St Michael and All Angels 2014
In 1924 the great Russian theologian Sergius Bulgakov published a book on angels called Jacob’s Ladder. The work took its name from the extraordinary vision recounted in the Old Testament of angels ascending and descending on a ladder between heaven and earth, and it emerged from Bulgakov’s intense and mystical experience of an angelic presence in the midst of a near-fatal illness. The First World War had only recently concluded when Bulgakov published his work, and the book was subject to a criticism that only became stronger thirty years later in the wake of the Second World War. Surely, it was argued, the experience of the “war to end all wars” left Christian theology with the clear vocation to speak practically to the needs of a broken humanity. Surely, it was argued, theology had to become “this-worldly” in the wake of war and surrender its metaphysical preoccupations and speculations about the unseen world; surely the last thing the world needed was a book on angels….