The Angel Craze in America: What’s Going On? – Program 1
| September 7, 2013 |
|By: Dr. John Weldon, Dave Hunt; ©1996|
|It seems that the belief in angelic beings has been a common theme in every culture down through the centuries. Who or what are angels? How powerful are they?|
The Universal Appeal of Angels
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome! Why is it important that we examine the subject of angels? Well, Time magazine, December 27, 1993 stated, “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.” Did you hear what Time magazine just said? They said the idea of angels is almost a universal idea. Why? It’s because angels have seemingly appeared and been spoken of in almost every culture down through the centuries. This alone would seem to indicate that angels actually exist? For argument’s sake, what if they do exist?
- Further, why is it that in our secular, materialistic, American society today our people are including angels in our theater productions, our television programs, our literature, our movies, art and our pop music? Why are many of the best-selling books in America about how you can contact the angels? To begin our program, I asked Dr. John Weldon why he thought angels are so popular today. Here’s what he said.
- Dr. John Weldon: Well, John, basically an angel is a spiritual being created by God. And angels are important today and people are interested in angels today for a variety of reasons. Just a few years ago, five of the ten best-selling books were about angels. It’s estimated that over 200 million Americans believe in angels, and around the world about three or four billion people believe in angels. So there’s a tremendous fascination with angels. And I think the reasons for that are multiple. In brief, Mortimer Adler, one of the great philosophers of today, said that he felt angels were more intriguing than either science fiction or the concept of extraterrestrial life. And certainly they’re more intriguing than science fiction, because they’re not fiction, they’re real. Angels do exist. And they’re more intriguing than extraterrestrial life because they’re spirit beings. And if spirit beings exist, then there’s a spiritual world. And, of course, this takes us back to some of the great questions, brings us back to God who must have created the spiritual world, and to questions like: Who are we? Why are we here? What’s the purpose of life? What happens when I die? The fascination with angels can be illustrated in the fact that over 200 million Americans believe they exist and three to four billion people worldwide.
- Ankerberg: Next, when I asked best-selling author Dave Hunt why he thought angels are so popular today, this man who has written many books on the occult and the cults had a very interesting answer. I’d like you to listen.
- Dave Hunt: Angels are popular because man knows that there is a non-physical dimension. Everybody knows that. Man is an incurably religious animal, but God is terrifying. And man has always turned to, well, through mediums, the spirits of the dead, “If I can get Aunt Jane to talk to me, she’s become some great authority on the other side,” or to some spirit guide, whatever. But angels are so benign and their fluttering wings and they’re going to help us and so forth. So it’s simply a means of turning to some authority figure that isn’t going to judge you, and you can escape the judgment of God. And now we’re into the spirit realm with a friend and a counselor and a guide and a benefactor and so forth. I think that’s what makes angels so popular.
- Ankerberg: Now, I realize that some of you that are listening are skeptics, that is, you don’t believe in God, the supernatural, life after death, and you certainly don’t believe in angels. Are there any solid reasons why you should? Well, I’d like you to listen to Dr. John Weldon describe what leading philosopher Mortimer J. Adler, editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, thought about the existence of angels. Listen:
- Weldon: Okay, if you’re a skeptic of angels, it’s interesting to know that even a great philosopher such as Mortimer Adler, who was involved with the Encyclopedia Britannica and the architect behind the Great Books of the Western World series. When they devised the Syntopicon some of the scholars at the University of Chicago were skeptical and incredulous that the concept of angels should be included in the Syntopicon, which was a compilation of 102 great ideas within the great books. Mortimer Adler insisted that they should remain in because of their influence in human history. For example, among the Muslim faith they claim that the angel Gabriel dictated the Qur’an to Mohammad, and the fact is that the Muslims today number over a billion people worldwide. In terms of the Christian faith, God has used angels to establish the Mosaic Law, to help the early Church. And so the influence of angels historically has been great. And that’s why the subject belongs in something like the Syntopicon.
- Ankerberg: Well, if you listened to what Mortimer Adler just said, he wasn’t giving an argument for the existence of angels; rather, he was arguing that mankind’s idea about these beings has influenced the world greatly. Dave Hunt, who was once a skeptic himself, cites some Nobel prize winners who, you may be surprised, argued for the existence of another dimension which could include angels. Listen:
- Hunt: When I was in high school, I can remember the physicists at that time thought that they would be able to explain consciousness, even morals and love and a sense of right and wrong in terms of protein molecules, chemical reactions, neural activity in the brain. Very few people believe that anymore. In fact, not as many scientists ever believed that as what were thought.
- Ken Wilbur did us a great service by putting together in a book called Quantum Questions: The Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists, he just quotes the greatest physicists of this century. Every one of them believed in this non-physical dimension. Max Planck, the father of Quantum Mechanics, said that it is no accident that the greatest physicists were also very religious figures. Sir John Eccles believed in this non-physical dimension, Nobel Prize winner for his research on the brain. John von Neumann, mathematician; he was said to be the most brilliant man, genius, that the world ever knew, even greater than Einstein. He believed in this. Eugene Wigner,… I could go on and name all kinds of Nobel Prize winners.
