When Myth Became Fact

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

  • 1 Timothy 4:7

They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

  • 2 Timothy 4:4

One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

  • Titus 1:12-16

“My friend Corineus has advanced the charge that none of us are in fact Christians at all. According to him historic Christianity is something so barbarous that no modern man can really believe it: the moderns who claim to do so are in fact believing a modern system of thought which retains the vocabulary of Christianity and exploits the emotions inherited from it while quietly dropping its essential doctrines. Corineus compared modern Christianity with the modern English monarchy: the forms of kingship have been retained, but the reality has been abandoned.
“All this I believe to be false, except of a few ‘modernist’ theologians who, by God’s grace, become fewer every day. But for the moment let us assume that Corineus is right. Let us pretend, for purposes of argument, that all who now call themselves Christians have abandoned the historic doctrines. Let us suppose that modern ‘Christianity’ reveals a system of names, ritual, formulae, and metaphors which persists although the thoughts behind it have changed. Corineus ought to be able to explain the persistence.
“Why, on his view, do all these educated and enlightened pseudo-Christians insist on expressing their deepest thoughts in terms of an archaic mythology which must hamper and embarrass them at every turn? Why do they refuse to cut the umbilical cord which binds the living and flourishing child to its moribund mother? For, if Corineus is right, it should be a great relief to them to do so. Yet the odd thing is that even those who seem most embarrassed by the sediment of ‘barbaric’ Christianity in their thought become suddenly obstinate when you ask them to get rid of it altogether. They will strain the cord almost to breaking point, but they refuse to cut it. Sometimes they will take every step except the last one. …
“A man who disbelieved the Christian story as fact but continually fed on it as myth would, perhaps, be more spiritually alive than one who assented and did not think much about it. The modernist—the extreme modernist, infidel in all but name—need not be called a fool or hypocrite because he obstinately retains, even in the midst of his intellectual atheism, the language, rites, sacraments, and story of the Christians. The poor man may be clinging (with a wisdom he himself by no means understands) to that which is his life. It would have been better that Loisy should have remained a Christian: it would not necessarily have been better that he should have purged his thought of vestigial Christianity.
“Those who do not know that this great myth became fact when the Virgin conceived are, indeed, to be pitied. But Christians also need to be reminded – we may thank Corineus for reminding us – that what became fact was a myth, that it carries with it into the world of fact all the properties of a myth. God is more than a god, not less; Christ is more than Balder, not less. We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about ‘parallels’ and ‘pagan Christs’: they ought to be there–it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic – and is not the sky itself a myth—shall we refuse to be mythopathic? For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: perfect myth and perfect fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.”

  • C. S. Lewis, The Grand Miracle, from the essay Myth Became Fact

Maybe a few points need to be defined from the lengthy Lewis quote.  Lewis refers to Loisy.  Alfred Loisy (1857-1940) was an excommunicated (1908) Catholic priest who started the Modernist movement, an offshoot of the Catholic Church.  He broke from the traditional interpretation of the Bible and his books were condemned by the Catholic Curia.

And while Loisy proclaimed that Christianity was a mere myth, Lewis also claimed Christianity as a myth, but a true myth.  He and J. R. R. Tolkien discussed the concept of the myth in extreme detail.  And their point was that while the story that is portrayed in Holy Scriptures meets all the definition of a myth, this does not mean that the myth is untrue.  Indeed, Christianity is beyond truth, but a belief in the Truth, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  But also note that C. S. Lewis was a literary scholar, focusing on poetry.  Most of the ancient mythologies, which Lewis loved to study, were written in poetic form.  Thus, Tolkien, in evangelizing to Lewis, went from a discussion of mythological poetry to the myths themselves to the Bible to the question that maybe this ‘myth’ was actually true.  In the case of Lewis, the argument held solid ground and he dug into the concept until he truly believed.

In this essay, with the beginning and end quoted above, we find Cornieus looking for an honest Christian and not finding one.  Sorry, my mind skipped the track and thought of Diogenes not finding an honest man, but there is a parallel.  Loisy’s goal in Christian modernism was to bring in line the Christian framework with the modern concepts of philosophy, psychology, and ‘science,’ all of which had atheistic roots.  Thus, treat such things as miracles as mere myth to make God seem greater in the eyes of the uneducated.  Then other traditions of the Church start to crumble, until we are where we are today.  Is anything true?  Do we have a firm foundation of any kind, anywhere?

And although many churches use only the Bible as their guide and other churches use confessions of faith, catechisms, and such that have been carefully interpreted from the Bible, there is a great deal of modernism in every denomination these days.  With the latest Pope, the modernism that got Loisy excommunicated barely over 100 years ago is now being celebrated by the church.

While Paul preached that we must reject the worldview and accept God’s plan, the church shaves corners off their hard line in the sand so that people will not be turned off.  People have accepted the secular worldview, at least in part, and the Christian worldview seems like a foreign language.

It is as if Paul’s warning to Titus above has overcome the world.  We say that we believe, but there is no belief.

Yet, have the modernists found God way out on the end of the limb, the limb that they are trying to cut from the tree?  Sorry, but the old cartoon of a man cutting a limb off a tree while standing on the limb that is being cut came to mind.  For the man cutting the limb, he falls.  For the church, the church is cut off from its source of Truth and we are indeed left with nothing that is true.

When we reject the Bible and God’s worldview, we reject truth.  After all, God created the heavens and the earth.  His worldview must be true.  To say that we believe Jesus is the Truth when we have rejected truth, we are either being irrational or worse.

We must stand firm in the Truth.  Regardless of how often people shout that the secular worldview is backed by mountains of evidence, each bit of their “proof” quotes another bit which quotes another bit and finally to someone who simply made up the idea with no proof at all or a flimsy suggestion at best.  But the secular progressives point to how so many people quote each other as being proof, when there is no fact in anything they say.

Yet, deep studious inquiry finds that the Bible is trustworthy and proven to be correct.  God made sure of that.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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