by Tom Wacaster
In their book, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, Conybeare and Howson have this interesting note:
It [the Greek religion, TW] was a religion which ministered to art and amusement, and was entirely destitute of moral power. Taste was gratified by the bright spectacle to which the Athenian awoke every morning of his life. Excitement was agreeably kept up by festal seasons, gay processions, and varied ceremonies. But all this religious dissipation had no tendency to make him holy. It gave him no victory over himself: it brought him no nearer to God. A religion which addresses itself only to the taste, is as weak as one that appeals only to the intellect. The Greek religion was a mere deification of human attributes and the power of nature...It had no real power to raise him to a higher position than that which he occupied by nature (pages 28-281).
I found that statement to be of interest insofar as it relates to what seems to be taking place in our society. I read somewhere that more than 85% of our population professes some sort of religious faith. The same article pointed out, however, that less than 15% of those surveyed admitted that their religion had any direct bearing upon their lives. In short, their religion is no better than that of the Athenian citizen. There is no real power to transform them into something different, spiritually and morally speaking.
We have all seen the pitiful soul who plays the part of the hypocrite. He has a "form" of religion, but possesses no real substance. James pointed out that "faith apart from works is dead" (James 2:26). It seems that our society has moved ever closer to having the type religion characteristic of the ancient Greeks. Human wisdom is deified, and men today, like those in Athens, spend "their time in nothing else but to either tell or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). When they have determined some "new thing," they glory in their knowledge, failing to realize that such knowledge just might be wrong. Witness if you will the constant change in our encyclopedias and libraries. Volumes hot off the press today are out-of-date history tomorrow. Knowledge without God is vain, at best. The Greeks placed the emphasis upon that which appealed to the flesh and the gratification of the same. It is really sad to see men today, while professing a sense of religion, failing to control the flesh. In fact, they go so far as to engage in the things of the flesh in the name of religion. The bottom line? Philosophy without application is a dead philosophy, and religion without power to change is useless.