I came across a truly hilarious article the other day at fireinmybones.com. It's called "Angels, Deception and a Cry for Biblical Truth," and was written by J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine.
(I'm going to write more in the near future about devilish Pentecostal revivalists who have their own special angels, but first this:)
"Weird teachings about angels have become the norm in some charismatic circles today. It's time to demand sanity on the subject.
"At a growing Brazilian church in Boston, a pastor told his congregation he was having regular conversations with an angel. Weeks later he set a chair on the stage for his heavenly visitor, whom he said was attending Sunday services even though no one could see him. The pastor eventually wrote a book containing message he had supposedly received from the angel."
That's just one example. The article notes that weirdo Todd Bentley has his own special angel called Emma, who "wears a long white dress, floats above the floor and resembles Kathryn Kuhlman."
Up in Canada, a youthful evangelist "held up a jar with a feather in it and told the congregation it belonged to an angel who visits him. He said the angel was coming to the service to release riches and healing to those who wanted prayer."
Other of these nutcases speak of angels bringing "healing, wealth or special anointings (sic). Some have described angels as tall as skyscrapers while others say they have seen tiny angels the size of insects. One prophet spoke of angels who are sleeping inside the walls of churches. Another segment of believers claim that the glowing circles of light that often show up on photographs are angels in the form of 'orbs.'"
J. Lee Grady is disturbed by all this nonsense, and rightly so. But then he promotes his own form of the same nonsense. We've got to go to what the Bible teaches about angels, he argues; or, at least certain parts of the Bible. Most of his information comes from the New Testament books of Acts which is really part II of the Gospel of Luke.
Here's what he found:
1. Angels that looked like men who announced Jesus would return in the future.
2. Angels minister to the saints behind the scenes, "especially to offer protection."
3. Philip was told to preach by an angel.
4. On some occasions, angels come via visions.
5. Even good ol' St. Paul was visited by an angel who gave him strength.
Some angels are bad.
1. "Paul warned the Corinthians about 'angels of light' that are messengers of Satan."
2. "Paul warned the Colossians about misguided people who worship angels..."
So, what does Mr. Grady conclude? Angels are real. Angels are good, usually. But angels only do certain things.
1. They "help the church fulfill its mission, and they protect and guide the saints."
2. "Angels sometimes intervene with direct messages."
3. "Angels don't teach or explain doctrine."
4. "Angels don't bring healing."
5. "Angels look like people, and in every case in Scripture they appeared to be male."
6. "False angels preach a different gospel."
God, wherever he/she may be, must have a great sense of humor to put up with all this folderol.
Angels aren't the problem, according to Grady. The problem is you've got to understand what angels are all about. Do you suppose he's had an angelic divine intervention? And how would he know that? Did an angel appear to him? Was it a male angel? (Isn't it funny, though, that almost always angels are pictured as female?)
Most curious is that Grady does not refer to any of the many angels mentioned in the Hebrew bible.
Maybe you know someone who's been contacted by an angel. Ask what the "direct message" was. Try to determine whether or not the angel taught or explained doctrine, and whether it tried to bring healing. Also, be sure to find out if the angel was male or female. If female, you can discount the story. Finally, check the gospel the angel preached. Was it a false gospel?
And, of special importance: Did the angel have wings hiding under his clothes? It seems to me that lots of the biblical angels had wings.
Methinks some folks have watched the Travolta movie, "Michael," a few too many times.
Religious wingnuttery is just too funny, sometimes!
If you wish, you can read all of Grady's article here. And you can find pictures of "real" angels here.