The Impossibility of God’s Ideal Without Angels

Stained glass depicting the four archangels, from left to right: Gabriel, Michael, Uriel, and Raphael, Holy Trinity Church, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.

Blog of Unification Theological Seminary

By Kathleen Burton

Why does Divine Principle place little emphasis on the topic of angels, yet our lives, in restoration history in what is now Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community, are based on the failure of a human/angelic relationship?

Furthermore, the Principle of Creation gives no guidelines for ideal interactions between the two worlds. True Mother (Mrs. Hak Ja Han) expects Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community to be the harbinger of world peace and God’s ideal, yet the contingency of that reality must manifest not only in our human world but in the angelic one as well.

This is God’s Original Design. We are not meant to have all the answers, yet Heavenly Parent does not usually use divine revelation in these matters. True Father had to work hard to understand the Fall. The same is expected of us. In a post-Foundation Day reality, we must work hard to ask the questions that lead to the “what should have been” in the first human/angelic relationship.

One reality is we do not have an even playing field. First, there are no experts on angels. Second, our Western membership has a great advantage with a Judeo-Christian foundation of over 300 references to angels in the Bible.  Nora Spurgin’s Circles of Angels remains untranslated, hence unavailable especially to our Asian membership.

Here, I examine the Christian tradition’s scholarship on angels as a base from which to work. I then compare it to the base of human growth in Divine Principle. If we were originally created to work together there must be a model. We begin to explore that possibility.

Christian tradition developed “The Celestial Hierarchy” of the angelic world. After my exploratory research, there emerged a relationship between this nine-level hierarchy and the nine levels of human growth from the Principle of Creation. Let’s look at each briefly and then consider this relationship.

Around the 5th century, a Christian theologian, Pseudo-Dionysius, through his study of biblical angelic references, described what is known as “The Celestial Hierarchy.” He inspired generations of theologians including Thomas Aquinas. Dionysius presents a schematic that organizes the nine orders of angels into three spheres with three levels each. The hierarchy itself is not considered church doctrine, but has been honored in Christian tradition throughout the centuries.

It is important to remember we are examining the angelic world order and how it relates to our human world order in the Principle of Creation. The angelic world was created to experience love: to love, serve, support, and to experience God’s love, and to care for God, as well as God’s Creation. This includes the universe, the cosmos and our world. It is evident here that our Creator uses similar organizational structures in our two worlds. It is also evident that God expects to share and receive love with the angels. God awaits a full return of the love of the angels. Restoration history describes it, and the action of our True Parents testify to it.

The first three levels, Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, serve as the support of the Godhead and the Universe. These are God’s own angels. They serve directly our Heavenly Parent and have done so since their creation which was well before our own.

The Seraphim are the highest angelic beings. The word means “burning” as in the intensity of this level of divine angelic love. Biblical references, in Isa. 6:2-7 for example, describe the cleansing properties of the Seraphim’s mastery of the figurative fire in their love for God.  In Deut. 33:2, 10,000 angels came down on Mt. Sinai to confirm the holy presence of God as he gave the law to Moses.

References to the Cherubim in biblical narratives are numerous. They are heaven’s custodians and protectors. They blocked the Tree of Life when God’s commandment was not upheld and blocked the entry to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). Both of these acts were in relation to direct revelation from God. Cherubim were placed upon the Arc of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments, the direct revelation from God to Moses (Ex. 25:18). They are also referred to in the vivid imagery of Ezekiel’s vision in chapter 10. The Cherubim are divinely charged to protect direct heavenly intervention in all of God’s creation.

The third level of God’s exclusive angelic orders are the Thrones. St. Paul refers to them in Col. 1:16: “… in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.” The Thrones practical position as the level closest to the second sphere reflects their mission.  Dionysius emphasizes the rapport between this group of angels and God. They must stay “receptive” to God’s desire. This call for intimacy supports the importance of their position closest in proximity to the next level. It is their mission to create the link.  Perhaps this is why they are called “Thrones” as they do not only serve God directly, but are the emissaries beyond the first sphere threshold, and therefore, must be closest in intimate understanding of “The Throne of the Godhead.”

Angels of this first sphere, in their exclusive service to God, were more than likely the celestial choirs that sang at Christ’s birth, “and suddenly there was, with the angel, a multitude of heavenly host praising God’” (Luke 2:13-14) and are well portrayed in Revelation: “and I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne” (Rev. 5:11). The greatest chance for human/angelic interaction is focused on the universe they helped create and to which their missions relate. Solutions to global warming could come from fruitful knowledge in this sphere not to mention taking us beyond our galaxy to God’s creation elsewhere.

The second sphere of the order of the angelic world is also composed of three levels: The Dominion, the Virtues, and the Powers. They are “The Support of the Cosmos” and have been called “The Heavenly Governors of the Creation.”

