Warm, Fuzzy Angels?
Hollywood director Frank Capra created a Christmas-movie classic with his 1946 release of It’s a Wonderful Life. Who hasn’t sympathized with George Bailey’s incredulity as a novice angel guides him through a supernatural experience? And what first-time viewer hasn’t been a little delighted when the unexpected jingle of a Christmas bell signals George that the angel finally earned his wings?
“Pennies on the sidewalk, feathers in the air, the tinkling of bells, the flickering of electric lights” all are “signs,” according to purported experts, that “angels are always a heartbeat away from all of us.”1 How much of this “insight” is actually based on fact? Not much.
A fascination with angels materialized in the 1980s, generating an innovative genre for television and movies.
The public’s growing interest spawned numerous books; and to meet the demand, sections devoted entirely to angels popped up in bookstores. So-called angel-awareness seminars promoting interest in angelic activity, psychics claiming to help people get in touch with guardian angels, and Web sites devoted to archiving angel encounters mushroomed into a trendy, new market.
A self-proclaimed authority describes angels as “non-threatening, wise and loving beings [that] offer help whether we ask for it or not. But mostly we ignore them.”2 The idea that angels can be ignored seems far-fetched, especially in light of biblical revelation. True angelic encounters, although not necessarily terrifying, were impossible to ignore.
Over the years, misinformation has inundated the marketplace. And, according to one writer, “the strong, relatively silent type [of angels] that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and saved Daniel in the lions’ den has given way to a more benign and bite-sized species, cuddly as a lapdog, who seem to spend a lot less time praising God than serving us.”3
Unfortunately, most of the popular hype has little to do with angels as described in the Bible and often blurs the distinction between angelic and demonic activity. If you want to know the truth about angels, here is some suggested reading: Genesis 3:24; Psalm 68:17; Isaiah 6:1–6; Ezekiel 1:5–28; 10:1–22; 41:18–19; Daniel 7:10; Hebrews 1:14; Revelation 5:11; 12:7–9.
In reality, holy angels are awesome beings who do not acquiesce to popular opinion. Created by and devoted to serving God, they carry out His sovereign purposes as ministers to those who are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14).
- George Howe Colt, “In Search of Angels,” LIFE 18, no. 14 (December 1995), 72.
- Nancy Gibbs and Sam Allis, “Angels Among Us,” Time 142, no. 27 (December 27, 1993).
- Colt, 65.