TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL?...OR BY WHAT?
This article appears here with the kind permission of Let Us Reason.Org to whom we are grateful.
Our society has become increasingly aware of the supernatural realm through the psychic network and channeling of spirits. The Occult has become popularized by movies such as Ghost, Close Encounters, Independence Day, and Lion King. TV programs on occultic phenomenon include the X-files, Sliders, Dark Skies and many others.
Angels recently have become very popular, being more than just an ornament on a Christmas tree. Over the last few years they have appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek and numerous other magazines. Some New Age music is even developed from spirit or angelic contact. Now there are angel magazines, crystals, shirts, stuffed angels, tea sets, key chains, earrings and jewelry with angels on them. Angelic activity is the primary theme on some movies and TV programs. There are Angel websites, Angel Times newspaper and angel seminars for those who are serious enough to learn how to contact their own guardian angels.
A recent Gallup poll found 69% of Americans believe in angels, 50% believe they have had a presence of a guardian angel in their life (Time magazine found similar results; 68% believe in angels and 32% have one in their life). There are over 200 books on angels, the majority written from non-Christians such as 'One Hundred Ways to Attract Angels'. There are also numerous Christian books on encounters with angels such as 'The Rustle of Angels' and a Life Guide Bible Studies curriculum. Some Christian books are accurately well written such as 'All the Angels of the Bible' by Herbert Lockyer, 'Angels Elect and Evil' by Fred Dickason, 'Angels; God Secret Agents' by Billy Graham and 'Angels Among Us' by Ron Rhodes. Recently NBC aired a special on angels which was quite fascinating, approximately 17,000 people requested this program. Over 2,000 web sites on the Internet are angel related. It is obvious that our generation is intrigued and awed by these "Messengers from Heaven."
"Touched by an Angel" is one of the most popular programs on today (11th in the ratings), many people claim that their lives have actually been changed by simply watching it. This program is centered around three angels, two women and a man. They are on a mission to earth to help mankind out of it's messes and spread the message that God loves them.
This program has become a media phenomenon in which 10,000 letters are received every week from people who share how the show has changed their outlook and lives. John Dye who plays the angel of death says many of these letters are about how people no longer fear death. Recently the cast of this program were hosted as guests on the Oprah Winfrey show. They talked about how the show has changed people's lives. Dela Reese related one story of how she met someone who came up to her and said "your show saved my life", "my husband died 6 months ago and I didn’t know how to handle it because I was a wreck, I saw a man on your show having a good time when he died so I related it to my husband." Roma Downey who plays Monica says, "sometimes the end is just the beginning. Dela added, " The end is usually the beginning, it hurts so awfully bad when a beautiful life is taken away from us but it never really is taken away." The message being emphasized is that we are not to fear death if we are 'good people'. We hear continually today about people drawing their erroneous theology from TV evangelists , and some talk shows are equally destructive. Their influence over America is enormous.
Before I focus on the underlying message or the portrayals that are being promoted, there are a few things that need to be clarified. I happen to agree with the critics that TV needs a face lift, there are far too many programs with a worldly message and the promotion of sin in our society. The message in most shows is to eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow we all die. The common denominator for this kind of broadcasting is the philosophy that there really is no God to consider.
In "Touched by an Angel," we have a program that centers upon the fact that there really is a God! What a needed and refreshing message! Moreover, this God wants to communicate with man and He really cares about us!
The stories are often times emotionally moving with moral lessons that show how we should learn from our mistakes in life. But we need to recognize that there is a price to pay when commendable truth is united with an unbiblical message. Instead of upholding the teachings of the Bible, it actually conflicts with biblical teachings, and can be disastrous for those who embrace its message. You see, the poisonous theology is, 'everyone who is good, goes to heaven'. How wrong! All one has to do is reform their life and they are accepted. God loves you, He will forgive you and with His help you can change. All that is required is faith in God. Regardless of the religion people identify with, love is what sets them free.
Let's identify one of the major problems! The audience never finds out who this God is! So one can make one up on their own if they like.
The program sounds Christian on the surface, but looking beyond the beautiful music and the emotionalism birthed through the actors, we find a message of universalism! This should not be surprising, since this is the message of the Unity Church of which has some influence in the program's theology. Take for example on a recent episode a little girl tells about her goldfish who died and was flushed down the toilet and said it went to heaven. The mother was disturbed by this but Tess said to her, "that’s all right there’s a lot of ways to heaven."
"Touched by an Angel" is filmed on real location in Salt Lake City Utah. Being in Mormon country does not affect it's message, because it is coming from a whole other influence. In real life, Dela Reese is an ordained Unity minister who married Roma (who plays Monica on the show) to Davi Ansba. Dela’s mentor is Johnny Coleman, one of the most famous of Unity ministers. As a religion, Unity accepts all books of scripture, thinking Christ is within all people and we can all be Christ. Unity denies evil, pain, sickness, and poverty. Death is not real so it is not to have mastery over a person's life.
God is not a being or a person having life, intelligence, love or power…It does not matter what we call this power. Salvation is believed to be attained by at-one-ment with God and that reincarnation is the provision by the father for humans to obtain immortality. The false and fallacious Unity influence is the sandy foundation for the underlying spiritual message throughout the show, "Touched by an Angel."
