Sunday, February 12, 2006

What Evidence Angels?

The subject of angels is an intriguing one. It seems that whether one discusses guardian angels, cherubim, seraphim, angels of death, archangels, or fallen angels/demons (which I’d like to set aside for this discussion), people generally believe in them.

I would count myself in this camp, as well. My belief in angels comes out of my fundamental faith that the written narrative that we know as the Bible is accurate. And both the Old and New Testaments speak to the existence of angels.

However, it seems to me anecdotally that the belief in angels transcends belief in the Bible itself. The Barna Group, an organization that conducts surveys of public opinion on a wide variety of spiritually-related topics, seems to have come to a similar conclusion during a poll they conducted in 2000.

Their results showed that while 43% strongly agreed and 17% somewhat agreed with the statement, "the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings", 49% strongly agreed and 32% somewhat agreed with the statement, "angels exist and influence people's lives". As a side note, it is also interesting to note that almost as many (40% strongly agreed and 18% somewhat agreed) that "the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil". Ironic since the Bible indicates that Satan is in fact a fallen angel.

Now I understand that the three forms of deception are "lies, damn lies, and statistics" and polls are regularly spun to produce support for many widely divergent opinions. And perhaps, you would always find a larger percentage of people would agree with an aspect of the Bible while rejecting the entirety of it. But since these statistics seem to back up my preconceptions, I’m going to run with them for awhile.

It’s also true that one man’s angel is not necessarily another’s. Images range from Travolta’s personally offensive characterization of the archangel, Michael to Capra’s innocuous Clarence, to the cherubim of Rafael, to the wheel within a wheel creatures of Ezekiel Chapter 1, and several more points in between.

Discussion of God, and certainly Jesus, is sure to bring dissention in a large group, but talking about angels doesn’t seem to offend or elicit the same consternation. Indeed, to the contrary, there seems to be a fascination. Why is this? And if belief in the Bible isn’t what one uses as the foundation for a belief in real angels, what is? And lastly, for you fundamentalist whackos like me, if you take scripture out of the equation for a moment, what evidence exists to support the belief in a group of benevolent, supernatural beings, which we loosely call angels? And why can’t we get our story straight on them?

1 comment:

Rich said...

I wanted to discuss the picture you pasted. I know we can't see angels, necessarily, but did you have to be so blunt in making your point? :)