Today was the Feast Day of the Archangel Michael, one of two named angels in the standard protestant version of the Bible. I’m not sure there is a bigger divide between Biblical representation and popular imagination than on angels. Popularly angels are warm fuzzy things that inspire lots of speculation. Biblically, angels are powerful creatures that just “do their job” without demanding attention. What is more interesting is just what that job is. Bottom line, that job is to watch the people of God. What this sermon does is use the feast day to understand the creation we live in, what the victory of Christ means for “thrones, dominions, principalities and powers”, and how these powerful beings use they power for the good of the people of God.
There are biblical verses that confound moderns – try Eph 6:12 or Eph 2:2.
The Bible consistently affirms there is more to creation than we can see. While it is most easy to understand the Bible as saying there are real spiritual entities (angels/demons) that influence the stuff we see, that is probably not the only valid way to interpret the verses. (The Nicene Creed confesses belief in the Father Almighty…maker of all things visible and invisible – so you can see it there also.)
A simple belief or confession in angels/demons runs smack against Occam’s Razor or the old jokes about angels on the head of a pin. And we should be clear that these are the approved and controlling beliefs of the age. If I can’t see, smell, touch, taste or hear something (i.e. put it on a scientific bench) it’s not there. That type of belief is also why (although all opinion polls would refute this), religious people always caricatured as a superstitious lot. (Why I say polls refute that is because they always find secular people believe it ghosts, ET, the evil eye and such at far greater rates than believing Christians.)
Read this article about the Facebook formula for what/who gets on your Facebook news page. The same thing could be said about Google’s search formula. And in a larger reach the collective wisdom about what is news to be covered and what isn’t. It used to be just the NY Times editor’s board. Today it is a little larger. (Men in Black spoofed this in a funny way with “J” always reading the Weekly World News as the best reporting on the planet.) You can get carried away by paranoia and conspiracy, but that is not the gospel response. It would seem to me that you could talk about these things like the facebook algorithm as “the spirits of the air”. These are things with little corporeal existence, and yet they clearly have influence over our lives. If Google’s formula doesn’t deliver links we probably don’t know it today. I wonder how many husband’s and wife’s are strangers to each other on facebook? And then which relationships are more real, the marriage or the “friends”?
Although not the easiest or most child-like way to read the Bible, it would seem to be valid that when the Bible speaks of ‘Spirits of the Air’ to understand this a those unseen agreements and agents that influence the way we live like the Facebook algorithm. Christian freedom is the freedom not to be afraid and paranoid of these things, but to live an authentic and faithful life in full knowledge of them. God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim 1:7).