Man, Myth, & Legend

July 7, 2017

We all know the great myths and legends of countless cultures, past and present. It's not particularly difficult for us to name figures like Zeus, Apollo, Odin, Thor, Mars, Saturn, and a dozen other gods. Then we can name people such as Odysseus, Hercules, and Ariadne, as well as beasts like the minotaur, giants, and Sleipnir. Even in the United States, we have our own legends: Coyote, Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Pecos Bill, Casey Jones, Johnny Appleseed (some of whom were real). Every culture has its stories -- and everyone loves a good story.

 

Well, most people do, anyway. Some look on myths and stories and then use them to turn a skeptical eye towards reality. Thomas Jefferson is a famous example. He cut out all the miracles from his Bible; they were too much like the old myths and legends, incredible acts of power defying all reason. Similarly the theologian Rudolf Bultmann said we had to "de-mythologize" the New Testament, take out all the supernatural elements, because to accept it as it's written "would involve a sacrifice of the intellect which could have only one result -- a curious form of schizophrenia and insincerity." Bultmann said more: "Man's knowledge and mastery of the world have advanced to such an extent through science and technology that it is no longer possible for anyone seriously to hold the New Testament view of the world [ . . . ]" New Testament views -- New Testament facts -- had become just another myth for Jefferson and Bultmann. Turning water into wine was just another magic trick.

 

Somewhere, then, people decided the power of God is just like Babe the Blue Ox: just a myth, a legend, and nothing more. Nothing could be further from the biblical truth: an Almighty and loving God who acts in history on behalf of His people. No fiction of Man could ever come close to the beautiful reality: Jesus Christ came and died for lost sinners -- but the grave could not hold him. And because of that, we are free.

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