1. God is very difficult to handle well as a character in fiction. Generally speaking, few do it well, and I tend to prefer the method of having his believers act according to his will. In my own novel, I had God speak directly to characters on a very limited basis. I wrung my hands a bit over that one, but I thought it was important to establish that there was actually a God in this world, and that he was sovereign over all of the other titular “gods” that various people believed in (or fell prey to). I chose what I thought was a minimalist, Samuel-like approach that I felt was consistent with the way God tends to communicate–either in a still, small voice, or loudly through his prophets.  Apparently, even that little bit was too much for one of my reviewers, but fortunately I haven’t had too much negative reaction on it.

    Most of the time, the representations of God in fiction just don’t ring true. It is difficult to put words in God’s mouth in the first place, and doctrine and theology tend to distort, even if only slightly, our perception of who he is and what he expects from us. The Jesus in the Randy Alcorn books is decent, but ultimately forgettable, perhaps because Alcorn keeps the reader at a respectful distance, and therefore does nothing particularly thought-provoking with him. Overstreet’s poetic and fantastic “mythic” portrayal is powerful and awe-inspiring, but ultimately a bit impersonal. Others have attempted, but rarely even come close.

    The best, the absolute BEST representation of God as a character would be in JC Lamont’s Prophecy of the Heir. The novel’s premise is audacious enough in the first place, and when I saw that the pre-incarnate Christ was actually a character (known primarily as The Prince), I wasn’t sure that the author could pull it off.

    Was I ever surprised.

    Not only did JC manage to portray the character with reverence and respect, she brought a depth of understanding to him that I have never seen before in a novel. The closest I could come would be Aslan in the Chronicles, but even that was a step or two removed. Lamont’s novel is a unique sort of supernatural historical epic in that sub-genre known as “literary apologetics,” and it scores on so many levels. It’s not the standard fare for many of the fantasy/sci-fi lovers here, but I can say without reservation that not only does it pull off the challenge, it does so in a way that I have rarely seen paralleled.

    • High praise for Prophecy of the Heir, Robert. Thanks for sharing.

      I agree with you that it is very difficult to show God effectively in fiction. I know Sharon Hinck did so in her Sword of Lyric series, and I thought they were effective, but a few people on the blog tour thought she pulled a deus ex machina when God acted. That’s another problem writers have to dodge.

      So it’s great to hear about a book that navigated all the boulders and bumps and showed God in a powerful way.

      BTW, I tried to remember in what way God was a part of Jeffrey Overstreets Aurelia’s Colors books, and I drew a blank. For a time I thought the Keeper was an allegorical representation of Him, but by the end, when multiple Keepers showed up, it was clear that wasn’t so. What am I forgetting? (Quite a lot, I know! 😉 )


  2. Lisa says:

    I have to say the most unexpected and enjoyable “Christ” I have seen in fiction is found in Anne Rice’s two books, Out of Egypt and Road to Cana. Rice had just come back to faith after a long time lost in the darkness (and writing about it in a slew of vampire and other horror-type books) and she decided that henceforth she would write only for the glory of God. It blows me away that she would do so by writing the story of Jesus, from first person viewpoint, starting from when He was 8 years old, and use the book to explore the question of “When did Jesus know He was divine?” Wow. Gotta hand it to her, that took guts. The second book picks up the story when Jesus is an adult, and the people around Him can’t figure out why this man who showed such promise as a youngster is still unmarried, but in love (!) and hanging around the Galiean backwater. Both of these books startled and disturbed me, but in a way that deepened my faith. There are many things in them that I had never thought about before, including the author’s well-researched portrayal of the times in which Jesus lived. Unfortunately some time after the second book came out Rice announced she was leaving the Church (she was Catholic) and she has subsequently gone back to writing her horror books. She had meant to write a third book about the life of Chrust but as of yet she has not, and I wonder if it could match those first two, given her waning faith. But, like I said, wow. One of my favourite scenes in the second book is when Jesus is being berated by one of the Teachers of the Law for abandoning his opportunity to study at the Temple under the Rabbis there, telling him he was wasting his life, etc. His response? “Just watch how this carpenter will remake the world.”

    • Lisa, that is a powerful line, no doubt.

      I never read Anne Rice’s “Christ books,” because I had such conflicting feelings. I’ve never been a big fan of Biblical fiction because from my perspective the writer has to walk such a thin high wire between what is true and what is story. From all I read about Anne Rice’s efforts, she erred on the side of story—not a good thing, in my book, when we’re talking about God’s revelation~

      On top of that, I’ve never heard from someone who actually read the books. (I didn’t go looking for reactions to them either). So I find your response to them interesting. I’m curious if what disturbed you was something truthful or something from her story. I’ve certainly been disturbed by good stories because they make me think of things in a different way, but I’ve also been disturbed because they say something untruthful in such a compelling way, it’s heartbreaking to think of how they might mislead others.

      At any rate, it’s great that the outcome for you was a deeper faith. Glad to know God used those stories in that way.

      As far as Rice’s books showing God and/or Christ, she, of course, was making that her central point, although, perhaps, she was trying to humanize Jesus more than show Him as God. Is that an accurate statement?


  3. Martin LaBar says:

    Well thought and written.

What do you think?