by Bill Nugent
A popular line of attack against the Christian Faith is to compare Christianity to ancient pagan myths and then claim that the early Christians “borrowed” elements of the myths to compose the Gospel story. These critics study a wide variety of myths and then point to leading characters in the myths and try to find parallels with them and various aspects of the life of Christ. In this way they attempt to set up a mythological person as a “Christ figure.” The popular book The Da Vinci Code which attempts to equate the Gospel story with myth uses a slightly different tactic but with similar effect. In this article I will show that not only is this a complete abuse and false interpretation of the facts but a correct understanding of the facts actually buttresses and undergirds the truth of the Christian faith. The critics are about to be hoisted by their own petard!
Famous Christian scholar and author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) has said that pagan myths are not random storytelling but are a grasping for the reality of God. If what Lewis says is true we should reasonably expect that there should be “Christ figures” in virtually every myth. The Bible itself confirms this in Ecclesiastes 3:11 which says “He has also set eternity in their heart.” The heart of every person longs for eternal life. Any anthropologist will tell you that religion is the centerpiece of every culture. Every culture uses myths or stories to explain life and the hereafter. Many myths involve a central theme having to do with the struggle of good versus evil. Good triumphs over evil often with the aid of a deliverer who could be called a savior or Christ figure. These are themes native to the human heart and are expressed as myths by people who were not exposed to the teachings of the Bible.
I recently read an article about a festival celebrated in the Shinto religion of Japan that contains amazing parallels to the feast of Tabernacles, which is a Jewish high holy day feast that is described in the Bible. There was no contact between Jews and Japanese in antiquity so one could not have borrowed from the other.
My point is that mythology, containing some parallel with the Bible, is virtually universal in human culture and these myths are evidence of human search for the Savior. Therefore pagan mythology, despite its idolatry and distorted view of God, does confirm the truth of the Bible in a backhanded sort of way.
Now we come to the crucial question, the very crux of the matter. Why is the Bible true and all the other stories false? Why is the salvation story of an obscure people on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, namely the Jews, true and all the narratives of the Greeks, Romans, Asians, Africans, American Indians and Norse mere idolatrous myth? Let me assure you that it’s not cultural arrogance on the part of us Christians that causes us to assert that our message is true. There are three main areas of solid evidence that compels us to claim that the Bible is true and all others mere myth. (Actually there are more than three but I will limit this discussion to just three.)
Reason number one: The Bible is confirmed by predictive prophecy and fulfillment of those prophecies in real history. The Bible contains thousands of predictive prophecies. No other holy book or occultic source has anything that compares to the Bible’s record of prophecy and fulfillment of prophecy. The fact that Christ came in fulfillment of hundreds of predictive prophecies is proof positive that He is not a mere “savior figure” but is indeed the promised Messiah who came to die for the sins of all people. Pagan myths have little or no connection to real history or independent verification by eyewitnesses. By contrast Jesus showed his disciples that He had indeed risen from the dead “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3.)
Number two: The Bible is confirmed as true in our own day by experiential power. Miracles occur by prayers offered to God the Father in the name of Jesus. Occultic activity such as poltergeist activity is halted by commanding it to cease in the name of Jesus. There are many reports of UFO abductions being halted by calling out the name of Jesus. For documentation of UFO abductions being stopped by the name of Jesus see the April 2001 issue ofCharisma magazine, page 46.
Number three: The laws of logic, specifically the law of noncontradiction, prove that two contradictory statements can’t both be true. Pagan religions contradict Christianity. This necessitates the admission that only one religion can be true. Either Christianity is true and all other religions false or one nonchristian religion is true and all other truth claims, be they mythical or Christian, are false. The evidence is clearly on the side of the Bible which reveals Christ as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world.
Paul, the apostle, in his sermon in Athens recorded in Acts 17:22-31, confronted the idolatry of the ancient Greeks and exhorted them to repent. It is clear that Christianity did not borrow parts of mythical stories but rather contradicted them at numerous points and confronted them. Christianity is the solid gold truth that the mythmakers, perhaps unconsciously, sought after.