Top TV & Movie Angels!

When I say, “Hollywood Angels,” right away you probably think of the three hot, female private eyes of Charlie’s Angels.  But I’m not talking about that kind of angel.  Clarence Oddbody, the lovable angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), has to be the all-time, most lovable, pop culture, heavenly agent.  And, at a close second would likely be Michael Landon in the TV series “Highway to Heaven” (1984-1989).

Movies and TV series featuring angels of all types, have always produced big ratings for the most part.  For film and TV producers, angels are a sure bet!  Bottom line: we can’t get enough of these heavenly beings.  And yes, we couldn’t get enough of Charlie’s “angels” either.  Coming up soon:  how “Charlie’s Angels” helped fuel the pop culture angel obsession!  But for now, check out the Top 12 List of TV & Movie Angels below, and make special note of the “memorable lines” that have helped shape our beliefs about angels.


The following list was originally compiled by Ellen Leventry, a contributor to Beliefnet’s pop culture blog, Idol Chatter.  Source Link: Top 12 TV & Movie Angels 1990s to Today

Angels in the Outfield (1994)

Angel:  Al the Boss Angel (Christopher Lloyd)
Mission:  In a departure from original 1951 movie, Al and his team of Angels help a boy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in foster care bring his family back together.  Along the way, the baseball team “California Angels” also have to win the pennant.
Wings and Things:  Halos and baseball caps are interchangeable for this heavenly helper.
Powers:  The ability to help players make out-of-this world catches and run with sonic speed.
Memorable Line:  “We’re always watching.”
Legacy:  Angels can’t win championships for you; they bring out the talent and confidence already inside of you.

Touched by an Angel (1994-2003)

Angels:  Monica (Roma Downey), Tess (Della Reese), and Andrew, aka The Angel of Death (John Dye)
Mission:  The heavenly triumvirate reminds desperate people that God loves them.
Wings and things:  When revealing their true natures, they are bathed in an ethereal glow.
Powers:  The ability to dole out miraculous advice and support.
Memorable Line:  “There’s not a doctor on the face of the earth that can save that man’s soul.  His faith in God is what he needs now.”
Legacy:  Fueled the huge angel revival of 1990s.

Michael (1996)

Angel:  Archangel Michael (John Travolta)
Mission:  Out for a last hurrah on earth before being stuck behind the Pearly Gates, he steers three tabloid reporters toward redemption.
Wings and Things:  Comically huge, molting wings. Smells like cookies, despite pack a day smoking habit.
Powers:  Has fought the Devil and authored parts of the Bible, but only brings a dog back to life onscreen.
Memorable Line:  (From movie poster) “He’s an angel…Not a saint.”
Legacy:  Refreshingly unholy, Michael suggests angels are unconcerned with petty human definitions of sin.

The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

Angel:  Dudley (Denzel Washington)
Mission:  To save Reverend Henry Biggs’s church and his faith, without destroying his marriage.
Wings and Things:  No wings, as they are a bad literary cliché, but Dudley is never without his “Angel’s Handbook.”
Powers:  Unlike in the original “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947), Dudley performs few feats of angelic magic.  He does fix a toy ambulance too well, providing it with a siren that it doesn’t originally have.
Memorable Line:  “You have no idea what the competition is like just to be sent down here.”
Legacy:  Denzel proved that angels can still be devilishly handsome and tempting.

Teen Angel (1997-1998)

Angel:  Marty DePolo (Mike Damus)
Mission:  Having expired after eating a bad hamburger, Marty is appointed his best friend Steve’s guardian angel.
Wings and Things:  White high-top sneakers and long-sleeved tees complemented appropriately sized adolescent wings.
Powers:  Steals Cupid’s arrows to help Steve bag a girl, brings in Cleopatra to help Steve write history papers, and grants Steve a golden voice for choir tryouts.
Memorable Lines:  “Kyle, by the awesome power of Heaven I give you an invisible wedgie.”
Legacy:  Guardian angels can hinder, as well as help, and aren’t above some seraphic slapstick.

