The basic meaning of “myth” is a traditional story about gods or heroes: Athena sprang from the brow of Zeus; Hercules slew the hydra. Most religions—along with most political and social groups—have their myths, but religions are not themselves myths.
Christianity is far too complex an intellectual and social system to be a myth. It may include myths, as with certain saints’ lives, but it is not a myth itself. Myths characteristically occur in some other dimension and lack historical basis. Christianity, on the other hand, is based on the life of a historical figure—Jesus—in a certain place and time.
A secondary meaning of “myth” is a fake, fraud or fiction. Again, Christianity is too complex, ancient and minutely examined to be fake. It has, however, been argued that its basic premises are false, and such arguments must be seriously examined in the light of the evidence.
This post is an excerpt from the book Exposing Myths About Christianity by Jeffrey Burton Russell (IVP Books, 2012). It is used with permission. You can purchase this resource in its entirety here.
Published October 31, 2017