The Expository Files

Great is Diana of the Britons!


This editorial is not so much about "Princess Di" as it is about the reactions to her life and death. The title is a play on the words used almost 2,000 years ago at Ephesus. A mob had been filled with rage because Paul had been teaching the gospel, and this involved turning people away from worshipping vain things, such as gods made with human hands. Why, the goddess Diana was worshipped all over the world, and her temple was right there at Ephesus. The cried out "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" and went searching for this Paul to do him in. Interestingly enough, it was Demetrius, a silversmith, who was the main instigator. His business was making silver shrines of the goddess to sell to the people and he figured the gospel of Jesus Christ was bad for business (Acts 19:23-41).

Diana's birthplace has been made into a shrine in England, and she has become a goddess in many people's eyes. Flowers and gifts are brought in reverence to her name and laid at the altar. For many, it has gone way beyond mourning the loss of a national and international figure. It has become cultic. And yes, there are modern Demetriuses making big profits hawking their Diana shrines; everything from t-shirts and plaques to dolls and dresses. They are on a holy crusade to make as much money as possible.

There is a reason for this. British society, like many (and maybe all) western societies, has become mired in a materialistic, morally relative quicksand. What spirituality there is often takes the form of occultic practices. The Church of England and the Catholic Church in England are neither doing well, having lost over a quarter of their membership since 1980. People need spiritual sustenance, and will try and find it in the most amazing places. Organized religion failed to adequately provide such to the British, and so they have turned elsewhere.

One lesson from all this ought to be plain. Some think that in order to attract the masses, churches must compromise to keep up with the times. The Church of England compromised away almost all its convictions, until it had nothing left. Many of its clergy have denied such fundamental facts of the faith as the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ. Preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified may not draw the masses, but it will draw some. And they will find God's grace, not through the Princess, but through the Prince of Peace.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 5.12; December 1998