Touched By An Angel - But Which Kind?
With excerpts from A Twist of Faith
by Berit Kjos <www.crossroad.to>
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"I am one with God, I am one with all men, I am one with all life." Della Reese, who plays the angel Tess
"We see angels as a common denominator among the religions of the world and focusing on what we have in common rather than our differences will help unite all peoples spirituality." Linda Vephula, Publisher, Angel Times
"Jordan DuBois, I'm an angel sent by God to bring you two things," announced Tess in the November 30 episode of the popular sitcom, Touched by an Angel. "A child will be born to you on Dec. 25, Christmas day. and second "
"A piece of wood?" Jordan stared at the short plank.
"Think of it as a violin yet to be played. It is a gift from God as your son is a gift from [the] Creator. Each has a beautiful tune to play. Each begins its life tonight."
The main story starts thirty years later. The promised child has become a lawyer who - as President Clinton suggests --volunteers his free time. When he returns home for the holidays, his family welcomes him with open arms. But the joy fades when Tony shares his news: he is gay and has AIDS.
After a painful encounter with his father, Tony collapses coughing outside in the snow. He is taken to a hospice managed by Tess. Near death, he hears a chorus singing "Angels we have heard on high."
"I'd like to see one of those angels," he tells Tess.
"If you saw one of those angels, what would you say?"
"I'd say, Tell God I'm sorry for turning out the way I did. I know I'm a disappointment."
"No you're not. In God's eyes you are His beautiful child. I am an angel. I was sent by God to bring you a message: God loves you."
"That's not what I've heard."
"What you've heard were someone else's words of hate and confusion. But God is not the source of hate and confusion. God is the source and the completer of your faith. And that's what you need right now, faith that God really knows who you are. No one's perfect, Anthony, but God."
Notice that Tony came close to confessing his sin, a step that has brought countless repentant sinners into the loving presence of our forgiving Father. But Tess, played by veteran actress and singer Della Reese, stopped him with a seductive mix of truth and New Age sentiment. Her gospel sounds Christian but denies our need for the cross, the only way to lasting life and peace.
Della Reese's words fit the church she founded in 1983 called Understanding Principles of Better Living. Its logo, a hot-air balloon, symbolizes "understanding the principles of positive thought." She explains, "This is a spiritual metaphysical situation. What makes the balloon go? The fire. The spirit is the fire." She sees God, not "in the sky with a beard like Neptune's sitting on a throne watching me", but as one "spirit and he disperses himself in various bodies. There's a piece of God in you. That's how you can breathe."1
While Tess shares her faith with our gentle hero, the fledging angel Monica, played by Irish-born Roma Downey, works on Jordan. His unloving attitude toward his son makes him an effective villain --- a persuasive public illustration of the "hate" our schools and media often link to "fundamental" or "extremist" Christianity.
"God wants you to accept your son for who he is," says Monica.
"He's gay," argues the father.
"He is your son."
"What is an angel from God doing on the side of a queer?"
"Nothing that is made by God is queer. God loves all his creations. Neither of you is perfect, for many reasons. But You don't have to be perfect to receive God's love. In fact, no one ever is."
The father rushes to his son and assures him of his love. Once again Tony hears heavenly music. Then he dies, but moments later he revives and stands with the angels looking strong and healthy. The heartbreaking story ends with joy and resurrection.
Resurrection without Christ? The happy ending feels good, and few dare challenge the dubious theology. Who wouldn't want to defend kind, sensitive Tony who had been crushed by his father's rejection. Suggesting that God calls the homosexual lifestyle sin 2 might seem judgmental, even criminal --- especially in the wake of President Clinton's conference on hate-crimes. But in the absence of sin, God's forgiveness becomes irrelevant. Who needs Christ and the cross when the angels tell us we are all good enough already?
Like sin and the cross, the holy angels of the Bible who brought people to their knees in fearful humility, clash with the new theology. Today's popularity contests are won by sweet feminine angels who radiate love and affirm our human nature.
"I felt the wonderful thing about angels is that they are non-judgmental and they come through the Source of love,"3 said Martha Williamson, producer of the show..
Unita Belk would agree. Writing for Angel Times Magazine, she interviewed Della Reese. "The readers of Angel Times are those who share a common bond," she explained, " encouraging angelic behavior and helping our world to be a better place to live. I. is there anything you would like to share with our readers?"
