This is #16 in the Crossing the Threshold series.
The high meaning of myth: a means by which the eternal expresses itself in time, went to the low meaning of myth; a discredited popular belief , in much the same way Christianity went from being the one true metanarrative of the one true God to being….well myth!
In the undivided world prior to 1400 Christianity looked upon earlier pagan myths, not so much as lies but as primitive attempts to express God’s eternal truth prior to the coming of the full revelation of His truth in Jesus Christ. They did not dismiss the pagan myth; they sanctified it by using it as a means to communicate in story language the one “True Myth”, the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is exactly what we earlier saw the Apostle Paul doing in Athens; taking the myth of an unknown god and explaining it with the true myth, the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, beyond myth in the primordial past lay true myth in eternity, for as Mircea Eliade says myth is simply “nostalgia for eternity”.
When Christianity and the Bible were rejected as fable and falsehood by The Enlightenment, the world lost this understanding of true myth. Instead of being the source from which all truth originated the Biblical narrative was reduced to just another “myth” and all myth was reduced to its lowest possible meaning; a false explanation or a pleasant lie.
This loss puts men in perilous circumstances for “whether or not people are aware of the fact, they cannot live without myth, nor can they reach full stature as people without true myth. Wrong myths destroy lives; those partially true affect the human spirit like disease. A proper response to true myth is necessary to moral and spiritual health” (R.Hein)
What is the proper response to true myth? It is not to deny it like the secular modernist do; nor to relegate it to a subjective personal belief signifying nothing like the postmodernist does. And certainly it is not to abstract it from scripture making the Biblical text nothing more than a set of doctrinal truths and moral precepts, the way so many in the religious world do.
A proper response is to see that true myth is essential to who we are as human beings. We were created in the image of God to live a mythic life in an epic story. The proper response is to identify true myth with Truth himself Jesus Christ, for only then can we understand “why we respond as we do to patterns of myth, why the human heart is so strongly moved and fascinated by them and where they come from in the first place.” (R. Hein)