City of Angels (1998)

Angel:  Seth (Nicolas Cage)
Mission:  In this remake of “Wings of Desire” (1987), Seth appears to those who are about to die, but ends up falling for a doctor (Meg Ryan) trying to keep those same people from death.
Wings and Things:  Black trench coat and puppy-dog eyes
Powers:  Can read human thoughts and reveal himself to them
Memorable Line:  “I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it.”
Legacy:  Women wept as Seth gave up his heavenly existence for human love.  This set new standards for romance and gave husbands and boyfriends everywhere angelic agita.

Dogma (1999)

Angels:  Bartleby (Ben Affleck), a fallen angel, and Loki (Matt Damon), the Angel of Death.
Mission:  Exiled to Wisconsin, they discover a portal back to Heaven in New Jersey.
Wings and Things:  Slacker attire, occasional bombastic breastplates, and powerful wings
Powers:  Hold their own with WWF superstars
Memorable Line:  “I can spot a commandment-breaker a mile away.”
Legacy:  This anti-“Touched by an Angel” satirizes religious folks, not the troubled, as the ones who need to earn their wings.

Angels in America (2003)

Angel:  Angel (Emma Thompson)
Mission:  In this screen version of Tony Kushner’s play, the Angel must alert an AIDS patient named Prior that he is a prophet who can save himself and the rest of the world by stopping humanity’s progress.
Wings and Things:  He/she may have the look of an archetypal angel with flowing locks, Grecian robes, and wings, but this heavenly hermaphrodite is anything but chaste.
Powers:  Humans experience orgasmic bliss on seeing the Angel.
Memorable Line:  “Greetings, Prophet! The great work begins! The Messenger has arrived!”
Legacy:  Even angels, like demons, are a little devilish.

Constantine (2005)

Angel:  Gabriel (Tilda Swinton)
Mission:  To make sure humans earn the Lord’s love through hellish tribulations.
Wings and Things:  Fine suits and double-windsors, but fighting whites come out in the end
Powers:  As if being God’s “gatekeeper” on Earth isn’t power enough, this angel can blow you away with a single breath.
Memorable Lines:  “If sweet, sweet God loves you so, then I will make you worthy of His love.”
Legacy:  The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but the road to humanity, as Gabriel finds out, is just as hellish.

Fallen (2006)

Angel:  Aaron Corbett (Paul Wesley)
Mission:  To redeem fallen angels and return them to Heaven.
Wings and Things:  Fantastic Sanskrit-like tattoo depicting names of the Fallen Angels
Powers:  Sure, this heartthrob of a Nephilim (half-angel, half-human being) can fly, but being able to talk to your dog is so much cooler!
Memorable Line:  “So you’re telling me that in order to save Earth I have to send the Devil back to Heaven?”
Legacy:  Even angels have teen angst.

Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Angel:  Dangerous Woman/Angel Asphodel (Virginia Madsen)
Mission:  To search for souls. Also a metaphor for the death of the radio show.
Wings and Things: White trench coat and a monotone voice
Powers:  The Angel of Death takes on the shape of a woman done in by a penguin joke–a joke she still doesn’t get–told on the show.
Memorable Lines:  “One time I put the face of the Lord on a bowl of oatmeal.  But mostly I just take people up to see God.”
Legacy:  Contrary to popular belief, the Angel of Death doesn’t get the last laugh.

Saving Grace (2007)

Angel:  Earl (Leon Rippy)
Mission:  To lead hard-living, hard-talking Oklahoma city cop Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter) to faith and redemption.
Wings and Things:  With the flannel shirts, chewing tobacco, and beer, you’d expect chicken wings, not angel wings.
Powers:  A “last chance” angel who has a way with ultimatums.
Memorable Line:  “Do you want God’s help or not?”
Legacy:  Like a good therapist, Earl challenges Grace and calls her on her “s**t.”


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Clarence Was Right About One Thing!

