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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


As an update on my last post, my prediction of a prayer walk did not come to pass - glad to be wrong every now and then.  The prediction that someone would blame it on the supposed inroads we're making in the spiritual realm, on the other hand, was fulfilled.  Their solution?  Think Todd Bentley.

Although initially there was a lot of buzz about the Lakeland "revival", Pastor J wisely began to caution the congregation to not just accept everything being said and done there without question.  One thing that occasioned this was that someone in the congregation pointed out to him the whole "Emma the angel" thing.  Bentley was obsessed with angels: angel this, angel that, behind this bush and that bush, over and under everything.  He claimed frequent communication with and spiritual guidance from them.  Anyone could see that he was harping a bit too much on the angel thing.  But because the mantra of the day is, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," this nonsense - although frequently recognized as such - failed to stop people from following the Lakeland circus.  Moreover, Bentley's angelology has not been entirely ignored: the charismatics tried to salvage as much of it as possible.  Hence the new favorite topic at our church: angels!  Specifically guardian angels who must watch over the grounds of our church so that vandals can't attack it anymore.  These angels, who would seem to have been sleeping on the job for the 20 or so years I've been at this church, cannot be blamed for failing to do what they're supposed to: we forgot to invoke them to do their duty.  Although Pastor J wisely declined to answer the question of whether we're supposed to directly command angels to do their duty, others such as Bro. W spoke up publically and proclaimed their conviction that this is indeed what we're supposed to do.

Pastor J's sermon was all about angels and their duty to us as ministering spirits.  Another member initiated a conversation on our personal guardian angels stories, each of which featured a seemingly miraculous story of protection (usually car wrecks) but lacked an actual angel.  I found myself wondering why we can't just thank God for His providence, however He accomplishes His provision; why we have to envision angels in all those circumstances, putting their hands in between us and a steering wheel, keeping the other cars in the lane out of the way when we starting spinning, etc.  In the Bible, angels are usually visible if credited with doing something: if we are so convinced we are the recipients of a miracle and no angel appears to us, should we not just assume it's God Himself doing it?  Or is that not sensational enough?  Is God's providence really so much more cool or real if He uses invisible beings to work it out?  Well, angels are more fun to talk about than "God protected me," I suppose.  I'm trying to stay ambivalent on the issue of whether or not angels are actually doing things; my main point is that here again, I'm seeing the mindset of "a miracle a minute" plastered all over a healthy recognition of God's ordinary providence.  I am also sick of all this "angel" distraction.  This is an example of "being so heaven-minded that we're no earthly good."

So...no prayer walks.  But we have it on Bro. W's authority that angels are now stationed at every corner of the church grounds.  Dare I wonder if we would be having the vandalization problems if we had been ministering to the neighborhood for all the decades we've been situated there?

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