Book Review: The Hum of Angels

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In The Hum of Angels, Scot McKnight hopes to encourage readers to become cognizant of angelic beings in our midst. The author asserts that Protestants have long relegated angels to being a past reality confined to ancient times and are no longer relevant to our modern lives. In examining the biblical narratives on angels along with a variety of extra-biblical and non-biblical sources, McKnight states that angels not only exist but also have several different roles and functions of which the primary one is to express God’s love to humankind. Other duties of angels include judgement, protection, and guidance as shown in the lives of David and Moses. The author states that angels are ministering spirits that point humans to Jesus and His mission thus any supernatural being that does not do so is a false spirit. This is something that Christians may often overlook as our modern minds tend to tune out what seem to be unscientific or bizarre. Indeed, it is wrong to say that angels do not exist and do not have a place in our present day lives. As created beings, angels are commissioned to do God’s work in whatever way He sees fit.

Nevertheless, I find the author’s arguments for how angels function to be somewhat troubling. For example, McKnight describes how angels have roles in redeeming, interceding, and comforting Christians. I would agree that God sent angels to perform these duties sporadically throughout the Bible but as those who have been redeemed by Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can we still expect angels to carry out these same duties today? Also, McKnight often quotes sources that are not authoritative such as novels, apocryphal writings, and Jewish literature to support his findings. For sure, the author relies on Scripture as the primary authority but to utilize sources that are largely subjective and unproven would seem weak reinforcements to boost his arguments. Furthermore, given that angels still do exist, McKnight does not tell readers how to act upon this truth in their daily lives. He does hint to prayers for angelic protection as found in the early church literature but given that we have Christ who intercedes on our behalf and the Spirit’s indwelling presence in our hearts; is it appropriate to pray for angels to work in our lives?

I have reservations about recommending this book as its weaknesses may outweigh its strengths. I appreciate that McKnight is writing on a subject that most contemporary evangelical authors would typically avoid. We can confidently affirm that angels are as much a present reality as in biblical times as evidenced by the events detailed in Revelation. Moreover, I agree that angels are currently still carrying out God’s commands to accomplish His will. However, I find McKnight’s evidence of angelic sightings or experiences to be weak and his significant reliance on questionable sources to be disturbing.  In addition, I hesitate to assume that angels take on roles and duties that are explicitly attributed in the Bible to Christ and the Holy Spirit.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from The Crown Publishing Group in exchange for a book review.

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