Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The exciting, dangerous book, whose bark is worse than its bite

Written by: on January 29, 2024

I love history. “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” is a brilliant synthesis of the world’s major religions, and faiths. I have no doubt that the author has excelled in his endeavours in drawing together the similarities of each (Pxiii).
At first glance, a young, unlearned Christian may be confused or put off by the author’s idea that “all religions are the same” (my wording). Indeed, the idea of the book may be used as a deterrent for those seeking to follow “one way” in Christ Jesus. A cynic of Christianity may weaponise the similarities within the pages of the book as “proof” that Christianity is merely a choice, one of many, but not the only way to heaven (a transcendent experience or a moment of apotheosis where the hero achieves a higher state of consciousness or understanding or attaining a heavenly or divine realm) see sections “Call to Adventure” (P41), “The Crossing of the First Threshold” (P64), “Atonement with the Father” (P105) or “The Ultimate Boon” (P148). So what is to be done in response to this “dangerous” book?

Firstly, it’s not dangerous. Understood by many theologians but popularised in the modern era by Pastor Tim Keller, the meta-narrative of the Bible synthesises with Campbell’s work. In his book, “The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith,” Tim Keller delves into the parable of the prodigal son from the Gospel of Luke and uses it as a lens to explore the meta-narrative of the Bible, emphasising the themes of grace, redemption, and the character of God. Throughout “The Prodigal God”, Keller’s views on the metanarrative of the Bible are clear. According to Keller, the Bible’s overarching storyline revolves around God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ. The meta-narrative unfolds as follows:

  • Creation: God establishes a perfect world.
  • Fall: Humanity rebels against God, leading to sin and brokenness.
  • Redemption: God initiates a plan of salvation through Jesus Christ’s life,
    death, and resurrection.
  • Restoration: The ultimate goal is the renewal of all things, where God restores the world to its intended perfection.

Keller, of course, sees Jesus Christ as the central figure or “hero” (Campbell P 23) in this meta-narrative, bringing redemption and hope to a fallen world.

Secondly, Christianity sits atop the pantheon of other religions.
The unique claim of Christianity lies in the person of Jesus Christ, who embodies God’s love, grace, and salvation. The central Christian narrative centres on the redemptive work of Christ, symbolising the ultimate expression of divine love through his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. Christianity stands apart as it acknowledges the fallen nature of humanity, offering a profound solution through faith in Jesus. The Bible spans diverse genres and historical periods, presenting a cohesive narrative revealing God’s salvation plan. Biblical events’ prophetic fulfilment and historical accuracy lend credibility to our faith. Christianity uniquely emphasises the transformative power of grace, inviting believers into a personal relationship with God. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, provides guidance and empowerment, setting Christianity apart in offering a profound and intimate connection with the divine. Christianity asserts its distinctiveness through the centrality of Christ, the transformative impact of grace, and the hope of eternal life. This conviction fosters a commitment to love, compassion, and justice, encouraging believers to share the transformative message of Christ with humility and respect for others on their spiritual journeys. While many of these essential elements correlate with other religions listed in Campbell’s book, Christianity’s uniqueness remains in the knowledge that salvation is not and never by works but by faith alone in the work of Christ. No other faith boasts that. All others demand that the “follower” does something to attain that transcendent experience, achieving that higher consciousness or understanding.

Thirdly, somewhat mischievously, I enjoyed hearing all the ways the devil has tried to emulate, copycat style, the gospel, but to no avail. The devil’s attempts to mimic Christianity are best understood through the lens of his insidious desire to distort the truth and lead people astray, see 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 and 1 Peter 5:8. Christianity offers a path to redemption and a transformed life through faith in Jesus Christ. Satan attempts to counterfeit these aspects, creating distorted imitations to divert individuals from the genuine path of righteousness. By mimicking the transformative power of Christianity, the devil seeks to sow confusion and lure people away from the true source of grace and salvation. The devil understands the unifying and transformative impact of the Christian community. In his attempts to copy Christianity, he creates false doctrines, divisive ideologies, or counterfeit spiritual experiences to fracture the unity and fellowship that authentic Christian communities strive to create. By understanding the devil’s tactics to mimic Christianity, believers can remain watchful, anchored in the genuine teachings of Christ, and resist deceptions that may lead away from the path of righteousness and authentic spiritual life.

I loved the book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces!”


Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 3rd ed. Novato, CA: New
World Library, 2008.
Keller, Timothy. The Prodigal God. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2009.
The New International Version Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

About the Author


Glyn Barrett

I am the founding, Lead Pastor of !Audacious Church in Manchester, England. I was born in Manchester, but moved to Australia at the age of two. My wife and I were married in Australia and began married and ministry life in England 28 years ago. After serving as youth pastors for 12 years, we moved to Manchester to pioneer !Audacious Church. As a church we now have 7 locations. 3 in Manchester, Chester, Cardiff (Wales), Sheffield, and Geneva (Switzerland). In 2019 I became the National Leader of Assemblies of God in Great Britain. We have over 600 churches in our movement and have planted 50 new churches since May 2022 with a goal of planting 400 new churches between May 2022 and May 2028. I am the European Lead for MM33, which is the church planting ministry for Assemblies of God Global and also chair Empowered21 Western Europe. I'm happily married to Sophia, with two children, one dog and two motorbikes. I love Golf, coffee and spending time with friends. Looking forward to meeting you all, and creating new friendships.

13 responses to “The exciting, dangerous book, whose bark is worse than its bite”

  1. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Hey Glynn! Thanks for your apologetic response to this book and I love your use of the Prodigal God book as well. I’ve always appreciated Keller’s openness to dialogue with people of other faiths and I think he paved a winsome approach for many of us as pastors and apologists.

    I’m wondering how you might respond to someone who would say that Buddha sits atop “the pantheon of religions” and that he embodies the truth of the meta narrative?

    Also, while I agree with you that the Christian meta-narrative is the Truth in its clearest form, how might other religion or cultures narratives be trying to point towards the Grand narrative of Scripture? Is there any general revelation in these other stories, or is it, as you seem to suggest, distortion from “The Shadow”, Satan himself?


    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Thanks, Ryan. A few thoughts in response to your questions.
      It’s always important to note that people from different cultures and backgrounds are on a journey seeking answers to life’s fundamental questions. Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The distinctive claims of Christianity, such as, God incarnate, the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, and the resurrection, are really important. The “who” of these truths differentiates it from Buddhism among other religions. I.e., God Himself came to rescue us. He did not use some gnostic demiurge or lesser god to do so. There is a great paper called “Buddhist Emptiness and the Christian God” by John B Cobb Jr, which gives further insights.

      Regarding how other religious and cultural narratives might point towards the Grand narrative of Scripture, we can consider General Revelation and also the commonality of ethical teachings revealing a shared moral awareness inherent in humanity.

      Regarding “The Shadows” work, there is no doubt that general revelation exists in every aspect of teaching, for God can use any means to point to Jesus. There is an interesting phrase, “father of lies,” which is found in the Gospel of John, where Jesus is speaking to a group of Jewish leaders who were opposing him. In John 8:44 (New International Version), Jesus says: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus is emphasising the opposition between God’s truth and the deceptive nature of the devil. By calling the devil the “father of lies,” Jesus underscores the idea that falsehood and deception are fundamental aspects of the devil’s character. The verse suggests that lying is not only a behaviour exhibited by the devil but is deeply embedded in his nature. It would not be a step too far, therefore, to assume that as he is the father of ALL lies, then any disparity between truth and falsehood is the work of Satan himself.

      Cobb, John B., Jr. “Title of the Article.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 45, no. 1 (1977): 11-25. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/XLV.1.11.

  2. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Glyn, thanks for your encouraging post!

    Do you think that any of the similarities between the Biblical story and other stories is from God contextualizing for us? For example, if the culture of Biblical times were different, would the Biblical story have any contextual differences?

  3. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Great questions Christy.
    In Christianity, God has been actively involved in human history and has communicated to different cultures in various ways. The Bible, as the primary source of revelation, contains truths that are timeless and transcendent.

    The similarities between the Biblical story and stories from other religions could be interpreted in a few ways. One perspective is that God, in His wisdom, might have chosen to communicate certain universal truths in ways that would be more relatable to diverse cultures. This could be seen as a form of contextualisation, where the message is adapted to the cultural and intellectual framework of a particular time and place.
    For example, the concept of a divine being, the struggle between good and evil, and the moral principles found in many religious stories may reflect a shared human understanding of fundamental truths. From a Christian perspective, we might argue that God allowed for these similarities to create points of connection and understanding between different cultures, paving the way for a more universal comprehension of His overarching plan for humanity.

    However, it’s important to note that while there may be similarities, the Christian faith maintains its distinctiveness, particularly in its core beliefs such as the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. These events are unique.
    In addressing the second part of your question about cultural context, it’s possible to assert that certain aspects of the Biblical narrative might have been expressed differently if they were revealed in a different cultural context. The core truths, however, would remain unchanged. God has the ability to convey His message in ways that resonate with the cultural sensibilities of a particular time and place while ensuring the preservation of essential truths.

