Catholics vs. Protestants: What Do They Believe About Angels?

Do all Christians agree on the same ideas and beliefs regarding God's messengers?

Continued from page 1

Catholics
During childhood, Catholics are encouraged to recognize the unseen presence of angels in their lives. A common prayer recited by Catholic children is, “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.” In some parochial schools, children save a place on their chairs for their angels.

Protestants
While Protestants agree that angels are always with us, many place little emphasis on being aware of their presence. Recognized or not, angels are always present and active, although those who take angels for granted are less likely to be aware of the ministry of angels in their lives.

Angel Names in the Bible

Catholics
Even though only Michael, Gabriel, and the fallen angel Satan (Lucifer) are mentioned by name in the Bible, the Catholic Apocrypha also mentions Raphael. In addition, the Catholic Church has recognized several other angels by name.

Protestants
Protestants note only Michael, Gabriel, and the fallen angel Satan (Lucifer) are the angels with names in the Bible. Some Protestants also believe Michael is the only archangel mentioned by name (Jude 9).

More Info: Read about archangels.

Hierarchy of Angels

Catholics
Most Catholics know, and accept without question, the nine choirs of angel hierarchy. Though the Catholic Church has never issued an official declaration on the organization of heavenly hosts, there is a long tradition that recognizes a celestial hierarchy of angels. The nine choirs are: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels. Though the doctrine regarding the choirs of angels has been received in the Catholic Church with extraordinary unanimity, the Catholic Encyclopedia reports “no proposition touching angel hierarchies is binding on our faith.”

Protestants
Most Protestants have never heard of the hierarchy of angels and have given little thought to how the heavenly hosts may be organized, especially since the idea is not directly stated in the Bible. Protestants believe the nine choirs are descriptions of the tasks assigned to the different angels, not ranks in a hierarchy.  Generally, Protestants reject the idea of nine choirs and divide the angelic order only into angels and archangels.

More Info: Read about the angel hierarchy.

Role of Angels in Church Services

Catholics
Angels are more prominent in Catholic worship, reminding the faithful that they worship with the angels, archangels, and hosts of heaven. The Roman Catholic Church observes the Feast of the Archangels on September 29 and the Feast of Guardian Angels on October 2.

Protestants
There is nothing comparable in the Protestant churches. In many Protestant churches, angels are seldom mentioned except at Christmas and Easter or in the Scripture reading of the day.

Praying to Angels

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William D. Webber
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