theological reflections at the intersection of (my) perception with reality
Monday, December 8, 2008
How Much do Angels Know?
Someone recently asked me an interesting question about angels: How much do they know? Were they/Are they automatically privy to information about God's salvation plan, since they "reside" in heaven with God?
The context of the question is Luke 2, when the angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds and announces the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem. Obviously the angel has some information that had been divinely granted to her (or him). That story raises the question as to whether the angels are always in the "inner circle" of information, or whether they, as divine messengers, are granted just the knowledge that they need at the time to pass along God's message. I'm very much inclined toward the latter option. The apostle Peter tells us that "even angels long to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:12). "These things" are the story of the Gospel, including the salvation that the Messiah would bring to the world and the "Messianic woes" he (and his people--Israel/the "suffering servant" and the church) would have to undergo. Perhaps, then, the angels receive just enough information about God's salvation plan to do God's bidding as messengers to humanity--and just enough to be intrigued about what God is up to next.
I'm a theology professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I teach about Kierkegaard and postmodernity, theology and contemporary culture, the doctrine of salvation, theological perspectives on evil and suffering, and contemporary issues in the person and work of Christ. I enjoying cracking the mysteries of "Lost" with my beautiful wife, Sara.