- Robert Jastrow, for example, is the founder and for many years the director of the Goddard Space Institute that sent Pioneer and Voyager out into space. He believed that there are highly evolved entities out there that have even evolved beyond the need of bodies. Here’s one of the world’s greatest astronomers, and he says they could be in the form of what religious people call “spirits.” So you have the most brilliant minds, physicists, astronomers and neurologists and so forth, who believe in a non-physical dimension. Now, who are these beings? They’ve definitely been in communication with mankind down through history. Whether you want to call them spirit guides, angels, or whatever. For example, Carl Jung, he had what he called his own spirit guide. It could just as well have been described as an angel today.
- Ankerberg: Now, I want to go back to a very interesting fact that you may not be aware of, that is, that many of the religious cults that exist today claim that their founder received their primary beliefs from an angel or group of angels. Dr. John Weldon gives a few startling examples. Listen:
- Weldon: A lot of people may not know, but Joseph Smith was in contact with angels. He claimed that the angel Moroni, for example, led him to the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. In the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, we find that angels have had an influence in that sect as well. For example, leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have claimed that their translation of the Bible was done through angels who controlled the translators. In a religion such as the Swedenborgian faith, we find that Emanuel Swedenborg, a very powerful medium, claimed to be in contact with angels on a regular basis and that they would teach him his particular beliefs and his religion. And today, of course, in channeling and in many forms of the occult, we find that angels are pervasive everywhere. So it’s very important for us to realize that angels are having a significant impact in our culture today in the areas of religions, in the areas of cults, in the area of the occult, and in our culture generally.
- Ankerberg: Whenever you see a television program, a movie, or people being interviewed talking about the information that angels have given to them, you must ask: “How do I know that I can trust what is being said? What is the basis for the information these people are giving?” That is true about us as well. So I asked Dr. John Weldon to comment on where people are claiming to get their information about angels and the basis upon which we are going to talk to you about angels. Listen:
- Weldon: There are many different ways in which people claim to get information from angels today. There are different forms of divination practices that people use. Some people use altered states of consciousness. Some people go to the library and look at many of the books about angels. Some of those books actually claim to have been written by angels through human mediums. I think that the most important and authoritative source for information on angels is the Bible.
- Why do I believe the Bible is authoritative? Well, for one reason, Jesus Christ believed that the Bible was the Word of God and Jesus Christ is the only Person in human history who ever came back from the dead. If Christ was God incarnate, then He is an infallible authority and He said, “Thy Word is truth.” [John 17:17] He also pre-authenticated the New Testament when He said that the Holy Spirit would guide the disciples into all the truth.[John 16:13] So we have here an authoritative Word of God in the Bible about angels and it’s something we can trust as opposed to the kinds of information we may get from nebulous sources.
- Ankerberg: Next, I asked Dr. John Weldon, according to the Bible, how powerful are angels? Could one or two angels alone destroy the world? The information you will hear next is absolutely fascinating. Listen:
- Weldon: Angels are fascinating because God created them for a specific purpose. If we look in the Bible, we find that angels do absolutely incredible things that are really astounding. Let me read you a few Scriptures to give you an idea of the power that these beings have. In Genesis 19:1 we find that, “Two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening.” Now, what they did, they told Lot concerning his family, “Get them out of here because we are going to destroy this place. The Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So we find that two angels, merely two spiritual beings, were able to destroy not just Sodom and Gomorrah, but the remaining cities of the plain.
- In 2 Kings 19:35 we read, “Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.” This gives us an idea of the tremendous power that angels have: that a single angel can destroy 185,000 of the enemies of the Israelites.
- In Revelation 9:15, “And the four angels who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year were released so that they might kill a third of mankind.” Here we find simply four angels with the power to destroy one-third of the earth.
- They also have power to deliver people. For example, in Daniel 3:28, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Neo-Babylonian empire, responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him.” In other words, when the three friends of Daniel were thrown into the fire, God’s angel protected them. Daniel himself was protected from the lions. In Daniel 6:22 he said, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouth and they have not harmed me inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”
- The Bible also says that angels actually have the ability to influence nations according to Daniel 12:1 and Daniel 10:13, 21. Angels also have the tremendous power over nature. Angels actually will gather all men at the end of the age for the final judgment. The Scripture says that they will gather the elect and they will gather the unrighteous for the final judgment, in Matthew 13:49-50: “So it will be at the end of the age: the angels shall come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.” And then in Mark 13:27, “And He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.” So we see that angels have incredible power and have been active not only throughout history but will be active in the future as well.
