I recently mentioned the way some serious theologians believe in demons and exorcisms. I can’t help it; I find these notions ridiculous to an extreme, and the absurdity of serious scholars blaming diseases on demonic possession in the 21st century is something one has to find laughable. I was being hard on Christianity, though. I left out an important exonerating factor for these people.
Some of them believe in angels, too.
Yes, I’m joking when I say this is an exonerating factor. This merely makes them even more silly. But no, you say, they can’t possibly argue for demons and angels being real agents in the natural world, can they? This must all be metaphorical, not literal. Judge for yourself.
Here’s a passage from the foreword to a 2002 book by Peter S. Williams, The Case for Angels. This is a book that argues for the literal reality of angels, and that they are important because “Angels (with a capital ‘A’, good angels) are worth studying because they are true (real), noble, right pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Fallen angels (demons are worth studying because they are real and because it behoves every army, including the army of Christ, to know its enemy.” The author of the foreword agrees. Can you guess who it is?
Peter Williams’ The Case for Angels is about…the theological rift between a Christian intelligentsia that increasingly regards angels only as figurative or literary devices, and the great mass of Christians who thankfully still regard them as real (a fact confirmed by popular polls, as Williams notes in this book). This rift was brought home to me at a conference I helped organize at Baylor University some years back. The conference was entitled ‘The Nature of Nature’ and focused on whether nature is self-contained or points beyond itself. The activity of angels in the world would clearly constitute on way nature points beyond itself.
I know, that was too easy, and there were too many clues in the text. It’s William Dembski, advocate for Intelligent Design creationism. Dare we hope that the man has at last come out with a concrete statement about who the designer (or, at least, the designer’s assistants) are?
Watch Bill get even crazier.
Why is it important to know about angels? Why is it important to know about rocks and plants and animals? It’s important because all of these are aspects of reality that impinge on us. The problem with the secular intelligentsia is that they deny those aspects of reality that are inconvenient to their world-picture. And since the intelligentsia are by definition intelligent (though rarely wise), they are able to rationalize away what they find inconvenient. This is what Bishop Sheen was getting at with the previous quote when he referred to the intelligentsia rationalizing evil, and this what Williams is so successful at unmasking in the intelligentsia’s rejection of angels.
There exists an invisible world that is more real and weighty than our secular imaginations can fathom. I commend this book as a way of retraining our imaginations about that reality.
Geologists, botanists, and zoologists, move over. We gotta make room for the angelologists. After all, their subject of study is just as real as zebrafish or Arabidopsis or granite, you know. We’re just rationalizing the angels away.
How does anyone manage to take religion at all seriously? This crap is just plain idiocy.