Noted Christian anthropologist and missiologist Paul Hiebert (1932–2007) identified a blind spot in much of Western Christianity, which he called the “flaw of the excluded middle.” So many Christians in the West live as though the story of creation involved in the main just two important characters, God and ourselves. The majority world, however, in contrast, has never forgotten that there is another order of intelligent created life playing its role in the story: namely, the angelic order. Hiebert himself, as a Western-trained theologian and as a social scientist—albeit a Christian one—had forgotten this creaturely order. He confesses,
The reasons for my uneasiness with the biblical and Indian worldviews should be clear. I had excluded the middle level of supernatural this-worldly beings and forces from my own worldview. As a scientist I had been trained to deal with the empirical world in naturalistic terms. As a theologian I was taught to answer ultimate questions in theistic terms. For me the middle zone did not really exist. Unlike Indian villagers, I had given little thought to spirits of this world, to local ancestors and ghosts, or to the souls of animals. For me these belonged to the realm of fairies, trolls, and other mythical beings.
In Hiebert’s view, Western Christianity needs to learn from the global south, where, incidentally, the center of gravity now resides as far as the Christian faith is concerned.
Against the Darkness The Doctrine of Angels, Satan, and Demons Graham A. Cole