How many times have you seen the old blank-n-white movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946, Liberty Films)?  Despite starring the incomparable Jimmy Stewart, the film was a box office flop.  However, in the mid 1970s, it began to be aired on TV, and it’s popularity gained momentum until it became a Christmas classic.

You’re familiar with the storyline, right?  Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey who tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, but is saved by his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, played by Henry Travers.  Clarence is on assignment to miraculously convince George why his life matters.  And by doing so, he hopes to finally get his wings!


Famous Angel Quote:
A bell rings while George and his family and friends are singing near the end of the film, and George’s daughter Zuzu exclaims: “Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”  Knowing that Clarence has finally earned his wings in heaven, George smiles and says: “That’s right, that’s right. Attaboy, Clarence!”

At first, George doesn’t believe that Clarence really is an angel.  But when George bitterly says that he wishes he’d never been born, Clarence convinces George that he’s an angel by getting God’s permission to show George what the world would be like without him.

The alternate reality that the film shows is a gloomy one.  George learns that, if he hadn’t existed, his loved ones’ lives would be much worse.  George’s brother Harry would have died in an accident as a child because George wouldn’t have been there to save him.  George’s wife Mary would be a lonely spinster rather than a mother to four loving children.  Many other people George loves would suffer as well.

After George sees what life would be like if he had never been born, he drives back to the bridge where he had intended to commit suicide and begs God to let him live again.  God answers George’s prayer by having Clarence miraculously return George to the world as if the alternate reality hadn’t happened.

After Clarence convinces George that his life is truly worthwhile, George returns home to discover that the entire community has rallied around him to raise the money needed to avert the building and loan’s crisis, which had been the catalyst for George’s attempted suicide in the first place.  George has discovered the miracles of unconditional love and a God-given purpose for his life.


Your Life Matters!

Every Christmas season from 1974 and on, Clarence, the lovable pop culture angel, has been assuring generations of TV watching people that they matter.  Hey, it matters that you were born!  Life has many ups and downs, but your life still has meaning and purpose.  In the end, it’s not about the quantity of things we have, rather the quality of relationships we nurture.  Oh, and one more thing:  Clarence may also want you to know that the “fat cats” don’t always win!


Merry Christmas my friends, and a Happy New Year!

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Christmas Ghosts, Dead Cats & Punch Bowl Conversions!

This Christmas season at the New York Public Library a number of Charles Dickens’ personal items will be on display, including his writing desk, his personal copy of “A Christmas Carol,” and his favorite letter opener!  What’s the big deal about his letter opener?  Well, he cut off a paw from his deceased pet cat, had it stuffed, and then attached it to the blade to serve as a custom handle.  Kinda creepy, if you ask me.  The librarians say it still sheds too!


From Wikipedia:
Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic.  He created some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.  During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented popularity, and by the twentieth century he was widely seen as a literary genius by critics and scholars.  His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.
Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

 I need money!

Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a holiday favorite enjoyed around the world.  He started writing his novella in September 1843, and in six short weeks he completed it!  His publisher wasn’t eager to publish it due to poor profits on his previous novel.  So, Dickens declined a small lump-sum payment, personally assumed the cost of publishing, and agreed to a percentage share of the profits in hopes of making more money.  And, yes, the production costs proved much more than he had expected.

It hit the stores on December 19th, 1843, and was priced at five shillings (approximately $25 today).  Surprisingly, the first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve, six days later!  The book continued to sell well into the new year.  However, Dickens was disappointed with the early profits.  He was expecting more because he needed more – his wife was pregnant!  By May 1844, a seventh edition had sold out; all in all, 24 editions ran in its original form.  In time, Dickens got the money he was hoping for, critics loved and praised his rushed Christmas tale, and he and his wife eventually had ten children!


Punch Bowl Conversion!

After Dickens’ death, Scottish novelist Margaret Oliphant deplored the turkey and plum pudding aspects of the book.  However, she admitted that in the days of its first publication it was regarded as “a new gospel” because it actually made people behave better!

