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Homesar Runner
06-08-2005, 02:10 AM
Here's a puzzle I'm working on. I'd enjoy hearing how you'd solve it -- outline notions only.

A premise to a novel I've got in the stewpot is the partnership between a pastor and an angel. After the initial encounter, both pastor and angel acknowledge this partnership to be a major departure from the historic relationship between these kinds of creatures. The reason for this departure is hinted at through the tale, but it is never fully revealed (stuff for sequels, dontcha know).

The partnership remains "private" throughout the novel; only the pastor ever sees or hears the angel, the angel never communicates with any other human. Much of the conflict in the various story lines is initially generated by the pastor's struggles to accomodate himself to this partnership (what they're partnering to accomplish is irrelevant for the purposes of the puzzle). As you can see, the pastor just can't go around telling everyone he has this angel pal now without instantly losing all credibility for sanity, character, dependability, and other qualities one would like to maintain in society.

The puzzle is NOT this one: how does the pastor decide that he's really dealing with an objective personality outside his own imagination? The solution to that puzzle is not difficult; the Bible presents some solutions (Gideon's and Zachariah's encounters with angels provide ideas here).

Rather, this is the puzzle: how does the pastor decide that the angel is really one of the "good guys" of heaven and that he should undertake the project which the angel brings to him? It's as much a puzzle for the angel as it is for the pastor. The angel must deal with a human who is rightly skeptical, for he presents himself to the human pastor in a capacity different from the presentation of angelic personalities in the Bible or in history.

Homesar

Pat~
06-08-2005, 05:00 AM
I think I'd need to know how exactly the angel appeared to the pastor before attempting to answer this question; you said it manifested itself differently than in the past....?

MadScientistMatt
06-08-2005, 05:33 AM
That's a tough question. I have no answers, just a few thoughts:

Evil can pretend to be good, but a thoroughly good angel cannot pretend to be evil.

Experienced pastors have a lot of experience judging character with mortals. Angels may not be that different.

Maybe he can't establish this for sure, and it takes a long time for the angel to earn his trust. But if the angel is only asking him to do good things, that would be a good sign.

Homesar Runner
06-08-2005, 06:02 AM
I think I'd need to know how exactly the angel appeared to the pastor before attempting to answer this question; you said it manifested itself differently than in the past....?

I haven't decided on anything like that, though my current idea is to have their first meeting begin with the angel looking entirely normal. If we are going to credit the author of Hebrews, some folks have encountered angels in this way for centuries; they were so ordinary looking that there was no thought by the humans that these folks were angels.

Of course, one could have the angel "morph" into any number of different shapes or forms. That's the easy part. And that -- in combination with some other devices -- could nail down the objectivity of the angelic personality. It would not by itself validate the angel's claim to be "good;" in fact, it could undermine such a claim.

Scientist, that "character judgment" angle is interesting. I'll toss that in the stewpot and see where it leads. I wouldn't want the novel to be about coming to such a judgment, and that means (possibly) that such a judgment would be dicey in inverse proportion to the amount of narrative devoted to covering it.

Still mulling,

Homesar

Pat~
06-08-2005, 07:09 AM
One thought I had was that a bad angel would have great difficulty calling Jesus Christ 'Lord'. The Bible says that in the end every knee will bow, and all will proclaim Him to be Lord. And yet, bad angels do lie, (Satan is the father of lies), so it's conceivable they could somehow lie about this (but not very convincingly??)

Homesar Runner
06-08-2005, 07:27 AM
One thought I had was that a bad angel would have great difficulty calling Jesus Christ 'Lord'. The Bible says that in the end every knee will bow, and all will proclaim Him to be Lord. And yet, bad angels do lie, (Satan is the father of lies), so it's conceivable they could somehow lie about this (but not very convincingly??)

This is also very suggestive. Into the stewpot it goes!

The advantage to solving the puzzle in some form similar to this is that it would not take a lot of narrative space. The other story lines need the room, so I don't want to spend tons of tale just to make the setup plausible.

Homesar

clara bow
06-08-2005, 08:33 AM
Rather, this is the puzzle: how does the pastor decide that the angel is really one of the "good guys" of heaven and that he should undertake the project which the angel brings to him? It's as much a puzzle for the angel as it is for the pastor. The angel must deal with a human who is rightly skeptical, for he presents himself to the human pastor in a capacity different from the presentation of angelic personalities in the Bible or in history.

