I want to tell you about something that has happened to me twice, in the span of just a few days. Then I will try to draw out an edifying lesson from it.
Last Sunday, I was reading one of Peter Leithart’s books — Ascent of Love — to accompany my reading of the Divine Comedy. In the section I read, Peter referred to “Euhemerism,” a theory that taught that the “gods of the myths were once men, and their exploits were the exploits of ancient kings” (p. 19). I was familiar with this view, but thought it was just something that some people thought. I had recently been reading Lactantius, and he does that a lot. I just didn’t know there was a name for it, and if someone had told me there was a name for it and that I should guess, I wouldn’t have hazarded Euhemerism.
So then, last night, I was reading Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable — trying, as I do, to read a couple pages a night (yes, I know, leave me alone). And what should I happen to read but the entry for Euhemerus, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century, B.C., who developed the idea that the gods were actually ancient kings and heroes of extraordinary ability. Huh, thinks I. Why does God want me to learn about and remember Euhemerism?
Okay, that was odd. Then this happened today.At work my library is being reorganized, and so there are discombobulated and rearranged books everywhere. I glanced to the right of my computer, and saw a book called The Effective Executive. I took it down to see who wrote it (Peter Drucker), and opened it at random. I read a section that said that time, when gone, was gone forever. The richest man in the world can’t buy himself more time. I put the book back. Maybe I will read it some time, maybe not. Then this evening, I picked up one of the books I am currently reading (Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung, quite a good one), resumed reading where I had left off last night, and ran spang into the very same quote by Drucker.
Now is somebody trying to get my attention? If so, is it so that I will be able to make a tantalizing point about how time has vanished for all the ancient kings, as Euhemerus would have us believe? And that they would have been more effective ancient kings had they only listened to Drucker? Or is the point a broader one — i.e. that the universe is kind of squirrely?
I am inclined to the latter view, and here is where I will try to be edifying.
Odd, squirrely, or spooky things do happen. Some people are dull enough to not ever notice, and some of our more excitable brethren notice all such events and then some, and start whispering to one another that “it’s a sign.”
But the universe is not governed by impersonal forces, grinding away. The universe is a spoken world — everything that happens has all the force of triune personality behind it. Sometimes we notice, and most of the time we don’t. Chesterton commented that we ought to notice every time, even when the repetitions make us think everything must be on cruise control. No, Chesterton says — the personality behind all this is infinitely childlike, and loves repetition. He also loves the change up pitch, and I think it is because He likes the looks on our faces.
When we read Scripture, we know that God is speaking, and we also are privileged to know what He is saying. When we look at the stars come out, or listen to a pheasant call, or ponder weird circumstances like this one, we also know that God is speaking. I am encouraged by this, but that doesn’t mean that I can make out the particulars of what He is saying. When Saul of Tarsus was converted, the men with him heard the noise (Acts 9:7), but couldn’t make out what the voice was saying (Acts 22:9). But even though they didn’t know what was being said (the way Saul did), they still knew that something big was up. God can speak through the mere fact of His speaking, and not just through the content of it.
Special revelation is crammed with content, and there is nothing like it. But nothing God reveals is contentless.