On the Slaying of Dragons and the Nature of Evil

In the earliest writings of Hinduism, the Rig Veda, there are a handful of mentions of a single deity who rules over all creation. He is described in various ways and by a number of different titles and names – sometimes called “Prajapati” (“Lord of All”) and also “the Unknown God” who brought forth the universe. He is described as a great cosmic Man who sacrifices himself and from whose body the world was made.

A 9th-century stone relief carving depicting Indra subduing Vritra, located in Cambodia’s Phnom Kulen National Park

But, the most prominent figure is the storm god Indra, who, at a later stage of the Rig Veda’s development, eclipses Prajapati in the attention of worshipers, becoming elevated in his place to the chief god of the Hindu pantheon through a hymn recounting his epic battle with the dragon Vritra, whom he slays with his lightning weapon and from whose carcass he fashions the earth, thereby earning his promotion to the status of creator god.

This is a recurring pattern in virtually all ancient polytheistic cultures.

For some background: they viewed all of nature, not as a unified, cohesive whole operating according to a single, all-encompassing rational Logos, as we take for granted today, but as a teeming pantheon of independent and autonomous personified forces of nature. As in, the sky was a god, the sun was a god, the sea was a god, the earth a goddess, and abstractions like “war” and “home” and “the hunt” were also, respectively, gods and goddesses, each acting in the world according to their own whims and temperaments and purposes. Religion was a matter of keeping them all individually favorably disposed toward mortals through ritual worship and sacrifice. But, there is only so much time in the year, and with so many different deities to placate, they had to prioritize their worship calendar. As agricultural civilizations dependent upon seasonal rainfall to nourish their crops, they were collectively most acutely concerned about keeping the god of the storm on their side, and so their attentions always eventually centered predominantly on that particular deity, hence the primacy of storm gods in most polytheistic pantheons.  

The exceptions that prove the rule would be cultures like Egypt and Japan, who relied more on irrigation than rainfall, and so never made their respective storm gods the chiefs of their pantheons.

A bas-relief from the palace of the 7th-century Assyrian King Sennacherib, depicting Marduk slaying Tiamat, in the British Museum

With those few exceptions, this pattern plays out across the world: in the Babylonian Enuma Elish, the storm god Marduk slays the dragon Tiamat with his wind weapon Imhullu, becoming the creator of the earth and king of the Annunaki. In nearby Canaan, Baal slays the sea monster Leviathan/Yamm, overtaking El as king of the gods and ruler of creation. Zeus overthrows the Titans and becomes king of the gods of Olympus by slaying the dragon Typhon with his thunderbolt. Thor never overtakes his father Odin as king of the Aesir, but he still rises to primacy in the Norse pantheon by slaying Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent, with his lighting weapon Mjolnir.

This is just a representative sample of this pattern repeating itself in one ancient religion after another all over the world.

Pottery from 6th-century BC Chalcis, Greece depicting Zeus slaying the dragon Typhon, exhibited in the State Collections of Antiquities museum in Munich

And, the Israelites are shown in the Bible to have fallen into this same pattern by their repeated abandonment of the aforementioned Logos by degenerating into Baal worship, against the repeated warnings of prophets like Elijah and Elisha. Only their eventual conquest and exile at the hands of the Assyrians broke them of it.

In all of these pagan mythologies, the Dragon was a symbol of cosmic chaos, and the storm god’s victory represented the conquest of that chaos by the imposition of order, thereby resulting in the present arrangement of creation and the storm god’s new status as creator god and savior.

The True Face of the Dragon

These same elements appear in the Bible – the same basic symbolic language – but it says something profoundly different with that language.

The Dragon doesn’t appear in the biblical narrative until well after creation.

God does not create by doing epic battle to impose Order against Chaos as His mortal enemy. God has no mortal enemies. Unlike in those pagan mythologies, God alone is eternal and self-existent. He is not contingent upon a preexisting cosmos from which He emerged to then engage in violent struggle against monsters to impose order upon it. Nothing can resist God’s will, much less threaten His safety, so He brings about order by merely speaking it calmly into existence: “Let there be … ,” He says, “ … and it is.” And God observes that “it is very good,” and then He rests – not because He is weary from battle and must recover from His wounds, but because His work is finished and there is no more to be done but enjoy it.  

Man, as God’s image-bearer, is the pinnacle and completion of creation.

