IRJ-Reflection #18

Divine Megalomania: God’s Self-Obsession

God is generous. God is forgiving. God is loving. And God should be worshipped unequivocally. Every two-year-old knows it. But what if every two-year-old knew the definition of megalomania? If every Christian two-year-old in the world knew that a megalomaniac is someone obsessed with their own power, might they not question whether God wasn’t one of these egoists? I do, and I’m not two years old. Just the fact alone that God “created humankind in His image” (Gen. 1.27) proves that He enjoys self-glorification. The idea that mankind is modeled after God is even stressed in the Bible—appearing four times in just two verses in most translations—underlining God’s tendency toward self-exaltation.

And this is not the only example. Throughout the Bible, there is talk of the glory of God, various people glorifying God, and essentially how wonderful God thinks He is. A prime example of this is the hymn “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” (Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”) from the lines “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2.14). Again, we are asked to glorify Him, to lift Him up (as if He needs to be any higher!), and to revere Him—along with no one else. It is unquestionable that God has power; in fact He has quite a lot of it. But such obligatory adoration is quite unnecessary and only serves to make God look power-obsessed.

The way in which Creation is presented in Genesis suggests that God created the universe in order that He might be worshipped completely by His creations. This is particularly prominent in the Genesis Chapter 3 during which Eve explains that God has told her that “you shall no eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die” (Gen. 3.3). To this the serpent replies, “You will not die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3.4-5). Of course the Bible presents this in such a way that it seems that the serpent is twisting God’s words only to trick Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, but it cannot be denied that the end result is precisely what the serpent predicted. Adam and Eve gain the ‘divine knowledge’ of good and evil and God subsequently drives them out of Eden.

Why, though, would God see the need to throw His own creations out? I see three possibilities. First, that He intended to anyway, and was merely playing with Adam and Eve. Second, that it was merely because they flouted his decree regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And third, that He really was afraid that they would become His equals (or that they already were). All three of these evidence God’s sublime megalomania. In the first case, God demonstrates that He enjoys having power over others (or really everything). In the second, that He is so obsessed with his power that He cannot stand to have anyone cross Him in any way. And in the third, that because of His love for His own power, God fears the idea of another becoming his equal as Adam and Eve might’ve done if they had been allowed to remain in Eden. Based off of the serpent’s comment that Adam and Eve would “be like God” if they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, the last seems the most likely to me, though any really could be possible.

Really, throughout the Bible, God doesn’t give people a choice. There isn’t a “worship God, or don’t worship God” message, instead it proclaims: “worship God or burn in Hell”. And though there may be an ‘or’ in there, I really don’t consider that much of a choice. If God weren’t self-obsessed and afraid of losing His power, then He wouldn’t feel the need to require people to worship Him. But as He does, I feel justified in dubbing Him a megalomaniac. But then, what god isn’t?

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