The Angel Craze in America: What’s Going On? – Program 3

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By: Dr. John Weldon, Dave Hunt; ©1996
Three to four billion people believe in angels. Why is there so much interest in angels, even today?

 

The Fascination with Angels

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. In a feature article, Time magazine said that if there was one universal idea common across time and history, it was the idea of the existence of angels. I found that a very interesting statement and wondered why it was true. One of my guests, Dr. John Weldon, who has two Ph.D.s, one in Comparative Religions, explains why what Time magazine said really is true. Listen:
Weldon: It’s interesting that Time magazine a few years back commented that if there was a universal idea that was common across time and history and culture, it would be the idea of angels. Wherever we look in the world, no matter what culture, no matter in what religion, we find the influence of angels. They’re influential in Islam; they’re influential in Christianity; in Hinduism, in Buddhism, in Sikhism, and on and on and on. So the skeptic has to stand back and ask the question, “Where did this universal idea come from?” Three to four billion people in the world believe in angels. Are they all wrong? Literally millions of people throughout history have claimed contact with angels. I know of people who have had angels actually directly appear in front of them. So I think that the burden of proof remains with the skeptic who denies that angels exist.
Ankerberg: Now, I wonder if you’re aware that leading philosopher Mortimer J. Adler, editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica and architect of the Great Books of the Western World series, thought that angels were more fascinating than either science fiction or the concept of extraterrestrial beings. In fact, as the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica and one of those who was working on the Syntopicon, a condensed version of the 102 great ideas in the Great Books of the Western World, he learned that the committee of the Syntopicon was not going to include the topic of angels as one of the great ideas of the Western World. But Mortimer Adler opposed them and insisted that they include it. Why? The reason may surprise you. Almost every one of the major world religions and many of today’s popular new religions and cults claim that they received their religion, their doctrinal information from an angel. Dr. John Weldon tells us more about this:
Weldon: When Mortimer Adler was working on the Syntopicon, which was the condensed version of the 102 great ideas in the Great Books of the Western World, one of the reasons that he insisted that the topic of angels be included was because of the great influence in human history. To illustrate, in the Muslim faith, Muhammad claimed that the angel Gabriel dictated the very words of the Qur’an itself. In the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion we find that the leaders claim that their very Bible translation was produced by angels who controlled the Witnesses in the production of the translation. And in many other religions, in Mormonism, for example, Joseph Smith claimed that the angel Moroni led him to the gold plates that were alleged a historical record of a group of peoples from which the Book of Mormon was translated. So we see that angels have had a tremendous influence in religious history. In fact, there are no religions to my knowledge that do not believe in the existence of angels and have not had an influence in that religion to some extent.
Ankerberg: Now, let me ask you, if an angel appeared beside you right now, what do you think he would be like? Would he be good? Would he be bad? Almost 99 percent of the time people believe angels are spiritual beings that are good. And the Bible says many of the angels are good, but not all of them. For a moment, think about this possibility. If we admit that angels are very powerful, that they can do supernatural things, that they might have a fantastically high IQ and are much wiser than we are, what would we be facing if one of the good angels went bad; that is, decided to act sinfully just like we have and turned into an evil angel? If this happened, then you would have an angel or a group of angels who would be opposed to us; who would not be working for God on our behalf but would be there to deceive us about life and spiritual truth. You would have these powerful beings whose goal would be to trip us up, to turn is away from God and His true way for us to get to Heaven. Now, don’t you think that would be a very scary thought? Yet that’s exactly what the Bible states has happened and is what we face today. There are good angels that serve God but there are also evil angels that serve Satan. I’d like you to listen to Dave Hunt, who has written many books on the occult and the New Age Movement, and to Dr. John Weldon as they introduce the biblical concept that in God’s universe, some of the good angels have sinned, turned against God and decided to follow after Satan. They exist today to deceive us in many different ways. As you will hear from both the Old and New Testaments, the prophets, Jesus and the apostles all warned us that such evil angels exist and we should be aware of them. Here’s Dave Hunt and Dr. Weldon. Listen:
Hunt: I think we have to be very careful when we get into the topic of angels so that we don’t let our imagination run away with us and we go beyond Scripture.
Weldon: God’s Word warns us very clearly about spiritual deception. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned us to watch out for false prophets. [Matt. 24:11] In 1 Timothy 4:1 we are told that in the last days people will give heed to seducing spirits and to things taught by demons. In Galatians 1:6-8 the apostle Paul says that if even “an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to that which we have preached, let him be accursed.” So we’re warned very clearly in the Bible about the possibility of spiritual deception, possibly even coming from angels.
