The Question of Angels

Thomas

So it goes ...
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The origin of angels is an interesting one, and I think biblical scholarship generally holds that it was a way for the monotheists to come to terms with the polytheism of their neighbours – their gods became the angels of monotheism.

The role of angel is always the same – a messenger.

The Patristic Tradition treats of angels in two ways. It acknowledges the personhood of the angels and regards them as beings as such - but regards them as beings of pure intelligence, or pure intellect.

The lower angelic orders are 'ideas' or 'intelligences' – which can encompass the Platonic notion of Forms; but the higher angels must necessarily have self-awareness and will if they are able to discourse with man, and thus are more akin to pure intellect.

In Patristic anthropology the intellect is like a light, it can illuminate, but that's all it does. The will is the motive power, it can direct the intellect, and it can act upon what the intellect reveals, or not.

(One of the long-standing disputes between the Dominicans and the Franciscans was over the primacy of the intellect or the will)

So the higher angels must have 'will' else they cannot converse – they have to formulate a reply to what man says to them, they have to be able to think for themselves ... and they are not infallible in themselves, and thus are capable of error ...

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The light that illumines an angelic being is from God, but that does not make the angel Divine. The angel is higher than man because the light is neither concealed nor corrupted, so the angel is never removed from the Beatific Vision which he carries in himself. Man is higher than the angels because his 'light' is the same light but man is light and matter, where angels are just light. When man fell 'by his own lights' he occluded the Beatific Vision and so saw himself – measured againsrt what he had known and now lost – as something shameful.

Likewise in Patristic psychology among the order of 'demons' are the logismoi, which translates as 'trains of thought' – so when praying, or meditating, you suddenly find yourself thinking about next door neighbour's cat and what's for dinner, these mental demons, these intrusive chains of thought, have carried you off and deflected your mental intention.

The Buddhists teach to ignore all visions, locutions and any other manifestations which occur during meditation. The Catholics teach the same. If God has something to say, you will know it without doubt. The rest are just logismoi – like the meditation student who shouts out "Hey! Look! I'm thinking of nothing!"

This leads into the area of inspiration and revelation. You look, by your own intellectual light, and you struggle, then the Holy Spirit adds His light, and His light blends with your light, you see brighter, and better, and His light illumines those things which your light cannot touch ... and with greater clarity ... and you wonder ... where did that come from?

Thomas
 
The Buddhists teach to ignore all visions, locutions and any other manifestations which occur during meditation. The Catholics teach the same. If God has something to say, you will know it without doubt. The rest are just logismoi – like the meditation student who shouts out "Hey! Look! I'm thinking of nothing!"

Thomas

Wow! So much to think about here. I think this goes along with the "killing your ego" thing. But I'm having a hard time discounting prophetic visions.

Would you say God doesn't speak through visions?
 
I'm saying He does, but that because we have a vision does not prove the vision is from God.

Buddhism decries all visions, but not enlightenment.

Christianity decries all visions, but not revelation.

Catholicism does likewise, and further insists there will be no more public revelation until the Parousia – as St Peter said – but private revelation is another matter.

Thomas
 
"The origin of angels is an interesting one, and I think biblical scholarship generally holds that it was a way for the monotheists to come to terms with the polytheism of their neighbours – their gods became the angels of monotheism."

_________________________

I was thinking that angels were pretty ancient and some think as I recall that they were also prominent in Zoroastrianism and could have been influential in Judaism and Christianity.

There's a good overview of angels and influence from Zoroastrianism at

Angel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

and

ANGELS: Zoroastrian

- Art
 
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