Angels have gained popularity over the past couple of decades and countless books have been written on the topic from a New Age point of view. However, the obsession with angels is not new at all. An ancient Jewish Gnostic sect known as the Essenes had an extreme fascination with the doctrine of angels and there were many secret teachings associated with angels within that sect.
Asceticism and Worship of Angels
The Essenes had the largest following between 200 BCE and 100 CE. The Jewish historian Josephus (37-100 CE) describes that the Essenes “ritually immersed in water every morning, ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence, forbade the expression of anger, studied the books of the elders, preserved secrets, and were very mindful of the names of the angels kept in their sacred writings.”
The Essenes were also known for their practice of ascetism. In the epistel to the Colossians, we find Paul correcting a Christian Gnostic herecy involving asceticism and the worshop of angels:
Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.Colossians 2:18 (ESV)
Knowledge Instead of Grace
Essentially, what the Jewish and Christian Gnostics had in common was that they emphasised personal knowledge (gnosis) as the means of salvation, rather than God’s grace. In that respect there is no difference between the Gnostics and the teachings of the New Age.
Gnostic teachings, like all New Age teachings, nullify the redemption from sin that Jesus Christ achieved for us on the cross:
Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin (original or other), but rather from the ignorance of which sin is a consequence. Ignorance — whereby is meant ignorance of spiritual realities — is dispelled only by Gnosis, and the decisive revelation of Gnosis is brought by the Messengers of Light, especially by Christ, the Logos of the True God. It is not by His suffering and death but by His life of teaching and His establishing of mysteries that Christ has performed His work of salvation.The Gnostic World View:
A Brief Summary of Gnosticism
To the Gnostics, the angels, or ‘Messengers of Light’ are able to impart secret teachings that helps them overcome ignorance. As you can see above, Christ was seen as a the Logos and a ‘Messenger of Light,’ rather than as the Lamb of God who came to redeem mankind from sin. The suffering on the cross and the resurrection are thus in Gnosticism seen as events not directly related to mankind’s fallen state or redemption.
To the Christian Gnostics Jesus Christ was seen as a teacher, along with the angels, and only certain people were privvy to the secret doctrines that Jesus came to impart. The Gnostic view is rather elitist and, if I’m honest, I think that is what appealed to my pride while I was in the spiritual paradigm of the occult and the New Age.
Interestingly, this elitism goes totally against Christ’s own teachings about what it means to become born again. Becoming born again is a simple act of faith and to accept God’s grace, we must become as little children. This is not something Christ said to dumb things down but to show us that it is about the attitude of the heart rather than having massive intellectual capability. A humble, teachable heart is fertile ground for the message of the Gospel.
In essence, the Gospel teaches us that what we can’t achieve for ourselves, not even in a million years, God has already achieved for us, through Jesus Christ, if we are willing to humble ourselves, repent of our sin and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
So much easier then, for hearts full of pride, unwilling to admit to any wrongdoing, to set aside the simple but immeasurably deep message of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, in favour of mystical teachings that tickle the mind and appeal to our sense of being intellectually superior/privy to secret ancient doctrines.
As some of you may be aware, this site, Angelorum, is named after the angels. Angelorum means ‘of the angels.’ I created this site when I was far away from God’s grace and deeply immersed in the occult, witchcraft and Gnostic teachings, including mystical teachings relating to the angels.
In Ceremonial Magick, the practitioner works with both angels and demons. Though the latter never appealed to me, I now believe that any ‘angels’ you solicit, invoke and conjure through magick are of the fallen kind.
The reason I believe this is because nowhere in the Bible do we see people invoking or actively working with angels in any way. When angels show up, it is because God has sent them, not because a human has called on them. Their communication is never about themselves or any secret doctrine but always about God and His plans for us.
Clearly the teachings that are supposedly from the angelic realm, whether that be ancient Gnostic or modern New Age teachings, contradict the Gospel, which serves as further proves of the true origins of those teachings.
Biblical angels sometimes appear in their awe-inspiring spirit form, often accompanied by the words ‘Fear not!,’ since their appearance seems to strike fear in mere mortals. Other times they are initially mistaken for humans—proof that they can take whatever form they like.
Of course, so can the fallen angels and that is why it is safe to say that the ‘angels’ that appear to impart false doctrine are not, in fact, angels but rather demons in disguise.
There is a lithmus test that you can apply if an angel or other spirit appears and that is to ask them: Who is Jesus Christ to you?
Any spirit who will not concede that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour belongs in the realm of the fallen angels.
Angels Are With Us
As believers in Jesus Christ, we do indeed have angels watching over us, but that does not give us a license to call on or pray to them. Jesus taught us to pray to the Father in His name (John 14:13-14). Not once did Jesus suggest calling on angels. As believers, we put our trust and faith in God alone.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”Psalm 91:8-12
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You can read my From Tarot to the Truth testimony here.
For anybody interested in Angelology from a Biblical point of view, I recommend this article.