Ankerberg: Now, let’s go back to what Dr. Weldon just mentioned. It was none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who told us to “Watch out that no one deceives you.” [Matt. 24:4] What kind of deception was He talking about? Spiritual deception. Jesus said, “For many will come in My name;” that is, they will come claiming they are Christian teachers, ministers or priests and supposedly conveying the information that Jesus and God wants us to hear. But Jesus said they will actually be deceivers. He said, “For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ;’” that is, they’ll be saying, “I’m God’s special man; I’m God’s anointed; I’m God’s prophet for today. For today I am God’s spokesman for this moment.” And Jesus said in doing this they will “deceive many.” [Matt. 24:5] Then in verses 24-25 of the same chapter in Matthew Jesus goes on to say, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect if that were possible. See I have told you ahead of time.” So here, Jesus warns us about people, false teachers, who will wrongly use His name to try to spiritually deceive us; to try to persuade us to believe in their false teaching. Some will even perform miracles. But still, we aren’t to follow them. How will we be able to tell that they are false teachers? By what they teach: if it goes contrary to what Jesus has taught us, we are not to follow them even if they do miracles.
The apostle Peter warned us of the same thing. He writes, “There will be false teachers among you; they will secretly introduce destructive heresies.” The King James translates these words as “damnable heresies.” [2 Pet. 2:1] What kind of heresies are damnable heresies? These heresies or religious doctrines are damnable or destructive in the sense that if you believe them, it will result in damning your soul to hell. They are not true and they are not what God wants you to believe. They will not save you. They are false teachings. Peter goes on to say that these false teachers will secretly introduce destructive heresies even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them. That is, these teachers will even deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died on a cross to pay for our sins. Peter says their own teachings “will bring swift destruction on themselves.” Yet sadly, he says, “many people will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”[2 Pet. 2:2] I think we can see that happening today.
Peter goes on to say, “In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” [2 Pet. 2:3] In other words, they will make up religious stories for money. They’re greedy. Today there are a lot of people who are selling books and receiving a lot of money as a result of making up stories of angels contacting them and trips to Heaven. Other people I think have truly been contacted by evil angels and been given deceptive dreams and experiences along with false religious information. They believe it’s true simply because they’ve had an experience. But they don’t know what Jesus has taught in the Word of God.
And we’re not to believe these messages. Why? Because as Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” [2 Pet. 1:16] Peter said we didn’t make up Christianity. We were eyewitnesses of what Jesus said and did. What did He do? He was crucified on a cross; He was buried; and yet, after the apostles witnessed all of this, they witnessed His resurrection from the dead. It was Jesus’ resurrection from the dead that stands as His proof to the apostles and to us that He is the Son of God and that we should believe what He has taught us. Of all the religious leaders in the world, only Jesus Christ has come back from the dead.
Now, the apostle Paul adds to Peter’s warnings about spiritual deception, saying that even if an angel were to appear to us to try to get us to believe another message about God, we are not to believe that message. Paul writes in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we [that is, the apostles] or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.” And if it wasn’t enough for Paul to say it once, he thought it important enough to say it twice. In the next verse he writes, “As we have already said, so now I say again, if anybody [referring to angels or men] are preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.” [Gal. 1:9]
What is the true gospel that Jesus Christ and the apostles gave to us that we are not to abandon? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved… otherwise, you have believed in vain. But what I received I passed on to you as of first importance,…” [1 Cor. 15:1-3] Here, Paul is saying, the gospel he was conveying to his readers and listeners he had learned not only from Christ when Christ appeared to him, but it was the same gospel, the same message that Paul had received from the other apostles, who in turn, had received that from Jesus Christ Himself.
Specifically, what was this gospel, this message, this good news that had been handed down to Paul? Well, he tells us in 1 Corinthians 15. He said the gospel is: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; and He appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” [1 Cor. 15:3-6] In other words, the gospel is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again and is living right now. He is the Savior. We turn to Him and believe on Him, whereupon He forgives our sins and gives us the power to live the Christian life in relationship with Him.
