During the current CSFF Blog Tour for Robin Parrish’s novel Offworld, the question has come up again: How Christian should Christian fiction be, and in particular how Christian should Christian speculative fiction be? Should there be room for “seed sowing” fiction that introduces the concepts of God and a universe run by Him? Or must Christian fiction point inexorably to a Biblical understanding of God?
To both these questions, I say, Yes. Yes, there should be seed-sowing fiction. If a reader, for example, does not believe that Man, by nature, is a sinner, that he is actually good and capable of finding within himself all that he needs for life, then a Christian novel that points to a Savior who died for sinners will fail to impact the very reader it is targeting.
Some Christian books need to introduce Biblical concepts in their embryonic state, else there will be no audience for the full grown gospel.
I think of my own work, a four-book epic fantasy called The Lore of Efrathah. God does not come into the story. Neither is it allegorical. There are some key symbols, however, but the Christianity is far from heavy-handed or overt. Isn’t that the kind of book a “seeker” is more apt to pick up?
However, when a story is set in our world, past, present, or future, it seems to me that a writer can’t ignore God or have Him missing because that in itself is a statement about God.
Which brings me to Offworld. How did Robin Parrish handle the religious aspects?
First, none of the characters, apparently, is a Christian. One man, the main point-of-view character, seems to have a belief in a higher power. At some point, as crisis after crisis mounts, he begins to call for help. Not out loud, so the reader would have to conclude these are prayers. here’s a sample:
A little help, please?
I’m willing to beg.
Later in the story, during the “reveal,” the character comes to the belief that Someone must have been seeing them through a sequence of impossible escapes because they really were … impossible.
However, this supernatural power is never clearly attached to the Biblical concept of God. More troubling, from my perspective, is a misrepresentation of Him. Here’s the most telling passage, a portion of an explanation about the power behind the machine that made all the people of the world disappear. These lines are in a shared vision in which the astronauts are talking to central character’s deceased father:
“What language is that?” whispered Trisha, studying the symbols as closely as she dared.
“I don’t recognize it,” replied Owen.
” ‘Course not,” said Chris’ father. “It’s a language from the other side of the veil. The divine language.”
“Dad,” Chris said, his voice just above a reverential whisper now, “what is this thing?”
“It’s a shard of the infinite,” replied his father, and suddenly he sounded less like the man Chris remembered. “A piece of the primordial. The tiniest sliver of the Word that was breathed to bring the universe into being.”
…”You said this thing came from your side,” said Owen. “How did it get over to our side?”
“Something … has pierced the veil that separates our realities,” said Chris’ father. “I don’t know what, but it’s happened before, and more than once. And when it happens, powers and principalities and objects from our side begin to leak into yours.”
And the story continues from there.
However, I do not see a Biblical view of “the Word that was breathed to bring the universe into being.” From Scripture, I know this to be Jesus Christ. Also from Scripture, I know Jesus to be indivisible. And very much a person. How could a “shard” of Him be used to power a machine? How does writing this kind of an image of Him, especially in the mouth of someone on the other side of the veil who would presumably know, serve to point a seeker to Truth, even in an embryonic state?
Though I think seed-sowing fiction is appropriate and necessary, I don’t see a lesser, but a greater, need for that fiction to be faithful to Scripture when revealing anything about God. I wish Offworld had been more careful.
And now the others participating in this tour:
Brandon Barr/ Jim Black/ Justin Boyer/ Keanan Brand/ Gina Burgess/ Canadianladybug/ Melissa Carswell/ Valerie Comer/ Karri Compton/ Amy Cruson/ CSFF Blog Tour/ Stacey Dale/ D. G. D. Davidson/ Jeff Draper/ April Erwin/ Karina Fabian/ Linda Gilmore/ Beth Goddard/ Todd Michael Greene/ Katie Hart/ Ryan Heart/ Becky Jesse/ Cris Jesse/ Jason Joyner/ Julie/ Carol Keen/ Krystine Kercher/ Dawn King/ Melissa Meeks/ Rebecca LuElla Miller/ Mirtika/ Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)/ Nissa/ John W. Otte/ Lyn Perry/ Steve Rice/ Cheryl Russell/ Chawna Schroeder/ James Somers/ Stephanie/ Rachel Starr Thomson/ Steve Trower/ Fred Warren/ Dona Watson/ Elizabeth Williams