Epiphany Icon

The western church celebrates Epiphany today (Theophany in the eastern church which is celebrated on the 6th). In this tradition Christians celebrate “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” as we see captured in the visit of the Magi from the east. This narrative, found in Mt. 2.1-12, is interesting to me.

The Magi are Gentiles. There is much mystery after this, but it has been suggested that they may have been “Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia“. Whatever the case may be, they are not (1) Jews nor are they (2) contacted by human messengers. They are pagans who learned of Christ through angelic intermediaries.

Does this tell us anything about how God may reach religious others? By “religious others” I mean those who seek the divine through other religions rather than through Judaism (at the time) or Christianity now. If God does reach people this way why does he not do this more often? Why rely on human messengers? Does this still happen today? Does God use the church most of the time while sometimes spreading the gospel through angelic messengers?

What are your thoughts?

Update: See Doug Chaplin’s very similar thoughts here.