As in, the cosmic hierarchy is the reverse of what we see in pagan religion: the gods are not borne of a preexistent world, as the constituent forces of nature, to whom Man is inferior and subservient. God is eternal, creates the world and nature, and then creates Man in His own likeness and sets him above nature as its ruler, as explained in Genesis 1:24-28. Included in Man’s dominion were animals: in Genesis 2, Man is shown exercising that authority by naming the animals.

Man existed in a state of paradise, perfectly related to both God and nature and himself.

And that relationship – as with any positive relationship – was based on trust, faith. God had given Man every reason to trust Him by placing him in a paradise in which his every possible need and desire was met, and so that faith was the default state of human life and existence.  

The only constraint, however, was that God said, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

Then entered the Dragon.

In the Bible, he is no less the divine embodiment of Chaos that he is in those pagan mythologies, but not as a cosmic apex predator capable of devouring gods and men, that it takes a great superhuman hero, at dire personal risk and with legendary struggle, to oppose and defeat him.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field the Lord God had made,” the Scripture reads.

The Serpent here is depicted, at first glance, as just another animal of creation. As such, he is subordinate to Man.  

But he is understood also to be a divine being. Ancient readers, however primitive and pre-scientific, still understood just as well as we do that snakes don’t talk. They didn’t take this literally – at least, not as merely literal. It was plain to them as it is to us that this was no ordinary snake: It was an archetype for what serpents represented in the ancient world: a divine embodiment of Chaos. But by assuming the role of a serpent, he took on the status of an animal. So, he was superior to Man, in terms of his knowledge and cunning, but was nonetheless subordinate to Man.

The threat he posed to Man, then, was not that of the Chaos Dragon of pagan mythology – the undoing of the order of creation or the violent physical destruction of Man. Rather, it was to the relationship between God and Man (and between Man and woman[1]), and he posed that threat, not by the exercise of brute force, but by guile and temptation.

His only power over Man was the power he could seduce Man into giving him, because Man, as God’s image-bearer, held the only true power in that scenario. Man outranked the Serpent. Man had all the authority in the situation. He could have commanded the Serpent to leave. He could have done anything he wanted, and the Serpent was bound to obey him, not he the Serpent.

That is, until he listened to the Serpent.

The Serpent entered the Garden as Man’s subordinate. He left as Man’s ruler.

Man’s place in paradise, his status over creation and his access to the Tree of Life – to immortality – was based on his relationship to God.

The Serpent attacked that relationship by undermining the trust that defined it:

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’

‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

Now, this is one of the most misinterpreted and misrepresented passages in all of literature, and many commentators over the past 3,000 years have taken the Serpent’s side in this, framing him as the hero of the story, and it is a trope that refuses to die.

Typically, this is by misrepresenting it as simply “the Tree of Knowledge” and claiming that the Serpent “liberated” them by bringing them enlightenment. Even some Christians take this position, although from the other side: because they think of faith and knowledge as antonyms – and therefore knowledge as the enemy of faith – they take this to mean that knowledge itself is inherently corrupting and ignorance a virtue. And critics are all too happy to accept this version of the story and add it to their reasons for rejecting the Bible, while certain Christians think heeding the Bible entails staying “innocent” of knowledge.

It was not the “Tree of Knowledge,” though. It was the tree of a very specific kind of knowledge, not knowledge in general, and that distinction is vital. Throughout the Bible, knowledge is held up as a positive value – something to be sought by the righteous more than gold and wealth – and this passage is no exception.

Even apart from that specific misreading, though, many readers still think the Serpent might have had some merit to his argument: because God withheld the fruit of that particular tree, Man had at least some reason to entertain the distrust sown by the Serpent. Or, God entrapped them by placing the tree within reach, only to cruelly deny it to them.

Both interpretations happen to echo precisely the Serpent’s lie to the woman, and both egregiously misrepresent the story.

God did deliberately place the Tree in the middle the Garden and command them not to eat of it, but it was not to entrap them, and it wasn’t to withhold anything, and it wasn’t because He had preordained the Fall.

As is typically the case with all sin and temptation, the Serpent enticed them by offering the very thing God wanted them to have, but he offered it on terms that would only poison it and corrupt them.

They obtained that knowledge by doing the evil – they ate of it, and their eyes were indeed opened. That’s plain enough from the text. Also, it wasn’t “the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Evil” alone, but “of Good and Evil.” They were a package deal: there was just the one kind of fruit from the one tree, the eating of which came with the knowledge of both. To know evil is to know good, and vice-versa.

