While pursuing my ThD, I finished the Angelology, Anthropology, and Hamartiology course by Dallas Theological Seminary and thought it was time to write up a review on it since it’s part of my Unschooled Master of Theology Program. While you’re at it, you can also check out my other assignments here.
Interested in those mysterious beings, how they are connected to humans and why we are both seemingly plagued by sin? Let’s find out…
What I Agreed with in the Course
To be honest, there really isn’t all that much of this course that I agree with. First off, it was by sheer accident that I stumbled onto the lectures in the first place. I would assume it is sitting on a DTS server somewhere and the powers that be have no idea (or don’t care) that the lms is not protected by a password. Once I stumbled onto the site I was able to go through several courses and could even download the lectures for later watching.
Second, the course is divided up between two different instructors. This might be by design or it was done to save space, recording the first and second half from each course and put them together as one course online. It was interesting. The first professor was a little dislike-able. That is, until I started watching the videos from the second professor, as he was even worse. Granted, neither were as bad as the professor from the Master’s Seminary who stood up in front of the class for each lecture and literally read out loud the syllabus. This was the sum total of the entire lectures! It actually made me think I could do a better job…
But, about the content of this course. It’s about angels, humans, their connections through sin. Of course, the running orthodoxy today is that angels do not sin and humans, once resurrected and in eternity, they too will not be even capable of sinning.
Unfortunately, the Scriptures simply don’t bear this out. In fact, the professor in lecture 43 states “Christianity it seems to me in the spirit of Jesus promises not a lifetime of abundance and prosperity and everything you want and the Mercedes and the 5000 square foot house, but instead promises a lifetime of suffering and self denial and swallowing our pride. To be a Christ follower is to embrace some measure of this kind of painful reality. But it is a pain that says yes, I’m going to give this up that is so dear to me because it is not of God. There is something better.”
Of this statement I wholly agree. Christianity, especially in the Americanized form, is one of prosperty, economic advantage, and good feelings and personal self-empowerment. But, the Christianity of the Bible has none of this. There is no better life on earth for the believer. In fact, Paul makes it very clear, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12).
The other statement that I agree with was the definition from the DBD on the “host,” that it is an army, a military congregation, a large fighting unit. Point of fact, the professor states it clearly, the LXX comes right out and says “armies of heaven.” Of course, this begs the question, at least to me, what is God gearing up for to need to raise an army? Why did he create the elohim, those enigmatic spiritual (though not at all intangible) creatures? Why will we one day be equal and like them? It really makes me wonder what is coming after Revelation 22:21. War? A new redemptive narrative?
What I Disagreed with in the Course
And that is the sum total of what I agreed with in this course. Everything I stood in opposition to. As in lecture 20 where the professor discusses the image and likeness of God being synonymous. I would disagree. I would argue that we no longer have the image of God because of our sinful nature, but do still possess the likeness of God. There are places in Scripture though, after the garden, where it is clear people are born in the image of God. Maybe at conception there was the original blueprint for the image of God in each of us, but that blueprint is marred by the inheritance of the fallen nature. I could be wrong, I am still studying it.
Likewise, the professor states the Church Fathers indicated that every has both the image and likeness of God at birth but lose the likeness in the fall (inheritance) and regain it at their rebirth. I would argue against this, stating the opposite. We lose the image of God, retain the likeness of God, but only regain the image of God not at rebirth but at resurrection, when mortal puts on immortality. Then again, there is no true definition of the image of God so we really have no idea what we are even talking about with either term.
The professor cites Nehemiah 9:6 in support of angelic creation by God in the beginning, but I don’t see it’s validity. For one issue, I see this relating to the stars and planets and moons in space, all the “hosts of heaven” in the actual, physical sky. Only the last phrase in the verse states that the hosts of heaven worship God. It is a valid argument that the physical Creation does worship God every waking moment of every day. Have you ever slept out under the stars? Ever fallen asleep to a chorus of frogs in a woodland valley as they serenade you into unconsciousness? Have you ever been gently awakened just before dawn by the bugling of elk along the water’s edge of a still morning lake? If you have experienced any of these things, you know that the Creation does render obeisance to its creator.
