Paranormal/suspense novelist Mike Duran is concerned concerned that some Christians want to ban zombies. Worse, Duran suggests, some Christians would wrongfully tie a chain of theology around the ankle of speculative stories before they can even make it out the gate.
Forcing fiction to neatly fit your theology is a losing proposition… at least, if creative storytelling is your aim.
I have long argued that one of the inherent problems with Christian speculative fiction is that Christian spec-fic, by its very nature, cannot be speculative enough. We impose overly strict theological expectations on our fiction.
Such as the paranormal novelist’s take on our Friday feature “How Then Can It Be Christian?” by James Somers.
On Friday the Fallen author cited The Shack‘s anti-Biblical conception of God’s nature.
God is viewed as being completely different in nature than we find him in the pages of scripture. He is viewed as not caring about a person’s sin, or being concerned with judgment–all of which are heretical views.
He goes on to say:
Likewise, we should never present a view of the world that contradicts God’s Word. Should we fill our pages with characters who believe that evolution is truth and there is no Creator God? […]
Rebecca LuElla Miller’s balanced interaction was on Monday. She noted:
[…] Spurred by Mike’s thinking, I have long argued against both of his conclusions (which he also stated in posts such as “Can Christian Theology And Speculative Fiction Coexist?”): 1) that a Biblical framework must by definition limit our imagination (and in this stance, I’m also disagreeing with James Somer’s position regarding what specifically falls into the category of misrepresenting the way the Bible shows our world), and 2) that Christians ought not “impose overtly strict theological expectations on our fiction.”
In speculative stories, Christians must not confuse God’s nature with God’s real world.
I wonder if authors Somers and Duran may have both accidentally slipped on rolling apples and compared them to oranges:
- Showing the real world’s nature differently in a story is fine.
- Showing God’s nature differently in a story is wrong (and it makes for a poorer story).
In general I’m not bothered by Somers’ statement (“we should never present a view of the world that contradicts God’s Word”). Yes, someone may say, “Stories shouldn’t contradict the Bible,” and may truly mean that speculative stories must be banned or constricted because they change the nature of the world. But others simply mean, “Christian stories shouldn’t contradict the nature of God, including His holiness, love, omni-everything power, and plan of saving grace from evil.”
That’s the point of my comment here. And I do claim this is the Biblical view based on one very prime Example.
Eh, I’m not worried about this either way.
If someone says a story’s theology should not contradict God’s Word, I chalk that up to him/her striving to be faithful to our personal Savior. [Otherwise] any fiction could be said to “be contradictory to God’s Word” because God’s Word describes reality, which fiction isn’t, no matter how contemporary.
What I think such folks are actually trying to say is that a work of fiction, by a Christian, should not end up tweaking God’s Nature or salvation.
You can invent a world in which down is up or water is dry. But do not, as a Christian, invent a world in which if God exists (e.g. if the story touches on this) then He is evil, or else non-omnipotent, cruel, ignorant, etc.
Ergo: ghosts are allowed [as in Duran’s debut novel The Resurrection]. A cruel spiteful or stupid God is not.
Source: Jesus Christ Himself. He told stories in which God is often absent. Or if He is absent, He is seen acting in what is arguably Christ’s work of fiction — e.g. the boastful rich man of Luke 12. But four chapters later comes what is perhaps the great Storyteller’s most fanciful-sounding tale, of another rich man who dies, enters Sheoul, and is yet somehow able to converse with Abraham across the divide with the “good side” of the grave. Jesus here changes the “rules” of the real world. And yet God’s nature remains intact.
Someday I’ll work on this idea more, originally suggested in this 2012 column.
No matter how other a world is, the God of that world must always be the same.
You can make up a world called htra’E, or Narnia, or a parallel Earth in which children live before coming to Narnia, or Middle-earth, or even the parallel Earth of Harry Potter.
But if God will be at all involved in that world, He must be like the true God.
Otherwise, we horribly break His rules. Otherwise, we present another, and false, Jesus.