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 The Being of the Heavens

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PostSubject: The Being of the Heavens   The Being of the Heavens Icon_minitimeFri Nov 06, 2009 5:43 pm


Early Christians took over Jewish ideas of angels. In the early stage, the Christian concept of an angel shifted between the angle as a messenger of God and a manifestation of God himself. Later came identification of individual angelic messengers: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel. Then, in the space of little more than two centuries (from the third to the fifth) the image of angels took on definite characteristics both in theology and in art.

By the late fourth century, the Church Fathers agreed that there were different categories of angels, with appropriate missions and activities assigned to them. Some theologians had proposed that Jesus was not divine but on the level of immaterial beings subordinate to the Trinity. The resolution of this Trinitarian dispute included the development of doctrine about angels.

The angels are represented throughout the Christian Bible as a body of spiritual beings intermediate between God and men: “You have made him (man) a little less than the angels…” (Psalms 8:4,5). They, equally with man, are 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…” (Psalms 148:2-5; Colossians 1:16). The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) declared that the angels were created beings. The Council’s decree Firmiter credimus (issued against the Albigenses) declared both that angels were created and that men were created after them. The First Vatican Council (1869) repeated this declaration in Dei Filius, the “Dogmatic constitution of the Catholic faith.”

Part of the Unseen
Angels are among the unseen in the “all that is, seen and unseen” that the Nicene Creed says the Father created. They exist to praise God and to bear the message and task for which God sends them, including to us humans. They can think and hold conversations, and they have their own identity. And they appear to people of all religions, even those of no religion at all, when God wants them to listen. No one can prove angels exist; they are, after all, spiritual beings and don’t fit into material-world rules. Not all religious folks believe in angels (for instance, the Jewish Sadducess, and many modernist Christians). But those who have a strong sense of spirituality tend to believe angels are real, and sometimes experience their presence. Thus there are many angel reports from India, Malaysia, and other Asian countries.

Not There to Meddle
Angels are not there to be meddling fix-its, but our helpers in responding to the truth. Angels guide us in the way God wants us to go in a specific situation, sometimes calling us to take a specific action. We cannot just blow them off, but people usually find themselves responding instantly with some amount of trust, comfort, or awe. Angels can celebrate and have joy, and presumably have other emotions as well. They don’t negotiate unless God tells them to.

Angels Execute Judgment
Scripture shows that angels have another fierce task: when God passes judgment on injustice, they’re often the ones who carry out the sentence. The usual image shows them with flaming swords, but the Bible shows how they can execute judgment in other ways as well. When carrying out a sentence, angels are more like a strike force than envoys.

Angels and Demons: Enemies
As Christians over the years have told it, angels have their counterparts on the ’dark side’: demons. Most of what’s said about angels can be flipped around and said of demons. Angels and demons are alike, but differ in very important ways. Demons have no message of their own to tell, they only have lies so they can undermine God’s message. Since they no longer have their natural purpose, the demons’ very existence is twisted up and broken. Satan is generally pictured as peer to the archangels such as Michael and Gabriel. It is written that Satan can even come disguised as an angel of light. Demons can come pretending to be angels, but unlike angels, they try to puff you up or divert you from Jesus or Scripture, sometimes even proclaiming a new doctrine or a new “move of God.” Or, a demon will whip up your doubts until they blaze like a firestorm in your head. And they seize most any opportunity to rank themselves higher.
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