Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Politics of Angels

Seven Angels

Early Christians were well aware of the Angels that formed a major role in their spiritual as well as their temporal world. Angels were not just a theory or metaphor of faith. The Christians in the first millennium after the arrival of our Savior knew that Angels were real palpable beings who governed at the command of God.

Angels were not viewed solely as good natured guardians and radiant females with golden wings that protected children. The Angels of the Hebrew tradition and in the Old Testament were also warriors who defended Creation from evil with brutal force if commanded.

Not only were Angels Biblical but they formed the background that arose from the ancient Hebrew worldview. The world of Eden, the great king Melchizedec, and the earliest descendants of Adam and Eve resonated with the presence of Angels.

Yet today Angels are relegated to a backseat in the world of Christians. Often they are depicted as “new age” fairies looking like the cover art from a “romance” novel. At other times Angels are little more than chubby cherubs decorating a greeting card. Instead of a source of power for the faithful to defend us from our enemies, Angels have become a caricature. What happened?

Some Background

In a series of Church synods (meetings) between 743-745 AD the politically minded Pope Zachary was trying to finesse some thorny diplomatic issues. The Frankish and Germanic interest in the Church required power-sharing while in the East he had grave problems with Constantine V (son of Leo III) of Byzantium. In an attempt to placate the iconoclastic (image destroying) Constantine and keep peace in the burgeoning north Pope Zachary “downgraded” the role of several Archangels to sainthood at the behest of the Constantine faction.

Zachary’s actions briefly satisfied the desecrations of Constantine but gravely damaged the spiritual power of Christendom. At nearly the same time militant Islam was busy with the destruction of Christian North Africa and the invasion of Spain. Pope Zachary’s spiritual shortsightedness helped fuel the Islamic invasion which continues today.

Although the actions the Pope took were on the local synod level and did not rise to the official level of a General Council; the issue smoldered. Somewhat clarified by the next General Council (Second Nicaea, 787 AD) that conditionally supported the veneration of various religious images; the damage was done. Due to the volatility around those who supported the Angels with their use as a tool to acquire strength through devotion and the violent iconoclasts like Constantine V the matter was swept under the rug.

Angelic Politics

The policies of iconoclasts in the Catholic Church were nearly identical to the beliefs of Islam who completely forbade the use of Angelic images. So this controversy became a net gain for Islam which was able to get the Catholics to turn their backs on one of their most important allies; the Corps of Archangels.

As is sometimes the case Protestants fell in line and repeated the mistakes of their Catholic forerunners. Not understanding that there is a politics to Angels, Christians have allowed one of their most powerful assets to lie dormant while the enemies of Christendom celebrate one victory after another.

Even though the spelling and pronunciation has change over many millennia, The Seven Ruling Archangels; Raphael, Uriel, Michael, Gabriel, Zaphiel, Haniel, and Zadkiel: are eternal. They are a profound presence in our life whether we are aware of it or not.

Existing at the edge of consciousness these spiritual beings are the messengers, guardians, and soldiers for God. Angels guard the Gates of Eden; they visited Noah, came to Abraham then annihilated Sodom and Gomorrah, protected Mary, and provided innumerable un-named acts. All seven Archangels visit us in the Book of Revelations and absolutely declared their inherent dominion in prophecy.

Yet we want to turn them into pudgy little cherubs? Do we want to allow them to be controlled by pagans and Muslims? The answer for me is NO. I say they are our allies and the conduits to God.

With militant Islam on one horizon and militant materialism on the other horizon the only way we have to look is straight up. Without the alliance of God and his warrior Archangels we are naked and powerless in these “raven days” of our civilization.

D. S. Reif

"Seven Angels" Pencil drawing on paper.