Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Puzzle Pieces: Dragons

By Analea Styles
dragons, China, Beijing, temple of heaven
Dragon sculptures on the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
Wikimedia Commons  
In the Genius of Ancient Man we talk about the various puzzle pieces that make up the “big picture” (Chapter 12). Many times the pieces aren’t recognizable at first or don’t seem to fit anywhere; but as we continue to study and learn, we widen our view and sometimes the pieces fall suddenly into place.

 On Dragons...

John of Damascus, a renowned theologian living in the 8th century once wrote, “We harm ourselves most of all when we ignore reading of the Holy Scriptures and studying them according to the Word of our Lord”. The fascinating aspect of this statement is that he wrote it at the end of an essay entitled; “On Dragons and Ghosts”[1].

What did this 8th century writer have to say about dragons? Well it would seem that even back then Christians had to combat the extravagant myths and legends that always seem to accompany dragons. John’s essay addresses the common beliefs of his day that “dragons can take human form and turn into serpents…and sometimes…having turned into people, they start to associate with them, appear to steal women and consort with them.” John flatly denies that these claims have any truth, teaching that God created only men and angels as intelligent beings and explains that dragons are merely animals: “dragons exist, but they are serpents, [reptiles] born of serpents”[2].

The essay goes on to describe dragons as real, living creatures - large reptiles, some with “goat-like beards”, horns, and golden eyes.

A Proper View of Dragons

But the main essence of John of Damascus’ essay was not to convince people of the existence of dragons, people already believed they existed and may have even seen them! His main purpose was to contradict the false beliefs about dragons and help people to view these creatures realistically and according to Scripture.

The question for us then is this: Do we have a proper view of dragons?

"Fearfully-great Lizards"

In The Genius of Ancient Man we briefly describe our beliefs about dragons. Along with Answers in Genesis, we believe that many, if not most, of the dragon legends, paintings, and carvings around the world come from human encounters with dinosaurs and other extinct reptile creatures. (The word "dinosaur" was originally defined by Richard Owen in 1842 as "fearfully-great lizard"[3].) We know that land animals, including dinosaurs, were created on the 6th day of creation (Genesis 1:24-25) and would have been on the ark with Noah as well (Genesis 6:19-20). They once lived and walked among humans, despite what evolutionists teach, and the many ancient myths and legends of dragons confirm this truth.

(See the bottom of this post for links to some great AiG articles on dragons and dinosaurs)

Man lived among Dragons

So we believe “dragons” are real, in the case that this word is simply referring to dinosaurs. Therefore we believe that ancient man lived with dragons and interacted with them.

We believe that pots like this one from the Moshe culture of Peru (flourishing around A.D. 400-1100) are evidence that people saw them.

Peru Dragons, Moshe, ancient pottery

We believe that the “dragon” symbol in the Chinese zodiac represents a real creature just like the other eleven signs.
dragons chinese zodiac ancient
We believe that ancient legends like St. George and the dragon are describing real events that actually occurred as man hunted and killed these large and sometimes dangerous animals.

St. George and the dragon, ancient, legends
St. George and the dragon.
Wikimedia Commons

Fitting in the Puzzle Piece

So what next? If we believe that dragons or dinosaurs are/were real – what does it matter? Well, just like we didn’t write a book about ancient man’s genius just to convince you that ancient man was intelligent, we don’t want to merely convince you that dragon legends are based on reality and dragons once walked the earth. (It’s also important not to swing from one extreme to the other: from non-belief to worship or belief in mythical dragon powers and magic.)

It’s time to fit the dragon puzzle piece into the big picture to discover its true purpose.

Personally, I love dragons. I grew up reading dragon fantasy fiction and I love discovering dragon myths and legends that I haven’t heard before. I love the intrigue and the adventure that revolves around dragons. But have you noticed the vast amount of “Christian Fiction” that includes dragons in some way? Not to mention the secular media. Dragons are everywhere! People love dragons.

Maybe we need to hear from John of Damascus again?
“This dragon is a type of beast, like the rest of the animals.”[4]
Dragons or dinosaurs, are merely animals. They may have some fascinating stories but they are just animals. Beasts of the earth, created by God for His glory, named by Adam, ruled over by mankind. Let’s not elevate them to any other status.

The Great Red Dragon           

Satan, great red dragon, Bible Ancient There is one final point to be made about dragons concerning Scripture. It is interesting to note that the Bible uses the word “dragon” most often as a symbol and synonym of Satan, our great enemy. This dragon is monstrous with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 12:3); he wages war with the angels and those who keep God’s commands (Rev. 12:7, 17), he deceives the whole world (12:9), and he will one day be bound and eventually thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:2, 10).

Not just a myth…

This is one dragon you don’t want to mess with and yet one that we as Christians are constantly at war with. The devil, the serpent of old and the great red dragon, seeks always to overthrow God. His counterfeit kingdom, his perversions and distortions tempt people away from their created purpose of glorifying the Creator. He is powerful, he is clever, and he is deceptive (though he must work within the boundaries God has placed on him).

Yet he will not prevail. In the end, he will burn forever. And until then, Christ has given us strength to overcome his temptations through the Holy Spirit. Just like the knights in the dragon legends, Ephesians 6:10-17 describes the armor that Christ has supplied for every Christian to combat this dragon.

·      The belt of truth (14)
·      The breastplate of righteousness (14)
·      The readiness of the gospel of peace on your feet (15)
·      The shield of faith (16)
·      The helmet of salvation (17)
·      The sword of the Spirit (17)

He commands us to “put on the full armor of God, so that you may stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (11). This dragon is not a legend.

Fight the Good Fight

So don’t just read about dragons and dinosaurs and ancient man being intelligent. Go deeper than that. Just like John of Damascus warned--don’t ignore the Scriptures! What does the truth about dragons tell you about God and His Word and how can you use your knowledge to glorify God’s name? Put on that armor and relying on God’s strength, join the fight against the real dragon that is waging a real war today. Knowing that Jesus will have the ultimate victory (1 John 3:8), you can stand firm on the truth of His Word!

More on Dragons:

Read about other Puzzle Pieces:

[1] Alferov, Timofey. “Dragons: animals…not Apparitions”. June 1, 2000. Accessed July 21, 2013
[2] Alferov.
[4] Alferov

No comments:

Post a Comment