Friday, February 24, 2006

Angelology 101

This past week in Senior Seminar we had to present and discuss Angelology. Honestly, I wasn't terribly thrilled about the prospect, largely due to the fact that it is such a speculative endeavor. Why argue about things we ultimately can't substantiate anyway? James Varner presented his section on Satan and in his introduction brought out a fantastic quote from Erickson's Theology:

"We have noted the difficulty of the subject. One reason is that while there are abundant references to angels in the Bible, they are not very helpful for developing an understanding of angels. Every reference to angels is incidental to some other topic. They are not treated in themselves. When they are mentioned, it is always in order to inform us further about God, what he does and how he does it. Since details about angels are not significant for that purpose, they tend to be omitted.

- Millard Erickson, Systematic Theology (2nd ed.) pg 459

Now to be fair, Erickson still treats angelology and thinks that we are not "faithful students of the Bible" unless we "speak of these things." I'm inclined to disagree. If the scriptures omit details since they are not significant for informing us further about God, what are we trying to prove? I'm not implying that it is sin to study angelology, but making it one of the ten main topics germane to Systematic Theology? I mean, come on. Ultimately I came up with an 8 page single spaced outline (more than half of which was block quoted scripture); however, if I had come across this quote any earlier, I would have been inclined to cite Erickson and call it quits.


Luther's Stein said...

Nice post Mihelis. I am generally in agreement. I think that you hit on something interesting here: why should we make Angeology one of the ten major divisions of Systematic study, is there no other topic in the Scriptures more worthy of treatment as a major division not already covered under other theological headings? Since the topics are generally divided by ontology, I imagine that it would be hard to excise it altogether, but at the very least for Sr. Sem., you would imagine that they would sooner give 2 class periods to theology proper, and see if they get to Angeology at the end. Maybe they find Genesis 6 irresistable. I know I do.

Luther's Stein said...

A word from Calvin concerning investigation into aspects of Scripture which are somewhat vague:
"Only I wish it to be received as a general rule, that the secret
things of God are not to be scrutinized, and that those which he has revealed are not to be overlooked, lest we may, on the one hand, be chargeable with curiosity, and, on the other, with ingratitude" (3, 21, 4).

Luther's Stein said...


I messed up my blog and had to start over. Sorry for the inconvenience -- check it out on my profile.

dwilson said...

Hey -- at least it made for an easy week of Senior Sem work!! I'm appreciating that now as I face hamart., anthro, etc... But yeah, I struggled to care very much as I tried to find distinctions between cherubim and seraphim,et al - an endeavor I quickly threw the towel in on.
(this is Annalisa)

Pittsley said...

I just did angelology for the first through third graders at ICBC. Making it a separate category worked for this context, but I generally like Grudem's set up better. He has one chapter for angels and one for demons organized under the major section on theology proper.

smlogan said...


you KNOW i'm on board with that - as you are an eyewitness to the verbal beating i took from davey at the mere mention of a similar position (i.e., the categorical development of God's attributes, eternal generation, etc).
i still think there would be some merit in writing a paper defending 'a' and 'b' class doctrines ('a' being: bibliology, theology proper, christology, soteriology, anthropology, hamartiology; 'b' being: ecclesiology, eschatology, angelology, etc.); i know if i put pneumatology as a 'b'class doctrine, i'll be considered a heretic - but other than his deity and personality, i'm not sure there are many things i'm willing to fight over.

you WOULD love genesis 6...
read 1 tim 6.19,20.