The notion of angels evolving may sound like an oxymoron since angels have traditionally been viewed as perfect eternal beings. Traditional religion depicts them in a constant state of delicate perfection. In contrast to this traditional view of angels, contemporary/occult/metaphysical spirituality emphasizes the expansion of consciousness, gradual growth, and learning across time. There is growth evolving across many different lifetimes.
Reincarnation is viewed as a series of opportunities for expanded spiritual growth. This gradual spiritual expansion consists of the evolution of the soul. This metaphor of spiritual evolution is often expressed in the literature of this subculture.
Evolving Angels rooted in Theosophy
The idea of evolving angels is found in certain theosophical teachings about devas. Devas are the rough equivalent of angels in Theosophical philosophy. Theosophy teaches in certain strands that devas are human souls that have reincarnated into higher spiritual beings.
Some strands, such as the Theosophy of Alice Bailey’s Arcane School, places devas on a separate evolutionary path. Bailey sees devas as evolving from elemental spirits and fairies, rather than from human forms.
The teaching that souls “incarnating” as fairies and angels necessarily implies that these beings have bodies, however refined and spiritualized. This notion also raises the possibility that angels or other spirits can “crossover” and reincarnate in human bodies; some contemporary New Age teachers assert that devas sometimes incarnate as human beings.
The First type of Evolutionary Spirit or Angel
Mormonism also teaches that angels undergo an evolutionary process. One type, in particular, is referred to as a “spirit child of the Eternal Father who has not yet been born on the earth but is intended for earthly mortality” (Ludlow, p. 40). An example would be the angel who appeared to Adam (Moses 5:6-8).
The Second type of Evolutionary Spirit or Angel
The second type of evolutionary spirit is known as a translated being. Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, who were all translated bodily to heaven would fit this category. According to Mormon church founder Joseph Smith, “These translated beings are designated for future missions.”
The Third Type of Evolutionary Spirit or Angel
A third type of angel is described as an angel “who completed his mortal existence but whose labor continues in the spirit world while he awaits the resurrection of the body” (Ludlow,p. 41). Reference is made to such beings in Heb. 12:22-23 as “the spirits of just men made perfect.”
The Final Type of Evolutionary Spirit or Angel
The final type of evolutionary being is referred to as “resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones.” These resurrected angels, according to Smith, “have advanced further in light and glory than spirits.”
Saint John, in Rev. 14:6, writes, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” It was, in fact, a resurrected angel, Moroni, who revealed the Book of Mormon to Prophet Joseph Smith.