However, there were a few critics who didn’t like it, namely the stuffy, Victorian Puritans.  They waged a war on Christmas celebrations, campaigning against all merry-making and festive decorations, except for nativity scenes.  And Scrooge’s “conversion experience” was especially troubling.  He had been converted by spirits!  Ghosts!

Decades later, G. K. Chesterton, a famed conservative Christian apologist, remarked:  “It is true that the man at the Salvation Army meeting would probably be converted from the punch bowl; whereas Scrooge was converted to it!”  And even more decades later, the famed evangelical author C. S. Lewis noted a marked absence “of any interest in the Incarnation.  Mary, the Magi, and the Angels are replaced by ’spirits’ of his [Dickens] own invention, and the animals present are not the ox and the ass in the stable but the goose and the turkey in the poulterer’s shop.”


What do I think?  I respect both men’s incredible literary works, but seriously… don’t be such a scrooge!


To this day, Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has enjoyed continued success, not just in print, but in theatre and film too.  And, his fictional “Scrooge” character has inspired many lovable pop culture characters, namely Scrooge McDuck and the Grinch.  Also notable, Frank Capra’s Christmas favorite film, “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), was based on Dickens’ storyline and characters.

All in all, Dickens’ unforgettable tale, with its lovable characters and Christmas spirits, has served to convert masses of people in every generation to a greater love and generosity, not just at Christmas-time, but all the year long.  Wouldn’t you agree?


In the spirit of not being a “scrooge,” I’m offering 

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My Angel Is Better Than Your Angel!

Nothing New!

Debating over angels is nothing new.  In the Middle Ages it was what everybody was doing!  The Catholic Church was the governing power, making decisions for every one about everything, and their views reigned supreme.  Open air debates between philosophers, politicians, and theologians took place daily and everyone had their favorites.  Among the top two were Thomas Aquinas and John Dun Scotus.  These two presented strong opinions about everything angels – do they live forever, do they have free will, what are they made of, what do they do, where do they live, how do they interact with humans, do they evolve to higher states of being, etc.?

“Top Dog”

Thomas’ viewpoint gained the most attention, giving him the “top dog” spot.  He believed angels didn’t have specific bodies, that each one was a unique individual not belonging to a certain “angelic race.”  He argued that angels came from a higher spiritual level, and could appear on earth by temporarily taking on flesh bodies at will.  But primarily, they stayed within their domains, governing earth’s environment and influencing human affairs.

Thomas’ positions were deeply rooted in the teachings of a much earlier “angel-technician” from the 500s – Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a writer based in Syria.  His book, The Celestial Hierarchy, was acknowledged by the Catholic Church as a reliable textbook on angels.

Angel Spock?

John Dun Scotus believed angels were not simply individual beings, but were also part of a distinct race of beings with real human-like bodies made up of a very fine, spiritual matter.  This type of “body” allowed them to transmit their appearance in a “hologram” fashion, enabling them to be in more than one place at a time.  He argued that they were like humans, possessing individual personalities, being able to reason and think for themselves, but on a higher, more wise level (kinda makes me think of Spock from Star Trek).  And he was convinced angels were approachable, and could be contacted.

During the Middle Ages, the most popular way of contacting an angel was to prayerfully gaze at a picture or sculpture of an angel until you felt their energy/presence.  This belief eventually proved rather lucrative for the Church through the mass marketing of angel pictures, cards, charms, artwork, sculptures, figurines, and more.  And, yes, this market still remains strong to this day.


So what do you think?  Who’s angel is better than the other?

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Nine Types Of Angels

Most of what we’ve come to know and believe about angels is the result of medieval theology, mythology, art, and literature – not to mention modern movies and TV shows.  Whether these views are accurate or not, popular concepts have earned the respect of many devoted religious and spiritual persons.  And it is certain, wanting to believe in and understand all about angels is an important element of many people’s faith journeys.