Based on these cues, it is apparent that there was nothing intrinsic about that fruit or that Tree in particular that made it “the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” It was simply in the fact that He commanded them not to eat from it that gave it that quality and function, because in so doing, God created the possibility of choice between good and evil.

What if they had chosen differently? What if they had rejected the Serpent? What if Man had exercised his God-given authority by commanding the Serpent to explain himself? By rebuking him for disparaging God’s character and intentions? By commanding him to leave the Garden and never return?

He would have become like God, knowing good and evil … by having done the good, and having done so, the question of whether to eat of it would have been moot: the temptation would have been gone, as would the need to forbid it. It would have become just another tree.

And, there would have been no Curse, no Fall, no banishment to mortality, no severed relationship to God, and no tragic, blood-soaked story of human history as we’ve known it.

The Serpent was cursed as well – to slither on the ground and eat the dust of the earth, among other condemnations to be discussed.

Nonetheless, he entered the Garden as the Serpent and Man’s subordinate, but left the Garden as the Dragon, and Man’s ruler.  

The True Power of the Dragon

By deceiving Man into obeying his will rather than God’s, he received the authority over the earth that God had given to Man. Having received authority over the earth, he gained the power to dominate, devour and destroy at will.  

But even then, his power was not rooted in brute force, but in his power to deceive and accuse Man. He is capable of brute force and violence, mind you, but it is predicated on that deeper principle of accusation.

That’s why he’s called “the Devil” and “Satan.” The English word “Devil” is derived (by a long chain of translation) from the Greek “diabolos,” from the verb “diaballo,” meaning “to slander, defame, accuse.” The Hebrew “Satan” means the same, but in the legal sense of “adversary” or “prosecutor.”

When he first appears in the Garden, he accuses God of deceiving them, undermining their trust in Him. When Satan appears in the Book of Job, that is also his role: he accuses Job of only being righteous and faithful because, basically, God bribes him, not because he’s actually virtuous. Job (eventually) acquitted himself, but the main point of the story, I would contend – at least as it relates to the overarching biblical narrative – is to reveal the essential point of contention between God and Satan over the fate of humanity: our guilt, our sin, is what gives Satan his power. If we take Genesis 3 and the Book of Job alongside passages like Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, we can infer the following:

God gave Man authority over creation, which would eventually include the divine beings called “Watchers” and “angels.” At least one of them, the entity described as “the Serpent” and later “Satan,” rebelled against God’s plan, protesting, “They’re not worthy. They don’t deserve it. They’re just animals, unfit to be set above us.”

The Serpent then entered the Garden to prove his point, and did so, and God conceded his argument.

Man sinned, and the wages of sin is death, and so Man was made mortal, and “put under the power of him who holds the power of death” – that “power of death” being his rightful claim against the worthiness of Man: because we are guilty, we are fair game for the Devil.

And, that he has authority is beyond dispute from the rest of the biblical narrative. Jesus called him “the prince of this world,” and when the Devil promised him “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” if he would bow down and worship him, Jesus rejected his terms, but did not dispute his right to offer them.

So, the Dragon owns the world.

But that, of course, was only the beginning of the story of Man.

The Mask of the Dragon

Two other major events followed, in Genesis 6 and 11, which further corrupted humanity and by which the Serpent consolidated his authority by compounding man’s corruption and alienation from God (as explained in a previous article about the Divine Council worldview).

The overall result of the Serpent’s assumption of power is that he became the Dragon.

That isn’t to say that there was a distinction between “serpent” and “dragon” in pagan mythology, in terms of their symbolic meaning – they are interchangeable and synonymous.

But there is a reason that, when he is introduced in the first book of the Bible, he is merely “the Serpent” – an unimposing, diminutive creature that is more a pest than a threat, but as he appears in the final book, he is “the Dragon” – a devouring monster of cosmic proportions.

That reason is found in another instructive, all-important distinction between the biblical narrative and those pagan mythologies.

As previously explained, in those pagan religions, as the embodiment of chaos, the dragon is pictured as the archnemesis of the storm god – locally known as “Baal” in Canaan, but also “Zeus” and “Thor” and other names elsewhere. The dragon and the storm god are pictured as fundamentally opposing cosmic forces: one the Ultimate Good, the other the Ultimate Evil – classic mythic hero-versus-villain stuff.

In the Bible, though, the figures are identical: “Beelzebub,” one of the appellations for Baal in the region, meaning “Lord of the Flies,” is also one of the many names given to the Devil in the New Testament.

