On the Incarnation of the Word 46 – Defeat of the Pagan Gods

Athanasius writes about the diminution of the pagan cults, the dying out of the oracles and the schools of magic, and the interference in the power of the demons. Moreover, even the wisdom of the Greeks has become foolish.

And, in a word, at what time has the wisdom of the Greeks become foolish, save when the true Wisdom of God manifested itself on earth? For formerly the whole world and every place was led astray by the worshipping of idols, and men regarded nothing else but the idols as gods. But now, all the world over, men are deserting the superstition of the idols, and taking refuge with Christ; and, worshipping Him as God, are by His means coming to know that Father also Whom they knew not. And, marvellous fact, whereas the objects of worship were various and of vast number, and each place had its own idol, and he who was accounted a god among them had no power to pass over to the neighbouring place, so as to persuade those of neighbouring peoples to worship him, but was barely served even among his own people; for no one else worshipped his neighbour’s god—on the contrary, each man kept to his own idol, thinking it to be lord of all;—Christ alone is worshipped as one and the same among all peoples; and what the weakness of the idols could not do—to persuade, namely, even those dwelling close at hand,—this Christ has done, persuading not only those close at hand, but simply the entire world, to worship one and the same Lord, and through Him God, even His Father.

Gods in the ancient world were gods of a place or of a people. The Word, however, is worshiped by the nations, by people who had once worshiped many disparate gods. Christianity spreads to the entire world in a way unprecedented.

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