Homesar


Seems like it would be helpful to explore *when* the pastor figures out the angel is one of the "good guys"--this could be a mystery revealed toward the end of the novel (e.g., the pastor has to figure this out before it's too late and does so in the nick of time). Maybe the whole book is about the angel trying to convince him with mysterious, exotic or strange tasks ("look, if you just give this a try, you'll see how wonderful things can be!") and once he puts his trust in the angel (and himself) he accomplishes the end goal. This will create a lot of nice, juicy conflict and the reader will be like, will he or won't he? Maybe you can reveal things to the reader but not to the pastor to kick up the tension, in that the reader sees what the pastor needs to do but also the consequences if he doesn't act (I'm reminded here of the scene in the film Repo Man when a character finds a gift box and throws it out the window of a moving car, not realizing it contains a bunch of cash--the shot of the box splitting open is revealed only to the audience).

Maybe the tasks set forth for the pastor--and/or the angel--are or come across to them as questionable, scary, or even dangerous. Maybe they have to take a leap of faith and trust that what they must accomplish will result in something great (i.e., grappling with the dilemma of 'does the end justify the means'). This element would lead the pastor to doubt the angel initially, but as he takes chances he sees the good unfolding. Maybe the angel has to ask seemingly impossible or difficult challenges of the pastor, leading him to question the tasks such as why would God ask this of me? what's the purpose? Perhaps the tasks seem totally unrelated until the final task and then it all comes together and the pastor realizes the angel was good.

Just some random brainstorming!

Pat~
06-08-2005, 02:54 PM
One thought I had was that a bad angel would have great difficulty calling Jesus Christ 'Lord'. The Bible says that in the end every knee will bow, and all will proclaim Him to be Lord. And yet, bad angels do lie, (Satan is the father of lies), so it's conceivable they could somehow lie about this (but not very convincingly??)

But on further thought, it wouldn't be a lie, would it...(even though the angel may not believe it himself if he were one of the 'bad' guys).

DrRita
06-08-2005, 05:41 PM
[QUOTE=MadScientistMatt]
Evil can pretend to be good, but a thoroughly good angel cannot pretend to be evil.

QUOTE]

This is very true and one that cannot be ignored in this puzzle. If there is a doubt about the goodness of the angel, the angel is probably bad. Angels only do God's will, carry out God's plans and glorify God. They cannot do anything else.

A bad angel/demon can appear to be "an angel of light" and would try to convince the pastor to do something that would appear to benefit God but would buy into some desire or lust of the pastor. Tempting him with evil would be too obvious, but tempting him with "other good" would be the perfect trap to pull him off the path God has for him.

Another hurdle that one would have to overcome is the spiritual (Holy Spirit) alarms. I believe an angel of God doesn't set off spiritual alarms. But a demon would either set of an alarm or pose a doubt or insecure feeling.

All of the encounter in the Bible with angels are ones where the humans don't doubt the angels but are afraid because of their awesome power. The pastor would have to be fairly ignorant of theology and Biblical knowledge or out of touch with the Holy Spirit in him to have such a major problem with what kind of angel he's dealing with. Trickery from a demon/Satan doesn't last too long.

Having said all of this, I think your puzzle would have to be along the lines of the pastor's own spiritual problems and his own battle with trusting God than with trusting this angel. That would make a more interesting and believable problem.

Inspired
06-08-2005, 08:18 PM
Examine the Biblical account of when Jesus was in the wilderness, as well. All angels are well versed in Scripture, so be sure to use that. I would have the pastor look for answers in Scripture, too.

Another piece for your puzzle: I would have a trusted church member be an evil angel, but appear to be mortal and good. (It happens. Look at BTK.) That person could be a close advisor to the pastor (head elder, for example) who notices that something's going on and tries to counsel the pastor that something evil is around him. This would lead the pastor to question the holiness of the original angel, while totally missing the fact that the personal friend is in fact evil. It would lead to a great twist at the end of the novel. Your better readers would have a hint that it's a possibility, but they wouldn't really know until the end.

Homesar Runner
06-08-2005, 09:00 PM
If there is a doubt about the goodness of the angel, the angel is probably bad. Angels only do God's will, carry out God's plans and glorify God. They cannot do anything else.


I can’t say I agree on this one. The Biblical warnings about demons, fallen angels, whatever you want to call them – these seem to me to foster a presumption that an angelic appearance may be threatening, in fact is threatening until/unless the angel is shown to be benevolent. If the popular conception that fallen angels are sometimes agents of temptation is a correct conception, I don’t know of a corresponding conception of “good” angels bolstering one in the midst of temptation. They didn’t minister to Jesus, as far as we can tell, until after his temptation.

A bad angel/demon can appear to be "an angel of light" and would try to convince the pastor to do something that would appear to benefit God but would buy into some desire or lust of the pastor. Tempting him with evil would be too obvious, but tempting him with "other good" would be the perfect trap to pull him off the path God has for him.


Agreed, which leads to the presumption I mention above.


