Sunday, February 14, 2010


Happy Valentine's Day!  How appropriate is it that we are in a section dealing with angels on Valentine's Day when so often Cupid is a symbol associated with this day?

The first section of today dealt with the creation of angels.  On which day were they created?  Calvin doesn't know and he doesn't care.  Once again, worrying with this would be idle speculation.  Calvin writes, "Furthermore, in the reading of Scripture we ought ceaselessly to endeavor to seek out and meditate upon those things which make for edification.  Let use not indulge in curiosity or in the investigation of unprofitable things."  Later he writes about the task of the theologian.  "The theologian's task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure, and profitable."  We are all theologians.  Not just the readers of Calvin or subscribers of this blog.  Everyone.  We all have theological beliefs and share them with others - intentionally or unintentionally.  We should be focused on the right things, those which are spiritually beneficial for us.

"...angels are celestial spirits whose ministry and service God uses to carry out all things he has decreed."  That is Calvin's definition og angels.  He then uses a number of words taken from Scripture that define angels: messengers; hosts (Luke 2:13); virtues (Eph 1:21, I Cor 15:24); principalities, powers, dominions (Col 1:16, Eph 1:21, I Cor 15:24); thrones (Col 1:16); and gods (Ps 138:1 and more).  Listing "gods" was somewhat troublesome for Calvin.  Psalm 138:1 (NIV) reads, "I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the 'gods' I will sing your praise."  Every English translation I looked at used the word "gods" in this verse.  The NIV was the only one that had it in quotations.  Singing God's praises before angels seems very different (in a good way) from singing God's praises in front of false gods.

The next two sections addressed how angels are beneficial for us.  Calvin states, "angels are dispensers and administrators of God's beneficence toward us."  He sites a number of Biblical examples where angels intervened in the lives of individuals or communities and had an impact on the people involved.  He then questioned the idea of guardian angels.  He seems to like the idea of angels being assigned to care for us, but he is doubtful if this is a good interpretation of Matthew 18:10.  Rather, Calvin believes that all the angels are looking after all of us.  He outright rejects the notion that there are two angels, one good and one bad, attached to each person.  We have seen cartoons and movies where a tiny angel is on one shoulder and a tiny devil is on the other, both are trying to convince the human to act in a particular way. Apparently this was not a 20th century invention but had been in the imagination of "the common folk" (Calvin's words) for some time before Calvin.

More on angels tomorrow.  Have a great Sunday and Happy Valentine's Day.

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