Angels are mentioned 273 times in the Bible.  Through the centuries, church leaders have declared that there are different types of angels, each having specific missions, while belonging to different orders.  Jewish Rabbis generally believe that there are seven levels of heaven, with each level containing a certain class of angels.  However, due to the 13th century influence of Thomas Aquinas, known as the “Angelic Doctor,” Western Christianity came to largely adopt the following angel structure:


The First Triad:

Seraphim – According to Christian theologians, of all the angels, the Seraphim (singular Seraph) are the closest to God.  Their name means “The Burning Ones,” and their primary mission is to protect the throne of God. They constantly praise God and his creation.  They are described as having six wings: two cover their faces, two cover their bodies, and two cover their feet.

Cherubim – These Cherubim (singular Cherub) are not the chubby baby angels we see in well-known works of art.  The Cherubim mentioned in the Bible are fierce angels, and they are described as having four faces: one of a man, one of an ox, one of an eagle, and one of a lion.  Their mission is also to protect the throne of God.

Thrones – From the Greek thronos (literally meaning throne or highly ornamented chair), the Thrones embody God’s divine justice.  They are mentioned in the New Testament books Colossians and Revelations.

Note:  The Ophanim (singular Ophan, also known as Wheels) are closely associated with the Thrones. They are mentioned in the book of Daniel and are described as appearing as a wheel within a wheel, with the Thrones moving within the wheel.


The Second Triad:

Dominions – These angels are also known as Lordships or Leaders.  According to non-canonical sources, they look like humans, but with wings.

Virtues – Also known as Strongholds, the Virtues are in charge of supervising the movements of celestial bodies.  They are associated with power and strength.

Powers – These celestial beings are warrior angels and are in charge of administering and distributing power among nations and individuals.


The Third Triad:

Note:  The angels belonging to the third sphere of the angel hierarchy serve as divine messengers and protectors. Unlike the angels of the previous spheres, these angels are in more direct contact with humans.

Principalities – Also known as Rulers, the Principalities work closely with the Powers.  Their primary function is to look over groups of people.

Archangels – Archangel comes from the Greek archangělǒs, which means chief angel.  Thus, it means that the archangels are the highest ranking angels.  Although many Christian theologians placed them in the lowest sphere, many others believe that they are among the most powerful of angels.  Daniel’s “Watchers” are commonly associated with this type and in this triad.

Note:  According to Pseudo-Dionysius, the seven archangels are Michael, Jophiel, Chamuel, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, and Zadkiel.  According to certain metaphysical teachings, each of these archangels works on one of the Seven Rays.

Angels – The Angels are the lowest ranking angels, and the closest to humankind. They are also the most recognized.  They are God’s messengers and also serve as intercessors.  Their tasks also include: protecting, guiding, and inspiring human beings.  It is said that each person has a guardian angel.

Note:  Mystics claim that there are also “angel specialists.”  For example, there are angels of healing, angels of protection, angels of love, angels of abundance, etc.


The Divine Comedy

In the 14th century, the above angel structure was widely accepted due to the popularity of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  This epic poem was written in the first person, describing Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.  At a deeper level, it is an allegory of the soul’s journey towards God.

Dante drew his inspiration from medieval Christian theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.  As a result, the Divine Comedy has been called “the Summa in verse.”  One of the unique aspects of Dante’s epic poem was that he layered the underworld in like-fashion to Aquinas’ heavenly upper-world, including types of denizens (demons) associated with each lower layer.  

Lower, darker levels:

Generally, it has come to be believed that The First Layer (deepest) is inhabited by fallen Seraphim types, grotesque in appearance and great in hidden knowledge.  They can never reach earth, but influence humanity through dreams and visions.  The Second Layer is inhabited by Dominions and Powers who sometimes break their chains to appear to their human devotees.  They work tirelessly to incite rebellion and cause discord.  Unlike the grotesque Seraphim, they usually appear as very beautiful, sexy, god-like humans.  It is believed they do not like to engage in combat.  When challenged, they flee to their abode below leaving heavy curses behind.  The Third Layer (just below the earth’s crust) is occupied by fallen Virtues.  Basically, they are demons who venture upward to do the dirty work on earth, tempting, deceiving, and abusing humanity.  And yes, they like to fight!

