Herod’s Dead and Deadly Faith

Herod’s Dead and Deadly Faith December 27, 2019

Faith Without Conversion

Matthew 2: Herod’s Massacre of Bethlehem’s Innocent Children. [Link]

A painting in which the bodies of children make up the face of King Herod. His faith in signs and prophecy led him to kill those children.
“Head of Herod” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Herod’s flesh comprises the bodies of children he massacred at Bethlehem. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

We can have faith, we can believe, and then we can make choices in that regard.

We can choose to do something, but likewise we can choose to do nothing.

King Herod had faith in certain signs and prophecies, and so he chose to do something.

The Signs and Prophecies.

  • Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem.
  • They said to Herod, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
  • All the chief priests and scribes of the people told Herod of the Biblical prophecy of the Messiah’s birthplace: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Herod believed, he put faith in all of it, and then he chose to do something about it.

Thus, he moved to kill off competition from the newborn king.

However, to be sure and more than sure, Herod “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.” [Matthew 2:16]

Herod had FAITH, he believed; but his HOPE was a jealous lust for power; and he had no LOVE.

And so his was a dead and deadly faith.

What if Herod’s faith in signs and Biblical prophecy had moved him to conversion rather than mass murder?

What would that faith and conversion look like?

Christ escaped Herod, grew to manhood, and began preaching faith and conversion.

We may think of conversion as the beginning of faith, of belief.

However, Christ’s preaching seems to uphold rather that conversion and faith are two different things.

Repent and believe in the Gospel! [Mark 1:15]

The words repentance and conversion both translate adequately the Greek word metanoia.

However, the two Greek roots of metanoia are meta and nous; and when combined as metanoia their meaning is more literally change of mind.

Change your minds and believe in the Gospel!

Herod believed in a “gospel” of signs and prophecy, but he would not change his mind.

Such a change would have had to touch his thoughts, choices and feelings, in short, his whole interior life.

Accordingly, Herod would have had to:

  • recognize his own jealous lust for power, and work to temper it;
  • accept humbly and justly the newborn king whom God chose, anointed and sent;
  • offer himself as the child’s servant, and be ready to step aside.

You and I might never massacre toddlers.

But we can call ourselves believers, have faith in calling ourselves Christians, and yet do so without repentance. And then that would take us in Herod’s direction.

Repentance or conversion, namely a change of mind:

  • Do I bother or not to discern what is true and good?
  • Am I or am I not practicing justice in meeting my obligations to God and neighbor?
  • Do I use and enjoy everything in right and balanced measure, or do I grasp at more than I genuinely need?


Let FAITH change, that is, convert, your mind. Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Clear room within yourself for HOPE-filled desire for God and for what God truly promises. Thus, let lesser things become lesser things in your thoughts and desires.

Surrender to letting real LOVE come alive through your willing deeds of respect for the rights of both God and neighbor. Look out especially for the neighbor who is in need, weak, forgotten, neglected, or victimized.


Dear Readers of “Turn. Love. Repeat.”
California where I reside had a new law go into effect on January 1, 2020. California Assembly Bill 5 forbids freelance writers, editors and photographers from providing more than 35 content submissions to a media organization per year unless the organization hires the freelancer as a salaried employee. Patheos is a media organization, and I am a freelancer. So now I must limit my posts to 35 per year, or 1 post about every 10 days. So as not to exceed my limit here at Patheos, I will post my “extra” pieces at my own blog, Monk Notes.


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