TURNING TO MYTHS

Myths have been part and parcel of many ancient civilizations. Myths are imaginary stories that man conjures up to explain the reality of the world around him. Greek, Roman, Hindu myths have not only been popular, they have helped shape the outlook of the people through generations in these civilizations. Myths don’t have the burden of proof and people didn’t care as long as they conveyed a message, often one that they needed to hear. In today’s jargon, myths denote falsehoods that need to be debunked.

That belief is not based on myths but on historically verifiable events is truly a distinctive aspect of the Christian philosophy. And Paul, writing to his protégé, Timothy, warns that fickle minded as his listeners were, people were prone to turn away from sound doctrine to myths.

‘Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’ (2Timothy 4:2-4)

Sound doctrine is based on the word of God, which is divinely inspired. On close examination, the 66 books of the Bible proclaim a singular non-contradictory message- one that centers on salvation offered by Christ for sinful man. It is this message that Timothy is asked to preach and we are asked to hold on to. However the pride of man, which rebels against the dominance of God cannot accept the reality of man’s brokenness. And when brokenness is taken away from the experiential reality of man, and self ascends the throne, God cannot rule over man’s soul. He invariably turns away from sound doctrine, much to his loss.

To replace the void, he turns to myths, which are convenient falsehoods that man badly wants to believe in. And so he will find teachers who propagate what he badly itches to hear and myths eventually replace sound doctrine as the basis of life. And when we look around us, there is no dearth of myths. Those who preach the gospel of prosperity go on to build mega-churches, empires and personal fiefdoms. Countless naïve follow them to their ruin as they spend a lifetime dreaming of riches, wealth, sparking good health and material abundance. The gospel of tradition is another myth that has overrun mainline churches. Priests and bishops who run these churches find the propagation of traditionalism at the expense of a personal relationship with Christ convenient to control the many who follow them. And those who foolishly follow find it more convenient to follow tradition rather than a sacrificial life of discipleship under Christ.

And what is the end result? A people who endlessly strive for fulfillment but don’t find it. For neither the pursuit of prosperity nor the seeking of tradition can truly fulfill man whose soul cries out for the fullness of God himself. The myth of Sisyphus comes to mind. Punished for being too cunning, he was cursed to roll a heavy stone up a hill and then watch as the stone rolled down, to repeat his task endlessly. The myth of Sisyphus is an apt reminder of the futility in life for one who turns away from sound doctrine to myths.

 

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