Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mathetes to Diognetus Chapter 8

In Chapter 8 of his Epistle to Diognetus, Mathetes starts laying a theological foundation for why Christianity and paganism are so different:
For, who of men at all understood before His coming what God is? Do you accept of the vain and silly doctrines of those who are deemed trustworthy philosophers? of whom some said that fire was God, calling that God to which they themselves were by and by to come; and some water; and others some other of the elements formed by God.
Pagans mistake created matter for God. In contrast, Christians worship
God, the Lord and Fashioner of all things, who made all things, and assigned them their several positions…
This is one reason I dislike later editions of D&D. Starting with 2e, D&D took a hard turn towards a pagan world-view and hard-wired it into the mechanics of the game. Domains represent the “silly doctrines” of pagan philosophers who say that fire was God. In later editions of D&D, deities only have dominion over certain aspects of creation and as a result, their clerics can only use certain powers or spells.

Christ, through whom all things were made, has dominion over everything, including death, disease, decay and even demons. It makes absolutely no sense to me to assign Christ or a Christ-like analogue to a couple of later-edition D&D cleric domains. It demands that the Fashioner does not have dominion over what He fashioned.

To put in another way, one of the radical differences between the Christian and pagan world-views is that the Christian God created from nothing. Therefore everything owes its existence to God. No pagan would ever even consider the idea that the various pagan deities did anything other than create from some pre-existent matter.

As an example that inspired one of early D&D’s great primal villains, in the Babylonian creation myth Marduk slays the dragon Tiamat and from her body creates all of the various pieces and parts of the world. Humanity is created by squeezing the blood from the dragon’s heart. This is why humanity is flawed and evil. This, like so many other myths, impugns the various pagan deities with flaws and mistakes that reveal them to be, well, rather human.

Sin, in the Christian world-view, is introduced by humanity not God. Humanity is revealed to be utterly incapable of overcoming sin through the Law. Thus, the only way humanity is capable of overcoming sin and death is through God Himself.

With cleric spell lists inspired by the miracles of the saints, older editions of D&D make it far easier on me to build worlds based on a Christian world-view and to construct analogues like Artanianism.


bgeorge77 said...

This is a crazy blog, one of my favorites. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Gwythaint said...

The later editions seem rooted in addressing deiforms as limited personal entities with which one has a transactional relationship, something more suited to veneration of saints as practiced by hybrid faiths like Columbe, Santeria, or Voudon than Christianity. As an aside, I am a neopagan who was raised Catholic.