How the Hebrew Gospel Became Hellenised
One of the most remarkable occurrences in our modern day -- made all the more remarkable because nobody seems to have noticed it -- is that our Western Civilisation, far from "evolving" into a superior "New Age" is, in fact, devolving into a culture which most people believe became extinct about two millennia ago.
A colleague in the ministry pointed out to me one day that there is a remarkable parallel between the gods of the ancient Greek world and the gods of the modern secular society. So similar are they, in fact, that I would suggest that the cultural evolution of Europe and its colonies abroad owes little or nothing to its own social developments in recent centuries but to an ancient way of life which, though supposedly replaced by a new Christian Order, was, in fact, always lying beneath the surface. Indeed, as we have always maintained, our modern Western culture is no more than the original European culture with the veneer of Christianity stripped off.
So what are these parallels? If you study ancient Greek culture you will discover that it was principally steered by three secular gods: (1) The Love of Freedom; (2) The Love of Sport; and (3) The Love of Sex. If you look closely at our modern society you will discover that these, too, are its main gods.
Democracy and the Love of Freedom
The Love of Freedom, sometimes called Democracy, is a doctrine whose morality is taken for granted as being right. The western nations preach the doctrine of democracy as fervently as Christians preach the doctrine of Christ and the Moslems the doctrine of Islam. As you look at the political agendas of democratic nations you will discover that one of their main foreign policy goals has been to introduce democracy into nations where it does not exist. Politically and militarily weak nations have often been boycotted or penalised economically whilst the stronger ones, like the former Soviet Union, were tolerated. Western democracy hailed the collapse of the USSR as a great victory for itself and a vindication of its democratic values and prophesied a new era of international good will and economic prosperity. As everyone knows the former USSR has disintegrated into virtual anarchy and the old rivalries persist.
Freedom is the great clarion call of all western states -- both for good and for evil. The freedom of speech, the freedom from hunger, the freedom from homelessness, and so on, are all virtues of western democracy. But added to this freedom for humans to enjoy the basic rights of life, sustained and central to the United Nations Charter, have been added "freedoms" that, from a Christian point-of-view, are inconsistent with true freedom.
Sexual immorality is one of the hallmarks of western democracy and was one of the hallmarks of classical Greek civilisation. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, paedophilia, debauchery and religious sex were all part and parcel of ancient Greek culture just as they are today in what many are justifiably calling Europe's and North America's "post-Christian period." Indeed, the parallels are astonishing. Homosexuality and lesbianism, which are condemned in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, are now generally accepted by western nations, many of whom even sanction so-called homosexual and lesbian "marriage". In the Netherlands, where sex with minors over 12 years old is permitted, paedophilia is almost a legal reality. In Denmark, where the "sexual revolution" took place in the '60s, debauchery is common place and is even advertised as "pig sex" in newspapers. Germany has become one of the most pornographic nations in Western Europe where sexual licentiousness is blatantly advertised everywhere.
Sport and Body Worship
The ancient Greeks worshipped sport and as everyone knows they instituted the Olympics which have today become a multi-million dollar business. Nations compete aggressively to stage the Olympics in their home countries. Originally conceived as a means to inhibit war the Olympics today, as anciently, are in truth simply sandwiched in-between conflicts. Indeed, they have been used for political terrorism (Munich), they have been boycotted to make a political protest (Moscow), and so on.
In Norway half of TV advertisements are about sport and far more are about exalting the human body. The ancient Greeks loved the human form; indeed, it is the supreme creation of God. They worshipped the human body just as western secular nations do today.
Sport has become the major god of the majority of people. There are many who say in the country where I live that after the country itself, sport is its main deity. Sport and nation have become so intertwined as to be virtually unseparable.
Christianity and Greek Culture
What most westerners don't realise is that Greek culture, and the Roman culture (heavily influenced by Greece) that took it over, is not something that belongs to ancient history but is actually our modern culture. Though we may have refined some Greek culture, adapting it to our modern technological world, we have basically never had a true Christian culture.
Christianity was born in a Hebrew milieu but following the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Diaspora, Christianity shifted to a Greek cultural base and then to its Roman cousin-culture. Once shed of its Hebrew roots Christianity essentially blended together with its host culture and become something quite different from the culture that spawned it.
As most educated people know, most of the Christian festivals are combinations of Roman pagan ones, like Christmas, which was the old heathen Brumalia. Even Christian theology has become heavily Hellenised; from the time of Augustine and before, neo-Platonic philosophy became combined with Christian theology leading to many strange non-Biblical notions of the Godhead. The modern Christian Church -- Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant (together with all their offshoots) is basically Greek.
With the advent of the so-called "enlightenment" Christian propositions were seriously questioned in the light of reason and experience. Christianity has acquired a bad name over the centuries and behaved in a way totally at variance with the teachings of its Founder. Few of the historical Churches who now claim to be "enlightened" have ever admitted the errors of their ways. Indeed, they are as "Greek" as they ever were.
Let us take sex as an example. The first Christians had the same healthy attitude to sex as the Hebrews did and never restricted it as Catholicism and Orthodoxy have done. Then came Greek aesthetic ideas which affirmed (in reaction to the sexual promiscuity of the average citizen) that sex was evil and should be shunned. Both wings of the early Catholic church adopted it, including their enemies the Gnostics who took an extremely hostile attitude to it. For centuries so-called "Christian" Europe advocated the virtue of celibacy and created deep psychological complexes in the European psyche. Once challenged, this anti-sex mentality exploded and rapidly moved in the opposite direction to complete promiscuity.
Bible-believing Christians are still afraid of sex. In one book I read recently, an author could not bring himself about to say the word "naked" and instead wrote "sans clothes", veiling his embarrassment with a mixture of French and English. The Christian world adopted the Greek aesthetic culture whilst the secular world has reverted back to the street culture of ancient Greece -- the culture of freedom, sport and free sex.
Christianity Must Change
Christianity must break loose of its Greek roots and return to its Hebrew cultural roots or it will be washed away by the "new" neo-Greek paganism. Christianity is essentially an eastern religion and though it has shown itself to be remarkable flexible in whatever culture it has been planted in, it cannot, we maintain, even come to proper fruition and achieve its complete expression until it has shaken off its ancient Greek roots. Until it does, it will remain essentially a synergistic religion -- a mixture of light and darkness, of truth and falsehood.
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 29 January 2011
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