Rawlings School of Divinity
Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics (MA)
Kenosis, Hero's Journey, Perennial Philosophy, Natural Theology, Monomyth, Apologetics, Secular Portrayals of Christ, Recurrence, Theosis, Tao, Logos, Dharma, Yi, Te, The Way, Philosophy
Christianity | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Smith, Jared Anthony, "Natural Christology: the Necessity of Christ by Analysis of Natural Religion" (2023). Masters Theses. 987.
The hero’s journey [or the monomyth] and the perennial philosophy are two conceptions of human experience that popularize a single old idea: a common human plight recurs across time through humanity’s socio-cultural variety. The monomyth highlights this through narrative modes; the perennial philosophy does this through religious modes. Both distillations have garnered a Christian counterattack, being thought to dangerously depart from the gospel in their essence as they nonetheless borrow its language and timbre. Yet, their incorporation of the gospel ventures beyond appropriation. Supposing these secular notions esteem the recurrent human journey with any alacrity, a careful apologetic discerns and utilizes an advantageous middle-area of Christological knowledge that lay between the revealed Christ of Scripture and the shared errors of these two conceptions. The continual reappearance of a mythic-hero and of created religious examples to model them bookend two sides of a puzzle: a portrait of the hero best understood in light of the historical Christ on one side, and a religious mode of dying-to-self summated as the practiced “kenosis” of humanity on the other. However, that hero and their kenosis reflect the salvation found for the human soul through the kenotic exemplar of the revealed, historical Christ. This is the “Natural Christology” of the human race; its abductive propositions are to God the Son as those of natural theology are to God in general. Natural Christology may be apprehended by Christian apologetics from emergences of the perennial philosophy in popular religion and the monomyth in popular stories. Proper discernment allows these destructive manifestations of secular culture to serve the ends of drawing the lost to the only condition that fully satisfies their partial portraits of human character; only the historical reality of a heroic Savior’s death and resurrection may meaningfully grant godly perfection to those who are identified in His kenosis.