As the chief rival to the worship of Yahweh in the Old Testament, the Jews of the Second Temple period rightly identified Baal with the Devil, recognizing that, far from being archenemies, the Dragon and Baal are one and the same.

In other words, “the dragon” – as he is depicted in those pagan mythologies – is a false flag. While the biblical writers present him as “the Dragon,” he doesn’t present himself that way – at least, not directly.

What those pagan mythologies present as a cosmic struggle between divine powers beyond the ken of mortals and before which we are powerless and insignificant collateral victims, the Bible presents rather as a war of influence in which Man is at the decisive center.

An ancient religious artifact, from my personal collection, depicting Thor doing battle with the Midgard Serpent

To win that war of influence, the Adversary reframes the narrative – the broader worldview in which that conflict takes place, so that our values and understanding of the true nature of our condition are upended and confused, thereby disguising his true objectives and tactics.

Within that worldview, Man believes himself to be at the mercy of the gods, and the gods themselves to tremble before the might of the dragon as an irresistible cosmic evil that threatens the order of creation itself. Only a great, divine hero, greater than all the other gods, can defeat the dragon. And so, enter Baal, Lord of the Storm, Rider on the Clouds, Wielder of the Wind and Lightning, the great savior and slayer of dragons, who has come to rescue Man from cosmic, existential destruction.

The Adversary distorts the threat into something cosmic and insurmountable, and then offers himself as the hero and savior from that threat, seducing humanity away from our true Creator and Savior. His temptations are rarely ever limited to obvious evils. He offers idols to worship and heroes to follow. He doesn’t entice us away to what we know full well to be evil – at least, not at first (nobody thought Hitler was “Hitler” when they elected him). Instead, he offers what we falsely believe to be good, “masquerading as an angel of light.”

In so doing, the Adversary strengthens his case against Man as unworthy and disloyal, keeping us enslaved like animals to our appetites and base natures, hostile to God and to each other, and so his power indeed grows – humans themselves, in the form of nations and empires and perverse ideologies and dehumanizing philosophies, become his “teeth” and “claws” by which he subjugates and threatens us. That’s why the empires in Daniel 7, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are described in terms both of menacing beasts as well as embodiments of malevolent spiritual forces: humans themselves become agents controlled by the Dragon, the glove on the Devil’s hand, puppets at the end of his strings, pulled along by our appetites and delusions. His favorite agent, the Antichrist, is described simply as “the Beast,” emblematic of the animalistic state in which the Dragon wishes to keep all of humanity.

And so, the Dragon’s power is inflated through illusion and lies, and what should be a mere nuisance and pest grows into a monster that devours the world. But, the lies are layered atop the kernel of a correct accusation that truly is insurmountable by mere mortals, and so it really does take a Divine Hero to defeat him – but not a hero recognizable as such to the world at large, based on the expectations and values conditioned into us by our common stories about mighty warriors slaying dragons.  

The Dragon is beyond Man’s power to contend with, but only a Man can defeat him, because he can only be defeated by Man being worthy.

So, God Himself became Man in the person of the Messiah, in order to defeat the Dragon, and this was foretold in the beginning, before even the curse upon Man and the earth were pronounced:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and hers,” God told the Serpent in the Garden. “He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

As in, the “Seed of the Woman” would destroy the Serpent, at the cost of the Serpent wounding his heel – an allusion to Jesus’ crucifixion. By dying for the sins of all mankind, he nullifies the Dragon’s claim: “They deserve to die because of their sin,” the Dragon accuses. “They have died because of their sin, and so your accusation has no power,” the Messiah answers.

He is not a mythic hero, like Baal or Thor, who triumphs by meeting force with greater force. He doesn’t risk death by taking on the Dragon – he absorbs the full power of the Dragon’s violence. By taking the punishment he didn’t deserve, on behalf of all who do, and by restoring Man’s trust in God, he reconciles God and Man.

Having done so, he takes back access to the “Tree of Life,” becoming immortal and passing his immortality to all who belong to him.

This is how the Son of Man assumes authority over the nations – why all authority in heaven and on earth was taken from the Dragon and given to him.

The War is Won, the War Continues

Christ’s death and resurrection and ascension decided the ultimate outcome of the conflict between God and the Dragon over the fate of humanity, but it did not conclude the conflict.