All in all, some scholars believe there are roughly 66 underworld rulers, commanding approximately 6.66 million devils (666, how convenient).  This is all the information I’m going to give you on this dark subject.  You’ll notice, I didn’t provide any links.  If you want to know more, you’ll have to do it without my help.


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Influenced By Angels (Part Two)

BE ADVISED – This post is conspiratorial in nature.  If you chose to read the controversial content below, your opinions will be requested.

They are here…

By the testament of various sacred texts in numerous cultures, angels have been here a very long time, and continue to be here, whether seen or unseen.  But, why are they here?  What are they trying to accomplish?  How do they determine who to interact with?  And, what are the reasons for why they are working to influence humanity?

Belteshazzar was a political and prophetic figure of antiquity highly revered by the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, and the Hebrews.  He was chosen for his intellect to serve as an advisor to the Babylonian court, and eventually he was promoted to Chief Governor over the entire province of Babylon.  After the Persian conquest of Babylon, Belteshazzar served as the First President of three presidents ruling the vast Persian empire under the reign of Darius the Mede.

We are being watched…

In his high position next to world leaders, he became convinced angels were directly involved in the affairs of humanity.  He called them “Watchers” (ἐγρήγοροι – “those who are awake”).  Basically, he claimed they were watching him, and he was keeping a close eye on them too.  He reported that some of them were helping him, while other Watchers were opposing him.  Furthermore, he claimed their involvement was clearly influencing outcomes in the public arena.

Can you imagine this same story reset into today’s world?  Powerful angels talking to heads of state, forming alliances, backing candidates, bills, and agendas of their choosing, and then battling over the outcomes…  Pretty far out, right?

So, with this in mind, is it crazy to question why and to what affect the invisible has on the visible?  What do you think?


Someone is talking to someone…

Belteshazzar believed he was dealing with an order of angels that interacted with nations and world governments.  He also mathematically calculated the span of their influence, which extended beyond his lifetime, far into the future.  Belteshazzar believed that cosmic angelic wars were being waged in parallel to earthly conflicts.  Furthermore, he believed that his personal petitions were playing a big part in the strategies The Great Prince Michael (archangel) was personally engaged in.  Fascinating, isn’t it?

To be honest with you, I have never been one for conspiracy theories.  I have friends that really get into that sort of thing, but I’ve never been terribly interested.  However, I can’t help but wonder if there are unseen “powers” at work behind “the ruling powers” governing the world today?  I doubt it was common knowledge in Belteshazzar’s time that he was interacting with Watchers.  As a matter of fact, he felt he was commanded to seal up his writings, and leave it for a specific time in the future.  Does any of this have you thinking?


Influenced by Angels?

We would like to think that all angels are enlightened, goodwill ambassadors, and perhaps, this is largely the case.  However, ancient sacred texts speak of a darker side to some angels, such as the tales found in the books of Enoch.  Apparently, there are some “Watchers” who have aligned themselves against humanity and play an adversarial role.  Belteshazzar definitely believed this to be true.  And centuries later, John of Patmos saw the same thing happening in his apocalyptic revelation, going so far as to completely control some governments!  This gives greater meaning to the Bible’s “Thrones, Dominions, Rulers, and Authorities.”  I’ll share more of angel types and orders soon!

Until the next post, ask yourself:  Do Watchers of various orders, and angels in general, have a bigger voice in our lives than we know?  Do they whisper in our ears while we remain largely unaware of their influences?  And if not in our ears, then maybe in our leader’s ears?  This, for now, is but conjecture – something to consider and explore further.  So, stay tuned… More Coming Soon!

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Influenced By Angels (Part One)

Different, but the same?

Many leading scholars believe that the earliest references of angels can be found within the pre-biblical texts of the Sumerians, which later influenced the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Persians.  Because each of these cultures conquered and enslaved the ancient Israelis, it’s theorized that these Sumerian angel beliefs influenced the Hebrews (Judaism), which in turn were shared with Christianity, and both Judaism’s and Christianity’s teachings of angels later inspired the Islamic beliefs concerning angels.  This, of course, is strongly debated, with opposing sides providing plausible arguments.  Furthermore, you’d be hard pressed to find scholars from the three major religions to fully agree on who influenced who.

