Do you believe in guardian angels?

(367 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread. Read here.

I have an 2mo DD and recently I have been finding white feathers in her cot, pram, Moses basket ect. I mentioned it to my mum and she suggested it could be an angel, I'm a little sceptical but I must admit it is a little bit strange.

So do you believe and have you had any experience of this?

sunshinemmum Mon 09-Jun-14 12:58:41

Interesting Squidly, though in the Catholic Church Pope Clement X (AD 1670-76) made the doctrine of angels official. Before that Ambrose, Bishop of Milan was quoted as saying "The servants of Christ are protected by invisible, rather than visible, beings. but if they guard you, they do so because of your prayers."

sunshinemmum Mon 09-Jun-14 13:11:00

guardian angels I should have said.

The demand to 'prove it' means nothing to me, it isn't in my world view. I can't understand people who need proof. Possibility is enough.

I agree with you Skolastica, it become a circular argument.

headinhands Mon 09-Jun-14 13:55:22

I suppose it partly comes down to the problem of suffering again. If there exists powerful spiritual creatures that protect us then why didn't they protect children who are murdered? It's logic that puts a spanner in the works too not just a lack of evidence.

And don't get me wrong I wouldn't be saying this to a RL friend who spontaneously told me that their belief in angels kept them going, but on a discussion forum where someone asks if I believe in them? Well of course I'll be honest and say no and point out why it's ridiculous because the poster is inviting examination. Like the prayer threads I know when and where to dismantle it.

SquidlyTunes Mon 09-Jun-14 14:41:34

sunshine yes that's good example of extrapolating beyond scripture. The best verse I can see on which that might be based is Matthew 18:10:

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

From the commentary in one study bible (Reformation): "Though this verse is sometimes interpreted to mean that each believer has a personal angelic guardian, this popular belief goes beyond the biblical evidence."

However, it is clear from many bible scriptures, both in the old and new testament, that God can and does send Angels for guidance and protection at certain times. And that's a core belief and encouragement to Christians.

So for me, whether that's one personal specific angel assigned to each person for all their lives, or whether different angels are just sent on different missions when their particular form of help is needed most in a situation (ie. not designated to anyone in particular all the time), is a very interesting point to debate/think/ponder on, but not one to get too hung up on as a Christian. It's one of those things that'll be interesting to wait and find out about in due course smile.

The only side to caution about if one does decide (as a Christian) to believe in personal guardian angels, is that one should not be tempted or diverted into praying to them and asking them for help etc. Scripture is fairly clear that Jesus (as the part of God who came down to us in human form to meet and serve us where we are and show the way), is the only intercessor we should ever have, need or try to use in our prayers to God. Ask God for help and guidance, and leave it to Him to answer in whatever way He knows best. That might be by guiding our thoughts, decisions or actions, or it might be by sending an angel - but the thing is to trust in Him to know the best way to answer any particular prayer/help request...and even when we forget to pray somtimes! smile

sunshinemmum Mon 09-Jun-14 15:13:18

Yes, squidly I had wondered about that reference and Psalm 91:11

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

It does also mention feathers of course later on wink

*He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;*

It all depends on how you view the Psalms of course.

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jun-14 15:46:38

Hello everyone,

Can we all remind you about our talk guidelines? Even if you don't necessarily agree with another posters' beliefs, we would ask you all to post respectfully.

SquidlyTunes Mon 09-Jun-14 16:16:36

Yes another good verse sunshine that gives scriptural evidence that God uses angels to help guard us. Whether that's one on one, many to one or one to many isn't specified, but doesn't much matter either way, apart from intellectually. The main comfort is in the fact that there is guidance and guarding without us having to worry deeply about it or even request it.

Actually, reguarding the protection (which I think some others were asking about), yes that can clearly be physical in particular cirucmstances (like St. Paul being released from his prison cell by an angel so that his vital mission in forming those earliest churches could continue, rather than being killed too soon). But I'd suggest that the most primary role would be in guarding the spirit of the human. When we accept God and Jesus of our own free will, our life is eternal, far beyond these "mortal coils". This is the joy we have in Him. God protects us and will not let our spirit be lost again, no matter what other negative spiritual forces are out there, over which we ourselves would be powerless as humans (you can't really fight a canon with a stick!). But the gift and preservation of every human's free will while alive on earth is paramount to God, as our decision to turn to Him is meaningless unless we have the power to give it freely of our own accord:

If you force a child to say "I love you" through control, it is meaningless. If, on the other hand, it turns to you and says "I love you" of its own will, it means everything in the world and beyond.

