Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Angels don't appear today

At the prayer meeting last night we read Hebrews 13.

I managed to generate some heated discussion on verse 2:

2 Be not fogtful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

I argued that the author was not suggesting the possibility that Christians might entertain angels, he was merely alluding to the incidents of Abraham and Lot entertaining angels.

Eisegesis kicked in and some people insisted that it was 'obvious' that the author thought entertaining angels was a possibility.

I argued that there would be no purpose in Christians entertaining angels today. Abraham and Lot entertained angels on the momentous occasions of God revealing His purpose and executing judgment on Sodom. No events of such magnitude were going to happen to believers today.

A gentleman argued that Christians in Africa had regular experiences of a supernatural nature. In contrast Christians in the west had become blind to the spirit world because of materialist assumptions. People in the west do not expect to see angels therefore they do not see them.

I pointed out that the expectation of seeing angels should have no bearing on whether we see them or not; people in Bible times who saw angels were generally taken by surprise!

Surely we need to take our understanding of the spirit world from Scripture, not the alleged experiences of Christians in Africa. One problem with African Christianity is the widespread ignorance of Scripture on that continent and hence the possibility of confusing superstition with truth about the spirit world.

Of course somebody had to mention an 'angel testimony.' Every church has somebody who has a story about meeting some mysterious stranger who they believe was an angel.

When it comes to angel testimonies I believe we need some sanctified skepticism. It is clear that God has ordained the cosmos in such a way that we do not see angels. We know they exist and I believe they exercise a governmental role over the cosmos, yet their world and our world do not interact in any visible way. When angels did become visible, it was always related to the revelation of God's governmental purposes. Now that we have a final revelation of these purposes, there is no need for angelic visitations until the end of the age. we must therefore exercise some commonsense about alleged appearances of angels and conclude that there must be a better explanation for them.


Anonymous said...

Matthew, it's good that you have such a good grasp of God's Word, so you can argue and stand firm on your understanding of the scriptures. Good to encourage some lively healthy debate! It makes others think, which is no bad thing. God bless you, Dave

Celestial Fundie said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

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