Not to limit the idea of angels…

Though called by different names, benevolent spirit beings quite similar to angels can also be found within other religions, mythologies, and lore.  Hinduism has avatars, Buddhism has devas and bodhisattvas, the Greeks, Romans, Norse, and Celts all had their specific terms likewise.  In addition, numerous tribal cultures from all parts of the world passed on oral traditions of spirit beings, guardian spirits and guides.  All of which have comparable functions to biblical and mythical angels as helpful spirit messengers, and protectors.  What were the cultures of antiquity and the Middle Ages trying to describe?  Were they speaking of angels in general, or something else akin to angels, or both?

Where did angels come from?

Where did they come from, how did they originate?  No one really knows for certain.  The ancient Hebrew writers suggested angels were created by God (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2,5).  In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul took these suggestions to a new level with the bold claim that “by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities…” (Colossians 1:16-17).  Theologians believe he was speaking of angels, identifying them as created beings, and clearly stating there are certain orders of angelic classes.  I will address types and levels soon.

Even though the Bible mentions angels at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament, the time of their creation is never definitively specified.  It is most probable that it occurred in connection with the creation of the heavens in Genesis 1:1, leading some to theorize that God created the angels immediately after he had created the heavens and before he created the earth.  The reason for this theory is because a pre-Genesis biblical text states, “the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy” when God laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-7).

Real experiences!

In modern times, many people claim to have had “real” experiences with angels, mostly of a spiritual nature, and believe that their existence is important to us as human beings.  They have been commonly perceived as spiritual messengers of a high nature, for which traditions and beliefs usually differ as to whether angels have their own free will, or are only allowed to follow their Creator’s will.

Although many believe that angels can have various appearances, depending on a people’s culture, tradition or belief, they do share one common denominator – angels generally take on the shape of human beings (minus the wings, of course).  Psychologists have suggested the reason for this is, many people believe angels were previously humans, who have since taken on angelic form to protect and guide their surviving relatives.  In other words, they believe their deceased mother, father, or loved one is now a “guardian angel” assigned to specifically watch over them.

The most popular concept…

Almost every religious discipline has developed concepts with various similarities that make the belief in angels popularly held across all cultures.  Most of these concepts revolve around a common principle of a “messenger” asked to do the work of a deity.  Without dispute, the most popular concepts of angels are widely held within the Judeo-Christian traditions.  This is strongly evidenced in biblical passages that lend proof of their existence as messengers of God.

Bottom line:

Angels have been an active part of human history for a very, very, long time… and, continue to be… in both visible and invisible ways.  Virtually every culture in every part of the planet has acknowledged their presence and formed opinions and beliefs about them.  Ancient records and modern accounts testify that they regularly appear and disappear, while providing protection and guidance for human beings.  But… why?  For what reason are they protecting us, and offering guidance and support?  Do they have a certain purpose or agenda in mind?  And… most importantly, to what extent is humanity influenced by their presence?


noah movie falling angels

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Be watching for “Influenced By Angels” (Part Two).  Coming Soon!

Guardians Of Humanity

Belief in benevolent angels who protect and serve humanity is widespread around the world.  Sculptures, figurines, pictures and paintings of winged-super-human-beings portrayed in protective roles are prevalent in almost every culture.  The reason for this is simple, the three major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) all share a common belief in angels, and so do many of the lesser religions.  To no ones surprise, there are numerous differences and similarities, especially when it comes to guardian angels.  So, what does the population of earth believe about angels?  Here is a very basic rundown of the most popular ideas:

Judaism:

Angels (from αγγελōς = messenger, Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ) are generally viewed as superhuman beings dwelling in heaven, who occasionally reveal to man God’s will and execute his commands.  In one form or another, the belief in angels appears in the earliest stages of Jewish history with Abraham being stopped by an angel from sacrificing his son Isaac.  This ancient belief continues to live in the Jewish spiritual world with the common belief that Michael is the guardian angel and protector of Israel.  To learn more, click here: Angel Types In Judaism.

