Water on the Moon and Demythologizing

It looks like there might be water on the moon (H/T Huff Post). As a backyard astronomer (with my tiny 4.5 inch Dobsonian) I love stuff like this.

But there is a pinch with my religious faith in all this. Right? Jesus goes "up" into heaven? The creeds say he "descended" into hell?

This is why I've always been attracted to Bultmann's demythologizing approach and, recently thanks to Tracy, the work of Tillich.

From the beginning of Bultmann's Kerygma and Myth:

The cosmology of the New Testament is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three storied structure, with the earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beings -- the angels. The underworld is hell, the place of torment. Even the earth is more than the scene of natural, everyday events, of the trivial round and common task...

All this is the language of mythology, and the origin of the various themes can be easily traced in the contemporary mythology of Jewish Apocalyptic and in the redemption myths of Gnosticism. To this extent the kerygma is incredible to modern man, for he is convinced that the mythical view of the world is obsolete. We are therefore bound to ask whether, when we preach the Gospel today, we expect our converts to accept not only the Gospel message, but also the mythical view of the world in which it is set. If not, does the New Testament embody a truth which is quite independent of its mythical setting? If it does, theology must undertake the task of stripping the Kerygma from its mythical framework, of "demythologizing" it.

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4 thoughts on “Water on the Moon and Demythologizing”

  1. This reminds me of the idea of the Christological deficit in Oliver Davies "Transformation Theology": so, where is Jesus' body then? If we follow some formula of demythologization (and I agree that we should), then where do we locate the body that "arose into heaven"? Robert Jenson provocatively claims that the body is located in the sacramental elements, but I'm not sure that has anything other than a rhetorical effect, and is not so much a demythologization as a remythologization. Any thoughts?

  2. If you "demythologize" Christianity, what are you left with, really? Jewish Apocalyptic mythology wasn't just contemporary with Christianity, Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet.

  3. If Jesus is hurtling at near the speed of light and has been since he left the surface two thousand years ago, he'd still be well within the galaxy.

    But this actually makes me think of your Chocolate Jesus post.

    Say Jesus is a metaphor for a positive ideal, and that ideal is so completely destroyed and humiliated, cheapened beyond recognition, such that all seems lost, but the ideal returns anyway to live again in a new set of people.

    That's worth getting excited about, yeah? No mythology necessary, still room for mysticism. Kind of the way Spong handles it.

  4. Heaven is a place in the future. The mystery of both creation and redemption is that the future has invaded the past. Adiaphora.

    I want to believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. The world is intrinsically unfair, and it isn't fair that it should be so. But Chrisitanity teaches me there will be no justice and that my salvation should be based on something so accidental as belief.

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