When astrology addict Tiberius (42 BC – 37 AD) retired to Rhodes in 6 BC he consulted many astrologers about his future prospects. He had them murdered just after they had predicted his fortune! When the astrologer Thrasyllus examined his charts and suggested that Tiberius had a glorious future, Tiberius manoevered him to the edge of a perilous cliff and menacingly asked him: “And what do you see for yourself in the stars?” Thrasyllus replied “I am in terrible danger.” Tiberius was impressed and spared the astrologer and later when he became the Emperor continually relied on Thrasyllus for advice.
Tiberius’ story makes for a fascinating contrast between pagan faith and Christian faith. Tiberius believed passionately that Fate ruled everything and that the stars and planets determined every event. He simply couldn’t help himself as he abused countless children and tortured people before throwing them off cliffs in Capri. What a contrast to Jesus who went around proclaiming God’s kingdom, healing the sick and casting out demons…
Tiberius’ story is a great way of talking about Christian faith. Here are some questions to ponder:
- Why is astrology bad for you?
- Why did Tiberius consult astrologers?
- How does Christian faith challenge belief in fate?