The Gospel of Zeus
Zeus needs to eat his spinach.
He comes off a little weak in the recent Hollywood production Clash of the Titans. As a child I vividly remember watching the 1981 production of this story. I was eager to see the story retold with all of the technological bells, whistles, and effects of our modern day. I did enjoy some of the action scenes,but generally speaking, the movie was far from captivating. Additionally, I found the subtle jabs at Christianity to be laughable.
No one should be surprised that a movie about Greek mythology presents elements that are incompatible with the biblical worldview. I was not surprised by the polytheistic nature of mythology. You cannot recount mythology apart from such elements. However, I was a little surprised by a few themes the movie seemed to emphasize. I would like to highlight three points I think might be “water cooler conversations” throughout your work week with those who have seen the movie.
1. Worship is evil
The movie portrays worship as a mere outward act required by the gods. Worship of Zeus is depicted as slavery. The Christian worldview presents a very different picture. God explicitly states that he hates false worship. The true gospel calls believers to sincere worship out of love. Zeus’ worship is motivated by fear. However, worship that is not a personal choice is not worship at all. If God is the source of true joy then the worship of anything other than him is a lesser calling in life. Therefore, worship is man’s highest calling and not a mandated artificial act.
2. Man’s autonomy is ideal
While Zeus is portrayed as the creator of mankind, it seems that the earth would be better off if he would leave it alone. If I believed in Zeus I would want to be a deist. However, the Bible presents the one true and living God as our only source of peace and joy. The Psalmist said that we should taste and see that God is good. The Psalms declare to us that the nearness of God is our good.
3. Zeus’ love is superior
The line that stands out the most from the movie comes from the end when Zeus says to Perseus, “I wanted to save the humans but not at the expense of my own son.” This is funny on a couple of levels. First, it is a jab at the Christian gospel. Secondly, Perseus is but one of Zeus’ many illegitimate children who are half moral and half divine. The comment is almost comical because Zeus is presented as an absent father type with Perseus, his bastard child, filled with hatred. The line seems to be forced into the script. I’m not playing the “hurt feelings” card on this one. I really don’t care if Director Louis Leterrier, or the script writers, wanted to add it in. I do think it worth evaluating though.
I think some skeptics will see this and smirk as if Zeus’ love is in some way superior to that of the God of the Bible. In contrast, the gospel story tells of a Creator God who has written himself into human history. The Bible tells us “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The love of God is made manifest in the fact that he would pardon our sins and provide salvation. The gospel presents a much stronger view of God and God’s love than Clash of the Titans.
Zeus’ love is weak indeed. The film did, however, remind me of the power of myth. As C.S. Lewis’ atheist friend once commented, and I paraphrase, “All of these myths about a dying god…rum thing, it really must have happened once.” The truth is – it did happen – once. Unlike Zeus, the real God loved the world so much he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.