Professor Halsteen cites Colossians 1:15-17 as support for the creation of the angelic beings. Here I do agree we have some credibility to stand on. Not only are the hosts of heaven mentioned, but so are that which is “visible and invisible,” what is “thrones, dominions, principalities, powers,” and “in him all things consist.”
The visible we know all too well, the physical cosmos – the planets, the stars, the sun and moon, the earth and everything that lives on it. But invisible does not necessarily or automatically indicate angelic beings, since we know in the modern era that much if not all of the visible things of our reality are actually made up of invisible things. In fact, the invisible is actually the foundation for that which is visible and tangible.
But, Paul goes further with the list of hierarchy of angels. This is important since the spiritual world is nothing like the earthly plane in which we exist and have our being. Even further, Paul tells us that everything that exists (which would include angelic beings and even the supernatural realms in which they dwell) are held together (actively, moment to moment) by Christ Jesus.
Job 38:6-7 is often used as a proof of angelic creation, but it is not. It simply states they were there in the beginning of the creation of the physical world (earth and universe, all that which has mass and inert material or flesh) and they sang out in celebration. Personally I wonder why they were so exuberant. The plan and purpose of the physical dimension was certainly somewhat a mystery, even to them. But we cannot in good conscience say what they were celebrating is what we have today. I imagine what they were rejoicing over was lost at the fall.
Holsteen is convinced that the invisible world (the supernatural realm) was created first, then the physical world. But this is rather simplistic and certainly short-sighted. There is no definitive statement in the Bible stating that God created the supernatural realms. There are hints to him creating the heavens, but this could simply mean the sky above the earth or even the vastness of space. Then again, in John 1:3 we are told, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” So, either the supernatural realms were not “made” or they were, in actuality, made by Christ. But, this verse does not state when the supernatural realms were created, how they were created, or what the actual fundamental framework of reality truly is. It simply gives credit to its creation to Christ.
Professor Holsteen makes the case that angels were designed to do certain tasks. With this I disagree. They were designed (made) to be spirits and “flames of fire” (He 1:7). They are tasked with the job of ministering to those who will be saved (He 1:14). But nowhere is there in the biblical text a definitive description of how the angels were created, if they were created, or what their distinctions from one another (or from us) might be.
The question arises as to the nature of their free will. Are they like humans and semi-autonomous? Do they make personal choices about their actions, whether or not they will fulfill their tasking before God? Do angels have bad days? Do they operate from instinct alone like animals do? Are they capable of sin? If not, then this casts a long shadow of doubt on the angelic view of Genesis 6:2. If incapable of sinning then they would never have been able to look at women with lust in their hearts, would never have left their dwelling place and gone down to be with them. Then again, if we argue against their ability to sin, then how is it Satan, who was a Cherub being, was able to sin in the beginning? If we admit angels are capable of sinning, how is it that in heaven we will not be able to sin? If there is the capacity to sin in heaven, what will keep us from doing it? We certainly are incapable of abstaining from sin while on earth. Will it be the lack of fleshly desire? This will not answer the question since angels do not have a fleshly nature but they are themselves immortal. But you might say, “humans are not angels, and in the afterlife it will be different for us.” But, this argument does not hold either, since the Bible makes it very clear 1. In the resurrection we will be equal with angels and 2. We will be like the angels. Additionally, if unwilling to concede this point, it is possible for the immortal son of God (human) to commit sin as Adam and Eve were both considered Children of God at the time of the Fall. They were not only able to conceive of sin, but were able and willing to commit sin before they lost their immortality. Because of all these points, it stands to reason, not only will humans be capable of sinning in the afterlife, but there is a better than good chance that if we do commit sin in heaven, like the angels before us, there will be no grace extended to us to cover our sin. What happened to the angels that sinned in heaven? The Genesis 6:2 angels were cast down into Tartarus and were placed in eternal chains of darkness to await the coming day of the Lord, when they will be judged and found guilty by their replacements (us) and tossed into the Lake of Fire. Still looking forward to heaven? I have to admit, I’m quite terrified.
