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Gods of History


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If the time period is before Christ, you would honor God. If you're writing about other gods, I don't see how that should interfere with what you believe. Depends on what you're writing. Compare the One true God to the others. We write a lot of things we don't believe in as a contrast to what we do believe.

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I wouldn't, since I believe God has always made himself known. "Jove" was the original Greek God. He was watered down often before transformed into Jupiter. Jove. Shortened form or ancient before-Greek gore Jehovah.

 

And, according to Adam Clarke, before China was China, before the people of that area created a great system of gods, there was Jao. Jehovah. Watered down to Tao/Dao.

 

God has been before "Let there be light." Abrahm was the first time God started his own nation, but it wasn't the first time he interacted with people. Nor was Israel the first nation to walk away from God.

 

I can see a people who don't get the gospel message like we have. But I can't see a people God has neglected. I have seen examples of what happens when a people ignore God. Not good.

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1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

How can I honor Christ when, based on the setting and time period, the people would never have heard of Him?"

 

So how do you?

Have you read C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces? I can't answer your question, b/c I don't know how he did it in that book, but he surely did. Study it--maybe his own words can explain what I can't.

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I think Zeus was the original Greek supreme God, @Spaulding.  The Romans then transformed him into Jupiter.  And the original Taoists didn't equate Jao with Jehovah.  I don't mean to be argumentative, but Adam Clark had a slightly biased viewpoint.  In fact, the Taoists had many gods and goddesses represented in their pantheon instead of the one true God.

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Every ancient civilization had a flood story... there are other parallels that can be highlighted...  

 

Also, in many ancient civilizations, there were men/women who did not conform to the religion of the day and believed in monotheism in a culture saturated with polytheism or even pantheism. For instance, among many roman emperors who believed they themselves were gods or in the least that there were many gods, there was one emperor who believed there was only one God. Another example would be before Montezuma's demise at the hands of the conquistadors, Montezuma's father rejected the "old" religion, did away with human sacrifice, and believed in only one God. then Montezuma killed his father ,took over, and brought the pantheistic religion and human sacrifice back worse than before. Then the conquistadors came and wiped them out. 

 

Romans 1: 18-21 - - I love this verse in context of looking at history. What may be known about God is clearly shown by what God has made. If man knows not God, it is because man has rejected God... Therefore, even if the book you are writing is before Christ's birth, there is still great room for them to know God, regardless of how godless or false the cultural religion of the time was. 

 

Consider this as well, traditionally, the three wise men who traveled from afar are considered to be non-Jewish, which means they came from other cultures not connected to the Torah or the Holy Scriptures that speaks of the one true God. If these men came from (traditionally) Ethiopia, India, and Persia, then it stands to reason that before Christ's birth, there were people in other countries besides Israel that believed in the one true God, even if they did not have the Holy Scriptures to inform them of Him. 

 

When the cultural background of the story is non-Christian, sometimes what is not said is just as powerful as what is said. Focusing upon Christian principles can sometimes stand-in for overt descriptions of the Christian faith, but even then, depending upon the story, religion does not have to be brought up within the narrative necessarily at all. Of course, you could have the main character(s) have a different belief than those around them. 

 

Biblically, there is also a principle that if a person is truly ignorant of sin, based in innocence, that person will not be held accountable for what that person does not know. That can be very, very tricky, because only God judges the heart; however, there are a few verses from Jesus that hint at this principle. John 9:41 and John 15:22. 

 

Bottom line, I believe, is that if your conscience or convictions about how you write, what you write ,and why you write does not align with writing about false gods or false religions, then don't. Find ways around it, such as selective exclusion. Readers will typically not find it strange when a subject is omitted from something they are reading because they read what is presently before them, not what is not. 

