For centuries, the church has taught us that the Bible is a literal representation of actual events and people from millennia ago. But is it possible that the events in the Bible never occurred - that all those people never existed?
In a work sure to rattle the pews of even the most liberal of churches, ex-Anglican priest Tom Harpur contends that Christianity is built on a history that didn't happen, upon a series of miracles that were never performed, and on allegories scavenged from the teachings and myths of ancient cultures.
Long before the advent of Christ, the Egyptians and other ancient societies believed in the coming of a messiah, in a Madonna and her child, a virgin birth, and the incarnation of the spirit made flesh. Civilisations as diverse as the Persians and the Aztecs shared the same religious doctrine as Christian churches today, long before the testaments were purportedly recorded as "history". According to Harpur, the early Christian church accepted these ancient truths as the very tenets of Christianity and set about covering up all attempts to reveal any elements of the Bible as myth.
What began as a belief system with the potential to transform the faith of millions has been twisted by blind literalism into a mind-numbing tradition of unquestioned belief in allegory and ritual.
As he reconsiders a lifetime of worship and study, Harpur eloquently reveals a cosmic faith built on universal truths. His message is clear: our blind faith in literalism is killing Christianity and dividing religions; only a return to an inclusive belief system where Christ lives within each of us will save it.