I have a theory. Feel free to disagree with me, but I think H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos depicts the Day of the Lord.
There’s been a resurgence of interest in Lovecraft over the last decade or so. I think part of his resurgence is because this early 20th century writer invited others to write stories within the world he created.
In the Cthulhu Mythos, ancient elder gods are in the process of returning to the earth. Humanity is nothing compared to them. We are less than ants. They are so beyond us that to delve into their secret knowledge will cause madness. Their followers are insane. And when the Old Ones return to earth, the best case scenario for anyone is to be eaten first. To be consumed, so as to not suffer under the tortuous madness of their presence.
I was introduced to Lovecraft in my undergraduate work and enjoyed reading his horror stories. I think the contemporary stories being told in this mythology often far exceed Lovecraft in his own world.
So, what does any of this have to do with the Day of the Lord?
Both the Old and New Testaments talk about the Day of the Lord (also the Day of God, or the Day of Christ). Scholars quibble over the details, but ultimately the Day of Yahweh refers to the time in the future when God will bring about final conclusions to the earth. It is an end of this world and a beginning of the world to come. It will be a glorious day!1 Jesus returns to make all things right. The day shall dawn on this dark world and the Lord Himself will rescue his people!
Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.2
But there are two sides to the Day of the Lord.
For those outside of God’s grace, it will be terrifying. Isaiah wrote, “Look, the day of the Lord is coming— cruel, with rage and burning anger— to make the earth a desolation and to destroy the sinners on it.”3 The prophets Joel,4 Amos,5 and the Apostle John6 also describe the Day of the Lord as day of ultimate dread.
And this brings us back to the horror stories of Mr. Lovecraft. I think what we see in his stories, and those who continue to tell his stories, is the destructive side of the Day of the Lord. It is a metaphor for what the return of Christ will look like for those outside of His grace. It is an image of the madness of ultimate judgment when each and every human is to give account for his or her actions.
Now, I’ve floated this theory past my Christian friends who also enjoy Lovecraft and there are two common objections.
First, they object on the basis of Lovecraft’s atheism. How could he write about something he didn’t believe in?
This has a simple answer: Romans 1. God is understood through his creation. Surely there must be a God who cares about right and wrong. And if flawed humanity cares about justice, how much more will the perfect God?
Second, they object that the religious characters in the Cthulhu Mythos are all crazy, mad, and immoral.
But in my thesis, Lovecraft is not writing from a Christian’s perspective. He doesn’t see things through the Christian worldview, he’s seeing things through the lens of an unregenerate man. And I’m not sure about you, but as a Christian I am often called crazy, mad, or immoral. Often on the same day.
Like I said earlier, I might be wrong here. Feel free to disagree. But as a Christian, whenever I read tales set in Lovecraft’s world I cannot help but wonder if maybe, just maybe this gifted author unintentionally revealed his fears about the world to come, and gave us just one more reason to sing “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” as we await that terrifying and glorious Day of the Lord.