Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Is The Angel of The Lord God?

The Angel of The Lord Cannot Possibly be God (by Yahya Snow)

The Bible suggests an angel cannot be God!

Hebrews 1:14:
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Here, the Bible tells us angels are sent to serve”. Clearly God is not sent to serve by any being. God has authority over everything thus we realise the angel of the Lord cannot possibly be God.

In addition we learn all angels are “ministering spirits”, God is not a ministering spirit therefore we can realise the angel of the Lord is not God.

Hebrews is authored by Paul. Therefore even Paul did not believe the angel of the Lord to be God.

Furthermore, Zechariah 1:12-13 shows the angel of the Lord communicating with God; the angel asks God a question and God answers the angel. Clearly this passage shows the angel not to be God as they are clearly shown to be distinct entities.


Logic proves the angel of the Lord is not God

Simple analysis of the term “angel of the Lord” proves this angel is not God.

Firstly the word “angel” is used. An angel by definition is not God. Thus we realise it is not the Lord. It is a case of stating the obvious; an angel is an angel.

Secondly, the term used highlights two distinct and separate entities, ie “the Angel” and the “Lord”; therefore the two cannot be the same entity. Therefore the angel cannot be the Lord (God).

Thirdly, the term denotes ownership, i.e. the Lord owns the angel, thus the angel cannot be the Lord. God is the Owner whilst the angel is the being which is owned. The two cannot possibly be the same.


No Biblical authority teaches the angel of the Lord to be God

Apart from the logical and Biblical case against the claim that this angel is God we can also look to the teachings of Zechariah, Moses, Jesus, John the Baptist and other Prophets; none of whom taught the angel of the Lord to be God.

Even lesser authorities in the Bible such as Paul and the four narrators of the Gospels never taught this angel to be God. There is no theological compulsion on the part of any Christian (even a Trinitarian) to believe God was/is the angel of the Lord, fundamental Christian dogma does not contain this teaching.

Gateway to paganism

Despite all of this there are still some Trinitarians looking to justify their beliefs via Biblical scripture have turned to playing on ambiguity and interpolation despite there being no logical support or Biblical authority for their claim. These groups making such paganistic claims should ponder upon the points made above as well as the implications of their claim.

The claimant does not think things through, essentially they are saying God secretively becomes His creation and does this for no apparent reason. Again, reasoning militates against them and shows them this angel is not God. The further implication is the encouragement their view gives to those who want to introduce more paganism within Christianity. What is there to stop somebody with a similar mindset to the claimants declaring “David is God” or “Melchizedek is God”? Both David and Melchizedek have enough Biblical ambiguity surrounding them for somebody to wrongfully suggest one or both of them to be God whilst “supporting” their claim with Biblical references. Basically this claim concerning the angel of the Lord is a gateway to paganism.

The arguments of those who believe this angel to be God

For fairness and thoroughness the arguments of one such claimant will be analysed and subjected to scrutiny. As Sam Shamoun is the most vocal advocate of this claim (that I have come across) then his audio presentation will be used as a sample argument for the opposition’s claims and a refutation of his view is posited.

Personal view

Personally, I find it astonishing that anybody who claims to have an attachment to Abrahamic monotheism would view an angel to be God, nevertheless I found Shamoun’s argumentation grossly unconvincing, hence my protestation in this article.

Heretical: Shamoun and those of his ilk

We must realise Shamoun’s views on the angel of the Lord would have been deemed heretical during the time of Jesus and indeed before the time of Jesus. However, we do have a culture of freedom and individualism within established religion within the West, hence views like Shamoun’s are somewhat encouraged just like new ideas such as gay priests etc being introduced into Christianity. It should be understood this is not something which should be approved of, continually looking to change or innovate new ideas into Christianity has real pitfalls. Peter Hitchens sums up this new innovative attitude; “the Church of England never sleeps in its efforts to chuck away its own heritage and abandon the principles of Christianity” [1]

Having noted that Shamoun brings new ideas or what is more traditionally termed as “heretical” ideas to the table we can discuss them within this context.

The claimants use ambiguous verses from the Bible in order to support their claims and their arguments based on such verses are extremely flimsy.

Concept of agency explains away their Biblical references

This concept teaches that an act committed by the angel can be an act carried out by God Himself.

Concept of agency explained:
Agent (Heb. Shaliah): The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “a person’s agent is regarded as the person himself” (Ned. 72b; Kidd. 41b). Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal, who therefore bears full responsibility for it with consequent complete absence of liability on the part of the agent. [2]

However, in my view, the concept of agency is not even required to deal with the arguments presented by those who claim an angel to be God.

Numbers 22:31 and Shamoun’s editing of the verse!

