewed interest in angels . . . throughout the Jewish community."  

However he points out that: "Angels play a prominent role in Jewish thought throughout the centuries, though the exact meaning of the word has been subject to widely, at times wildly, different interpretations." He then proceeds to discuss in scholarly detail the complex and often varied positions within Judaism regarding the role and existence of angels. 

In this well researched article, Rabbi Dennis explains how Hebrew scripture, rabbinic writings, individual philosophers and Judaic mystics such as Kabbalists have expressed quite divergent and often highly idiosyncratic theologies in regard to angels. 

Christian: Protestant -
The angels are represented throughout the Bible as a body of spiritual beings intermediate between God and men: "You have made him (man) a little less than the angels" (Psalm 8:6).  Angels, like man, are considered created beings; "praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts . . . for He spoke and they were made. He commanded and they were created" (Psalm 148:2-5; Colossians 1:16-17). 

While Catholic writings are replete with treatises on the theology of angels, Time Magazine notes that few Protestant theologians have addressed the subject, with the modern exception of Billy Graham. His 1975 book Angels: God's Secret Agents was a national best seller, selling more than 2.6 million copies. Therein Mr. Graham states: "The Bible tells us angels fill many roles in the life of the Christian. They guide, comfort, and provide for the people of God in the midst of suffering and persecution and their unseen presence should reassure us in times of fear."

In "New Dimensions in the Study of Angels and Demons" Robert V. Rakestraw, Ph.D., Professor of Theology at Bethel Theological Seminary (affiliated with the Baptist General Conference), St. Paul, Minnesota sets forth a comprehensive, descriptive essay on contemporary "angelology" and its role in the evangelical Christian church. He notes  that: "Even though there are differences among evangelicals, we agree on several matters vital to ministry today...God's people are involved in a cosmic war, and the hosts of heaven and hell are serving their respective lords, either helping or hindering us. We should not be surprised by either intense opposition or gracious assistance in the battle. However, we ought not to become preoccupied with either aspect of the spirit world, and we may not always be able to identify precisely when and how these forces are active among us."

But, the scholarly article finally admonishes: "Ultimately, our attention must be directed to the King of kings and Lord of lords, rather than to angels, demons, past successes and failures, or theories and techniques of deliverance."


BOOKS ABOUT ANGELS:
(Contemporary Non-Fiction)

Sophy Burnham, A Book of Angels
(New York: Ballantine, 1990);

Sophy Burnham, Angel Letters
(New York: Ballantine, 1991);

Douglas Connelly, Angels Around Us
(Downers Grove,  InterVarsity Press, 1994);

Duane A. Garrett, The New Spirituality
(Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995);

Karen Goldman, The Angel Book: A Handbook for Aspiring Angels 
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993);

Karen Goldman, Angel Voices
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994);

Reverend Billy Graham,
Angels: God's Secret Agents
(New York: Doubleday, 1975);

Robert J. Grant, 
Are We Listening to the Angels? 
(Virginia Beach: A. R. E. Press, 1994);

Timothy Jones, Celebration of Angels
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994);

Peter J. Kreeft, Angels and Demons 
(San Francisco: Ignatius, 1995);

Terry Law, The Truth About Angels
(Orlando, Fla.: Creation House, 1994);

Geddes MacGregor,
Angels: Ministers of Grace
(New York: Paragon House, 1988);

Marilynn  and William D. Webber,
A Rustle of Angels

(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994);


Christian: Catholic -
The role of angels, insomuch as they are regularly invoked within the Catholic Faith as intercessors, constitutes one area of obvious theological schism from Protestant/Evangelical Christian denominations. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia (New Advent, 1914; 2nd Edition 1990) explains in detail the theology underlying the widespread Catholic practice of "praying to" angels:
"It has been clearly shown that the honour paid to angels . . . is entirely different from the supreme honour due to God alone, and is indeed paid to them only as His servants and friends. 'By invoking their intercession... so far is the glory of God from being diminished that it is very much increased, in proportion as the hope of men is thus more excited and confirmed...'  (Cat. of the Council of Trent, pt. III, c. ii, q. 11). "

That treatise continues: "We can, of course, address our prayers directly to God, and He can hear us without the intervention of any creature. But this does not prevent us from asking the help of our fellow-creatures who may be more pleasing to Him than we are. It is not because our faith and trust in Him are weak, nor because His goodness and mercy to us are less; rather is it because we are encouraged by His precepts to approach Him at times through His servants, as we shall presently see. As pointed out by St. Thomas, we invoke the angels and saints in quite different language from that addressed to God. We ask Him to have mercy upon us and Himself to grant us whatever we require; whereas we ask the (angels and) saints to pray for us, i.e. to join their petitions with ours."

Muslim / Islamic -
Perhaps none of the major religions of the world state their theology regarding angels more expressly and emphatically than does Islam. Believing in angels is one of the "Six Articles of Faith" in Islam, without which there is no faith. The Six Articles are belief in: God, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and that predestination, both good and evil, comes from God.  Muslims also believe that angels are present in mosques to record the prayers of the faithful and to testify for or against people on the Day of Judgment.

Conclusion -
The Time Magazine article "Angels Among Us" concluded their in-depth investigation of the "angel phenomenon" with this astute observation:

"For all those who say they have had some direct experience of angels, no proof is necessary; 
for those predisposed to doubt angels' existence, no proof is possible.
And for those in the mystified middle, there is often a growing desire to be persuaded."


Yet, even those who do not believe in the existence of supernatural beings, cannot deny the impact that the belief in the angels has had on humanity since the beginning of recorded time.  Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, we invite you to return to the Main Menu and explore the beautiful images, prayers, stories and testimonials surrounding the globally revered and venerated protector, healer and messenger Archangel Raphael.

If you would like to contribute a link or reference to this article, regarding the theology of angels or Archangels, please email: raphael.archangel@comcast.net

 
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