This risk is not unique to Christian fiction by any means. But whether it is an author, a theologian, or a popular pastor/speaker, filtering Christianity through one person’s theological lens tends to create a warped view of the Faith once delivered to the saints.
. . . knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.
(2Pe 1:20-21 ASV)
Consequently, in creating Christian fiction, we risk creating elements of fictional Christianity. The danger for the Christian reader is, especially with fiction, it is easy to simply accept something as truth unexamined. Reading fiction can bypass the analytical processes of the brain unless you are slapped in the face by a concept.
This happens in churches all the time. There were times as a pastor I would say things that I feared I’d get some disagreement on. No one would question me on it. Though I have no way to know how often my sermons were the subject of discussions around the Sunday lunch table.
Like Michael W. Smith’s song, “Wired for Sound,” so many don’t follow the example of the Beroeans, who tested teachings against the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11) Instead, if it sounds right and they like the speaker, many will not blink an eye and drink the koolaid.
How much truer for fiction when we turn off our minds to get lost in a fictional world?
Beyond whether any specific character is acting in a non-Christian way, whether they cuss or not, etc., is what primary themes does the story teach? Are they Biblical? Is their interpretation confirmed by other reputable sources?
By way of example, last week I started reading Kevin Anderson’s book, Hopscotch. Granted, this isn’t a Christian book, and I have no idea whether Kevin claims to be Christian or not. It is a science fiction story, based on the premise that in the future, people will learn how to move their souls or essence from one body to another. So a husband could switch bodies with his wife for a time, or a co-worker.
I’m currently about two-thirds into the book. So, no spoilers in the comments, thank you. As it stands now, it presents a very Gnostic way of looking at the body. Not that the body is evil, but it is disposable. Not important to who you are. Sexual morals are also non-existent, indicating a non-Christian understanding of marriage and sex.
However, I’m not done with the story yet. There is some indication that one’s identity is tied to the body by one character that lost hers. It could be the full story shows the emptiness of this type of reality, if it were true. It may reveal how free sex ends up degrading the person rather than benefiting them. I’m curious to see where the author goes with this story.
Even as we read for pleasure and to relax, we should not unquestioningly accept every “truth” presented. Not to judge the spirituality of the author, but to use fiction as iron sharpening iron, rather than a tool of judgment and legalism. To do that, you have to be more than a sponge, especially when absorbing your fiction.
What fiction have you read lately that highlights this concept?