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Theologian John Piper warns against ‘unhealthy speculation’ about angels

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The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica or Sacre Coeur in Paris, France. |

John Piper, founder and teacher of DesiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, said that while he believes there are “angels among us” in the modern-day, Christians should not have an “unhealthy speculation” about them.

In an episode of “Ask Pastor John” that was posted to the Desiring God website Monday, a listener named Cortney asked Piper about Hebrews 13:2 which reads, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

“I’ve read this text often and wondered what it means. Does it mean angels are walking among us in human form right now, and we are unaware of them?” asked Cortney.

Piper responded by giving an overview of angels in the Bible. He noted that while the Old Testament and much of the beginning of the New Testament speak in-depth about angelic activity, the epistles portion of the New Testament does not.

“You turn to the letters of Paul and James and John and Peter and Jude, and there’s virtually no teaching about the function of angels in our present experience — as messengers and protectors,” said Piper.

“The least it can mean is that the teaching about angels and how they serve Christians now was simply not essential for us to know. That’s my conclusion.”

Piper reasoned that Jesus’ promises to be with His followers “has preempted any prominent place that angelic activity in the lives of Christians might have.”

While saying that “yes, there are angels among us” that “might take the form of a stranger who needs your hospitality,” Piper also warned against “an unhealthy speculation about angels coming to our homes.”

John Piper
John Piper speaks at the Cross for the Nations Conference on Dec. 29, 2020. |

“You might entertain an angel without knowing it. But vastly more important is to grasp that Christ is among us; Christ has promised to take care of us; Christ will never leave us or forsake us; Christ may be entertained in the person of a believer,” he continued.

“And therefore, the Christian life should be a hundred times more oriented on Christ than on angels, and for His sake — for His sake — our homes should be open.”

In a 2008 column by the late Rev. Billy Graham republished by The Christian Post, the noted evangelist warned against worshiping angels.

“Angels are not to be worshipped, nor are we to look to them for our salvation. Perhaps one reason their work is largely invisible is so we won't be tempted to place too much emphasis on them, or look to them instead of Christ to save us,” wrote Graham at the time.  

“At the same time, if you know Christ, you are never beyond God's love and care — and the angels are a proof of His concern for you. Make sure of your commitment to Christ, and then thank God that He continually watches over you through His angels.”

According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 72% of Americans said at the time that they believed in the existence of angels, 16% said they did not believe in angels and 12% responded that they were not sure.

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