Titus: Part Two - The Pagan Poet
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one--
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou are not dead. Thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.
Epimenides - "Cretica"
If you are like me you have probably sang, danced, and clapped to
the tune of a very strange pagan prophet.
Look at the poetry above. Apostle Paul quotes the last line in Acts
17 in his famous discourse on Mars Hill. That line became a popular
praise chorus that went like: "In Him we live, and move, and have
our being." Remember it? I never was too crazy about it myself, but
I'm sure I swooned and swayed and did the Pentecostal two-step not
knowing I was in agreement with a poem written to Zeus by a very
strange Cretan named Epimenides.
Epimenides, hereby shortened to "Epi," was an ancient Rip Van Winkle
who became a famous exorcist long before anyone ever thought of
Linda Blair and pea soup. As a youth, so the story goes, he was sent
like David to care for his father's sheep. He went to sleep in a
cave and awakened 57 years later not having aged a day. (Caves,
incidentally, are infamous on the island of Crete and are considered
to be a "womb.")
The Greeks considered old Epi a god and the
priestess at Delphi invited him to Athens to rid the city of a
plague. He arrived there in the forty-sixth Olympiad, took some
white and black sheep to the Areopagus (Mars Hill) and turned them
loose. He had his fans follow them and wherever a grazing sheep
stopped to lie down they were sacrificed on the spot and a small
memorial was put up.
A memorial to whom? Well, Epi didn't always know because there were
so many gods, so he had the altars put up without names, or whether
added later or not, had them inscribed "To the unknown god."
Now this story is sounding familiar isn't it?
Hundreds of years later Paul visits Athens on a mission trip and is
summoned to Mars Hill to answer to the philosophers. Paul looked
around at all the idols and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive in all
things that you are very religious."
Well, no, actually that is a poor translation. It was more like:
"Man, you guys are really superstitious!"
Actually, it was worse than that. He said, "Yawl are dreaders of
demons." "Dreaders of demons" is the actual term in that verse that
many Bibles now translate as "very religious."
Paul then tried to reason with them from within their own culture by
quoting the poet Aratus, the author of a long poem called
Phaenomena which includes the line: "For we are also his
offspring." He was trying to point out that God made all men but
that God was not to be worshipped with idols made of wood and stone.
In this same verse he quotes old Epi.
Old Epi wrote his poem calling his countrymen liars because there
was a rumor going around that Zeus was dead. This incensed Epi and
he went to the defense of Zeus. So, when you and I were doing the
Charismatic Sporadic to "In Him we live, and move, and have our be-ee-innggg"
we were joining in a lovefest and apologetic for Zeus.
Does it matter? Well, that's a conundrum, isn't it? Do you like
conundrums? How about paradoxes? This is a bunny trail, but
I'm feeling like Elmer Fudd, so let's go down it:
"A Cretan said, 'All Cretans are liars.'" If this statement was made
by a Cretan can it be true?
The statement above is known as the "Epimenides Paradox," or
"The Liar's Paradox." It has been debated by philosophers for over
"You are of your father the devil and the desires of your father you
want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand
in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a
lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the
father of it." John 8:44
The statement above, of course, is from Jesus and therefore, is
But, let me ask you this, is every thing a liar says a lie?
Let me present to you "The Deliverance Paradox." At one time in
deliverance ministry it was common for the ministry team to dialog
with the demons. Lately, there has been a teaching espoused that you
never talk to demons because they cannot tell the truth.
So, which is the right doctrine: In a deliverance ministry can you
demand answers from a demon or must you ignore them?
If you want my personal opinion, and it is only my personal opinion,
here it is: Christians are always swinging from one end of the
pendulum to the other. At one time there was way too much craziness
in the Deliverance Ministry. Too much dialoging with demons, too
much reasoning and conversing with demons, and just too much
dramatics. Now, we aren't supposed to address them at all because if
a demon speaks then it has to be a lie.
But if everything a liar said was a lie he would never be very
convincing would he? Satan is an angel of light. He deceives through
subtle deception. Sometimes he tells the truth. Sometimes he twists
the truth. Sometimes he omits the truth. It is all a part of lying
because it is not pure truth. My personal opinion is I treat the
deliverance ministry as it comes. I like the sovereign situations
where it just happens. But sometimes you have to treat the host and
his parasites like Prisoners of War and get some information.
Now, let's get back to Titus. In 1:13, after saying they are all
liars, Paul admonishes Titus to rebuke the Judaizers (they are the
"very religious" ones, remember) sharply. Now wait a minute. Back at
Mars Hill Paul did not rebuke the philosophers. He bent over
backward to reason with them. Why? At Mars Hill he was dealing with
the ignorant unsaved. Here is dealing with dishonest Christians.
Doesn't it seem like the Church has it backward lately? Aren't we
preaching cozy messages to deceptive Christians while treating the
lost and ignorant like they are the very forces of Hell?
Seems that way to me. Anyway, after rebuking these Judaizing
Dreaders of Demons, Titus still must pick elders who can help him
establish proper doctrine.
By the way, what is proper doctrine? (Do you speak to demons or
not?) What is the difference between sound doctrine and personal
opinion? How about land cleansing, prayer walking, spiritual
mapping? Guess what? Old Epi became famous for "sanctifying the
It makes you want to make sure you are on a sound foundation when
you are doing some things, does it not?
Doctrine. What is it? Perhaps we will
discuss that next.
John L. Moore