How would you like to start a little controversy? Mention in passing in your Christian community that the name or word “God” (Theos) was taken from the heathen. I personally use the word “heathen” loosely because it merely refers to anyone who is trying to figure out the design of life in a way different from Christians, Jews, or Muslims, who each think the conclusions of their forefathers can be the only truth. Many believe it deeply enough that they’re still trying to eradicate each other.
Theos comes from the Sanskrit root, DIU-S which means (1) fire, the sun (when masculine), (2) a ray of light, day (when feminine), or (3) the sky, heaven (when neuter). This definition comes from the Greek concordance (theos – Strong’s #2316) at the website, Great Treasures, where I research various words and phrases from the New Testament.
The formal definition adds this: Wherever the Sun shines in the world he has been or is, worshipped as God, because he gives light to Heaven and life to earth; and heaven was in turn worshipped as the abode of the Sun, but the object of adoration was Light and Life, or heaven either as the abode of the Sun, or as personified. Then DIAUS was the procreating or generative power dwelling in heaven. The Father of light and life. Out of that came the Latin, DEUS.
“The object of adoration was Light and Life.”
“The Father of light and life.”
I was taught that heathen literally worship the ball of fire in the sky we call the sun. But that’s merely an image or personification like the word “Father” is an image to Christians. I don’t doubt that some primitive pagans think of the sun literally as the object they are worshipping. But that’s no different than many Christians who think they are worshipping a literal “father” that is male and subject to human emotion.
People don’t need a book to tell them that something Much Greater and Wiser has designed this incredible creation. And that should give people a reason to take the time to think about it. Think about it – that’s what the brain is for – not just read and blindly accept what someone two thousand years ago thought about it.
Unfortunately, there have been many throughout the centuries who found it convenient to destroy entire nations simply because a nation searched for the answers to Light and Life in ways different from the invaders’ forefathers—the closest to home being the American Indian.
What people do in the name of God is, and has been, god-awful. “Father forgive them. They know not what they do.”
Yet it’s rarely for Light and Life that people kill others. Usually it’s a righteous excuse to take their land and possessions. Darkness rules their hearts rather than Light.
The Greek word for “father” (pater) means “the originator of life.” It was applied to the male parent because the people of antiquity believed only the male was responsible for life. The female was simply the incubator for the seed. Jesus prayed to the Originator of Life.
Jesus also said he is the light of the world. He is like a ray of light, and if you follow his example and teaching, it will help generate new life for you in this world…today…not just when you’re dead.
You know, if we started substituting the word “Light” or “Life” into the Bible in place of the word “God,” I think people might begin to develop a broader, more spiritually mature notion of God. Why don’t you give it a try? It might even help you form some conclusions that deviate from what your forefathers (I mean fore-originators-of-life) have taught you.