Another hurdle that one would have to overcome is the spiritual (Holy Spirit) alarms. I believe an angel of God doesn't set off spiritual alarms. But a demon would either set of an alarm or pose a doubt or insecure feeling.


Granting what you say is true, I think it would be difficult to make this plausible in fiction. It would very easily come off as a kind of deus ex machina solution to a threat against the protagonist. I’m more inclined to take the far more plausible presumption that the angel is bad and figure out a way for the pastor to conclude that the one he’s encountered is, after all, trustworthy. And, as Clara suggests, this process might go on through the entire tale up to the climax.

All of the encounter in the Bible with angels are ones where the humans don't doubt the angels but are afraid because of their awesome power.


The exception to this is the “entertaining angels unawares” business in Hebrews. In those cases, the Christian is engaged with angels, but does not know it. And, he does not know it because they evidently appear to be completely ordinary. My premise keeps the ordinariness and takes away the “unaware” part. When you do that, you get the puzzle I’m trying to solve.


The pastor would have to be fairly ignorant of theology and Biblical knowledge or out of touch with the Holy Spirit in him to have such a major problem with what kind of angel he's dealing with. Trickery from a demon/Satan doesn't last too long.


I’m not aware that expertise in theology and extensive Bible knowledge renders the appearance of any angel – good or bad – unremarkable! Assuming such an encounter is wildly unusual (maybe, of course, you converse with them all the time?) I think the pastor would have the hurdle I’ve described. I don’t want him to be a dupe; nor do I want him to instantly harden into the “this must be a demon” attitude. For the rest of the story lines to even get going, he has to come to some sort of resolution about the angel, and that early in the novel too.


Having said all of this, I think your puzzle would have to be along the lines of the pastor's own spiritual problems and his own battle with trusting God than with trusting this angel.


Yes, except that for the pastor the matter of trust will be the same, insofar as the angel will claim (truthfully, from the reader’s POV) that he’s benevolent and sent with an admittedly different sort of mission than angels have undertaken for many, many centuries.


Inspired, you’re thinking like I have been! Indeed, such a character has a part to play, though he’s not an angel – just a common, ambitious man of the religious sort (really, really bad dudes, those types). I have some major dastardliness planned for him [rubbing hands gleefully together].


Something that’s surfaced in my thinking as we’ve been brainstorming here is the idea that the angel is learning just as much from this irregular relationship as the pastor, and that he has stakes in the outcome as well. The notion that angels learn is not one I’ve seen much about in fiction or fable, but if they long to look into things this would entail their capacity to learn.


Homesar

clara bow
06-09-2005, 04:05 AM
I’m more inclined to take the far more plausible presumption that the angel is bad and figure out a way for the pastor to conclude that the one he’s encountered is, after all, trustworthy. And, as Clara suggests, this process might go on through the entire tale up to the climax.



Yes, except that for the pastor the matter of trust will be the same, insofar as the angel will claim (truthfully, from the reader’s POV) that he’s benevolent and sent with an admittedly different sort of mission than angels have undertaken for many, many centuries.


Inspired, you’re thinking like I have been! Indeed, such a character has a part to play, though he’s not an angel – just a common, ambitious man of the religious sort (really, really bad dudes, those types). I have some major dastardliness planned for him [rubbing hands gleefully together].


Something that’s surfaced in my thinking as we’ve been brainstorming here is the idea that the angel is learning just as much from this irregular relationship as the pastor, and that he has stakes in the outcome as well. The notion that angels learn is not one I’ve seen much about in fiction or fable, but if they long to look into things this would entail their capacity to learn.


Homesar


In light of the above discussed factors, my aim was to brainstorm for what could contribute to a thought-provoking, entertaining piece of fiction. It may not be strict dogma, but my understanding is that wasn't Homesar's intent (IMHO). I'm no expert, but the themes and plot seem like a fresh idea. My husband wrote a Biblical horror type novel featuring two angels, a fallen one and one that hadn't. He described the "good" angel as powerful but too beautiful to even behold with human eyes, and he kicks some fallen angel behind, too. So I think it's worth exploring presenting angels differently, with more of an edge, even. I like your idea, Homesar, that maybe angels have room for growth or gaining more knowledge to aid their work. As a reader I could probably relate to that kind of angel more.

Pat~
06-09-2005, 04:39 AM
Homesar wrote:

...I don’t know of a corresponding conception of “good” angels bolstering one in the midst of temptation...

If you're looking for an example of this, possibly the account of Elijah might fit. He'd just done the "prophets of Baal" miracle, and ran in panic to the desert when Jezebel threatened his life. He laid down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die (could he have been suicidal, even?) when God sent an angel to minister to him to feed him and encourage him.