Dela has her own church, started in 1983 called 'Understanding Principles of Better Living'. Its logo, a hot-air balloon, symbolizes "understanding; the principles of positive thought." She describes seeing God, not "in the sky with a beard like Neptune's sitting on a throne watching me", but as one "spirit and he disperses himself in various bodies…. There's a piece of God in you. That's how you can breathe."
Dela certainly has much to say in the way God is portrayed on the program. She believes this show is a God thing and Roma agrees. She states "You can’t say to someone every week on TV that God loves them if you don’t mean it or believe it." This idea has resonated throughout her own life. Each person feels very deeply in the message they are acting out on the show. They claim that they are merely giving people more information for their choice.
Unita Belk Writing for Angel Times Magazine interviewed Della Reese and asked, "is there anything you would like to share with our readers?" Here's her answer and solution to the problems in the world. "That all of us need to adopt the code: I am one with God, I am one with all men, I am one with all life," answered Della, exposing the universalistic faith that characterizes all proper models for the new global spirituality 'needed to unify the world'. "Until we get there, there will be Bosnia, there will be homelessness…. Until we understand that we are all one, we got a big problem."
Tess and Monica drive an old 1970 Cadillac on their angelic adventures to help mankind. This is similar to the Lone Ranger and Tonto or to the Batman and Robin shows. They are there for the rescue! These similarities of heroes in our TV past are not the unsettling part. What is disturbing is how they portray angels. When they are given case assignments they will take on different jobs among humans. So you watch these angels comfort the people and try to give them understanding about the puzzle of the twists and turns of life; However these angels don’t have any halos. They can make some serious messes; and can even do wrong, just like humans. These angels can take the free will of man away and manipulate them when they are not ready to respond. They can do so much wrong that it is hard to understand how they could be much help since they often don't seem much better than those they are trying to help!
These TV "Angels" wear wedding rings, admit their mistakes and (incredibly!) need God’s forgiveness. One episode featured a head angel who came to give them a 'pep talk' saying they messed up but God can handle it even when they do wrong. Monica in one scene, has such bad judgment that another angel tells her that her existence as an angel is in jeopardy because she lied. Another time when corrected, she asks the angel over her to send her back to the choir!
Recently the movie "Michael" featured Dianetic graduate John Travolta. He supposedly plays Michael the Arch Angel who is portrayed more sinful than we are. This angel likes seeing the strange quirks of mankind, smokes cigarettes, likes women, and fights in bar room brawls. The producer of this movie took the TV theme to its natural end. We can hope this will be the last of this type of portrayal and not prompt Hollywood to make another TV series of a swinging Angel.
In the show, spiritual insight is portrayed as given to the public through angelic wisdom. For instance, Monica says she figured out why faces are on the front ‘its so we can see where we are going and not where we’ve been." Or when Tess says "A tomato is like a human soul; it takes a long time to ripen and bruises real easy."
Martha Williamson, the executive producer, claims to be a Christian and also believes in angels. She related a story of when they were signing every one up for insurance on the show, the nurse came in and said "Dela has a problem, she would not sign the paper". She is supposed to write 6 months in the space but she would not sign because God told her they would be on for 10 years. As she states God said, "Do this for me. and you can retire in ten years." Della claims to like the message of the show because it is different, saying "God needs you, not we need God." The Biblical message is we need God and he chooses to use us, making us vessels of honor to bring glory to Himself. This is definitely not the message sent. Della states "The angels on the show don't come to fix people in trouble. they come to teach them how to fix themselves." Oprah asked the actors "do you believe people in human form are angels to other people" "Absolutely," all agreed. Oprah also likes the show because "you see God through your experience and feeling in your life. Its not just some "words written in a book" its about experiencing truth, the higher part of yourself". They are not talking about the "old time religion" of the Bible, but spirituality of a new kind. Oprah has been promoting this type of New Age nonsense for years. It's a message of tolerance and acceptance for all. Dela comments, "we're not Catholic, Methodist, New Thought, there is a supreme being whatever name you got for him is fine." Oprah in response says "a supreme being doesn’t get jealous of one thing or another." So we can see the underlying theme of acceptance and tolerance for all is at the heart of the approach, but biblically there is one way to God, indeed, The God of the Bible reveals his name is Jealous! To call on God as if His word about His character has no meaning shows disrespect!
The message of "Touched by an Angel" is, God loves you. Yet the program denies the very One that God sent to show His love. Rather, the message is that God loves them unconditionally and forever, "God wants only the best for them, yet can't make them do anything. Human beings have been given free will, and the choice is always ours." (Ladies Home Journal p.183) While this is true, it insinuates that we have the free choice to do exactly what God asks of us, that we can be forgiven without Christ's work. The incarnation of Jesus is God reaching out to the human race. The name of Jesus is the only name given for salvation! His name is the very expression of God's nature. To deny the biblical revelation and say, God can be called whatever anyone wants is an affront both to His name and to His nature.
At the end of every program a dove flies by ending the episode giving the impression that God is expressing His approval. Instead of the Spirit of God flying by on the screen how much better if He should take residence in our lives! Then this whole fantasy show about angels would begin to demonstrate truth, rather than be a misleading tool for fiction, and false confidence!
Then it's focus would change to get the real message of God's love out to the masses. Without Jesus Christ you have no message from God and neither does "Touched by an Angel." I think we can generally enjoy the program but be aware of the severely distorted message behind the show. To be spiritually naive leads towards anti-biblical understandings of the One True God, authentic angels and the only hope for mankind.
(This article is Copyright of Let Us Reason.Org to whom we are grateful).
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