One of the Biblical verses the claimants use is Numbers (22:31):

Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

Sam Shamoun actually claims this verse teaches that Balaam bows down “BEFORE” the angel of the Lord. This is a complete distortion of the verse. Nowhere does it mention bowing “before” the angel, it merely teaches us that Balaam does prostrate but the verse does not specify to whom Balaam bows down to, though it is assumed that this bowing down was to God when the context is understood.

The sad thing is Shamoun and others twist this verse. Balaam, in this verse, realises his sin upon seeing the angel of the Lord. Balaam bows down upon realising this sin.

The claimant tries to represent Balaam as worshipping the angel. This is not in the text though the context suggests that he bows down to the One who he believes can forgive him of his mistake, i.e. God. So the claimant manipulates and even CHANGES the text, Sam Shamoun (a staunch Trinitarian) makes this mistake. In fact the author (said to be Moses) does not claim the angel to be God. Surely Moses knows better than Sam Shamoun?

Shamoun fails to look further down in the chapter; after this event, the author identifies this angel as “the angel of the Lord” and not as “God” or “the Lord” (22:32 and 35) thus showing the author (said to be Moses) did not believe this angel to be God nor did he believe Balaam prostrated to the angel.

In fact, the author never claims this angel to be God. Who knows more, Sam Shamoun or the author of Numbers chapter 22 (many believe Moses wrote the Book of Numbers)?

Note: Though the author of Numbers is said to be Moses we must remember that the Bible did undergo transformation due to scribal errors and forgeries so it is intellectually dishonest to claim Moses authored the Book of Numbers in its present form. The same applies to Zechariah (mentioned later on in this article)

Judges 2:1 is explained by the concept of agency as well as context

Essentially, in Judges 2:1, God sends the angel to deliver a direct message to the people in Bokim:

The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you,

Shamoun should read the full chapter, if he had done so he would have understood this angel cannot to be God as the people of Bokim, after hearing the message presented by this angel are said to have “offered sacrifices to the Lord”; they did not offer sacrifices to the angel of the Lord but they did offer these sacrifices to God, thus showing they understood the angel NOT to be God but merely presenting a direct message from the Lord i.e. they understood the concept of agency.

When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud,
and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.
(Judges 2:4-5)

Nowhere in Judges does it claim an angel to be God.
Shamoun needs to brush up on the concept of agency as well as read the entire passage in order to get a grasp of the context.
Is Shamoun trying to tell us he knows better than the people of Bokim? They witnessed the event, yet they did not claim it to be God.

To represent this angel as God would be illogical, inconsistent with the concept of agency, inconsistent with the chapter cited (Judges 2) and blasphemous. In fact it would also suggest that God sneaks into his creation without telling anybody and this would open the way to Paganism. Sam Shamoun and other claimants need to have a rethink; they are insulting God here.

Manipulating the Book of Revelation?

Shamoun brings Revelation 22 to the fore and is convoluted in his attempt to try and convince us that the angel is God. Shamoun forgets that the author of Revelation is supported by Paul and would have been accepting of Paul’s teaching that angels are simply beings “sent to serve” (Hebrews 1:14), thus they are not God. Therefore it would be reasonable to suggest the author of Revelation (John) did not believe the angel of the Lord to be God despite Shamoun’s attempts to manipulate the text in order to present something different.
Hebrews 1:14 (authored by Paul) tells us angels are “sent to serve those who will inherit the salvation”. Thus Paul did not believe the angel of the Lord to be God.

Zechariah chapter 3 and throwing away one’s cognitive capacity as well as one’s ability to read the WHOLE chapter

Zechariah 3:1-2:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

Joshua, the angel of the Lord and Satan were present in a particular setting. The narrative then mentions the Lord saying to Satan“ the Lord rebuke you, Satan”

Shamoun audaciously tries to show this to mean that the angel is the Lord. Shamoun forgets to mention that God does not have to be physically in the presence of Satan or next to Satan in order to rebuke him. Surely God can speak from above, yet Shamoun misses this well-known attribute of God.
Essentially Shamoun throws away his cognitive capacity in his attempt to support his personal belief. Shamoun not only does away with reasoning, he does not even bother to read further down the chapter.

If you read further on in the chapter, the angel actually speaks and the author (said to be Zechariah) identifies the angel as “the angel”. Surely if the angel was the Lord it would have been addressed as “the Lord” rather than “the angel”. So we notice the author draws a distinction between “the angel” and “the Lord”, thus to two cannot be the same!

Surely the author of the book of Zechariah would have called this angel “the Lord” or God rather than identifying it as “the angel” if he genuinely believed it to be God. This is pure desperation on the part of Sam.

Essentially, Zechariah does not claim the angel to be God but draws a distinction showing the two are not the same. Despite Zechariah not agreeing with Shamoun’s assertions Shamoun runs with them nevertheless.