DrRita
06-09-2005, 04:50 AM
My husband wrote a Biblical horror type novel featuring two angels, a fallen one and one that hadn't. He described the "good" angel as powerful but too beautiful to even behold with human eyes, and he kicks some fallen angel behind, too. So I think it's worth exploring presenting angels differently, with more of an edge, even.



Clara Bow,

Sounds like a fascinating story. This sounds more in line with a biblical perspective as far as angels go. I think I'd love to read this story.

reph
06-09-2005, 05:26 AM
One thought I had was that a bad angel would have great difficulty calling Jesus Christ 'Lord'.
I'm no theologian, but wouldn't a bad angel be capable of acting like a con artist and saying whatever would serve his purpose?

Pat~
06-09-2005, 06:22 AM
I'm no theologian, but wouldn't a bad angel be capable of acting like a con artist and saying whatever would serve his purpose?

I don't know...I've gone around a couple of times with that one, myself.

I'm not sure he'd be incapable of saying Christ is Lord...but he may have difficulty saying it with sincerity and credibility. What's interesting is, it wouldn't be a lie. He'd actually be stating a truth he didn't believe in. We know demons CAN say the truth, esp. when combining it with a lie, or false supposition (Satan and his angels specialize in using half-truths). This is the con-artist at his deceptive best.

I got the idea from that passage in Philippians 2:10 where it refers to the future time when (finally, after Satan is cast down) "every knee shall bow...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..."

Homesar Runner
06-09-2005, 06:24 AM
Dr. Rita writes, “I think you've got a real problem. You have to assign many human attributes to angels (ei as in "Touched by an Angel" series) which do not fit.”

Actually, it is the Bible that assigns all these “human” attributes to angels. I don’t know how many times I have to appeal to Hebrews, but since it’s here again, I’ll quote it this time:

Hebrews 13:1-2: Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Whatever it is the author of Hebrews refers to, the angels that are unwittingly entertained are not the kinds of things you see in Isaiah’s temple vision, or in the opening chapters of the Prophet Ezekiel.

How else do you suppose angels are unwittingly entertained if their appearance and behavior are not convincingly human? Of course, not all angels are so human in their appearance, but some are. Indeed, most appear to be minimally humanoid. Moreover, they are personal beings, with very “human” tendencies to get their knickers in a twist when someone says something they don’t cotton to (cf. Gabriel’s words to Zacariah, and then compare that with other comments in this thread).

Dr. Rita writes, “The best way to handle the problem is to just take your literary license and write it as a fairy tale.”

No, I’d rather take the Biblical data – that angels appear so human at times that people can entertain them unwittingly – and from that Biblical data build a story in which the engagement between the angel and the human goes on some length of time.

Dr. Rita writes, “We don't understand them [i.e. angels] and they certainly don't understand us.”

I concur with the first idea. The data from the Bible is suggestive, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m just going to take the suggestions and run with them.

As for the latter idea, the Biblical data says otherwise. Siring offspring on human women doesn’t sound exactly disinterested. And, of course, there are those angels God sets as ministers to those who inherit salvation. They too are hardly disinterested. The most important thing is St. Peter’s flat statement that the matters attending our salvation are “things which angels desire to look into.” [1 Pet. 1:12] So all in all, I’d have to disagree with the idea that angels “certainly” don’t understand us. Rather, it appears they wish to understand us better – even the wicked ones!

Thanks, Clara, for indicating interest in an angel who learns something. It interests me too; enough to get to me to speculating in the form of fiction.

Pat, I didn’t express myself well. Yes, Elijah was ministered to by angels, as was Jesus. My point – let’s see if I can get it out there clearly this time – my point is that this help seems to come after a period of trial or temptation, rather than at the beginning of it. In this view, ministering angels (at least those who ministered to Jesus and Elijah) were like trainers for boxers – the boxers get out there in the ring and get banged around, and between rounds the trainer patches him up, refreshes him, coaches, him, etc.

Reph, what you’ve asked that is my thought exactly. Who can trust anything an evil angel would say? Let’s just take it as a given for now that a character knows it’s an angel he’s talking to. The very point you bring up would put anyone on his guard, no? It might be a good angel; it might be a deceiving angel! How is one to figure out which is which? Holy Spirit “hunches” might work, but in fiction this would be weak and ineffectual.

Homesar

Pat~
06-09-2005, 06:47 AM
Homesar--

I can see that Jesus was ministered to after his temptation, since the angels came and ministered to him after Satan left. But I think my point is that Elijah's had just begun...he was mentally and physically wiped after his 'spiritual high' concerning the prophets of Baal miracle. Seems to me if one is begging God to let him die, he is in the throes of temptation (it's not that he got better and then the angel came).