- Ankerberg: Next, I asked Dave Hunt what was the most fascinating true story he had ever heard during his life about the existence of angels and how they had helped people. This is what he told me:
- Hunt: “Angel” simply means “messenger.” They are God’s messengers and they do God’s bidding, which involves many, many things. And part of it is protecting those who are His. We, as Christians, it’s rather interesting, we don’t talk about angels very much and part of the reason would be because we’re warned against worshipping angels and some people have such a fascination with angels and are seeing angels all the time. I don’t believe that it happens that way. It didn’t happen that way in the Bible. The appearance of angels is very seldom. But when they come, they come for a specific purpose and they’re very powerful. I think that every Christian can recognize that angels are watching over them and probably rescuing them and doing things when they’re not even aware of it.
- I can remember as a boy of about eight years of age, I know of one instance that I am aware. I can just see in my mind right now that corner of the little town of Riverside, California where I was born and raised, with a bank across the street and having traffic. And I stepped off the curb and someone, something, pulled me back. And just at that moment, right around the corner came this car that would have struck me down and I wouldn’t have been here today. So, as the Word of God says, they are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation.” [Heb. 1:14] So at that point I was not a Christian but the Lord knew that one day I would be and so He protected and preserved me.
- I remember in 1966 visiting the Sisters of Mary in Darmstadt, Germany. These are not Catholic sisters, they are Lutheran sisters, and they came out of a Bible study in Darmstadt that was protected, about 100 girls all over Darmstadt. And the allies sent in about 1,000 planes that just flattened that city, and yet not one of these girls was harmed throughout that city. And because of that, many of them, not all, but many of them dedicated their lives to God for the remainder of their life on this earth. And they called themselves the “Sisters of Mary.” And that part of Germany was taken over by the Soviets. And I remember Sister Eulalia, for example, telling that they had orphans that they had brought in and were ministering to in this particular location. And they didn’t try to pull the blinds down. I mean, Soviet troops were raping women; they were going in and plundering houses and so forth. These young sisters trusted God.
- They had a young boy that they had just brought in, and he didn’t know about praying. And when they were praying he kept his eyes open and he got very excited and he stopped the prayer and he said, “The eaves were only up to here on them! The eaves were only up to here on them!” They didn’t know what he was talking about, and finally he got it out. He said, “Those big men, shining in light, and with swords! They were walking all around as you were praying!” These were the angels that were protecting them. The Soviet soldiers some year or so later, when things had settled down a bit, told Sister Eulalia that several of them were going to pick her up and rape her a number of times if it hadn’t been for those men that were with her. So there are many stories like this of angelic protection that I believe fulfill what the Bible says.
- Ankerberg: Next, Dr. John Weldon relates a story he was personally involved with concerning angels. Listen.
- Weldon: I think it’s important for Christians and even non-Christians to realize that God uses the angels in our lives for His purposes. There are many, many cases where a person’s life has been saved because God sent an angel at a time of dire need. Even in the lives of non-Christians, for example, one individual was so depressed he decided to commit suicide. He rammed his Sunbeam sports car into a car on the side of the road at 120 mph, was thrown out over the windshield into the engine. The fire that was caused was so intense that no one could get within 50 to 100 feet of it. And yet the ambulance workers and the police that were there actually saw two men walk up to the car and pull this man out and help him into the ambulance. Now, this man realized that there’s no way that could have happened unless these were angelic beings. Yet he wasn’t a Christian. As a result of that he became a Christian. But it was clear that the heat was so intense from that fire that it would have been physically impossible for humans to do that; and yet everyone saw these two men walk up to the car. And there are many such cases like that. So I think we can take encouragement and comfort from the fact that if need be, God will, indeed, protect our lives if our lives are threatened by anything that might come down the road.
- Ankerberg: Now, obviously there is an angel craze going on in America today. Angels are popular; people want to contact the angels and have an angel appear to them. The Bible warns us that because there are both good and evil angels, angel contact may be very dangerous. Dave Hunt explains.
- Hunt: On the one hand, the interest in angels could have a good effect because it causes people to realize there is this non-physical dimension; that there are spiritual beings – the Bible talks about angels. And it could turn people in the direction of the Word of God and believing in God. On the other hand, there are some real problems, because Satan, the Bible tells us, poses as an angel of light. [2 Cor. 11:14] There could be evil beings and there are evil beings who would have an opening, then, into a person’s life; because the tendency of mankind is to think, now there’s some technique. In fact, most of the books out there on angels give you techniques for getting in touch with angels. I think we need to recognize that you can’t control angels. In fact, you even have Christians writing on how you can command your angel to come and how you can get angels. That opens the door for evil spirits because angels, they’re not at our beck and call. They are God’s messengers. And even in the Bible, for example, on one occasion God sent an angel to deliver Peter from prison [Acts 12] but on the other hand, Peter was also killed. Angels don’t just come and automatically deliver us every time we would like to be delivered.
- So in the final analysis, we must submit ourselves to the will of God. But the interest in angels opens people to demonic beings who will pose as angels, because now they think, “Well, I’ve got some technique, a meditation technique, a visualization technique, whatever it may be, that will automatically put me in touch with these beings and then they will come and rescue me. Angels won’t do that. They only come at God’s bidding; but demons will do that and they will cater to your own ego and that becomes a road to the great delusion and destruction.