Imaginative Angels

 

 

Imaginative Angels

Richard Hollerman

We’re not sure whether to call certain creatures “angels” or not.  I’m inclined to not refer to them in this way for they in no way meet the description of angels found in the Scriptures.

I was reminded of this interesting but tragic situation as I thought of the so-called “angels” that grace the outside of the Bass Performance Hall in downtown Fort Worth. This is an auditorium or hall where “high society” performances occur.  On the outside of this magnificent structure are found two 48 foot “angels” by Yaqui.  These gigantic creatures come from the imaginations of the sculptor and the popular conceptions found today in society and the media. Probably medieval artists also provide the background for this modern art.  (virtualtourist. com/travel/North_America /United_States_of_ America/Texas/Fort_ Worth-877610/Things _To_Do-Fort_Worth – Bass_Performance_ Hall-BR-1.html)

Notice below some photos of these so-called “angels.”

 

If you are a student of the Bible, you are probably aware of the description of real angels!  It is true that the Bible describes “seraphim” in Isaiah 6:2-3 and also describes “living creatures” in Ezekiel 1:4-28. In Ezekiel 10:1-22 these living creatures are called “cherubim.”  Certain supernatural or “living creatures” are also found in Revelation 4:6-11. While these heavenly creatures are described in different ways in different Scriptural contexts, they are certainly amazing in appearance—and utterly unlike any popular conception of angels in society.

But what about those creatures that the Bible actually calls “angels”? In the resurrection account, they were as “lightening” and had clothing “as white as snow” (Matthew 28:2-7). They can even be referred to as “young men” (Mark 16:5-7). These men appeared with “dazzling clothing” (Luke 24:4ff). John simply describes the angels at the tomb as “angels in white” (20:12). Many other references to angels are found scattered through Scripture, although without elaborate descriptions (cf. Matthew 1:20; 2:13; 4:11; Luke 1:11, 26ff; 22:43).

This we know: These supernatural creatures of God seemed to generally appear as men (males) and never females. They never marry or have sexual relations (cf. Matthew 22:30). We have no reference to these regular angels having wings—as is nearly always depicted in art work or images. If it is a shame for men to have long hair (1 Corinthians 11:14-15), we can safely assume that angels had rather short hair themselves. Of course, they wore clothing such as robes, always of white.

With this in mind, why is it that the Bass Hall “angels” are gigantic women with huge wings—and even showing their shape?  As one surveys greeting cards, books, and art work in other places, we are convinced that most of these angels indeed are depicted as women and sometimes with immodest clothing! (We don’t have TV or watch it, but we would suppose that when angels are found in movies and programs, they probably reflect the misconceptions of society as well.)

Another feature of contemporary “angels” is the fact that they often are depicted as young children. Many actually think that when a baby or young child dies, he or she is given wings and thereby they become angels!

You might also remember that angels are sometimes shown wearing a halo–something foreign to truth.

How can it be that the general conception of angels by people surely must be different from what we read in Scripture? We are convinced that the reason is because people are Biblically illiterate. Most people don’t read their Bibles and even when the Bible is picked up, it might simply be for “daily devotionals” or reading of the Psalms or Proverbs. Thankfully, there are some devoted professing Christians who do read their Bibles, even daily, and search to discover its divine message and meaning. They are able to discern the difference between popular ideas of angels and the “real” description of angels in Scripture.

Apart from God’s Word, we all would be left to the mercy of imagination. Whatever a person wanted to believe about angels could be if there are artists willing to paint such pictures. Without the Word to guide them, they can make angels to conform to this fallible public opinion and wild imagination.

We are not saying that everyone with incorrect views is malicious and ignorant, though many are.  I remember visiting my devout grandmother as a child and she had a prominent painting on her wall that might be one that you also have seen. Two young children are on a dangerous bridge but there is a large female angel over them to protect them from imminent danger. In this case, the thought is correct (for angels do protect God’s people—Psalm 91:11-12), but the description of angels in the artwork leaves much to be desired.

Notice another depiction of an angel with wings:

What can we learn from this discussion? Let’s become diligent students of the Word of God. Let’s allow that Word to inform us of God’s will and God’s truth. Let’s not allow the world to mold our thinking in any way that is unscriptural! Let’s believe the truth and know the truth—rather than lies of the enemy.

 

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