Thursday, March 29, 2012


A lot of Christians like to believe that God helps those who help themselves, but that's not in the Bible, and definitely not even a biblical concept. The whole point of the Christian faith is that we were not able to help ourselves, which is why God had to make the first move. If we were able to help ourselves, we wouldn't need Him!

Anyway, today I was reading Charles Kingsley's collection (translation?) of Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for My Children (a free ebook from Project Gutenberg). And look what I found on page 139, when Pallas Athené, also known as Athena, the goddess of war, says to Perseus -- you know, that guy who killed Medusa:

    "Perseus, you have played the man, and see, you have your reward. Know now that the Gods are just, and help him who helps himself."

Uh-huh. You read that right. The line is from a Greek MYTH.


Caedmon said...

While Rome ruled the Holy Land during the time of Jesus, it was still culturally Greek since the invasion by Alexander in the 4th century BCE. Christianity was born out of what is called a "Hellenized Judaism," a strange mix of Jewish tradition and Greek ways of thinking. As Christianity spread, the Hellenistic (Greek) paradigm took a much larger role in how we asked and answered questions, and has continued shaping Western Christianity (and therefore much Christianity in places where the church was introduced by western missionaries) through fun little things like neo-Platonism and Aristotaleanism. It has been so ingrained into Christian thinking that we accept Greek epistemology as Gospel; it is our assumed grid through which we rotely interpret scripture.

Sunflower said...

A bit scary, that... so we could be reading all kinds of things into Scripture that aren't exactly there? Or misinterpreting it, based on our preconceived ideas and fixed worldview? Ouch.

peiling said...

wow! can I post this on fb? :D

Sunflower said...

Haha of course can, Pei Ling :)

Caedmon said...

In many ways, Irene, we follow ancient Greek philosophy more than we follow Jesus. A concrete (and important) example is Greek dualism. The idea that matter (physical stuff) is bad and spirit is good is purely Greek thought. When we later read Paul's letters about "the flesh" through this Greek grid, we get all sorts of wrong ideas that our bodies are somehow bad and it is only our spirits which will live forever in eternity. This is why so much of our conversations about "sin" have to do with things we do to or with our bodies. It is also what allows us to objectify and subjugate women.

Most Christians forget that God created the physical stuff of creation and God's plan is not to blow it all up, but to restore it to wholeness. Our bodies, our sexuality, our physical work, our artistic creations and creativity. These are all good things created by a loving Creator who longs to see them open wide like the sunflower on your webpage.