Zechariah 3:4
The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."

It is clear from this verse that the author of the Book of Zechariah did not believe this angel to be the Lord, yet Shamoun opposes the author of the Book of Zechariah (thought to be Zechariah himself).

Shamoun misses another verse in this chapter which proves that this angel is simply an agent of God and not God himself, verse 6 shows the angel QUOTING the Lord and delivering the Lord’s message by saying “this is what the Lord Almighty says:…”

Interestingly enough Shamoun misses this, this is a trend within Shamoun’s material; miss and ignore material which clearly proves the angel not to be God

Reading too much into filthy clothing (Zechariah 3:4-5)

The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." (Zec 3:4)

Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. (Zec 3:5)

Shamoun twists the angel saying “I have taken away your sin” by missing the context. The word “sin” clearly refers to dirty clothes here, this is evidenced by the later verse (Zec3:5) where these dirty clothes are replaced with physical clothing; a clean turban and clothes, the angel even tells him he will put rich garments on him.

It does not mean the angel has forgiven Joshua’s sin. It simply means the angel dressed him with clean clothes, in fact verse 5 is specific in dressing Joshua with a “clean turban” and clothing him (“clothed him”).

Shamoun, again misses the context and plays on any ambiguity he can generate by avoiding complete quotation, in fact, Shamoun should have looked at the chapter heading in the NIV as it states “ Clean garments for the high priest” thus indicating the angel simply dressed the priest (Joshua) with clean garments and did not forgive Joshua’s sins. The word “forgive” is not even used in the passage.

This example typifies the type of ambiguity Shamoun and those of his belief pattern look to exploit, how can one claim an angel to be God based on such a stretch and exploitation of ambiguity?

Even if Shamoun takes the dirty clothing as a metaphor for sin he should also note the concept of agency [2] covers this. He should also note that there is no indication that the author thought the angel was God. Surely if he thought the angel to be God he would have said so.

Shamoun simply pounced on a hint of ambiguity within the Bible and ran with his claim.

Shamoun selectively twists and misses evidence showing us that the angel is not God in Exodus 23: 20-23

In 23:20 God says “I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and bring you to the place I have prepared”

Thus we realise God sends the angel, therefore the angel cannot possibly be God!
Shamoun misses this as this clearly shows this angel is not God!

Shamoun avoids this obvious refutation of his claim and jumps to Exodus 23:21 and tries to convince us that the angel has the power to forgive sins and therefore is God. This is a completely desperate stretch by Shamoun. The passage merely teaches us the angel “will not forgive you” “if you rebel against him”. This does not mean the angel is God nor has the power to forgive sin.

Exodus 23:21
Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.

Shamoun misses the wider picture; it is God who is saying “he (the angel) will not forgive you”, thus we realise that God is not this angel, the passage clearly separates God from this angel. It is also important to note that God does not claim to be this angel (or any angel) thus there is no need for us to believe an angel to be God!

Shamoun does not read further down the passage, God does not claim to be this angel in fact God describes this angel as “My angel” (Exodus 23:23) thus we realise this angel to be nothing more than an angel (God confirms it to be His angel) we also note God owns this angel. Therefore we learn it is not God but merely an angel. Shamoun disagrees; is Shamoun saying God is lying or is wrong in this verse?

Forgiveness (the angel “will not forgive your rebellion”)

Think about it, if one rebels against any innocent party; the one wronged or rebelled against has a right to forgive or not to forgive that particular person, this does not mean this individual, all of a sudden, has a right to forgive all sin and is God.

This highlights Shamoun’s lack of logic. Shamoun should also note that he (and all creations of God) has a right to forgive an individual if he has been wronged by that individual, does Shamoun believe he is God due to this right of his?

Shamoun’s desperation to claim an angel to be God leads him to such an unreasonable thought pattern.

The concept of agency also explains this angel in Exodus 23 not to be God. Shamoun needs to ponder upon the concept of agency as well as context and good reasoning before making such declarations

What is more worrying than Shamoun’s lack of reasoning is his willingness to discard evidence which shows the angel is not God, this evidence is even in the same passage he cites!

Exodus 23:20 clearly shows this angel NOT to be God

In 23:20
God says “I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and bring you to the place I have prepared”

Clearly, in this passage, God sends the angel and speaks of the angel as a separate being (a creation of God). This angel is sent BY God, thus cannot possibly be God. Pure logic! Shamoun misses the verse and misses the logic due to his desperation to convince us of his personal beliefs.

God’s Name is in the angel?

Shamoun notes from the same passage that God’s Name is in the angel (Exodus 23:21). Shamoun bizarrely proclaims the angel to be God due to this; he claims this means the angel has the attributes of God.
Having the Name of God inside you does not make one God; it is simply another reference to the fact that this angel is an agent of God. The fact that God speaks of this angel as a distinct entity should be enough to realise that this angel is not God.

