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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Angels: What are They?

By Connie Raddon

Color Key:
Quotes from the Mormon Teachings in blue.
Quotes from the Bible in red.

Although one’s understanding about Angels is not essential for salvation, I wanted to write a comparison to point out that even in some of the smaller details (like the nature and purpose of angels), Mormonism and Biblical Christianity contradict each other. 

What Does the Bible Say?

The word translated as “angel” in the Hebrew is “malak”; in Greek it is “angelos”.  Both mean “messenger”.  It can be used to describe
·         Human Being Messengers: 1 Sam 11:3; Job 1:14; Luke 7:24, 9:52
·         Prophets:  Isaiah 42:19; Haggai 1:13
·         Priests:  Malachi 2:7
·         Non-human agents (used figuratively):  Ex 14:19; 2 Sam 24:15-17; Psalm 104:4

However, in the Bible, the most common use for “angel” refers to specific spiritual and superhuman beings who are sent to humans as messengers from God.  The Bible describes the characteristic of these spiritual and superhuman beings:
·         They have a personal existence: 
o   Gen 16:7-11 – An angel speaks with Hagar in a two-sided conversation
o   Judges 13:2-21 – An angel has a conversation with Manoah and his wife
o   Matt 28:2-7 – An angel speaks to the women at Jesus’ empty tomb.  He is described “his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow”.
·         They are very numerous:
o   Daniel 7:10 “Thousands upon thousands were attending Him”.
o   Matt 26:53  “…more than twelve legions of angels”.
·         They have different ranks in dignity and power:
o   Zech 1:9-11 “These are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth”.
o   Daniel 12:1 “…Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people…”
o   1 Thess 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God…”
o   Eph 1:21 – Christ is above all – “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…”
o   Coloss 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers of authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
·         They are spirit:
o   Hebrews 1:14 “Are they not all ministering spirits…?”
·         They appear to man in human form:
o   Luke 24:4 “While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing”

“We know angels never die (Luke 20:36) and they possess superhuman intelligence and power (Mark 13:32; 2 Thess 1:7; Psalms 103:20).  We know their strength is great, which could be a result of not being confined to a physical nature (Psalms 103:20; Rev 5:2, 18:21)  We also know their activities are described as ‘marvelous’ (Isaiah 6:2-6; Matthew 26:53; Rev 8:13)”1

“There are no reports of angelic appearances to man until after the call of Abraham.  And then from that time onward there are frequent references to their ministry on earth. 

Then Jesus was born.

And here we are introduced to what we call the ministrations of angels. It sort of seems like Jesus brought them with Him to earth and they came with their King to do him service while He was here.”2

“So there’s the Biblical view.  In summary, angels are a creation of God, superior to human beings in power, might, and ability, who govern the affairs of heaven and earth, and the final state of the redeemed humanity is said to the ‘like’ them.

Bottom line in Mormonism:  they are all human beings in some state of progression or another.  The LDS completely discount the Biblical idea that angels are a completely different species from humans, created in heaven for heavenly purposes.”3

What Does Mormonism Say?

“Angels are not, as traditional Christians aver [believe, declare], special creations of God.  Rather, they are human beings who minister for the Lord.  An angel may be a resurrected being (D&C 129:1); a translated being; an unembodied spirit, one who has not yet taken a physical body; a disembodied spirit, one who has lived and died and now awaits the resurrection…”4

“Indeed, one of the signs of the times, and one of the spiritual indicators of a people’s worthiness, is the extent to which angels continue to minister, inasmuch as ‘it is by faith that the angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief’ (Moroni 7:37)

‘The keys of the ministering of angels’ were restored by John the Baptist on 15 May 1829 (D&C 13:1).  Further, the ministry of angels is a gift of the Spirit (Moroni 10:14), a gift the Saints of God are encouraged to seek (D&C 46:8).”5

The LDS scriptures  teach that if a man and woman do not get married in the temple, (with the LDS priesthood authority), they will not be sealed together but instead they will only be as the angels – like it is a form of punishment – and they will not be able to progress any further.

“Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.  Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.  For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation,  in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever”  D&C 132:16-17

“Angels are those beings who have been on an earth like this, and have passed through the same ordeals that we are now passing through.  They have kept their first estate far enough to preserve themselves in the Priesthood.  They did not so violate the law of the Priesthood and condemn themselves to the sin against the Holy Ghost as to be finally lost.  They are not crowned with the celestial ones.  They are persons who have lived upon an earth, but did not magnify the Priesthood in that high degree that many others have done who have become Gods, even the sons of God.  Human beings that pertain to this world, who do not magnify or are not capable of magnifying their high calling in the Priesthood and receive crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives, will also, when they again receive their bodies, become angels and will receive a glory.  They are single, without families or kingdoms to reign over.  All the difference between men and angels is, men are passing through the day of trial that angels have already passed through.  They belong to the same family that we do; but they have proven themselves worthy only of an exaltation to the state of angels, whereas we have the privilege of obtaining not only the same exaltation they enjoy, but of going further until we become Gods, even the songs of God.”  (Brigham Young, January 5, 1860, Journal of Discourses 9:102-103

Those without eternal marriage may be angels.  Now, the angels will be the people who did not go to the temple, who did not have their work done in the temple.  And if there are some of us who make no effort to cement these ties, we may be angels for the rest of eternity.  But if we do all in our power and seal our wives or husbands to us… then we may become gods and pass by the angels in heaven.  Some might say, ‘Well, I’d be satisfied to just become an angel.’ But you would not.  One never would be satisfied just to be a ministering angel to wait upon other people when he could be the king himself.”  The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball (12th President of the LDS Church), pg. 51

“God, angels, and men are all of one species, one race, one great family, widely diffused amont the planetary systems as colonies, kingdoms, nations, etc.”  LDS Apostle, Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology 1978, pg 21

Mormons claim they are Christian.  However, the LDS belief about angels is NOT Biblical, and therefore, NOT consistent with Christian beliefs.

On May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46), Brigham Young issued a challenge:  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

On the subject of Angels, the LDS religion FAILS this test.

1“Where Mormonism Meets Biblical Christianity Face to Face:  An A to Z Doctrinal Comparative between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity” by Shawn Aaron McCraney (2011)  pg. 14-15
Ibid pg 15-16
3 Ibid pg 16-17
4LDS Beliefs: A Doctrinal Reference” by Millet, Olson, Skinner, and Top;  Robert Millet is the author of the section on Angels in this book.  Pg. 36
5 Ibid pg. 36
Other Sources used for this article:
The New STRONG’S Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
The New UNGERS Bible Dictionary
“In Their Own Words – A Collection of Mormon Quotations” Compiled by Bill McKeever
The Book of Mormon (LDS Scripture)
The Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) – (LDS Scripture)

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