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    Back in the 1970s I often visited Mexico.  The Cathedral of Mexico City, stands on the north side of the Main Square, called the Zocalo.   The Cathedral was constructed on the site where the Main Temple of the Aztec Gods had stood, and mass human sacrifices had been practiced.  Once the Spaniards had conquered the land, they replaced the Aztec gods with The Lord, and forced all the local people to convert to Catholicism. 

    While everyone agrees that forced conversion is wrong, and that conversion should only be voluntary, I wonder how things would be if a large number of today's Mexicans still worshiped the gods of their ancestors?

    Supposing those who crossed the US Border, also brought their human sacrifice religion with them?  The Constitution does say, "Congress shall make no Law respecting the establishment of religion, nor denying the free practice thereof."

     Would the present day Aztecs have the Constitutional Right to perform human sacrifices, and to convert others?

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4 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

How do I write about gods in history that I personally don't believe in?

 

Depending on the story, I'd approach it much the same way I write about gods in our current culture - fame, riches, power, social justice, or other religions. Stay factual, but don't glorify - and don't be insulting. Many in the world have embraced other faiths. Showing a factual (winsome) respect rather than taking a demeaning stance will engage more readers.

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4 hours ago, William D'Andrea said:

 Would the present day Aztecs have the Constitutional Right to perform human sacrifices, and to convert others?

I believe the answer would be no. Even in the founding era, things such as polygamy and snake biting wasn't allowed, even if it was for religious purposes. I think... I'm a bit fuzzy on those historical items... but the founders believed as long as it did not interfere with SOMEONE else's rights, then it was relatively permissible. Another example would be the cults that led to mass suicide. Those are not condoned or allowed by the first amendment, even if it is "religious exercise." The amendment as limits to it. (though some people take those limits to the opposite extreme as well...)

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32 minutes ago, Jared Williams said:

I believe the answer would be no. 

     I believe the Supreme Court would grant Aztecs the Right.  While thank the Lord that wouldn't be happening in reality, it could lead to a very interesting work of fiction.  Though not one that would be posted here on christianwriters.com. 

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5 hours ago, William D'Andrea said:

Would the present day Aztecs have the Constitutional Right to perform human sacrifices, and to convert others?

No, because it is murder. I believe Mormons do not have the right to more than one civil marriage, (they are living with any wives after that, it's a religious marriage), and George Washington told the Quakers that while he would do what he could to prevent them from needing to fight in this country's wars, he would call them to fight if he had to, whether they were pacifists or not.

 

However, that being said, they may be granted  that rite, even if it's not in the Constitution. We see inconsistencies already in the case of abortion.

Edited by Emily Waldorf
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This is something that occurred to me once in as a passing thought and I have always wondered could some of the 'gods' of other cultures such as the greek gods, which are based in myth, have connection to the Nephilim who had great power but were not immortal but would of wanted humans to see them as gods.

 

I have no idea whether this idea can be proven or unproven, I simply found it interesting as have other people that I have mentioned it to.  

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20 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

I think Zeus was the original Greek supreme God, @Spaulding.  The Romans then transformed him into Jupiter.  And the original Taoists didn't equate Jao with Jehovah.  I don't mean to be argumentative, but Adam Clark had a slightly biased viewpoint.  In fact, the Taoists had many gods and goddesses represented in their pantheon instead of the one true God.

The Greeks had gods before their gods. Chaos and Gaia. The Romans had gods before the Olympian called the Titans and gods before the Titans like Erbous and Gaea. At least, that's the legend.

 

As for China, the first dynasty was the Shang Dynasty, and Buddha, "The Enlightened One" didn't show up until halfway into that dynasty. "Laozi" showed up 200 years after Buddha. That's all we know, and we don't know much more because pre-Shang is also prehistoric.

 

As for Adam Clarke, of course he had bias. Don't we all? But what is more likely? God was silent after Adam and Eve except for a couple of people, then silent until Noah, and then silent until Abraham? We're talking at least one millennium. (Our bias.) And there were a lot of people who showed up between Noah and Abraham. So, God settled into one tiny spot on the globe and let the other people go to hell? (Literally.) Or did his love expand? And then Man does what we always do -- grow cold. After all, we already know of another "Enlightenment" where people turned away from God to show how brilliant they were. It doesn't take people that long to wax cold.

