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According to the Eastern Orthodox Church, do non-Eastern Orthodox have guardian angels as well? By guardian angel, I mean a righteous spirit assigned to a person by God in order to guide and protect them throughout their life for the purpose of their sanctification. I know that all Orthodox have them, and I believe they are assigned at Baptism, so it would make sense that non-Orthodox would not have one but I am unable to find a clear answer.

Bonus points if you can answer regarding confessions that are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox but whose Baptism is recognized as valid by them, e.g. Roman Catholics, some Presbyterians, etc.

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Of course. God does not have one oekonomia for Orthodox Christians and another for non-Orthodox.

The Orthodox doctrine of guardian angels is witnessed in the Old Testament as well as in the teachings of Jesus, both of which precede the foundation of the Christian Church. The Psalms witness:

He shall give his angels charge over thee, to guard thee in all thy ways (Psalm 90:11 LXX; Q. 105, The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Philaret).

Christ taught that each one of us has a guardian angel:

Take heed that ye not despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father, Who is in heaven (Matthew 18:10; Q. 106, The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Church).

The latter passage was spoken in regard to unbaptized Jewish children.

Regarding the applicability of Met. Philaret's catechism, he states that his catechism is addressed to "every Christian", not just Orthodox Christians (Question 1). Question 106 (and answer reads): "Has each one of us his guardian angels? Without doubt. Of this ye may be assured from the following words of Jesus Christ ..."

Furthermore, the more recent Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky states (p.123):

The Orthodox Church believes that every man has his own guardian angel, if he has not put him away from himself by an impious life.

It was brought to my attention that a particular Russian Orthodox priest published on his website an explanation:

In the prayers for the making of a catechumen, we pray “Yoke unto his/her life a radiant angel…” From this point onwards, we certainly have a guardian angel who protects us in ways we cannot fully understand.

which leaves the impression that there is some Orthodox teaching that one only receives a guardian angel if one enters the Orthodox Church.

The statement is correct in explaining that our guardian angel protects us in ways we cannot fully understand upon entering the Church (although technically, catechumens are still "outside" the Church), but the priest would not have meant that one doesn't even receive a guardian angel until that point. There is a belief, however, that once one is joined to the Church, spiritual things change in many respects. Another Orthodox theologian, Dumitru Staniloae, writes:

In the Church, a communion is brought about not only among her visible members, but with the angels as well. The *sobornicity** of the Church takes in the angels too.

(* Sobornost is a slavic term meaning something like "spiritual community").

Evagrios the Monk wrote, as Fr. Dumitru quotes, "Know that the holy angels encourage us to pray and stand beside us, rejoicing and praying for us" ("On Prayer", The Philokalia, Vol. 1, p.65); and "If you pray truly, you will gain assurance; angels will come to you as they came to Daniel, and they will illuminate you with knowledge of the inner essences of created things" (Ibid.).

  • I am familiar with those verses but not sure whether I should interpret them in the manner you suggest. I am also not sure why the longer catechism is being mentioned next to Scripture. Can you cite some reputable, Orthodox sources, please? – sirdank Feb 28 '17 at 16:01
  • @KorvinStarmast Metropolitan Philaret is reputable, I'm just not sure we're justified in interpreting those verses or his brief mention in the Catechism as meaning what is suggested by this answer. I would like for it to be so, I'm just hoping for, perhaps, a 'clearer' source. – sirdank Feb 28 '17 at 16:24
  • The Scriptures are cited in the catechism items listed. – guest37 Feb 28 '17 at 16:44
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    I will try to find a more definitive statement, but I can assure you that there is no Orthodox dogma that no one but Orthodox have guardian angels. Unfortunately, some of our Orthodox Christian brethren put the emphasis on "Orthodox" rather than "Christian". As Met. Kallistos Ware wrote, many Orthodox will be surprised by how many non-Orthodox they will find in heaven and how many Orthodox they will find in hell. We do not believe that our faith gives us any special guarantee - just heavier burdens (Luke 12:48). – guest37 Mar 1 '17 at 18:08
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    I spoke with my own parish priest on the matter just now to check myself. There is no such doctrine. In any case, I added some additional material I found from other dogmatic theologies. Hopefully this will help. – guest37 Mar 1 '17 at 19:26

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