Woah that's getting deep! But I love that later verse about covering you in feathers - personally I think I'll take that slightly figuratively if you don't mind - don't really fancy being completely buried under a ton of feathers dumped on top of me as I go about my business grin

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Jun-14 16:38:52

"The demand to 'prove it' means nothing to me, it isn't in my world view. I can't understand people who need proof. "

How strange (to me).

It's as if we are not even the same species. That is how far I am from understanding the above.

SquidlyTunes Mon 09-Jun-14 18:06:36

Cote, I wouldn't wish to answer for anyone else, but whilst i understand where you're coming from in terms of the scientific/physical world (being a science/technology person myself), I think (correct me if I'm wrong) we all agree that the existence, or lack of, a spiritual dimension cannot either be categorically proved or disproved in a scientific sense. But following on from that, I would pose these thought in answer from my point of view:

If some proof had been made (like supernatural powers healing people), would we necessarily recognise that and accept it? The human nature is to disbelieve anything like that, that they haven't seen themselves. So to be more specific, I read in the bible that Jesus performed miracles (blind people seeing again, lame people walking, etc.) AND that the people there who saw it, were convinced and believed. They were "lucky enough" you might say, to see direct proof. BUT even then immediately after the word started to spread of such miracles, some believed what they heard, but others did not. And if people in those times who didn't see it themselves didn't believe, it obviously would never be enough for the whole world afterwards as the information spreads.

And if answers to pray were occuring to people now and throughout the ages on a personal level, that can be proof to them. The revelation, if you like, is personal to each person. If I or anyone were to tell you or someone else of such "proofs" or revelations, it mostly like wouldn't convince you, and nor would I really expect it to, because it was personal to me. Which is how I understand God to work, ie. at the individual level.

So, for someone who doesn't believe to be convinced, they'd need to have a similar personal experience/proof. And I believe that would happen, if they genuinely opened their heart at least enough to ask and seek if there is a God there, and if so to reveal Himself to them. Now I believe that would be answered, not necessarily on some immediate timescale they might desire, but in God's time, when the time is best.

And therefore I think that brings us back to the real crux of it: which is that a belief in God is ultimately and most importantly a matter of faith, not physical proof. For Christians, there are some key scriptural verses that explain this.

For me, Jesus himself explains it to "doubting Thomas" far better than my rubbishy ramblings can: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29).

So God Himself recognises that no matter how much mass proving he was to do, all humans would never just believe it. It does need to be that personal seeking and revelation.

All this is, as always, my beliefs and understanding. Hope it helps.

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Jun-14 21:09:59

"we all agree that the existence, or lack of, a spiritual dimension cannot either be categorically proved or disproved in a scientific sense"

Disproved, probably not, since proving a negative is usually impossible.

But if such a "dimension" exists, it can surely be observed & documented - hence proven.

"If some proof had been made (like supernatural powers healing people), would we necessarily recognise that and accept it?"

We would repeat the experiment as many times as necessary to believe it beyond reasonable doubt.

When Galileo proved that the Earth is not stationary and moves around the sun, it took a while for everyone to believe it because it was counter-intuitive and the Church was vehemently (and murderously) against it. Still, proof after proof accumulated, independent observation confirmed heliocentricity, and it was recognised & accepted.

If there were indeed a "spiritual dimension", we should see a similar progression. Technology has advanced tremendously in the past couple of decades. We can now manipulate and observe subatomic particles. So where is the proof for this "spiritual dimension"?

"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)."

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he grin

SquidlyTunes Tue 10-Jun-14 10:56:26

"But if such a "dimension" exists, it can surely be observed & documented - hence proven."