Another topic brought up in the lectures was the origin of demons. It seems that there are some varying opinions as to what demons actually are and what purpose they serve. Personally I am convinced demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim, the hybrid creatures borne to the mating of the Fallen Angels and earthly women. In the flood, these Nephilim died but, for whatever reason, their souls (if they have souls) cannot enter Paradise or even Hades and are cursed to exist without form on the earth, inhabiting deserted places, and can only interact with the physical world through possession of a human being.
These creatures themselves tell us their fates: “And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”” (Matthew 8:29).
Are these demons appointed a set time for their own judgment just like humans have received (He 9:27)? Why do they remain free while their fathers, the fallen angels, are imprisoned in Tartarus? Why were they so terrified of going to Hades or the Abyss (Luke 8:31)? Why are there no demons mentioned in the Old Testament, no incidents of possession mentioned in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament and in the Gospels both unclean spirits, ghosts, and demons seem to be common knowledge?
It appears clear that Calvin had a clear disagreement with the angelic view of Genesis 6:2 and I would argue because of the Reformation’s errors on this matter, the Sethite view is the predominate view in the evangelical world today.
All in, I was glad to have the opportunity to take this course, though I have to say it was a real drudge to get through, especially the first half about Creation. The portion on a biblical anthropology was alright, though somewhat basic in content. The angelology presented by the professors seemed adequate, though they were obviously unconvinced by the Enochian Worldview, or were purposefully downplaying it to pacify their students who would take offense. It is true what Jesus said, ““No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”” (Luke 16:13).
Even if you could find these lectures online, I would not recommend you invest any time in watching them. You could learn a whole lot more by just collecting Scripture references that pertain to angels, human anthropology, and sin.
Until my next review….
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Seeking Light Aurora:
Thomas opened the front door of the diner and leaned inside, holding himself up by the door frame.
“What’s the matter?” Terrance said, looking away from Peg and Carol. They were all huddled together at the counter.
“Her truck is still freaking out. I’ll try to keep her busy for as long as I can, but I’m running out of ideas.”
He looked over at Derrick who was quietly sitting at the back booth reading one of his books.
“You’ve got to keep her busy,” Terrance said. “We don’t have any other choice.”
“Look –” Thomas hesitated. “This isn’t all on me you know. I’ve already told you. I don’t know jack shit about trucks or engines. I’m sure as hell not a mechanic.”
“It’ll be fine,” Peg said.
“We all know there’s nothing I can do to fix that truck.” Thomas was shaking his head. “She’s going to figure out that something’s up. What if she starts asking questions?”
“Stall her,” Terrance said. “We just have to keep her busy for a little while. Remember, whatever it takes.”
“But, what about –” Carol had tears welling up.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Terrance said. “We’ve all been through this before.” He looked at Thomas. “Just take a deep breath and relax.”
“Relax my ass,” Thomas said. “Save that bullshit for her, okay?”
“Just keep her occupied in the garage as long as you possibly can. She’s focused right now on getting her truck fixed, so use that.”
“Whatever you say.” Thomas pushed off the door frame and let the door close behind him.
“It’s not going to work,” Carol said. “She’ll figure out something is wrong and that will be it.”
Terrance put his hand on Carol’s arm, gently trying to reassure her.
“It’ll work, Carol,” he said. “Have faith. It’ll work. Whatever it takes.”
Buy my book Seeking Light Aurora to find out what in the world is going on at this strange, out of the way diner in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness!
But, you better strap in, because this is definitely not child’s play. People are getting hurt right and left – it just might be you next!