Friday, May 6, 2016

The Gods Are Petty

While listening to an audio book of Homer's Odyssey, I was once again struck by the way the false gods in Greece and other cultures are very human. Oh, they were supposedly mighty gorgeous and powerful, but they were vindictive sidewinders. "...Eurytus came prematurely by his end, for Apollo was angry with him and killed him because he challenged him as an archer."


Even a cursory glance comparing the false gods of mythology with the true God shows a very distinct difference. We can trust the God of the Bible.
Apollo and Diana, by Battista Tiepolo, 1757
Those beings considered gods had civil wars, jealous rivalries (including if another of their number got romantically involved with a human), murder, and more. Cronos-Saturn devored his own children, and that gruesome image became an allegory for the passing of generations. They were tricky, too, taking human form and walking among us when they got the urge. You never knew what they would do next on a whim; Minerva killed some people, but assisted Ulysses because she had a soft spot for him. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, which contained one of the oldest variations on the Genesis Flood, the gods were poorly behaved as well, and didn't seem to show much mercy. For that matter, Allah is the "greatest of all deceivers".Yet these beings were worshiped by the people that made them into false gods! 

I reckon that people in old times didn't trust the gods they made as far as they could throw them. When bad things happen, someone on high must be angry and you're being punished, or some such. Unfortunately, Christians tend to think like pagans: bad stuff happens, so God is punishing me for it. But Jesus bore our sins on the cross. Remember that.

If you study on it, you'll see that there's a huge difference in reading the wildly fantastic stories in mythologies and the historical narratives of the Bible. Yes, there are miracles, but look at the difference. C.S. Lewis said, "All I am in private life is a literary critic and historian, that’s my job. And I am prepared to say on that basis if anyone thinks the Gospels are either legend or novels, then that person is simply showing his incompetence as a literary critic. I’ve read a great many novels and I know a fair amount about the legends that grew up among early people, and I know perfectly well the Gospels are not that kind of stuff".

Christians serve the Creator, who is holy, just, and righteous. He cannot lie, and his Word is unchanging. We can be certain of our salvation and adoption as children of God.