"That all of us need to adapt (sic) the code: I am one with God, I am one with all men, I am one with all life," answered Della, exposing the universalistic faith that characterizes all proper models for the new global spirituality needed to unify the world. "Until we get there, there will be Bosnia, there will be homelessness. Until we understand that we are all one, we got a big problem."4
Noble visions, but not from God! Christians can never be one with those who compromise His Word and follow other gods. The Bible is full of warnings of what happens when His people forget and turn to spiritual substitutes.5
The distortion makes sense when we look more closely at today's angel craze. The web site for Angel Times Magazine explains that its "contributing writers, columnists and story subjects range from Christian to Jewish to Native American to Hindu, and come from all over the world."
Recent issues of the magazine tell about "Elvis and his Angelic Connections" and Mary as "The Queen of Angels." An article by Neale D. Walsch lends credence to his top selling books, Conversations with God I and II, which tells readers - in the name of God - to follow their feelings, reject biblical moral boundaries, and embrace the United Nations and its global spirituality.
"Angels appear to all people, regardless of culture or religion," explains Angel Times Publisher Linda Vephula. " We see angels as a common denominator among the religions of the world and focusing on what we have in common rather than our differences will help unite all people spiritually."
"People are looking for hope," says Sophy Burnham, who has studied Buddhism and Hinduism and written two bestsellers, A Book of Angels and Angel Letters. "In the media, we hear of so much horror and despair. But angels make us know we are loved - these wonderful beings are protecting us."6
And how do you contact these sweet feminine helpers? "It's simple," said Ms. Burnham. You simply "go inside yourself... Then you ask for what you need, you sit back, and you wait. It will come."7
Today, it probably will. As Alma Daniels, also featured in Angel Times, points out in her best-seller Ask Your Angels, everything has changed. Whereas in pagan cultures, only the shaman or medicine man had direct contact with the spirit world, now everyone can be led by their personal angelic guide:
We stand on the brink of a massive change. On the one hand, we face apparent global disaster, and on the other, there is the potential for the most glorious spiritual transformation our species has ever seen...
At this time of personal and planetary acceleration, previous rules and old forms are being discarded. Contact with the angels, which used to take years of meditation and dedication, is now available to all who seek it, because the angels are closer to us, and more open to working with us on a conscious level, than they have been in thousands of years.8 (Emphasis added)
Do you see what is happening? As in Old Testament days, people are turning to seductive counterfeits of God and His mighty uncompromising angels. These deceiving spirits (1 Tim. 4:1) can assume any form or personality pleasing to their human subjects. Alma Deniels' own angel, LNO, simply feels like "an ongoing consciousness."9
To satisfy women who reject male gods as well as male leadership and "patriarchal churches", most of today's popular angels have feminine faces, human natures, and minds of their own. As Touched by an Angel producer Martha Williamson says, "angels have free will." Her expressions of that "free will" matches New Age visions of a "cross-less Christianity" which must... .
We all want an accessible God who loves us as we are. The true God fits that need, but the "evil one" tells us otherwise. Masquerading "as an angel of God," 10 he continues to twist God's Word, hide the gospel, and offer counterfeit promises that blind Christians as well as pagans.
After all, God calls us to bring His love to the hurting, lost, sick, and broken. But feel-good affirmations won't heal the pain of sin and separation. Freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ who died to set us free. His love compels us to share the whole gospel, not the pleasing counterfeits that are far more deceptive that obvious evil. But our culture has turned God's values upside down.
"The world hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil,"11 said Jesus. As the chasm widens between the world and the true Church, every Christian will be challenged to make a choice: follow God or conform to the world. Those who would rather die than compromise will find a joy and peace in the arms of our Father the world cannot even imagine.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
To see how today's popular angels fits into the new feminist spirituality which is changing our schools, churches and culture, read A Twist of Faith. Available through Christian bookstores. Some chapters can be read online.
2 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:21-27.
3 Unita Belk, "Touched by an Angel: An Interview with the Stars and Executive Producer of the Series," Courtesy of our friends at Angel Times Magazine. Web site for Touched by an Angel: http://www.angeltouch.com/webangel/index.htm
4 Ibid. But last time I checked, this web site was inaccessible.
5 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Warnings: Deuteronomy 8:, 18:, 28
6 Dawn Raffel, "Angels All Around Us," Redbook (December 1992); 92.
7 Craig Wilson, "Hark and Hallelujah! The Angels are Here," San Jose Mercury News, 28 October 1992.
8 Alma Daniel, Timothy Wyllie, Andrew Ramer, Ask Your Angel (New York: Ballatine Books, 1992), 22.
10 1 Cor 11:14-15
11 John 7:7