Liberal Myth of Christian Origins

The term Liberal Myth of Christian Origins is used by N.T. Wright to identify a non-biblical model for the origins of Christianity that is widely held among liberal congregations and seminaries. As it denies the divinity of Christ, the Myth can be considered an extreme form of Arianism.

Five elements to the myth

Wright identifies the following elements of the Myth:

Myth 1 ~ There were dozens if not hundreds of documents about Jesus other than those in the Bible. Some of these have now come to light, for example in the books discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in mid 20th Century. It is these books that give us the real truth about Jesus.

Myth 2 ~ The four Gospels in the New Testament were later products aimed at making Jesus divine. The church selected them at the time of Constantine (in the 4th Century) in order to claim power and prestige. The church ruthlessly suppressed the multiple alternative voices.

Myth 3 ~ Jesus himself wasn’t at all as the Bible describes him. He didn’t think he was God’s son, or that he would die for the sins of the world; he didn’t come to found a new religion. He was a human being pure and simple, who gave some wonderful moral and spiritual teaching, that’s all. He may well have been married, perhaps even with a child on the way, when his career was cut short by death.

Myth 4 ~ Christianity as we know it is therefore based on a mistake. Mainstream Christianity is sexist, especially anti-women and anti-sex itself. It has aimed at, and in some places achieved, considerable social power and prestige, enabling it to be politically quietist and conformist.

Myth 5 ~ To revive the truth for which Jesus lived, and perhaps for which he died, we must embrace a different form of spirituality based on metaphor rather than literal truth, of feeling rather than structure. Individuals should discover whatever faith they can believe in, as long as it does not offend liberal sensitivities.

Refutation of the myths

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See also