Essay / Uncategorized

Reflections on Delphi

John Mark Reynolds, 2004

I am reading about Delphi and the religious system there. I have been to Delphi, the religious center of the Classical world, twice. Both times my spirit was deeply troubled even as I stood in one of the most staggeringly beautiful spots on the planet. Delphi is in the midst of great mountains looking over the wine dark sea of Homer. Beneath were the dark green olive trees of Greece and above the rocks that form the backbone of the nation. For whatever reason, an active sense of evil seemed to hang over the place when I was there. As I ascended to the Temple of Apollo where the priestess of the god sat, my heart grew more and more heavy. There the Pythia, this priestess, would utter mystic words to be interpreted by the priest in attendance. Wars were fought for control of Delphi and other wars launched at a word from the religious leaders of Delphi. Now two things come to mind as I read about the great religion of Delphi. First, it was centered in a god that was subject to the will of men. The oracle would change depending on the political situation. How different from the Church of Jesus Christ which is based on a Revelation that cannot be changed! Political and ethical winds may blow, but the Church of Christ is not subject to them.

Of course, Christianity grows up and adapts to different times. The message of Sacred Scripture is made manifest to us over time by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, no development contradicts the ones that came before the others. The core message of salvation in Christ never changes. Delphi would move from paganism to neo-Platonism to some other philosophy. The gods of Delphi were subject to change, not just in social norms and ideas, but in the deepest message of Oracle. Second, Delphi gave men answers to questions the asked. Christianity gives men answers to questions we did not know to ask. Delphi is concerned with man’s relationship to the god and getting that relationship in good order by works done for the god. Christianity is concerned about God’s desires for us. Our God needs nothing and demands of us only things that are actually for our good. The god of Delphi desired the smell of bulls for his pleasure. Our God demands nothing of us, providing all good things by His grace. He then commands us to do what will give Him glory by restoring us to a divine relationship we have lost. I believe that the modern religious world is returning to Delphi. We desire a polytheistic world where the gods can be selected to match our tastes. We want a god who will meet our felt need and doctrines that will bend with the times.

Over against this flexible, powerful, dark feelings based faith, is the religion of the Great Creator God. He is one in three persons. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are eternal and men and times cannot change this foundation.I believe that after two thousand years the spirit of Delphi is awake again. How long before the smoke begins to arise again from the ancient crack in the earth that mysteriously disappeared? How long before some new Pythia sits in her ancient seat and directs the affairs of men? Not long. Secularism is an empty shell for men are religious by nature. Mother Earth and her pantheon of children stands opposed to the God of the Old Testament and New Testament. It will be in the end, the old battle the ancient gods versus the Ancient of Days.

Thanks be to God, that the Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. And He shall reign forever and ever. Amen.

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