I had an interesting conversation yesterday concerning the history of Ireland. The conversation turned when it came to a discussion about the destruction of a temple of pagan Milesian Irish during the time of Tea Tephi, the warrior queen of the line of David. The story reminded me of Samson’s destruction of the temple of the Philistines, something of interest as a student of engineering and geography.
It would appear, given the story, that the design of the two temples was similar, in that the whole weight of the temple structure rested on a very limited number of pillars. This design is vulnerable because of the extreme centralization of the weight bearing, so that if you remove the main pillars, the whole building crumbles. The same general weakness is found in the keystone designs of the arches of pagan Rome, if you removed the keystone, the whole arch fell.
There would seem to be a relationship between religious architecture and the religious worldview of a given society. Societies that believe in extremely centralized power structures and domination and exploitation could be expected to have that tendency towards centralization reflected in their religious architecture as we find in the Romans and the Philistines. Likewise, in those anarchial forms of religion we can expect to find that there will be a fair amount of chaos and disorder, which is what we find with the fact that polytheistic pagan temples in Asia Minor and Greece served as sanctuaries for thieves and criminals, meaning that pagan temples were a high-crime area. Additionally, this is what we find in the maypoles and Asherah groves of syncretist pagan-influenced fertility festivals. Anarchy of belief structure leads to anarchy of geography and architecture. The form and the worldview behind it are intricately related.
It is interesting to compare the pagan belief system with God’s system when it comes to geography and architecture. According to the Aramaic-English New Testament, the first “Christian” massive building project was from the arch-heretic Marcion, he of the antinomian gnostic beliefs, the hostility towards the biblical law, Sabbath, and Holy Days, the Eighth Day heresy that infects even much so-called Theonomic thought (see Gary North’s Economic Commentary on Genesis for some classic gnostic speculation on the 8th day), as well as the invention of the term “New Testament” to divide the scriptures and cast aspersions on the Hebrew “Old Testament.” By and large, we find that those so-called Christians who are most dedicated to massive physical building projects are those of the authoritarian Satanic government worldview, as one would expect if one connects massive and expensive building projects with a desire to dominate, control, and exploit the common people. In a similar manner, we can connect the lack of orderly development of any kind with a city like Tampa, or a lack of order or structure in religious practice of the Quakers, with a similar lack of order or structure and a devotion to the anarchial side of Satan’s worldview. The outside form reflects the motivating worldview behind it. And God is neither the author of confusion (anarchy) nor tyranny.
How then do we find divine architecture reflected within the scriptures? The scripture of the early Christian Church do not tell us of elaborate temples or buildings, but rather of house churches. The fact that God is raising up a family means that the physical household reflects a model to teach spiritual truths about a spiritual family. More important than the preaching for a couple of hours a week is the day-to-day example of fellow believers, the encouragement we gain from others who follow God’s way, and our daily practices of faith within our own activities. Far more important than the size of one’s fellowship or organization is the depth of its conversion and the extent of one’s obedience to the whole covenant revealed in the entirety of scripture, matters which take far more than weekly spiritual nourishment and instruction.
Likewise, the record of the Hebrew scriptures is of small village and towns where the example and good conduct of others was well known (see the Book of Ruth, for example), or of a tabernacle designed as a tent, to reflect the temporary nature of life on this earth. Likewise, Shiloh and Jerusalem were both sited with hills overlooking the temple or tabernacle there so that priests could be held accountable for their actions by believers overseeing their actions, and able to know when they were not behaving as they ought and hold them accountable to God’s standard (see 1 Samuel 2). For this reason as well the book of Leviticus was given to believers in general, so that a lay person could point out if a priest was not obeying God’s law, and so ordinary believers could be trained into a priesthood of holiness to the world as a whole (Exodus 19:5-6), a promise that extends to Christians today as part of the Israel of God (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Let us also note one additional feature before leaving aside this subject for today. The continuation of deities or religious sites from previous religions is generally the sign that one wishes to co-opt or continue the previous religion. For example, the building of Catholic churches and cathedrals over heathen sites all around the world was itself a sign of the syncretist and polytheistic faith, naming minor deities as “saints” who were still worshiped and obeyed by members, and with religious festivals given new names to provide a ‘Christian’ veneer and whitewash over the pagan religious structure. The Muslim attempt to appropriate the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque and to continue the worship of the heathen mother Goddess of Arabia through continuing to hold the Kaaba as a shrine in Mecca is similarly an intentional attempt to appropriate existing religious traditions.
Let us therefore remember that there is a close connection between political structures, geography, and physical structures in terms of worldview. We should not expect otherwise. The way in which we live our lives as a faith or society will be visible from the communities where we live, our own political and religious hierarchies and order (or lack thereof), as well as the physical structure that we build. It cannot be otherwise, for our deeds reveal our hearts, our buildings and constitutions and bylaws reveal our mindset, and our cities and civilizations reveal the spirits motivating us, whether good or evil. For by our fruits we are known.