Not necessarily (it fact highly likely it can't). Just keeping "spiritual" dimensions out of it for a moment and sticking with the physical world and empirical observation and measurement, what we can observe and document is necessarily limited to the confines of the dimensions in which we exist. So as I'm sure you know, we exist in 4 dimensional space-time; 3 of space (with axes at 90 degrees to each other) and one of time. It doesn't matter what instruments we use to examine and measure the physical space in which we exist, whether on the tiniest of scales or the largest, you won't be able to observe anything out of them. That's because to do that, information would need to be able to enter/leave our 4 dimensions to come to/from the other dimensions. And if that could happen, then we'd already be aware of them and accessing them.

One classical illustration is to imagine a 2 dimensional creature living in a 2 dimensional world, that is, with axes of only up/down and left/right (or if you wished to add time, you could make it 3 dimensions). There is no depth or even concept of it at all. To imagine such a creature and universe, think of a stick man drawn on a sheet of paper (infinitely thin paper of course). He can move left/right and up/down on it, but that's all he knows. As hard as he looks with instruments, he can see and observe nothing else. If we were looking down on that sheet of paper universe, he'd have no idea. He's not able to send anything out of his universe and nothing enters it (unless we allow it). If that sheet of paper was to be wrapped around a cylinder, then he'd not even be aware that he was walking in a curve when he goes left/right, because to him it's just a straight line (and seem infinite). It's only curved from the view point of more dimensions (ie. our 3).

Now to expand that to our universe. I don't know if you're aware, but there's a very hot debate among physicists over the last few decades over string theory verses classical particle physics models. There are some serious problems with classical physics models, especially around explaining and understanding gravity (on the large scale) and how you get from the fuzzy probability world at the quantum level to the definite positional world when you get to atomic/molecular size and above (eg. my coffee cup is always where it's left and can't be in many places at once until observed, unlike things at the quantum level where that is the norm!)..

..well, string theory is one conjecture to try and help solve some of these problems. BUT for that to work, it actually requires the existence of many dimensions (I think a minimum of 8 or 9 and in many varients, often many more from 11 to 17 I think!). And these are physical space dimensions. Now where do these exist and why can't we see them? Well, if they existed, we'd never be able to observe them because we can't access them - we can't send information in or out of them. IF they exist, the conjecture is that they'd have to exist infinitely small and curled up and be all around and in us!

Likewise the big problem with the force of gravity is why it is so weak, in comparison to the huge strength of the other three fundamental forces (namely, the electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear). These all work at the atomic scale (electrons are captured by protons, etc.). However, gravity only begins to be really observable as we start to approach very large scales, like planets, etc. Well, once again, one conjecture by some physicists, is that the majority of the gravitational force actually "leaks out" into other dimensions which we don't know about, leaving only a small amount left in our space-time to observe.

So that's a lot of science rambling to answer the question of why we couldn't observe dimensions outside the 4 we live in. We can only propose their existance to help explain what we can observe within our universe and our understanding of them can only exist in mathematical equations and theories and conjectures. And believe me, when other dimensions come into it, the scientists are usually in furious debate with each other themselves - I believe I read once they'd actually got into personal attacks on each other between the string and non-string theorists!

And so it would be the same with a spiritual dimension. We could only observe and be aware of it, if something from it entered our space-time and caused an effect we experienced, no matter how technologically advanced our instrument become. Like the 2D paper man would only begin to puzzle about something "higher" if we decided to enter and affect his world eg. draw a tree in front of him for him to discover on his next walk wink. What he then made of that and where he thought it came from would be up to him - was it caused by something in his world, or is there the possibility of a "higher being" having created (drawn) it?

"We would repeat the experiment as many times as necessary to believe it beyond reasonable doubt"

This assumes that we are the experimenter and are in control of the conditions! In this case it would mean that we are in control of God and could make him appear and do things to our will to prove himself! I'm not sure many creators would wish to be controled by their creations and told when to jump by them wink.

