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Angels: the good and the bad

January 21, 2011 No Comment

by Kathy Birkett 

In the late 1970s, you could find few books on angels, while there were many on demons and the occult. More recently, the trend has reversed. But what is being written on the topic? Unfortunately, many of the ideas presented in these books contradict what the Bible teaches about these messengers of God.

Rev. Jacob Quast, pastor of Church of the Lutheran Hour in Fort Francis, Ontario brings a biblical perspective on angels in his book, Angels: What you should know about these divine messengers (both the good and the bad) published by Today’s Reformation Press.

The topic of angels still receives much interest. Angels appear in TV shows more often, and there is more general conversation about them. Why this new interest? This short book (68 pages) explains the increased interest, and informs the reader of the historical, New Age, and Biblical understandings of angels.

Pastor Quast’s research for this book is based on his Master of Divinity thesis at Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton, completed in 2003. Although you might think a university thesis could be a dry document, Rev. Quast maintains a fine balance between presenting not enough information, and too much. Readers can follow the many footnotes for delving deeper into the subject. Yet, for those who want good information combined with a quick read, this book fits the bill.

Chapter 1 gives the highlights the thought and teaching about angels throughout the eras of the Christian Church, covering the time from 100AD to 1970. I enjoy studying history, so I found this chapter quite interesting.

In Chapter 2, Rev. Quast explains the progression of thought about angels and how society arrived at its current understanding. In the Modern Era–from 1800 to 1970–many discounted or dismissed whatever could not be scientifically tested or rationally explained. Therefore, belief in spiritual concepts diminished. Now in the Post-modern era, there has emerged a “reaction to the failure of the modern period to solve humanity’s problems,” Quast writes. The rational is now more easily dismissed in favour of seeking spiritual experiences.

The author says that “people yearn for something beyond this secular world, and if they do not find it in traditional religious faiths, they latch on to something else.” New Age beliefs seem to provide what these people need and, although there is a wide variety of teachings about angels, some of the more dangerous are those instructing people to contact “their” angel, or angels.

The third chapter outlines the teachings of Scripture. In comparison to the development of angel characteristics and function in both the church and society, the Bible doesn’t say very much about angels. However, one key characteristic of angels is their function as messengers, not with their own message, but with messages from God. Another characteristic is giving glory to God, and not accepting glory for themselves.

The author summarizes his research and findings in the last chapter.

Why is it important for Christians to be informed about angels? I must admit, I haven’t given them much thought. I know they are God’s spiritual creatures and do His bidding. But, I’ve never watched the angel TV programs because they conflicted with what the Bible taught about them. Thanks to this book, I better understand the eternal danger to those who believe in angels to the exclusion of the Gospel.

The church can help those who seek to fill the spiritual void they feel. The pastor observes that “there are many people who have many questions about angels. It is the church’s responsibility to provide Scriptural answers, whenever possible, to the many questions concerning the nature and function of these spiritual beings.”

He continues by noting that postmodernists are on a spiritual quest and how church has the opportunity and duty to fulfill this spiritual hunger. “People are dabbling in the new spirituality because they want real spirituality… the question before the church, then, is how to engage people in the culture.”

Angels add to the glory of the universe. They are God’s messengers and servants helping humankind, sent by God, and therefore a blessing to us. But, believing in and contacting angels instead of believing in the God who loves us leaves seekers with a continuing hunger for spiritual fulfillment, and without salvation. This book gives Christians tools to enter the discussion with those who worship angels, leading them to the great Good News of their salvation in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

Angels: What you should know about these divine messengers (both the good and the bad) is available from Sperling Church Supply and Amazon.com


Kathy Birkett is a regular contributor to Tapestry magazine and member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burlington, Ontario.

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