Inconsistency: A sign of a failed argument

Shamoun admits his inconsistency by claiming sometimes the angel of the Lord is the Lord whilst at other time this angel is not the Lord. Ironically, after butchering the context himself, he claims you have to look at the context to decide whether the angel of the Lord is God or not.
Well, Sam, I have had a look at the context and I notice the angel of the Lord is never God. Angels are “sent to serve”, as stated in Hebrews 1:14, God is not “sent to serve”.

Thoughts on Sam Shamoun and his presentation

Shamoun resorts to interpolation, manipulation, semantics and quoting out of context. The fact of the matter is, if God wanted us to believe He is/was this angel then he would have said so or had a Prophet to say so. He would not be relying on Shamoun and other late Trinitarians to teach us this by semantics, misrepresentations and confusion.

Shamoun needs to rethink; God speaks of the angel as a separate being, thus the angel cannot be God. Shamoun needs to look at context more carefully in future as his lack of comprehension in terms of context is his downfall.

NB In the original article the author of Revelation was incorrectly written as Luke. Apologies to whomever was confused by this. Due to the rushed nature of my work errors do creep in. Again i apologize and encourage all to sift through my work and alert me of any mistakes.

Appendices

Appendix 1:

Further nuggets of contemplation for those who still believe this angel to have been God:

Acts 7:30, an angel of the Lord is mentioned in Acts 7:30, why did the author of this book (Luke) not state this angle to be God? Furthermore, as mentioned by Shamoun’s audience member; why did the Apostle Stephen not teach this angel to be God? All this points to the belief that neither Luke, nor the Apostle Stephen believed the angel of the Lord to be God as well as pointing to their understanding of the concept of agency.

Zechariah 1:12-13, the angel of the Lord asks the Lord a question and the Lord even answers the angel! Surely this angel is not God:

1:12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?"

1:13 So the LORD spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

The author of the Gospel of Matthew indicates that he does not view the angel of the Lord to be God as he describes it as an angel of the Lord and does not claim it to be God

God does not change nature. Therefore, if you are consistent with this belief you cannot possibly believe God to have turned into or incarnated into an angel. GOD DOES NOT CHANGE NATURE

Concept of agency:
Agent (Heb. Shaliah): The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “a person’s agent is regarded as the person himself” (Ned. 72b; Kidd. 41b). Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principal, who therefore bears full responsibility for it with consequent complete absence of liability on the part of the agent. [2]


Appendix 2

Further reading:
http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=145#null

Appendix 3

Shamoun’s three part lecture trying to convince us an angel is God:
1st part (2nd and third parts follow):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HVJ_DoyM9k&feature=PlayList&p=23CE5D6E599434A7&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1

References

[1] Peter Hitchens, The Mail on Sunday, page 27, July 26 2009

[2] The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, R. J. Z. Werblowsky and Geoffrey Wigoder. (New York, Adama Books, 1986), p. 15

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your article has been responded to.

Since you seem to have an objection to approving comments with links and url's to non-Muslim websites, I will simply advise people to google search "The Angel of the LORD vs. Yahya Snow - Part One" which is a reply by Anthony Rodgers.

(Although I still doubt you will approve this comment.)

Yahya Snow said...

A response by Anthony Rogers...

Don't tell me healso believes this angel to be God...well when i get time I will view his response...I certainly do not think he will bring anything convincing to the table.

I have already proven this angel cannot possibly be God.

I hope Anthony is not going downthe same route of Paganism as Sam Shamoun

To anon..
Thanks for your info...I hope you read the articles on this and gain benefit

Yahya Snow

Peace
May Allah guide us all. ameen

Santiaguista said...

just one correction Hebrews was not attributed to Paul nor do many scholars support Pauline authorship, it is largely considered pseudo-Pauline though it was traditionally held to be by paul

Anonymous said...

please tell me if Christianity is paganism where in the new testament is there reference to more than one god. the belief in the trinity 3 forms of one god is not the same thing and it is supported by the New testament such as Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 1 Peter 1:1-2 for example refer to this whilst frequently maintaining the assertion that there is one god not 3. furthermore claiming something is pagan is just an attempt to demonize the religion which is something that should not be part of an honest debate.

Yahya Snow said...

@anonymous

You misunderstand...

In this article I am not claiming Christianity to be paganism...

BUT I am claiming the personalbelief that Shamoun brings forward (his claim regarding the angel of the Lord) is a gateway to paganism.

Please note Shamoun's belief is not within Christian theology...thus any claim of paganism does not reflect on Christianity but reflects on Shamoun.

Thanks
Peace and Love