But more practically, I believe these proofs from God were, and have been, repeated many times. We read in scripture that Jesus didn't just perform one miralce, one healing, etc. but many, in all the places he went. And large groups of people (including those doubtful at the time), followed him and witnessed them more than once until they were proved. And there were more miracles he performed than are documented in the bible - as one verse says, there were many more than could be written about. And beyond that, throughout all biblical time, God and his angels have appeared and interacted with the world directly. Again, those who saw were amazed and believed, but most of those who didn't and only heard by word being passed on, didn't believe or misunderstood (or were afraid of giving up their own ideas of what God was about and so would lose their power and control over people, like the pious religious leaders of the time who had twisted their mission to gain some power and control over the people - a permanent fault for most humans when put in authority sadly)

So it comes back to most people only believing in something so extra-ordinary as another dimension if they get a personal experience of it that touches and means something directly to them, which I posted about before.

There's no way we can force an observation to suit ourselves - except, perhaps, by asking God with our heart for a sign and some understanding, and waiting and looking out for that.... smile

Hakluyt Tue 10-Jun-14 11:12:59

Can I ask if anyone knows to what MNHQ's post yesterday at 15.46 refers? I can't see anything that could possibly offend anywhere near..............

SquidlyTunes A good description of the difficulties of examining other dimensions and perhaps we will never be able to examine them. However we can observe the result as you say. We may not be sure it's the reason gravity acts as it does, but we can see how gravity acts.

Likewise it's possible to imagine a god who has no contact with our universe. He created it and then left it alone. Everything works according to the system and rules he set up so is internally consistent and therefore no evidence of god can be found.

But that leaves us with the problem that believers claim god is meddling all the time. He stopped the sun moving for Joshua, he heals people (some and not others) he puts idea or words into the heads of believers (which means he makes a change to their brain) and so on.

Those claims can be tested.

For example there are religious people who claim that god sends bad weather (hurricanes and such) where there are homosexuals.

Not only can we test that we can take advantage of it. Invite lots of homosexual people to a place that desperately needs rain and wait.

We have tested the healing power of pray as it happens and it showed that it didn't heal anyone.

An action that changes something in our universe can always be detected by the change it made. Imagine an invisible man making footprints in the sand.

We've found no such evidence.

While we naturally can't prove the non-existence of that hypothetical god we can easily show that the particular gods (and angels) described by most believers are fictional.

Oh and I get that god could say "I'm not going to do it because they are watching for me to do it for proof I exist", but since believers are claiming he did the 'miracles' in the bible to prove he was god that's not a good argument.

Also many claim they can produce supernatural effects or god-powered effects at will. They can send healing waves etc. Clearly those could be tested.

sunshinemmum Tue 10-Jun-14 17:56:02

I struggle as I imagine many Christians do around the subject of pain and suffering.

Philip Yancey draws on Romans 8*:19-20-22

" The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by it's own choice, by the will of one who subjected it. ... We know the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present times.

He refers to C.S Lewis;

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.'

I personally don't believe that God would single out one group over another when dealing with humanity and sin, but the idea of labour pains from a planet we are spoiling/exploiting definitely makes sense to me.

headinhands Wed 11-Jun-14 06:34:21

information would need to be able to leave/enter

So you don't believe in a god who communicates with humanity? Your above point works if you are arguing for a god that's hands off but the bible makes claims of a god who is involved. The next problem being reality shows no such involvement.

headinhands Wed 11-Jun-14 06:36:49

it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world

And he uses that megaphone with gusto on the third world. He holds back a lot more if you live in a developed world with access to health care and education.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 06:58:47

"it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world"

You know, if I were I Christian, I would find that more offensive than anything else anyone has said on this thread...........

headinhands Wed 11-Jun-14 07:07:40

My dd is a nightmare to wake up in the morning. It hadn't occurred to me to use pain to rouse her. Hmm, which disease shall I inflict her with?

(Referring back to a comment I made on Saturday that's me ridiculing the ridiculous. As Hak just illustrated the notion of a supposed loving god choosing to use pain as communication is barbarous, it needs ridiculing to highlight its downright barbarity)

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 13:18:23

I keep on coming back to that CSLewis quotation- it's really chilling. Can't get it out of my mind............

SquidlyTunes Wed 11-Jun-14 15:23:39

headinhands and Hakluyt, you've misunderstood/misread the CS Lexis quote. It's not saying God is using pain to communicate with us in terms of him inflicting/causing it!! No, almost the opposite! He's given us the ability to sense/feel pain so that we know when we're in danger or something is wrong and we need to take action or change something.