His authority over humanity has been broken, but the Dragon still has humanity’s obedience, and as long as he does, humanity remains under the same condemnation that he is: when Jesus returns and destroys the Dragon, all who remain aligned with him will share his fate.

But, God loves humanity and doesn’t want to condemn us, but wants to give all of humanity as much opportunity as it takes to choose Him. And so, He has commissioned the Church to fight and to be the instrument through whom to fight His war of influence to save humanity. As the “Body of Christ,” the “temple of the living God,” we are God’s Presence on earth, the countervailing influence upon humanity to retake the world from the Dragon.  

“When this gospel of the kingdom has been preached to all nations, then the end will come,” Jesus said.

It is then that “the full number of Gentiles” will have come in, as Paul said, at which point, Jesus will “destroy all dominion, authority and power” under which humanity is subjugated, finally toppling “the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly realms” against which God and Man have contended throughout history.

This is the inevitable, eventual outcome, and the Dragon has no hope of ever averting it.

Contra Epicurus

Also, this is the narrative framework behind the answer to the supposed “Problem of Evil.”

The Epicurean paradox has it that the very concept of “God” is self-refuting. Because evil exists, God cannot be both all-good and all-powerful: He either wishes to rid the world of evil but cannot, which means He is not all-powerful and therefore not God; or He can rid the world of evil but does not, which would make Him evil, and therefore not God.

God does not exist, therefore, according to the paradox.

The Epicurean paradox is often treated like a difficult and complex philosophical conundrum, but it only retains that reputation by confusing its terms. Once the correct values are plugged in, the equation resolves itself and the “Problem of Evil” turns out to be much ado about nothing.

It’s reminiscent of movies like “Highlander” and “Mortal Kombat” or any number of other scifi/fantasy stories in which an epic struggle between Good and Evil for the fate of the world boils down to a sword duel or a fist fight – where the moral alignment of the characters is incidental to the outcome, since it all depends ultimately on who has the stronger muscles or faster reflexes or better fighting skills, and it just so happens to be the hero. That’s a fun way to frame a movie or a video game so that the action has some stakes, but it’s a terrible framing for a moral philosophy. And to be fair, those movies usually implicitly acknowledge this by including some kind of plot contrivance in which the hero wins because he is good: he’s motivated by love or takes some bit of character-defining wisdom from a mentor or ally by which he triumphs over the villain.

The Epicurean paradox, though, offers no such acknowledgements. It pictures “evil” in terms of an external threat of mere brute power and poses the question of whether God’s power can match it, and reasons from there – as if “evil” is a cosmic chaos dragon of myth and God is a pagan storm god who is either sufficiently brave and mighty to battle it, or not.

On those terms, there would be no contest. Except, that isn’t what evil is. That’s how pagan nature-worshippers pictured it – and perhaps why Epicurus got such traction out of it with his original audience.

But, we know better. The very categories of “Good” and “Evil” are predicated on the reality of free will, and once that is taken into account, the paradox resolves itself simply by correctly defining its terms. Yes, God could eradicate evil by the mere exercise of power, but doing it that way would entail eradicating humanity, since we are the evil He allows to exist. Precisely because He is all-good – Goodness itself – He does not. He is, right now, working to eliminate evil, one human at a time, according to our individual free choice, by working through the Church to influence us to renounce the Evil One and put our faith and trust in Him instead.

The War Continues, and We are Losing

The Devil’s demise is the inevitable, eventual outcome that he has no hope of ever averting.

He can, however, delay it indefinitely. Just like the rest of us who will eventually die, so will he; and also just like us, he is holding it off as long as he can. But unlike us, there is no expiration date, no limit on his lifespan. As long as he can prevent the Church from completing its mission, he is effectively immortal, and history will go on just as it is until that happens.

And, by that measurement, he is winning.

Not only are we nowhere near the completion of our mission, but we have completely lost the plot.

His tactics have grown far more sophisticated, but the Dragon is still doing now what he did thousands of years ago: he confuses our values and reframes the narrative to mask his objectives.

It’s become something of a worn-out cliché, thanks to “The Usual Suspects,” but Charles Baudelaire’s quotation holds true: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” He has this and plenty of other tricks, and they have succeeded in blinding and crippling the Church, so that we have been taken off the board.

If the Devil doesn’t exist, then Christianity just isn’t true – this is all just ancient mythology we’re talking about, no different than those fantasy movies or comic books mentioned earlier, just a bit older. But if Christianity is true, then the Devil most certainly exists, and is actively working against us.