Now let me ask you, have you believed this gospel? If not, why not tell Jesus right now you are believing on Him, you need Him to be your Savior, and right now you are asking Him to forgive you of all the sins of your life. The Bible says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [Rom. 10:13] He’ll save you right now. Second, were you aware of all of these warnings from Jesus and the apostles in Scripture about the fact we would face false teachers, false prophets, even false angels that would try to deceive us spiritually? Were you aware that they would try to teach us religious truths that are really false and not the truths God wants us to believe? And further, do you think that what Jesus and the apostles warned us about has actually happened and is happening today? Well, I certainly believe it is. We have an angel craze going on in America today and all kinds of false information is being about God and His salvation. Would you like some proof of this? Well I’d like you to listen as Dr. John Weldon gives some examples and what you’re going to hear may surprise you. So listen carefully:
Weldon: In 2 Corinthians 11 we’re told that Satan himself masquerades or imitates an angel of light and his servants ministers of righteousness. [2 Cor. 11:14-15] Now, Satan’s servants could either be the angelic servants or those who follow him in their opposition to the things of God. Do we find anything in the religious world that would show that this really is true? Well, I think we do because so many religions around the world and so many of the new cults and so much of the New Age Movement claim angelic guidance. For example, in the Qur’an; I’m quoting here from the Penguin Classics Edition, the translation by Dawood, an Arabic scholar. It says, “According to Muslim tradition, one night in Ramadan about the year 610 as he was asleep or in a trance the angel Gabriel came to him and said, ‘Recite.’ He replied, ‘What shall I recite?’ The order was repeated three times until the angel himself said, ‘Recite in the name of your Lord, the Creator, who created man from clots of blood.’” In other words, the claim here is that Muhammad had a visitation from the angel Gabriel that told him to recite what the angel would give him. This eventually became the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an.
This is the Holy Qur’an, the authoritative translation by A. Yusef Ali. In Sura 2 or chapter 2, verse 97, we read that the angel Gabriel himself brought the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad. It reads, “Say, whoever is an enemy to Gabriel, for he brings down the revelation to thy heart by God’s will, a confirmation of what went before and guidance and glad tidings for those who believe, whoever is an enemy to God and his angels and apostles, to Gabriel and Michael, lo, God is an enemy to those who reject faith.” In other words, the Qur’an itself is teaching that the angel Gabriel gave this message to Muhammad and that this is the divine word of God and that those who reject it are an enemy of God.
Ankerberg: Do you find it interesting that the angel Gabriel is the one supposed to have given the Qur’an to Muhammad? I do. Why? Well, it’s because Islam and Christianity teach us information supposedly received from God via the angel Gabriel. Now, on the one hand, Gabriel supposedly gave all of the information in the Qur’an to Muhammad. On the other hand, in the Bible Gabriel gives very little information. In fact, there are only 29 verses in the whole Bible that record information that Gabriel gave. But just on the basis of Gabriel’s words found in the Bible and in the Qur’an, you can determine that either Christianity or Islam must be false. They both can’t be true at the same time if they are teaching contradictory things about who Jesus Christ is. I’d like you to listen very carefully as Dr. Weldon documents and explains where Islam and Christianity contradict each other on the basis of what Gabriel supposedly says about Jesus Christ. Listen:
Weldon: Now, the interesting thing about Muhammad claiming that an angel, the angel Gabriel specifically, gave the word of God to him is that when we look at what it teaches about Jesus Christ, we find that it contradicts what the Bible teaches. For example, in Sura 4, or chapter 4, verse 157, referring to the death of Christ on the cross which Christians believe was an atonement for sin, it says, “But they killed him not nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. They killed him not. Nay, God raised him up unto himself.” Muslims believe that Christ did not die on the cross but God simply ascended Him into heaven. Now, the Qur’an also teaches that Jesus Christ is not God, which is a clear contradiction of biblical teaching. In Sura 5, verse 75 it says, “They do blaspheme who say God is Christ, the Son of Mary.”
Also, in Sura 5, verse 78 it says Christ, the Son of Mary, was no more than an apostle. In other words, Jesus Christ was not God. Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They believe that there is only a unitarian God, not a Trinitarian God, as the Bible teaches. Now, if the angel Gabriel really gave this revelation to Muhammad in the Qur’an, we find him giving a completely different revelation in the Bible. I’m reading in Luke 1:26: “Now in the sixth month God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary…. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.’” [Luke 1:26-36]
In the Bible we find here that Gabriel is teaching that Jesus will be the Son of God, and biblically, to be the Son of God is to be God. But in the Qur’an we find Gabriel stating that Jesus is not God. In the Scripture passage I just read, we also see the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father sent the angel Gabriel who told Mary that the thing that was conceived within her would be the Son of God and that this would be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. So we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Now, Muslims, historically, deny the Trinity and say that God is only one person. So here we have two completely different stories coming from the angel Gabriel. Obviously, only one can be true. When we look at the historical basis upon which Muslims claim the Qur’an is the Word of God and compare that with the evidence that we find for the Bible being the Word of God, we see that the evidence supports the biblical claim and not the Muslim claim.