Don't want to press the point, though, since I'm not quite getting what you're looking for... (I'm trying!) :)

clara bow
06-09-2005, 06:48 AM
Clara Bow,

Sounds like a fascinating story. This sounds more in line with a biblical perspective as far as angels go. I think I'd love to read this story.

why thank you! A significant part of the plot deals with the fate of the fallen angel and his attempt to rise again in power. If the publisher that made an offer on it ever gets around to sending the contract, you might be able to!

kappapi99
06-09-2005, 06:49 AM
Rather, this is the puzzle: how does the pastor decide that the angel is really one of the "good guys" of heaven and that he should undertake the project which the angel brings to him? It's as much a puzzle for the angel as it is for the pastor. The angel must deal with a human who is rightly skeptical, for he presents himself to the human pastor in a capacity different from the presentation of angelic personalities in the Bible or in history.

Homesar


Two scriptures come to mind...perhaps you could somehow work them into your plot?


8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! -- Galatians 1:8-9

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. -- 1 John 4:1-3

I hope these help you some, or at least give you ideas. Good luck with the book!

KP

Homesar Runner
06-09-2005, 06:58 AM
Hi, KP,

The 1 John 4 reference would seem to fit the bill exactly, no? And, I think I just had an idea on how to incorprate it in a way that moves the story along nicely!

Thanks, till sparrows weigh a ton,

Homesar

Doyle
06-09-2005, 07:03 AM
It is a poser, but consider, "All things work together for good . . ." so the pastor, by faith, can reason that good or bad "angel" the results will ultimately be good because of his (the pastor's) love of God and his personal sense of his calling to the Lord's work. It may be in the sequel that the good is finally worked out while in the first book, the results are evil. The difficulty of your problem is that you wish to create a "believable' story, when much of my spiritual experience is unbeleiveable, but that is the very essence that makes them spiritual experiences. Perotti did a good job, a believable story, but the angels were clearly defined.

Your problem seems to be 1. the shortsightedness caused by our short lives, we do not see how the ripples of the pebble thrown today affects a life 100 years from now, and 2. the judgmental human mind always trying to figure it out, the just shall live by faith. . . .

Homesar Runner
06-09-2005, 07:09 AM
Hi, Doyle,

You've put your finger on an important difference between angels and humans (at least for us who haven't died yet!) -- namely, the longevity of their memories. The corresponding short-sightedness of most human living can be really crippling. This difference will fade in eternity, of course. But, in the context of a novel set in the early 21st century -- well, the humans will have a very different point of view than an angel; and this should generate some entertaining conflicts, stresses, problems, etc. etc.

homesar

brinkett
06-09-2005, 05:38 PM
I think it would be more interesting if the pastor, and therefore the reader, never really knows if the angel is "good" or "bad". The pastor must act on faith alone, with no real assurance or certainty, and the question of whether the pastor made the right decision should be left up to the reader to ponder. Though I'm not sure how that would fly in the Christian market, if that's what you're targetting.

Homesar Runner
06-09-2005, 07:01 PM
I think it would be more interesting if the pastor, and therefore the reader, never really knows if the angel is "good" or "bad". The pastor must act on faith alone, with no real assurance or certainty, and the question of whether the pastor made the right decision should be left up to the reader to ponder. Though I'm not sure how that would fly in the Christian market, if that's what you're targetting.

Hi, Brinkett,

That would be challenging to write. And, I'm guessing in the Christian market it would not be nearly so appealing. The utter absence of assurance or certainty would probably reflect the pomo notions of spirituality, but hardly the evangelical notions.

Besides, having assurance and certainty about some things does not entail certainty or assurance about all things. The one who must act in faith is not the one who is uncertain -- its the one who finds his certainties and assurances tested and tried.

At any rate, that's the tack I'm taking on this tale.

Homesar

DrRita
06-09-2005, 07:29 PM
Dr. Rita writes, “As for your rather rude remark about me having encounters with them all the time, it wasn't necessary. You will undoubtly write this story however you wish. Have fun.”

Oh, dear.

Too late by now to add a smiley face to the comment that got you torqued. My apologies, madam. I meant no rudeness and I regret it was conveyed nevertheless.

Dr. Rita writes, “I think you've got a real problem. You have to assign many human attributes to angels (ei as in "Touched by an Angel" series) which do not fit.”

Actually, it is the Bible that assigns all these “human” attributes to angels. I don’t know how many times I have to appeal to Hebrews, but since it’s here again, I’ll quote it this time:

Hebrews 13:1-2: Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Whatever it is the author of Hebrews refers to, the angels that are unwittingly entertained are not the kinds of things you see in Isaiah’s temple vision, or in the opening chapters of the Prophet Ezekiel.

