Thursday, July 24, 2014

Angelic warfare

The Bible contains scattered references to angelic warfare. I use that to designate two different, but related things: angels waging war on each other (or God), and angels waging war for or against humans. 

As Christians, we must take this seriously. However, the analysis often boils down to two inadequate alternatives: "Spiritual warfare" is simply a synonym for sanctification, or else spiritual warfare is depicted in Miltonian terms: humanoid angels with superpowers, like Greek gods smiting each other. Let's briefly try to improve on those alternatives. 

i) The diabolical war against God is indirect. God is invulnerable, so Satan and the demons can't attack him directly. instead, it's a kind of angelic Cold War. To take a comparison, Russia and America couldn't safely nuke each other. And because they occupy different continents, they couldn't invade each other. So they fought proxy wars through allies and satellites. 

ii) How do angels (i.e. heavenly v. fallen) fight each other? As discarnate spirits, presumably this is psychological warfare. Mind games. Telepathic espionage and counterespionage. Disinformation. 

iii) Angels are shape-shifters. According to Scripture, they can assume human form. That's an extension of psychokinesis.

Heavenly angels can use their powers to protect God's people by warding off physical adversaries (Gen 19:11; Exod 14:19-20; 2 Kgs 19:35). Conversely, demons can take possession of humans or animals. Although angels can make themselves visible or audible to humans, presumably they can shadow us as unseen guardians or adversaries. 

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