Angels and Demons: What do we really know about them? by Peter J. Kreeft

This is not Dan Brown’s book.  “Angels and Demons” is a book by Peter Kreeft (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1995), which is a summary of his course on “Angels, Devils, Ghosts, and Miracles” at Boston College.   Angelogy for Kreeft is a science, with data provided by the Bible and human experience.  Kreeft admits that his work in 90 percent unoriginal, for  “as medieval philosophers loved to say, even dwarfs can see far if they have the good sense and humility to climb up onto the shoulders of giants–like Moses and Jesus and Augustine and Aquinas and saints and mystics.”  But most of Kreeft’s analysis is taken from the angelic doctor himself, St. Thomas Aquinas.

The book is written as a response to a series of 100 questions.  The style is informal, as if you are really in his lecture room hearing a question by a student and Kreeft’s informative and sometimes humorous response.  I enjoyed reading this little book.   I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.



Part One: Questions about Our Fascination with Angels

  1. O.K., so I’m browsing through this book and wondering why should I buy it?  What can you tell me about angels in one page?
  2. Why are there so many angel books around lately?
  3. Why are angels fascinating?
  4. What difference does it make whether you believe in angels or not?

Part Two: Questions about How We Know Anything about Angels

  1. Are you an expert on angels?
  2. Then what gives you the authority to write a book on angels?
  3. How do you know anything about angels?  Isn’t it all undisciplined guesswork and imagination?
  4. Can you prove the reality of the supernatural?
  5. Isn’t the supernatural unscientific?
  6. Are there any purely logical reasons for believing in angels apart from faith in the data in the Bible and people’s stories of meeting angels?
  7. Why can’t there be a logical proof of the existence of angels?
  8. Are angels necessary?
  9. Why do people believe in angels?
  10. Why do many people think it’s stupid to believe in angels?
  11. Why not believe in God without angels?  Who needs angels?
  12. What about the opposite: believing not in God without angels but in angels without God?
  13. Can you be a Christian without believing in angels?

Part Three: Questions about the Nature of Angels

  1. Of what are angels made?
  2. How can angels be anything at all if they have no bodies?  We can’t imagine a spirit without a body
  3. Can you prove spirit exists? Can you prove materialism is untrue?
  4. What is this “spirit” of which angels are made?
  5. Are angels human souls without bodies?  Are they the same as ghosts?
  6. If angels have no bodies, how can we ever see them?
  7. What have angels done in past history?
  8. Do we become angels after we die?
  9. Didn’t Jesus say in the Bible (Matthew 22) that we would be “like the angels in heaven”?
  10. If angels come from heaven, what is “heaven”?
  11. Do angels have different personalities?
  12. According to traditional angelogy, angels are supposed to form a hierarchy.  Why?  Isn’t this just a projection of medieval monarchical politics?
  13. Hierarchy and inequality among angels sound unjust and unfair.  Is God an elitist?
  14. What’s the most fascinating description  of angels in literature?  What do you most recommend that I read?
  15. Are angels involved in politics?
  16. Are angels comforting?
  17. What do angels do all day?  Don’t they get bored?
  18. How do angels “just have insights”?
  19. How do angels communicate with each other?
  20. How do angels communicate with God?
  21. How do angels communicate with us?
  22. Where are the angels?   Where do they live?
  23. How do angels move?
  24. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
  25. What do angels really look like?
  26. Are angels beautiful?
  27. Do angels have a sense of humor?
  28. Why did the medievals arrange angels into nine levels, or “choirs”?
  29. Are there female angels?
  30. Why do women see angles more often than men do?
  31. Why are all the paintings of angels somehow unsuccessful?
  32. Could angels be extraterrestrials?
  33. Were the many gods worshipped by all ancient peoples (except the Jews) really angels?
  34. How do you know if you are seeing an angel?
  35. Are you sure angels have no wings?  Why are they always painted with wings?
  36. Do angels have a special connection with the sea?
  37. Are angels especially connected with the stars?
  38. Do angels love?  If not, how can they be good without loving?  If so, how can they have emotions without having bodies or nerves?
  39. How many angels are there?
  40. Do angels have sex?
  41. Are engels eternal?
  42. Do we each have a guardian angel?  Are our guardian angels aware of us right now?
  43. Do angels see God and us at the same time?
  44. Can angels make us good?
  45. Can reading books about angels and thinking about angels make us good?
  46. Do angels know our secret thoughts?
  47. How do angels ffect our minds?
  48. Can angels go through doors and walls?
  49. How do angels acto on bodies, if angels are bodiless spirits?
  50. Can angels cheer us up and make us happy?
  51. What are the different ways angels can affect us?
  52. Do angels know the future?
  53. Do angels ever raise or calm storms?
  54. Can angels become cars?
  55. Do angels  eat?
  56. Are the stories about rescues by angels true?
  57. Can I expect ever to be rescued by an angel?
  58. What do other religions say about angels?
  59. Can we talk to angels?
  60. Aren’t angels irrelevant today?  This is the age of man, isn’t it?
  61. Are there ever “angels in the outfield”?  Do angels ever account for the outcome of baseball games?
  62. Does each of us have his own angel?
  63. What difference do guardian angels make?
  64. When do our guardina angels come to us to fight for us?
  65. Is the traditional picture of an angel whispering in one ear and a demon in the other true?

Part four: Questions about Demons

  1. Do demons, or devils, or evil spirits really exist?
  2. Isn’t it psychologically unhealthy to believe in demons?
  3. Isn’t this a regression to medieval fear, superstition, and witch-hunting?
  4. What difference does belief in demons make?
  5. What can demons do?
  6. Should we fear the devil and demon possession?
  7. How did angels fall and become demons?
  8. When did the angelic fall happen?
  9. Explain the motivation of Statn’s fall.  Why would wholly good angel choose to become a devil?
  10. How do demons tempt us?
  11. What are some specific ways devils tempt and deceive us, especially today?  Please give me some detailed, specific, practical advice.
  12. Is exorcism for real?  Do exorcists really cast out demons?
  13. Can demons possess cats?  What about computers?
  14. Could the false gods or idols that ancient peoples worshipped have been demons?
  15. Is all “spiritual warfare” supernatural?  Are demons our only enemies?
  16. What can I do to help fight this spiritual war?
  17. How can we mere men get supernatural help to fight supernatural foes?  How should we pray?
  18. Can angels help us to win this war?

Appendix A:  A Short Course in Angelistic Philosophy

Appendix B: A Snakebite Letter: Sex and the Media

Appendix C: What the New Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Angels

Appendix D: Angels and Demons in the Bible


Art Credits