 

Right now, in America, we're getting rid of our history already. Much of that has to do with getting rid of godly values. Do you think we're the first?

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7 hours ago, Amosathar said:

This is something that occurred to me once in as a passing thought and I have always wondered could some of the 'gods' of other cultures such as the greek gods, which are based in myth, have connection to the Nephilim who had great power but were not immortal but would of wanted humans to see them as gods.

 

You know, I don't think so @Amosathar, but you're right.  It is a fascinating subject for a book!

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19 hours ago, Accord64 said:

Depending on the story, I'd approach it much the same way I write about gods in our current culture - fame, riches, power, social justice, or other religions. Stay factual, but don't glorify - and don't be insulting. Many in the world have embraced other faiths. Showing a factual (winsome) respect rather than taking a demeaning stance will engage more readers.

 

That's good advice, @Accord64!

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On 9/16/2021 at 3:30 PM, William D'Andrea said:

     Would the present day Aztecs have the Constitutional Right to perform human sacrifices, and to convert others?

       How about this?  To avoid trouble, Aztecs living in the U.S. make pilgrimages to Mexico, where they attend or take part in human sacrifices? 

      Then supposing that an Aztec Priestess living in New Orleans, demands to be sacrificed herself, there in her own City, at the beginning to the Hurricane Season, to prevent further major disasters from striking the entire Gulf Coast Region?  

Edited by William D'Andrea
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1 hour ago, carolinamtne said:

I think they would be in trouble in Mexico too. Human sacrifice is basically murder and frowned up around the world.

    You are correct.  I should not give into the temptation to write this work of fiction.  I ask prayers for strength to resist doing so.  In Jesus Name.  Amen. 

Edited by William D'Andrea
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I don't think it would necessarily be a bad thing to write about actually. In doing so you could easily highlight the very importance of life by contrasting it to the evils of human sacrifice. If you think about it, our culture isn't that far away from accepting such a thing. abortion is everywhere, and physician assisted suicide is legal in Oregon (last time i checked), as well as other countries around the world, human trafficking and slavery are still very lucrative businesses all around the world, even in the US, and to be honest, suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults. So, if anything, the world needs a book that highlights the importance of human life. I could easily see how the plot line of the book you are tempted to write could fulfill this God-honoring task. 

 

A way in - - many european countries have adopted Shari'a law, which is muslim law; however, if I understand how it works correctly, those muslims who wish to live under Shari'a law in european countries are able to live under the strict laws, regulations, and punishments (such as hand cut off for stealing) that is within Shari'a law, but those are only for those who opt to live under it, the rest of the populace does not have to abide by it. At least, that was my limited understanding of the issue (I haven't really done much research on it). In your book, could easily have a similar system either here in US or in Mexico where the Aztecs have that religious right - especially if it is couched in terms of euthanasia. (Honestly, I can see leftist radicals jumping on that bandwagon... "It's their choice. Who are we to dictate what they do with their body?") 

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Is this a fiction or non-fiction work?

 

Either way, I think the answer is simple: you explain the things that exist without glorifying them, the same as if I am explaining sinful things that happen in the world.

 

With non-fiction, it is simply explaining that beliefs that certain people groups hold without lending credence to the beliefs themselves. Just show that they exist without including whether or not you believe/ support the beliefs. What is the anthropological saying? "Observe and explain without changing."

 

If a fiction work, the same thing applies. My main project contains a satirical version of Christianity, as well as other religions in-universe that share aspects of actual religions in our world. While I spend much, much more time fleshing out the Christianity than I do the others, I can't ignore them. In order to build my world and explain things within the story, I must explain, describe and develop the other religions, even though they are based on real-world religions that I believe are false religions.

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