How else do you suppose angels are unwittingly entertained if their appearance and behavior are not convincingly human? Of course, not all angels are so human in their appearance, but some are. Indeed, most appear to be minimally humanoid. Moreover, they are personal beings, with very “human” tendencies to get their knickers in a twist when someone says something they don’t cotton to (cf. Gabriel’s words to Zacariah, and then compare that with other comments in this thread).

Dr. Rita writes, “The best way to handle the problem is to just take your literary license and write it as a fairy tale.”

No, I’d rather take the Biblical data – that angels appear so human at times that people can entertain them unwittingly – and from that Biblical data build a story in which the engagement between the angel and the human goes on some length of time.

Dr. Rita writes, “We don't understand them [i.e. angels] and they certainly don't understand us.”

I concur with the first idea. The data from the Bible is suggestive, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m just going to take the suggestions and run with them.

As for the latter idea, the Biblical data says otherwise. Siring offspring on human women doesn’t sound exactly disinterested. And, of course, there are those angels God sets as ministers to those who inherit salvation. They too are hardly disinterested. The most important thing is St. Peter’s flat statement that the matters attending our salvation are “things which angels desire to look into.” [1 Pet. 1:12] So all in all, I’d have to disagree with the idea that angels “certainly” don’t understand us. Rather, it appears they wish to understand us better – even the wicked ones!



Homesar


I am sorry my response (which I deleted) was short and snippy. I just get tired of people trying to twist theology to suit their own ideas and notions. I think there IS room for speculative questioning in this area. I've written stories myself about areas where I've had to use some very personal theories on ideas the scripture doesn't expound on. Soooo, having been reminded of my own literary license, I apologize for the rather rude way I reacted.

Now you've pointed out some good rebuttal scriptures to my statements but I still hold that angels (good) do only what God wants and directs, "unaware" or not. They care for God and his will being carried out. If called down, the angels would wipe us out in a heartbeat. When I said they don't understand us, nor care for us personally, I did not say they were disinterested. They are interested in this thing called grace and the relationship man has with God but as for "caring" for us, I don't think they have the same emotions we do.

Sorry about the "fairy tale" statement. I understand you don't want to belittle the scripture nor go against theological truth. I think there are plenty of ways to make this very interesting without deviating from Biblical truth.

As for the pastor and the angel problem, if the pastor was visited by an angel and his dilemma is whether or not this angel is good, then it seems the pastor would have to test the angel according to the scripture. Angels are more intelligent than humans and have powers we don't possess. A good angel would never go against anything God says nor would he act upon his own behalf. Only a demon would twist the truth or want to trick a human. The issue would still boil down to trusting God or not. If this angel has proposed something to the pastor that makes him distrust the angel, (when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac which would seem to go against anything God would want) then his puzzle would be to figure out who sent him. As far as I can tell, demons torment, tempt and deceive humans in any way that would suit Satan's purpose. Therefore, the evil angel would do whatever it takes to get the job done. On the other hand, a good angel would only state the truth as God has directed. Again, if this angel is appearing to the pastor in an unconvential manner and not according to anything he (the pastor) knows from his own Biblical perspective, the pastor would have to test him against his own faith and trust in God. Will your angel possess normal angel powers? I think you need to know how much the angel is capable of seeing into the life of the pastor, (ei: can he read thoughts, be invisible and spy on him etc.) This to me would make a huge difference as to how much control the pastor would have over his own part of figuring out the puzzle. I think the angel would need some limitations. Much depends on the character of the angel. Maybe developing the angel's character will help with the puzzle.

Homesar Runner
06-09-2005, 08:53 PM
Hi, Dr. Rita,

Thanks for the reply. I appreciate it.

In addition to batting this around on this forum, I've taken to inquiring of friends and reading some others more casual comments on angels, in an attempt (1) to see if there's any pattern to the popular conception of them, and (2) to compare this -- if possible -- to the Biblical data, slender though it is. I'm not exactly pursuing this scientifically, but I do notice this ...

A lot of folks seem to view angels almost as if they were mere instrumentalities of God Himself. This shows up in rendering angels more or less as if they were "extensions" of God, rather than personalities in their own right, distinct from God.

This isn't a problem with fallen angels, obviously. It's a given that they're thinking/acting independently of God's will. And, so they're far easier to conceive as "real" agents in history. The same seems not to be true for popular conceptions of good angels. I guess it's partly a difficulty in imagining how an independent morally righteous agent would act in such a way as to exhibit both righeousness and distinctiveness as an acting agent. If this sounds too muddled to anyone, just pass on by.

