A celebrated Philadelphia neurologist is summoned and led to the bedside of a woman suffering from pneumonia — by a child that appeared normal to him, but had, in fact, been dead for a month.
A missionary in the New Hebrides Islands and his wife are protected from the imminent attack of natives by hundreds of men armed with swords — visible only to the attackers.
Could these have been angels? “Some Christian writers have speculated that UFOs could very well be a part of God’s angelic host,” says evangelist/author Billy Graham in his 1975 book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents. Supporters of this line of thinking point to Biblical references in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelations. Whether the King James Version or any of the other popular translations, the Holy Bible tells of sightings that would certainly attract the attention of Scully and Mulder, not to mention the “Cigarette Smoking Man.”
Reverend Graham recounts the story of how he had begun research for a sermon on angels and found (in 1975) that “very little had been written on the subject in this century.” Inspired by the lack of more current information, Graham wrote Angels: God’s Secret Agents. Perhaps the then-current popular interest in spy movies (James Bond, et al) influenced Graham’s choice of wording in the title. While active Christians and Bible scholars would probably concede that popular interest in angels might relegate them to some lesser degree of awareness, the existence of angels is well known. According to Billy Graham, angels are mentioned over 300 times in the Bible.
In fact, Graham’s primary resource is the Bible. Quotes and opinions are offered from over a dozen other books and authors including Dante, Shakespeare, Leslie Miller, Mather, C.S. Lewis and Vance Havner. Unfortunately, this 1975 edition has neither an index nor bibliography. It would, however, be difficult even in the 21st century, to find a more thorough book on the subject. Graham addresses the reality of angels, compares them and their place in the order of things with man and God, explains their organization, rank, and duties and of course their roles in the end-times.
Numerous examples from both the Old and New Testaments document the ministry of angels, their efforts to protect and deliver believers, their mission in prophecy, in death, and in our lives today. In addition to an entire chapter on Lucifer, the fallen angel (one of only three angels mentioned in the Bible by name), frequent references and comparisons are made to Satan and his followers. Non-Christians that do believe in some version of an after-life and the existence of spirits will appreciate and perhaps be able to identify with many of the stories related here. This reviewer doubts that atheists would have much interest in this book unless they might be considering converting. Graham asks many thought-provoking questions, provides some answers of his own, and offers a solution to the age old question,“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
A glaring omission in Angels: God’s Secret Agents is the fate of humans who die as children. Jesus (whom Graham says may in fact be “the angel of the Lord”) certainly had a devoted love of children. A reassuring lyric in a popular song from Sunday school goes, “Little ones to him belong…” and supports the belief of many that the little ones ascend at death immediately to angelic roles.
The copy used for this review came from my mother who purchased it in June of 1976, barely a year after publication and yet the book jacket boasts of “Over One Million Copies in Print.” Obviously there was a market for angels then and the content holds up well after over 35 years. Did Reverend Graham’s interest in angels inspire other writers to pursue the subject as well? Spiritwritings.com now lists over 60 books published since 1975 on the subject of angels and with the popularity of vampires and extraterrestrials, there seems to be no shortage of interest in the paranormal.