The Dominion are the first level of the Cosmic sphere and are included in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians quoted above. They are said to regulate the duties of lower angels. Since their position is closest to the first sphere, they are positioned to receive from above. They are the emissaries of the upper realms assuring proper functioning of the cosmic responsibilities that are commissioned to this second sphere.

It is the second level of the Virtues that communicates the miracles and signs of the high realms to earth.  St. Peter mentions Angels, Powers and Virtues (I Peter 3:22). Angelic miracles of the Virtues are found throughout the Bible such as accomplishing God’s will in the miracle of the fall of the walls of Jericho (Josh. 5:13-15).

The last level of this custodial cosmic sphere is “The Powers or Authorities.” They are mentioned in St. Paul’s list. The Powers are thought to supervise the movement of the heavenly bodies to ensure order in the cosmos. They are also traditionally seen as warrior angels who oppose evils spirits in the cosmic arena. An example of the force of this angelic level may be found in David’s psalms where he testifies to the chariots of angels leading away captives from Mt. Sinai (Ps. 68:17).

Once again it is important to note that this level of the Powers has the pivotal position of transition to the three levels that follow.  They are responsible for the wisdom of God to be known to the Principalities on the next level. Both the Virtues and the Powers, more so than the emissary role of the Dominion, relate, albeit remotely, with the human world. Their remote positions and missions within the hierarchy will not protect these angels from the troubles that ensue after the Fall. St. Paul mentions the Powers in this regard in Eph. 3:10 and 6:12.

A contemporary Catholic theologian, Peter Kreeft, referred to this sphere as “middle management personnel,” an excellent parallel as the Dominion regulates to the second sphere and communicates upper level needs. The Virtues receive the directives and perform God’s miracles and phenomena on earth. The Powers also receive their directives from the emissary angels in the Dominion. They establish remote interaction between the solar system and the earth’s functionality. Furthermore, as the Powers’ inter-angelic warrior duties diminish post-restoration, these angels and humanity could explore earth’s solar system and its relationship to human character and our place in our galaxy, giving greater credence to the popular expression, “as above, so below.”

The third sphere is the one most engaged with humankind. The majority of the 300 biblical angelic references concern these three angelic orders.  The Principalities is the last of the levels in Col. 2:16. These angels guide and protect the nations and groups of people.  They carry out orders of the upper sphere angels and educate the guardians of the realm of earth. Their presence can be seen in many references to Israel in the Old Testament, for instance, in Dan. 10: 10-14 where Israel and Persia clash or in the beauty of the promise of security for Israel in Psalm 91:11. However, as Paul points out in Ephesians, all is not well with their mission as will be explained.

The Archangels are well known in scripture if not agreed on in title. The Catholic Church recognizes three: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (in the Roman Catholic Bible, the book of Tobit).  There are many variations as to who is an archangel, usually depending upon which orthodox church is quoted.  In the apocryphal writings, Uriel is mentioned as an archangel and, of course, Divine Principle recognizes the original position of Satan as Lucifer, the Archangel.  Dionysius notes specifically that the archangels, in this middle position, hold a dual role as to their responsibilities. In relation to the Principalities they serve as emissaries from them. They also have messenger responsibilities like the final level of angels.

The Archangel Michael is well known in the history of Israel.  He is mentioned three times in Daniel where he is designated the protector of Israel (Dan. 13:10-21). Michael is also considered the defender of the Christian Church and is referred to in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Archangel Gabriel carries the salvific heavenly message of The Annunciation to Mary in Luke 1:6-38.

The appellation “angels,” meaning simply “messengers,” is the final level of The Celestial Hierarchy, and the most experienced by humankind.  The New Testament validates the efforts of these personal spirits, for instance in Luke 15:10, “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” These “ministering spirits” of Heb. 1:14 are sent forth to serve. Nora Spurgin’s book, Circles of Angels, seeks to help our relationship with these most personal of angels.  They are with us always as a personal sign of a loving God.  In Western culture, books, films, and articles abound relating to this level of human/angelic interaction. An overarching sentiment of gratitude seems to link them all.

Now, let’s consider the relationship to the nine-level period of growth of human beings in Divine Principle and the nine-level hierarchy of the angelic world. Let’s also contemplate the repercussions of the Fall on both structural elements of God’s Original Design, allowing us to ponder questions in this important human/angelic relationship.

To introduce this comparative study of the angelic hierarchy and human growth period, it is important to mention that Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica recognizes the concept of a probation period in the angelic realm.  This affirms the concept in Divine Principle that all of God’s creation must undergo growth.  Nothing is created in perfection. A further point also needs to be made.  Neither Dionysius nor Aquinas put Lucifer in the level of Archangel. The two theologians disagree. The former considered him from the Cherubim, as in Ezek. 18:2, while the latter chose his place to be among the Seraphim. This article defends the Divine Principle view because of the role of the archangel in the Celestial Hierarchy.  He is working in the third sphere devoted to humankind as is appropriate for the angels of the third sphere. Lucifer, as an archangel, would have no mission in the first sphere of the angels of the Godhead.