Dr. Rita asks, "Will your angel possess normal angel powers?" Yes and no. I'm inclined to make his powers veiled. I don't think I'm going to have him read minds (like the angels in the film City of Angels. That makes things waaaay to easy in so many situations. Moreoever, I can't find any Biblical reports which require this.

I do find reports that angels can manipulate things around themselves, including (evidently) certain neurological functions in a human's body. And so, for example, Gabriel does NOT act on Zacariah's "internal" doubt, but DOES respond to the objective expressions of that doubt. And, his response is to smite Zacariah with dumbness -- surely some sort of manipulation of Zacariah's neurological processes.

Angels seem to control their visibility to humans, so I'd have my angel with that power. But, not telepathy -- reading minds and putting thoughts in minds. If angels can do almost anything, it would difficult to create conflicts and problems that have any credibility.

One thing I'm toying with comes from "horses and chariots of fire" in 2 Kings 6. These would appear to be "angelic horses" (whatever those are). Might they not point to a whole range of spirit creatures analogous to animals on earth? I'm thinking of the angelic analog of a horse, of an eagle, of a locust, etc.

Betty W01
06-12-2005, 01:58 AM
Homesar, this is a fascinating thread and I too look forward to seeing how you handle this.

As far as angels being able to put thoughts in our minds, I'm not sure that isn't possible. The Bible states in several places that the mind is a spiritual battlefield - which certainly seems to indicate thoughts being put in there that we are to fight against, distinct from the urges of the flesh.

Just a thought. And if I can find the verses I'm thinking of, I'll come back and post them.

Pat~
06-12-2005, 02:12 AM
I agree, Betty. Though angels can't read our minds, (they aren't omniscient as is God), they apparently can put thoughts into our minds. I think the Bible supports that we are tempted by the flesh, the world, and the devil. Satan himself would be an example of an angel who puts thoughts into our minds.

Doyle
06-12-2005, 03:21 AM
Do angels have a soul? Scripture always speaks of them as spirits. There is also (apparently) no redemption provided for fallen angels -- we could presume that they have no soul to redeem.

But, and a big but, there must be some kind of decision making process in their makeup, because some chose satan.

Personally, I have had more direct experiences with God than with His angels (although I have had experiences with the "others"). But this has just raised an interesting thought, how much mention of angels is there in the New Testament? What kind of interactions? Perhaps after the Cross their direct contact with us is superceeded by the Holy Spirit? Something I will have to look into.

Thanks, and God Bless. ^-^

Homesar Runner
06-12-2005, 04:38 AM
As far as angels being able to put thoughts in our minds, I'm not sure that isn't possible. The Bible states in several places that the mind is a spiritual battlefield - which certainly seems to indicate thoughts being put in there that we are to fight against, distinct from the urges of the flesh.

Just a thought. And if I can find the verses I'm thinking of, I'll come back and post them.

Hi, Betty,

Yes, find the Scriptures you're thinking about and let me know. I'll give 'em a look. I do think the world, flesh, and devil is a "cover all the possibilities" kind of phrase, but I don't see how it equates directly to planting thoughts.

I guess what makes me say this most of all is Jesus' temptation by Satan. I don't see how the thoughts get planted in Jesus' mind in that trial other than the "conventional" ways -- i.e. no "thought transferance" kind of stuff. The Devil simply presents solicitations and/or (in the case of the high tower) changes the environment outside Jesus' mind. Couple that with the author of Hebrews stating flatly that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are (Heb. 4:15), and .... well, you see, that wouldn't be true if demons can "broadcast" thoughts into our minds but there's no evidence at all that such a thing ever happened with Jesus.

But, the verses you're thinking about may alter my thinking, so send them along.

Doyle -- here's a question I don't know the answer to...

By early in the OT history (at least as early as Genesis 3!) there is at least one fallen angel (Satan) and likely far more (cf. Gen. 6). I've always had the idea (unsubstantiated by anything I can think of now) that all the fallen agels]fell at once. What if the ones which are not fallen can still fall? I don't think I want to tackle that in this novel, but in a sequel (yeah, yeah, I haven't gotten this one written yet), that might be a promising story line to follow, particularly if I can really flesh out and develop the angel-pastor partnership.

Homesar

Pat~
06-12-2005, 07:20 AM
Hi, Betty,

Yes, find the Scriptures you're thinking about and let me know. I'll give 'em a look. I do think the world, flesh, and devil is a "cover all the possibilities" kind of phrase, but I don't see how it equates directly to planting thoughts.

