Are we merely reading Christian truth into this output? Is Christianity in the eye of the beholder? These are appropriate questions, especially when we consider that the authors of many of these stories do not profess any intention of depicting Christian reality. Yet finding Christ and the cross in these ways has a solid history. It is reminiscent of Justin Martyr, who saw the cross everywhere—in things made by human hands, like ship masts and tools, and in the things of nature, like the human face. This is the same Justin who claimed the truth, wherever it was found, as Christian truth.

When St. Paul preached at the Areopagus (Acts 17.16-34), he cited pagan scriptures and alluded to pagan statues, showing how they point to God, the Father of Jesus Christ. Many of today’s cultural symbols are liable to point to Christ as well. They can’t help it, because the Truth that underlies everything simply bursts through.

Truth, story, myth, history, allegory, typology: what do these all mean? Can’t we just read our Bible simply? Maybe we should all just spend more of our time with the kinds of people who are utterly untouched by these categories and questions. Yet the times in which we live demand the kind of inquiry I’ve been sketching here. We live in an age when the categories of truth, fiction, and myth are both clearer and more muddled than ever. We are obsessed with finding “the truth behind the myth,” and yet, the Lord of the Rings trilogy notwithstanding, we’ve nearly lost the meaning and effect of myth. In our age, too, debates about creation and evolution, or creation as evolution, rage in the public square, and fundamentalist readings of Scripture are gaining in popularity. We owe it to ourselves to bring to the fore questions about the nature and function of story. These questions can be a part of our maturing into a faith that penetrates the whole of our being.

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