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Education Week: Donald Parry and Angels

Read about Donald W. Parry’s lecture series on angels.

Education Week at BYU lasted from August 21–25, 2023. Professor Donald W. Parry (Hebrew Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls) gave a series of lectures on angels and their role in our lives today.

Angels Upon the Earth
By Lauren Walker

Sometimes, we think of angelic appearances in the scriptures as frightening occurrences because they often came with a call to repentance. But these messengers of God do more than just reprimand us—they help us in our daily lives by guiding, teaching, and protecting us. Donald W. Parry spoke at Education Week on August 22, describing what angels do and why they remain important in our lives.

Painting of angel standing behind young girl.

Parry began by explaining that we are surrounded by numberless concourses of angels. In Revelation 5:11, John sees 10,000 times 10,000 angels—the highest number in the Hebrew language. Parry emphasized that not only are God’s angels great in number, but also in strength. He said, “I want you to get the perspective that there are more angels for us than against us, and each one of the angels is more powerful than all of Satan’s.”

These vast multitudes of angels bear many roles when they come to Earth. They ease our burdens, provide comfort, minister, and guide us; however, their most sacred role is attending to our precious children. The choice angels ministering to these children remain in God’s presence and behold His face. Parry said, “This isn’t some kind of symbol that we can say, ‘Oh, this isn’t literal.’ They have special status.” He then shared the story of a young girl who saw angels surrounding her while undergoing an operation. She even saw angels surrounding all the other children in the intensive care unit.

Parry ended by acknowledging that angels are involved in the intricacies of our daily lives. His closing words emphasized the importance of the Atonement, saying, “I testify that angels have their power because Jesus Christ lives.”

Angels Still Walk Among Us
By Rylin Green

We often see angels as ancient forces in the Old Testament, but they still exist among us. In an August 25 Education Week class, Parry concluded his series on angels with the discussion of guardian angels and how they are still prevalent in modern times.

Parry began his lecture with a story of Wilford Woodruff seeing the spirits of Brigham Young and Heber Grant in sacred temple clothing. When Woodruff spoke to these spirits, they said that they had come to watch over Woodruff and see the work he completed in his presidency.

Angel Moroni on top of the LDS Provo temple.
Photo by Creator: arbyreed via Flickr

Parry then listed the extraordinary powers that guardian angels have, including power over gravity and the elements, and power to interact with mortals. Christ gives guardian angels these powers to watch over and protect those in their charge because, as Parry put it, “Jesus is the Christ. He is the Great Atoner.” He demonstrates His love for us through the power He gives to guardian angels.

Parry shared an example of angels using their power to protect us with Parley P. Pratt’s experience of an angel appearing to him while unjustly trapped in Missouri Dungeon. The angel instructed him on how to break free from his chains and his cell. After escaping, he wandered for nearly a week without food or water, but finally arrived at his family’s home and made a full recovery soon after.

Donald W. Parry invited audience members to seek out angels in their lives. He testified that they still walk among us and will help us if we look for them.

Learn more about Education Week.