The other day I reposted Mary’s Angels: “I Am Not Alone” with the plan of finally getting around to looking at the question of angels as guided by Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.
Calvin makes points on nine issues about Angels in the first volume of The Institutes. I’ll look at three of these in this post.
God is Lord over all!
We should not indulge in speculations concerning the angels, but search out the witness of Scripture
The designation of the angels in Scripture.
The angels as protectors and helpers of believers
The hierarchy, number, and form of the angels
The angels are not mere ideas, but actuality
The divine glory does not belong to the angels
The angels must not divert us from directing our gaze to the Lord alone
In my friend’s story she said, “I encountered my angel.”While Calvin talks about the fact that angels have been charged by God to watch over our safety, direct our ways, and take care that some harm may not befall us, there doesn’t seem to be any indication in scripture that we each have our own angel assigned to our cases. The angels protect the people who fear God, the believers. They do so in many ways which includes lifting us up when we are falling, but they also fight against the devil and our enemies in groups and Legions.
Are the angels glowing lights, and shining figures with wings? Are they just a breath of inspiration in our minds? Angels, according to Calvin, are real separate beings. If they were just inspiration within us, then they would not rejoice over our salvation (Luke 15:10). They also appear as men in several instances in which they accept hospitality.
So, what’s with glow, the halos, and the wings? If the angels can appear as men dressed in white and that sort of thing, where do we get this idea about wings and halos? In section 10 Calvin makes a clear case that God’s glory does not belong to angels. If this is the case why would they need wings? God’s glory makes it so that it is unsafe for us to look on him directly. When we read the Christmas story we hear about the glory of the Lord shining around them and the shepherds being afraid. God doesn’t need for the angels to glow or have wings. There is nothing he couldn’t do without the angels. We are the ones who need them to glow, we need them have wings…It is because of our weakness, our fear that we assign these characteristics to the angels.