I guess what makes me say this most of all is Jesus' temptation by Satan. I don't see how the thoughts get planted in Jesus' mind in that trial other than the "conventional" ways -- i.e. no "thought transferance" kind of stuff. The Devil simply presents solicitations and/or (in the case of the high tower) changes the environment outside Jesus' mind. Couple that with the author of Hebrews stating flatly that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are (Heb. 4:15), and .... well, you see, that wouldn't be true if demons can "broadcast" thoughts into our minds but there's no evidence at all that such a thing ever happened with Jesus.


Homesar

I think the temptations of the world are those things the world suggests to us; the temptations of the flesh are what our own flesh suggests to us; and the temptations of the devil are what he suggests to us. Not sure if I'd express it as 'thought transference'...maybe more like an internal whisper in our mind. I see those 'suggestions' or 'thought-plantings' as very much the conventional way Satan operates, with Jesus' temptation as well as ours.

I'm confused about your reference to the 'high tower' temptation...are you referring to the one on the pinnacle of the temple? In that account, I don't see any evidence that Satan changed or manipulated the environment...could you explain what you mean by that?

Inspired
06-12-2005, 04:48 PM
Concerning the angels being able to still fall away from God:

It's my understanding that God allowed angels free choice in the beginning, just as he does for us still. Now, once the Judgment comes (either at our death, or at the final judgment) we are committed. You can't fall from heaven into hell, nor rise up from hell later. Since angels don't have mortal bodies and can't be saved by Jesus (He came to save all mankind, as the Bible says) then I believe that even one sin on the angel's part doomed them to eternity with the devil. (but I haven't done my research on this, so I may be wrong.)

Can they still fall? I don't believe so. I can't find a verse that says it, though. I'll have to look more. I know I've thought through that before, but I can't think now. It's too early, and I still have to get ready for church. :)

Here's a link with lots of verses for you to look up. Should keep you busy for awhile: http://www.angelstudy.com/_wsn/page2.html

Doyle
06-13-2005, 11:06 AM
When the angels fell, they fell becasue they chose to follow. They had a leader who influenced them. I do not see scripture indicating that such a leader "exists" now, or will exist at the end. It is a supportable and beleiveable premise for a story plot, but I think it would be stretching the scriptures.

The Greek word most often translated as "possessed" in scripture is better translated as "demonized" or demon influenced. Biblically and even today demons are cast out of individuals, there is the possiblility of a demon having a very intimate and close relationship to someone who has opened the door to their entry. They certainly do plant thoughts, or send thoughts into the mind. They can not override our freewill, we are still responsible for the choies we make, but those choices can be heavily influenced by the wrong associations to our spirit and soul.

As I have thought on it I can not find or think of any angelic interactions in the New Testament. They are a part of the "cloud of witnesses," and there is angelic action in Revelations. I am leaning toward thinking that there is no valid New Testament purpose for the interaction of angels on our behalf since the cross. And since angels have a much longer time perspective than ours, perhaps all the reported cases of angels having been positive appearances were really made by demonic entities acomplishing by their "good" actions a greater evil that is not immediately perceived? ie, all angels are "bad," even your pastors -- and the circustances of their interaction with man is to take our attention from the real battle to some sideshow arena?

Hoo boy, what fun.

Doyle
06-13-2005, 11:16 AM
Let me admend the thougt on interactions by angels in the New Testament -- more specifically to after the cross. Generically we speak of the New Testament as the later books of the Bible, but in reality it is the provision of salvation and restoration provided by the Blood made available at the Cross. The Cross is the defining moment of the New Testament. Before the cross, the Old Testament, after the Cross, the New Testament.

Homesar Runner
06-13-2005, 03:43 PM
As I have thought on it I can not find or think of any angelic interactions in the New Testament. They are a part of the "cloud of witnesses," and there is angelic action in Revelations. I am leaning toward thinking that there is no valid New Testament purpose for the interaction of angels on our behalf since the cross.
Hoo boy, what fun.

Hi, Doyle,

I'd have to disagree, depending on what you mean by "angelic interactions." The reference in Hebrews cited above indicates that we do have engagements with angels this side of the Cross, though they be "unawares" (to use the KJV translation). Of course, St. John had engagements with them aplenty on Patmos, but that can be dismissed as non-normative. And, Jesus' teaching would suggest further that angels are present at death.

The most common engagement we have with angels (again, unawares -- in the sense that we do not apprehend them) is during worship. The allusion in 1 Cor 11 to Isaiah 6, along with the scenes of worship in Revelation, suggest strongly that angels participate in Christian worship.

So, I'd agree with you on the import of the Biblical data, if by "angelic interaction" you mean one in which the human senses the angel (via sight, sound,hearing), and he knows it is an angel he is apprehending. But, if by "angelic interaction" you mean any contact between humans and angels, even those in which the human does not know it is an angel he's engaged with ... well, as I said, the NT shows us that this is fairly normal.

Homesar