  4. Graham English says:

    Glyn, I appreciate the statement, “Satan attempts to counterfeit these aspects, creating distorted imitations to divert individuals from the genuine path of righteousness.”
    I definitely believe that Satan prowls around looking for someone to devour. Why do you think the devil’s tactics are so effective in drawing people away from the real thing? How might we disciple people to discern this?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hi Graham. I think the devil has perfected his cunning work over the millennia. His tried and trusted ways as the angel of light no doubt have been effective in pulling the wool over people’s eyes from the Garden of Eden. I love the verse in Acts 19, in reference to the riot in Ephesus, that says, “The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there”(Acts 19:32 NIV). That MOST of the crowd joined the throng but were ultimately clueless as to what was taking place is so true of many issues in society today. People march for many causes, but how many really know the why behind the what?
      The discipling of people in this is brilliantly summarised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”(1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV) The devil has no NEW tactics, just the common old ways of leading us astray. I think the best combat for that is firstly to make sure our people read and know the Word of God and secondly, stay in relational accountability in the church.

      Holy Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.

  5. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Thank you for your post, Glyn. I couldn’t have written it better!
    Maybe you are getting at this, or maybe not, but I don’t think the average churchgoer ever challenges themselves to why they believe what they believe. If they say the “sinners’ prayer,” attend church every week, and be the best they can be, that is all they need to do.
    My time in Seminary made me dig deep into why I believe what I do. Your writing is making me wonder what teaching pastors need to do to stimulate their flock to do some deep thinking, I don’t know what the answer is. Any thoughts?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hi Chris. Great question, and in fact we started a series from the book of Jude on that very thing today. Speaking as a pastor, I think it’s important that Christians KNOW the Bible, not just trust the pastor. Teaching the congregation to understand and implement the tools of exegesis and hermeneutics (see Gordon Fee’s book – How to Read the Bible for all it’s worth) means that we can say to the church, “Don’t just trust me, study the bible for yourself.” Maybe hero worship of the pastor or the “messiah syndrome” plays a role id dissuading people from critical thinking.
      1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give a reason for the faith you confess” – in other words – THINK!
      Maybe if we start there, we can achieve what you rightly have pointed out.

      Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 4th ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.

  6. Daren Jaime says:

    Hey Glyn. Thank you for this! I truly viewed you post as a defender of the faith, giving believers a new perspective on how to approach Campbell’s writing. His mythological method can surely rock the foundation of novices and even those who are deeply rooted in the Christian faith, but your post gives us all another lens to view from. You touched upon being respectful of others in their spiritual journey. I believe we in the body of Christ can be found guilty at times in this area. What nuggets can you share in how you communicate to others the importance of this major principle?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hi Daren! Brilliant question. I think it all starts with Jesus! Jesus’ ministry is perfectly summarised in the Bible’s phrase “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). His life demonstrated an extraordinary balance between compassion and unwavering integrity. In embracing grace, Jesus displayed endless love, forgiveness, and acceptance. He extended kindness to sinners and marginalised individuals, prioritising salvation over condemnation. Simultaneously, his commitment to truth manifested in teachings that confronted hypocrisy and upheld moral principles. Learning from Jesus’ example prompts us to cultivate empathy, understanding, and humility while upholding the truth. By embodying grace and truth, we can create a harmonious existence, offering compassion without compromising the Truth. Jesus came as “The Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). He was the whole way, the entirety of truth and the perfection of life, and yet displayed no arrogance or pride. We can learn from that. Grace AND Truth are the way to be respectful to all.

  7. Chad Warren says:

    Glyn, I really appreciate your perspective on the reading this week. I found the “Metanarrative” approach from Time Keller very helpful. Campbell seemed to “pick and choose” from various myths to demonstrate the elements of his Monomyth theory, while Keller gives a cohesive look at the overall structure of the Christian “Myth.” Both your thoughts and Keller’s reminded me of a statement C.S. Lewis makes in a letter to a friend about the Christian “Myth.” He states, “Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: i.e., the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things.’”[1] What, if any, connections do you find between your thoughts and those of Lewis and Keller?
    [1] Lewis, C.S., They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, ed., Walter Hooper (New York: Macmillian Publishing Co., 1979), 977.

  8. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Hi Chad. The uniting factor in myth is definitely the hero factor. That CS Lewis calls it “God’s myth” is a clever way to posit the truth of the Christian message in a world fraught with myth stories. In many ways, Lewis’s approach is like that of Paul on Mars Hill in Athens, addressing the crowd in the context of the “Altar to an unknown god” (Acts 17:23). Finding a link between the culture and the truth of God was Paul way to evangelise Athens. Keller is doing the same. He points out the popular stories of the day and draws a perfect connection between the Hero in popular stories and connects them to Jesus. It is modern-day evangelism, with the exact method that Paul used nearly 2000 years ago.

  9. mm Kari says:


    Thanks for your great words of wisdom. I really enjoyed your blog from the tile onward! I appreciated your approach and especially bringing in Tim Keller’s book as a parallel. Your answers to previous comments show deep wisdom and understanding of Scripture. You are also clearly practicing what you preach in having an answer and being able to apply it to everyday life. May God continue to use these gifts for His glory as you continue forward in your journey!

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