Christians either live as if Christianity isn’t true, by not taking the Devil at all seriously, or we live as if some other religion is true, by taking him entirely too seriously, on all the wrong fronts. It is always one extreme or the other: we either ignore him as irrelevant – as a fictional, mythological character who simply doesn’t factor into the moral therapeutic deism that popularly passes for Christianity; or, we afford him entirely too much power and menace, regarding him with a superstitious dread and reverence greater than what we afford even to God.

If Christians talk about the Devil at all, it’s typically in terms of some moral panic or imaginary boogeyman, and not for the actual reasons counseled in Scripture. They are too numerous to list, but one timely example is Christians’ recent preoccupation with the supposed “satanic” nature of yoga.

Many Christians are scandalized by it because they insist that it constitutes “witchcraft” and “gives Satan a foothold” because its various poses are named for Hindu deities, and so can somehow compromise a person’s soul, and because of this, the Devil forever owns breathing and stretching exercises, making them off-limits for all faithful people of God (those same Christians, I am sure, would be equally scandalized by my references to the Vedas in the introduction).

But if that’s true and Christians’ fears about yoga are valid, we’re already all doomed – every day of the week and every month in our calendar is named for some pagan god or another, but nobody is ever in fear of their eternal salvation for having made reference to “Thor’s Day in Mars’ month.” In fact, much of the English language is made up of loanwords from Greek and Latin, with etymological roots in various pagan deities’ names, so we are constantly doing exactly what the yoga-alarmists fear.

Because yoga is more exotic and unfamiliar and comes from a faraway land with strange customs, though, it seems more threatening, and we attach so much superstitious awe and dread to it.

As much as the Bible warns us against witchcraft and the influences of foreign religion, far more strenuous and frequent are its warnings about what lurks in familiar corners. The Devil poses far more of a threat to us from the pulpits of our own churches than he does from any foreign religion or popular fitness fad, or from trick-or-treating or playing tabletop fantasy games like “Dungeons & Dragons.”

When Paul departed from Ephesus for the last time, he warned them, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!

He and the other apostles made frequent mention of the false prophets who appeared throughout Israel’s history, who prophesied “from their own imaginations” and who exploited the people for their own enrichment.

“Just as there were false prophets among the people, there will be false teachers among you,” wrote Peter. Many would follow them, bringing Christianity itself into disrepute, he warned, adding that “in their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated words.” The Greek for “exploit” is “emporeousantai” and “fabricated words” is “plastois logois,” which could be translated literally as “they will make a business out of you with plastic words.”

Modern churches and megachurches today are, of course, big business. And, they thrive by telling people what they want to hear, preaching entire sermons on single verses taken out of context, which makes their meaning endlessly manipulable. And, in certain branches of the Church, they love to utter vague, unfalsifiable “prophecies” as if God is speaking through them, exploiting the eagerness of their listeners to believe them.

But, for fear being “political,” they won’t take any stand on the ongoing culture wars with its insane confusion over sexuality and morality and the human condition, nor address any of the Church’s own failures that led to such a dismal state of affairs.

And, all of it is predicated on a version of Christianity found nowhere in the Bible itself, which revolves around this preoccupation with “going to heaven” when we die as disembodied souls or spirits, treating this world as a lost cause to be escaped, rather than saved.  

“Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Jesus said, which implies that the false prophets and false teachers would be in the majority, and the teachers of truth would be in the minority.

Yet, Christians always base their security on consensus and longevity – we feel most confident and secure exactly where we were told to expect the most danger.

And as long as this remains the status quo, the Devil is winning.

The situation seems dire, and so there is temptation to resign ourselves to despair.

However, “we are not unaware of his schemes.” That’s exactly what he wants us to think – he wants us to believe the Dragon is undefeatable, and we are powerless before him.

But, he loses much of his power when his lies are exposed, and we are promised that if we resist the Devil, he will fear us, because we already have all the weapons and power we need to overcome him.

And, there will come a day when a generation of the Church does repent and rise up and complete its mission.

There is no reason that generation could not be our own.

[1] As an incidental note: I do not here capitalize “Man” and lowercase “woman” out of any disrespect toward the fairer sex. I do it because “Man” here is treated as a proper name – in Hebrew “Adam,” but also as an archetype for all of humanity, hence my preference for the translated name. The woman did not receive her proper name of “Eve” until after the Fall, for reasons beyond the scope of this article, and so it would be incorrect to refer to her by it here.

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