Christianity:

With the roots of Christianity closely linked to Judaism, it comes as no surprise that Christians hold angels in high esteem. As in Judaism, angels played vital roles in many events viewed with great importance by Christians.  It was the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary and told her of how she was chosen by God to give birth to his son Jesus.  The New Testament also states that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was announced by angels.  Christians generally believe angels are God’s special messengers and ambassadors to humanity, each person has a special guardian angel to protect and serve them, and there are both good and bad angels currently working in the earth today.  To learn more, click here: Angel Types In Christianity.

Islam:

Angels are also prominent in the Islamic faith, one of their basic articles of faith being the belief in angels.  Muslims believe that each person has four guardian angels, which they call “Malaaika” (Arabic = messengers).  Two angels are tasked to keep a record of their assigned person’s good actions, and the other two record the bad deeds.  Angels in Islam are also responsible for assigning souls to newborns, taking care of the environment, delivering special messages to humanity, and more. It is believed that angels visit earth daily.  The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Kaaba, the black cube in the city of Mecca.  Every day 70,000 angels visit it and leave, never returning again, followed by another group of 70,000 angels daily – every day of every month of every year unending.  Check out this video of a supposed angel sighting above the Kaaba: Angels Coming From The Sky.


One main difference between the Islamic and Christian/Jewish views on angels, is that for Muslims, it is not possible for angels to fall from grace, as they cannot commit sin.  Christian and Jewish views generally recognize demons to have once been angels that committed sins, fell from grace, and were cast from heaven along with their leader, the former archangel Lucifer.  Muslims do not believe that Lucifer was once an angel created from light.  They believe he is a “Jinn” – beings, both good and bad, created from smokeless fire, inhabiting a parallel unseen world.  For more on Islamic beliefs about angels, check this out: Reality of Angels.  For a general comparison of Christian vs. Muslim beliefs, click here:  Christianity vs. Islam.


Hinduism:

Hindus may not specifically refer to angels but they do recognize them as “devas” (shining ones).  These entities are responsible for natural elements such as water, earth, wind, and fire.  Hindus also believe that every living person has two guardian divas/angels.  While angels are viewed as divine workers in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, they are not worshipped.  However, the distinction between divas/angels and the lesser avatars are far more blurred within Hinduism, leading many to worship their personal guardians.  To learn more about Hindu beliefs, check this out: Angels In The Bhagavad Gita

Zoroastrianism:

Followers of Zoroastrianism (estimated at just around 200,000 worldwide), also believe that each one of us has a guardian angel, a “Fravashi” that protects and guides us.  To learn more about angels in Zoroastrianism, click here: Zoroastrianism & Angels.

Mormonism:

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, angels are heavenly beings in human form that help spread the work and word of God on earth.  Mormonism was established after an angel allegedly appeared to its founder Joseph Smith.  Mormons do not have a specific doctrinal statement about guardian angels, however they generally accept the idea that every person has one guardian angel protecting them.  Mormonism teaches that angels are not winged beings, rather people in their spirit/resurrected state.

Buddhism:

Buddhists generally believe in angels as a form of energy or light or highly evolved beings (devas) who may visit people in dreams.  In Buddhism there is no true guardian angels except for deceased family members who have reached nirvana.  If they so chose, they can stay behind as “kami” to protect and offer guidance for their loved ones.  This concept is mostly held by Buddhists who practice the Japanese “action-religion” Shinto.

Baha’i

In the Baha’i faith, angels are viewed as powerful celestial beings who reveal God’s “abounding grace” to humanity.  They’re described as “blessed beings” that have been released from the “chains of self,” and transcended this world to take on their angelic attributes.  These “blessed beings” are largely hailed as guardians and spirit guides.


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Abstract Angel Depiction