Is God Necessary In Christian Fiction?

August 6th, 2011

book photoWelcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

In Mike Duran’s post How Do We “Glorify God” in Our Writing? I discovered I wasn’t the only person asking if you can write Christian fiction without specifically mentioning God.

As Mike points out, it seems most Christian writers (and I would say most Christians) think you absolutely must include God specifically in a story in order for it to be Christian:

…And, sadly, that’s what many folks mean by glorifying God in their writing. For most Christian writers, glorifying God is all about their message. It means not backing away from the Gospel and not avoiding references to Christ in their novel. It means developing content that is virtuous, redemptive, and spiritually uplifting.

Which leads me to ask: Can only writers of explicit “Christian content” glorify God in their writing?…

IF NOT — if only Christian writers can glorify God in Christian stories — then how can a Christian ever hope to “do all to the glory of God”?

IF SO — if Christians can glorify God in whatever kind of story they write (or task, service, job they perform) — then how is glorifying God in a Christian story any different than glorifying God in a “secular” story?…

This is a question I’ve struggled with for years. I enjoy reading secular fantasy. I’ve tried reading Christian fantasy, but found it lacking (although I really enjoy Christian thrillers like This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti). My natural inclination is to write secular fantasy, but I feel compelled to follow the path writing greats like C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien have blazed. They wrote what they wanted to read because what they wanted wasn’t already abundantly available.

I want to write Christian fiction, specifically fantasy, that I would want to read, which may or may not explicitly mention God. But would it be considered Christian if I don’t get explicit about the Gospel?

So, what do you think? Should writers mention God in order for their work to be considered Christian, or can a Christian writer “glorify God” without getting specific?

 

 

 

Photo by chany14

Is There Christian Fantasy?

July 7th, 2011

book photoI love fantasy. My bookshelves, which I share with my fantasy-loving mother, are crammed two deep with fantasy books. Some shelves even have books on top of books. If there’s a limit to the number of books one can keep on a Nook, then I’m sure I’ll discover it and most of those will be fantasies, too.

Yet there seems to be a distinct line for many on what is secular fantasy and what is Christian.

Obviously those stories involving Satan or his demons as the protagonists can’t be considered Christian. The same is true of stories that make obvious reference to the Christian God and His angels as the good guys can’t really be considered entirely secular. Those aren’t the books I’m thinking of.

I’ve read mostly secular fantasy over the years. Some I can honestly say cannot be classified as Christian even with a lot of stretching of the imagination. Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series would be among those.

There are others, though, that I’m not so sure can be classified to my satisfaction.

For instance, in Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Joe Grey Mysteries the protagonists, who happen to be talking cats, often mull over ideas that echo Christian thoughts.

And what about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy? Nowhere is God specifically mentioned, though Tolkien himself said,

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. “

So, if God is not specifically mentioned, does that make LOTR secular?

And what about magic in fantasy?

Many people draw the line at magic, saying Christian fantasy cannot contain magic in any form unless it’s evil. Others, like John Edgell in his post The Writer of Christian Fantasy Fiction and Magic, set specific guidelines for magic usage.

For instance, Edgell says,

“…if the magic comes from a personal power source, whether outside of or within the one using the magic, that power source determines whether the magic at its essence is good or evil.”

In Edgell’s opinion, magic that comes from nature (he uses a glowing stone as an example) is neither good nor evil and therefore not at issue. However, if one person can use magic and others cannot, then it all depends on where that ability comes from as to whether the story can be Christian or not.

Personally, I look at the ability to use magic in a fantasy as simply a talent or skill similar to the ability to sing or write. It is the use of that talent or skill that makes a character good or evil. In this case, a fantasy written from a Christian worldview, as LOTR seems to be, can be classified as Christian fantasy.

What do you think? What makes a fantasy Christian or secular?

Photo by zeze57

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