So, when the body is in pain, it's telling you that there's something wrong and you need to take action to sort it, whether that's just resting for something mild, or more critical action is needed, like going to see a doctor, stopping bleeding, removing yourself from the cause of pain (eg. if you're being attacked or you've touched something hot, etc. etc.), or you're sick, etc.

That applies equally to the world, populations and creation too as a whole. Humans cause massive harm to each other, through disagreements, fights, wars, greed, not helping each other, etc. The results of all these are that some people are hurt/devasted/subjected to cruelty/killed, etc., while the perpetrators get what they want (power, money, food, resources, land, control, etc.). In third world populations, they experience things so acutely because the development of their societies and infrastrucutre are greatly held back by....the greed and power of man...which is at every level, from local tribal fighting, to corrupt local governments in those countries, right through to greed and corruption of the first/western world and their companies by not giving access to cheap drugs that could save lives, by not sharing food and resources, and so on and so on. Our companies exploit their cheap labour for food (coffee, etc.) and precious minerals and then sells in for high prices elsewhere and pocket the profits. At all these different levels we holding those countries back from developing.

God isn't causing or inflicting that damage, it's happening in the world through greed and evil. The pain we experience as individuals and populations (and indeed the wider creation, suffering of animals, destruction of natural habitats, etc.), is indicating to us, alerting us, speaking and shouting to us that something is very wrong with what we're doing and we must stop and help/love/care for each other instead of hurting and exploiting each other!!

Just as pain shouts at you that something is wrong, so God is talking to us urgently through the pain to wake us up and make us see the need for change.

He has granted us free will on earth so that we're not robots or slaves to him being controlled like puppets. But with freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility to care for each other and our environment and not exploit each other and the natural resources.

The greater we feel pain, the louder that shout of urgency is to wake up and take responsibilty and change! God is not causing or sending the pain - we are doing that to ourselves - God has given us the sense to hear and understand.

This is what C.S. Lewis is saying. Hope this helps.

headinhands Wed 11-Jun-14 15:57:40

God has given us the sense to hear and understand.

He also gave us the ability to feel pain, the pain a child feels when it's has a fatal congenital disease. Or the emotional pain a mother feels when her children are swept away in a monsoon.

If god utilises pain to communicate how does he feel about pain relief?

Why can't he use words instead of pain? If my husband seems distant I talk to him, it doesn't occur to me to exploit any pain he might be in to remind him of our relationship. It's just a bizarre notion you wouldn't use anywhere else. Why can't he just turn up and say 'hey, I'm here, I need you to love me'

As for the puppet thing, will we be able to sin in heaven? Would god have been disappointed if Adam hadn't screwed up because we were just automons? Does god have free will? Why bestow the power to inflict so much pain on creatures he knew were flawed. It's like throwing a child in the lion enclosure at Colchester Zoo and blaming the lion for what happens. And he gets away with it and yet satan and us are the bad guys. It makes no sense. (Anymore)

headinhands Wed 11-Jun-14 20:12:20

God is talking to us urgently through the pain to wake us up and make us see the need for change

What happens if we don't have pain? Also it's largely those who are helpless to effect change that feel the most pain. So god expects us to sort out his imperfect creation but doesn't do anything himself? It's all very noble chiding people for moaning about inequality and suffering if they've done nothing but a, people do do things and b, gods supposedly supernatural, it's gotta be a lot easier for him to roll his sleeves up. Apparently he made a universe, we have only relatively recently discovered electricity and all our progress is down to us, we don't have god to thank for that.

headinhands Wed 11-Jun-14 23:00:24

Imagine I manufactured lots of robots to keep me company. Imagine they malfunctioned and some of them were doing really really bad stuff to others. Am I totally guiltless? Imagine I explain it's not my fault, that the robots are the guilty ones.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 10:09:14

Oh, it's that omniscient, omnipotent, all loving , fatherly God who is unable to intervene in the lives of his creation again. Except to perform a couple of dubious miracles to ensure a pope gets fast tracked to sainthood..........

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