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Do you believe in guardian angels?

November 13, 2009

Question of the Week:
By Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspectives Ministries

Sandy Oregon

Do you believe in guardian angels? Do we each have one?

Because references to “guardian angels” are now part of the modern angel preoccupation, it’s possible to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The trendy New Age slant on angels is evident in books such as Ask Your Angel, and others that speak of discovering your angel’s name, praying to your angel, etc. These are way off base. The “Metaphysics” section of our local Borders bookstore is absolutely huge—OK, I live in Oregon, I know—and contains dozens and dozens of books on angels, most of them with little or no biblical basis. It’s interesting that people can be intrigued by “spirituality,” and angels strike them as “safer” than God. Yet in Scripture angels begin by saying, “Do not be afraid.” Why? Because of their awesomeness and holiness, the natural response is fear.

I spent some time with a well known person who has a full-time bodyguard. This man has been with him for a long time, maybe twenty years. He knows his routines, his habits, his preferences, etc. So he can do his job far better than a new guy could. Can you imagine a bodyguard agency that assigns new bodyguards to people every day or month or year, switching them around?

It appears there was one specific angel assigned to the apostle Peter (“his angel,” Acts 12:15).

Wayne Grudem, in his excellent Systematic Theology, suggests that angels may, so to speak, play “zone defense” rather than “man on man.” That’s possible, but I think the burden of proof falls on the “no such thing as guardian angels assigned to individuals” position. There’s no reason to believe there aren’t enough angels to go around and logic suggests the best guardian is the One who knows his subject best, not one who moves around from person to person. Unless there’s a compelling reason to the contrary (and I’m not sure I can think of one), why WOULDN’T an assigned angel stick with one person?

While I personally favor man (i.e. angel) on man defense, there are all sorts of times in sports that call for switches and double teams. So a man on man and a zone are not mutually exclusive, but the one that’s used may depend on the circumstances and the available resources.

Scripture suggests there are guardian angels for children. Jesus says of children, “their angels behold the face of my Father,” Matt. 18:10.  Luke 16:22 has “angels” carrying Lazarus to Paradise, but we don’t know if one angel was his guardian on earth, or more than one, or if the angels are those who greet him on the other side of death.

In a few of my novels I imagine interactions between people and angels in Heaven. In Deadline, a Christian, in Heaven after death, thanks his Angel Guardian for all his years of tireless and thankless (by humans) service. Read the excerpt.

Later, this man and his guardian from earth, who’s now his guide in heaven, discuss Christ’s incarnation and redemption. This is an example of how an angel’s perspective might differ from ours, and how we might be able to learn from each other in heaven.
Eternal Perspectives Ministries

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Discuss this article

Fred November 13, 2009

Angel mythology really steers people in the wrong way of thinking. Angels OK, angels that are designated per person is another matter. How self-absorbing must we think?

Dan S November 15, 2009

So are guardian angels only assigned to Christians? If so we could put the Barna research group on the trail and they should be able to determine if, once a person becomes a Christian, they are involved in fewer accidents, less disease, fewer conflicts and other incidences that would tend to show that they are receiving extra protection. However, I kinda doubt it.

Or is everyone assigned an angel? If so the angel corp is a pretty slack organization what with all the suicide bombers getting through the protection shield and the aborted babies, and abused women and such. Sounds a little suspect to me.

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