One effective way to advance our comprehension of God’s Original Design is to try to imagine what could have been the ideal relationship between the angelic world and the human world. It is formed in understanding the ideal relationship between God and the angels. Love commands both.

Both worlds, human and angelic, have to achieve the perfection level of their creation. Each sphere of the angelic world has its probationary period in function of the responsibilities of their respective levels. Divine Principle explains that the archangels level has the responsibility to oversee the education of the human growth process. The human world had to transition their three levels of growth by fulfilling their responsibility which was in conjunction with the help of the angelic world.

Divine Principle explains that Lucifer was already in a state of angelic maturity at the time of the Fall whereas Eve was in the position to receive wisdom from him as she was immature. Lucifer was obviously in his probationary period while Eve was at the top of the growth stage in the second level of human growth. Eve and Adam had successfully worked with the angelic world to bring about this progress. What would have happened if that progress had continued?

These five levels of angels were caring for the human world. The perfection of these angels in symbol was dependent upon the responsibility of human perfection in image. This was God’s Original Design. As a consequence of the Fall, according to the biblical references above, the fallen angels all came from these five levels. Had the progress of Adam and Eve’s interaction with the archangelic level been achieved, the probationary period of the angels of the five levels would have been completed.

There is a precedent of success in growth of humans in this process that surely involved angelic presence. The formation stage for Adam and Eve was a success. The growth stage toward human perfection was completed successfully in both its formation and growth stages. Unification teaching puts the emphasis on the Fall of Adam and Eve at the top of the growth stage. This is correct; however, it is necessary to recognize the equally true fact that there is a precedent of successful interaction between the angelic world and the human world in the entire formation level and two levels of the growth stage.

Affirming the deviation of Lucifer’s education of Adam and Eve confirms his probationary period as an archangel. What of the other angelic spheres? Another parallel exists in the two worlds.  It became evident in my research that within the angelic hierarchy, a correlative effect on five levels transpired in the angelic world. The biblical references to the fallen angels come from I Kings 22:19 and Jude 1:6 in general and specifically from St. Paul in Eph. 6:12 and I Cor. 15:24. How many angels fell is uncertain. Christian theologians have reasoned from scripture that it would be one in three.

Similarly, the biblical references to fallen angels only speak of angels of five of the nine levels of the angelic hierarchy. That is to say that the lowest five levels of the Celestial Hierarchy suffered infiltration of evil and one third of these angels fell as a result. Having occurred in human growth at the top of the growth stage in the growth level, the Fall propagated sin among the angels. The correlation would be the three levels of the third sphere and the two lower levels of the second sphere.

When we compare the two diagrams above, it is clear there is a parallel in the two worlds. What does it mean for the historical relationship between humans and angels? It would mean that the probationary period was not yet complete for the angels of these five levels as human responsibility in human growth was a requirement.  Contrarily, the upper four levels were not affected. The reason most probably was that they successfully completed their probationary period in relationship to the respective responsibilities of their level in the hierarchy.

If this is indeed true, the necessary element of gender balance in the Principle of Creation may have been achieved at that time in those levels with female angels created, and possibly even procreation of the angels, in order to face the expanding numbers of the guardian angels of level 9. In a compilation of True Father’s words from 1965 (“On Prayer and the Spirit World,” Today’s World, November 1998) one could defend this possibility as he consciously choses to speak of “restored” angels thereby allowing for there to be others without need of restoration. “When the restored angels have a perfect relationship of give and take with God and become positive (plus), then the negative (minus) is to come about naturally. Whether this will be from the existing angelic world or from a new creation, we don’t know.”

In conclusion, God’s Original Ideal mandates angelic/human cooperation.  It’s in the Original Design. We are not undertaking this exploration ex nihilo. The foundation of successful interaction goes back to the very beginning. Furthermore, Jesus established the proper order, and True Parents’ accomplished the way to restore Lucifer.  They achieved Foundation Day, opened our hearts to Heavenly Mother, established the Heavenly Parent’s Holy Community and paved the Royal Road. True Mother’s vision of the future of the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS), with human/angelic cooperation, could aspire to a level never considered before. Furthermore, the World Clergy Leadership Conference (WCLC) could be the forerunner of this cooperation as we draw upon the rich scholarly Judeo-Christian foundation as we have done here.

Adam and Eve, Jesus and True Parents have their own claims to progress interacting with the angels. Where is ours? Our mission is not an impossible one.  It contains the requirement of humans and angels understanding each other and working together successfully. Leaving behind the rocky road of restoration, it is now the exciting journey of the Royal Road. Humans and angels, let’s get going together.♦

Dr. Kathleen Burton (UTS Class of 1990) is a Senior Lector in the Department of French at Yale University, and previously taught at the University of Bridgeport and UTS. She received her doctorate in theology from L’Université Laval in Québec, Canada. Her husband, David, teaches chemistry at the University of Bridgeport. They have two children and three grandchildren.

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