Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Faith And Fiction: Finding The Balance

I was privileged enough to be able this week to take part in a web radio show called The Write Stuff hosted by fellow Christian Speculative Fiction Author Parker J. Cole.  The topic was Fiction Stories: Gospel Facts.  If you missed the show, you can listen to it on the web archives here:


Parker and I had a great discussion on what it means to write "Christian Fiction".  That is an interesting topic which we discussed in great detail on the show.  I would urge you to give it a listen when you have some time.

One of the challenges we discussed was the negative response many Speculative Fiction authors face from, of all places, fellow Christians.  A large part of this stems from a lack of better discernment and understanding on the part of many believers.  If there is even the slightest doubt about something, the knee-jerk reaction is to condemn rather than seek to understand and discern.

If a story having elements of harsh language, adult situations, murder, magic, deception, rape, slavery, etc were sufficient to prevent it from being considered "Christian" literature, then we would be forced to toss out the Bible, as every one of those elements, and many more, are prevalent within the Bible stories.  Merely the presence of these elements is not sufficient a basis to decide whether or not a story can be considered "Christian".

The key to proper discernment lies within how that challenging content is handled.  The Bible reports these things as accurate renditions of the stories, but they are never gratuitous and never glorified.  So the key to proper discernment is, does the author merely report these things as they appear in the story, or are they glorified or normalized as acceptable?  In short, does the author specifically endorse what the Bible condemns, or vice versa?

Christian authors owe it to themselves to be educated and informed about what they are writing.  If an element appears in a story, a Christian author needs to know why it is there, and how it fits inside the provisions and bounds of Scriptural living for a Christian.  If it follows the example of Scripture, then it may well be possible to include these elements and the story still legitimately be considered "Christian".  If, however, these negative elements are endorsed or glorified, then the story should probably not carry the monicker "Christian".

Equally important, if there is not enough "Christ" in the story for a reader to at least be led to ask questions about God and one's relationship with Him, then once again the story probably should not rightfully carry the term "Christian".  I mean after all you can't have "Christian" without "Christ".  That doesn't mean that every story has to be a salvation story or a sermon loosely wrapped in a story.  It is possible for a Christian author to write a fiction story that is not overtly (or even subtly) Christian.  That is acceptable and if that is what an author is led to write, then by all means go for it.  But that author should know what it is he/she is writing and not attach the label "Christian" to works that for all intents and purposes do not contain elements or themes consistent with that label.

For a more in depth discussion on the topic, click on the link above and check out the show.  For an example of how I chose to strike that balance, I encourage you to check out my novels in the Chadash Chronicles series, Fool's Errand and Mystic's Mayhem, now available through Amazon.com at these links:



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