Ankerberg: Now, there is something else that I find very interesting. Did you know that even Muhammad himself stated that at times he thought he had been given the information found in the Qur’an by an evil angel? Why would Muhammad say that? Could it be true? If it is true, it would exactly fit that which Jesus and the apostles warned us about concerning Satan and his evil angels trying to deceive us spiritually. Dr. Weldon documents Muhammad’s suspicions that it was an evil angel that gave him the information in the Qur’an, not one of God’s good angels. Listen carefully:
Weldon: I think it’s significant that one of the leading authorities in Islamic law, Sir Norman Anderson, states in his book, The World Religions, that Muhammad himself was at first doubtful of the source of these revelations fearing that he was possessed by one of the jinn or jinni as was commonly believed to be the case with Arab poets and soothsayers. Now, the jinni are either good or evil Islamic spirits and it seems that obviously Muhammad was concerned initially as to whether or not the angel Gabriel was a good spirit. When we look at what the Bible teaches about the devil, that Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness, [2 Cor. 11:14-15] and what the apostle Paul teaches about another gospel, remembering that Islam denies that Christ died for the sins of the world on the cross. The apostle Paul said that if even “an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you let him be accursed,” [Gal. 1:8] I think we must conclude that the Prophet Muhammad did not get his revelations from the angel Gabriel or from God, but that ultimately they teach things that are not biblical and therefore are not to be believed.
Ankerberg: Next, I want you to have another example of how evil angels can masquerade as good angels to deliver a false message that deceives people spiritually. Dave Hunt tells us why it is that the appearances of the Virgin Mary at Fatima are more proof of false, deceptive, evil angels deceiving people today. Listen:
Hunt: The Bible calls Satan a liar, a deceiver, the god of this world. He, in fact, is the author of false religions. These so-called angelic beings that are really demonic beings, they’re not out to give people a Disneyland ride, some fabulous experience. Ultimately, it leads to what the Bible warns about doctrines of devils. It leads to some deceptive teaching. And you find this finally in every case. The appearances of the Virgin Mary are an example of this.
Fatima, of course, Fatima, Portugal. And Fatima, by the way, was Muhammad’s favorite daughter and it was named that when the Muslims were in control of that area of the world. The apparitions of Mary at Fatima would be the classic ones. Pope John Paul II believes that it was Our Lady of Fatima who saved his life. She appeared to him during his convalescence from the assassination attempt; said that she has a mission for him to fulfill and so forth. He’s been there a number of times at Fatima thanking Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life. Those apparitions of Mary that began May 13, 1917 were preceded in 1916 by a number of appearances of supposed archangel Michael.
The same thing would be true in Garabandal, Spain, where in the 60s they’ve had several thousand alleged appearances of the Virgin Mary. Once again, these were preceded by alleged angelic appearances of these beings.
Now, what do these apparitions of Mary teach? It can’t possibly be the Virgin Mary but a demon masquerading as Mary for good reason: because of what Mary says. We come to the teaching, the deception that comes out of this. For example, Our Lady of Fatima said, “Many souls perish and go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifice for them.”
Wait a minute! Christ made the sacrifice upon the cross, but Catholicism teaches that we must make sacrifices ourselves. That’s an absolute denial of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. The Word of God says by one sacrifice, by one offering of Himself, “He has perfected forever those that are sanctified.” [Heb. 10:14] Hebrews 9-10 make it very clear: “He has appeared once in the end of the age to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” [Heb. 9:26]
So the Virgin Mary is denying the basic teaching of Christianity: that it is through the sacrifice of Christ that we are saved. Now, of course, this is Catholic teaching, but it’s through the sacrificial lives of the saints. They help the salvation of others. You have Padre Pio, for example, who manifested the “stigmata” and brought about the salvation of multitudes of people. He’s honored by the Pope today.
So here we have the ultimate aim of these apparitions and the angelic appearances and so forth is to bring forth false teaching. It’s through the miraculous things that happen. For example, the sun there seemingly plunging toward the earth seen by 75,000 people and suddenly, those who had been soaked from the rain are dried out. I don’t doubt that such a thing could happen. If Satan can do the things that the Bible tells us he can do, then he certainly could do that. Why again do I say Satan did it? Because ultimately of the teaching and going back again to 1 Timothy 4:1, what does the Bible warn us? “In the last days, some will depart from the faith [from the teaching of the Bible], they will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” The seducing spirits are here not to give people great experiences but the experiences cause them to believe in these false teachings..

 

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