Thursday, September 22, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Myth

Now as myth transcends thought, incarnation transcends myth. The heart
of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the
dying God without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of
legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens – at a
particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable
historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying
nobody knows when or where, to a historical person crucified (it is
all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease
to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes
derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than
from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both
assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though
it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to
all myths. The one is hardly more necessary than the other is.

[C. S. Lewis, “Myth Became Fact,” in The Grand Miracle and Other
Selected Essays on Theology and Ethics from God in The Dock, ed.
Walter Hooper (New York: Ballantine, 1970), pp. 38-42 (41-42).]

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