The omission of a discussion of angels in almost every book on the philosophy of religion reveals the gulf between modern mentality and the biblical revelation. Philosophers of religion discuss God, the soul, and nature, but stop short of any serious discussion of angels. Skeptics will spend much time in refuting the proofs of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul but will not even wet the pen to refute the existence of an angelic host. In contrast to this treatment of angels on behalf of philosophers (religious or skeptical) are the profuse references to angels in sacred Scripture.

It must be admitted, however, that there are certain problems or ambiguities attending the discussion of angels, and Calvin himself expressed a great reserve and caution on the subject (Institutes, I. xiv. 3, for example, “It is also our duty cheerfully to remain in ignorance of what is not for our advantage to know”). It is this discrepancy between modern mentality and the biblical disclosure about angels that causes Barth to begin his discussion of angels with so much hesitation (Kirchliche Dogmatik, III/3, Sec. 51).

No Rational Objection. Mankind has no handbook titled, A Guide to All Possible Creations. It has no information about creation apart from the data afforded by this creation. The how and the why and the what of creation can be gained only from the concrete character and the concrete givenness of creation. Humanity has no a priori principles for judging the character or composition of a creation. And in that angels are creatures of God what applies to creation in general applies to angels in particular.

Whether there shall be angels or not cannot be determined by any concept of necessity or fitness of things. There is ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: