1. Galadriel says:

    I’ve used similar arguments about dragons. If they were real, God must have made them like everything else, so they can’t be automatically evil

    • Galadriel: hmm, it would seem if I were determined to prove stories are evil, I would say something like “everything has been corrupted by sin.” That could also include theoretical dragons, I’d say. But I’d be wrong, because Scripture only talks about our hearts being corrupted by sin, and that this is reflected in nature — but not Things.

      I suspect the notion of Things and Environment causing Neutral Us to sin, rather than our own sinful natures, has crept in from Pelagius and the Finneyites1. It’s a notion shared by liberal professing Christians and cultural-fundamentalists alike.

      False Pelagian notion: Humans = neutral. Things = good or bad.

      Biblical truth: Things = neutral. Humans = bad or bad/becoming good (redeemed by Christ).


      1 This would be an excellent name for an oldies swing band.

    • Kaci Hill says:

      On dragons: My theory is,  God by and large used things that existed to describe other things. So why wouldn’t a dragon exist?
      Moreover, there’s another false logic that if the thing the symbol stands for is evil, the thing itself is also evil. But we see the same symbols used in different ways in Scripture, so they cannot be inherently good or evil.

      • Exactly, Kaci — wish I’d thought of that.

        For example, a serpent used as both a symbol of redemption and the source of the plague in Numbers (and of course was the form the Devil took). Also, both the Devil and Christ Himself are compared to a lion, for a lion can be described as both a dangerous predator and a powerful leader.

  2. Luther says:

    Everything was created ” very good “.  God gave us all certain gifts and abilities and that includes imagination for some giving them the very real talent to tell stories in a way that should honor God. 

  3. Faith King says:

    I didn’t get a chance to read this until this afternoon, but reflecting on the Twitter info alone yesterday whilst driving home, my predominant thought was, “Um… Jesus told stories.”
    So I’m glad you brought up the parable thing.  And put it in bold, even!

  4. Kaci Hill says:

    Stephen: Sigh. Yes, based on blog-commentator Craig and others, it seems this notion is still around. I wrongly believed it was at least dying. Maybe you’re glad it’s still around? Well, as you may have guessed, most Speculative Faith readers share my view in opposing it, though not for the reasons you may think.

    Me: Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve had to eat my words a bit, because I hadn’t heard it till about two weeks ago – personally.

    Stephen: No, we’re not holiness-compromiser types seeking to excuse some sin. Instead your friendly neighborhood fiction-fans may be strong believers, in love with Christ and honoring His Word and Gospel, who want to honor Him in their stories.

    Me: I don’t understand what you’re rebutting here. I don’t know if his comment was directed at certain aspects of some romance or fiction in general.

    Stephen: Sure, I know one could also become legalistic in favor of fiction, or forget the risks of abusing imagination.

    Me: Legalistic in favor of fiction?

    Stephen: But there also exists an opposite danger, risked by Christians who even secretly assume that any good God-given Thing, including storytelling or even sex, is itself bad, instead of being a Thing we can use for His glory and others’ good.

    Me: Okay, basically, we’re back to the ‘how far is too far’ thing among artsy people. Was he saying that all storytelling is evil?

    Also, just to be as nit-picky as possible [ 0=) ], “including storytelling or even sex” is kind of an odd phraseology. The English major in me couldn’t help it. 😛

    Stephen: Yes, many people abuse their imaginations for their own self-pleasure, just as all people will, by their sinful nature, want to abuse all God’s gifts. We all know about those who abuse sex, God’s wonderful gift intended to honor Him in our marriages, for their own lesser pleasures instead. (And if we’re honest, we’ll also admit our own participation.)

    Me: I think your sex comparison still isn’t working for me, no offense. But that horse is dead. At least, beaten.

    Okay, so abuse of fiction = self indulgence/pleasure. I think I can go with that. ‘Nuff said.

    Your Point Two is a rather lovely section, btw. I was gonna quote the whole thing but it’s long. Just so you don’t think I”m only here to pick on you. (Think of me as a pesky sister you’re never getting rid of.)

    Stephen: Nothing in Scripture says a story is morally equivalent to an untruth or a lie. Yet even deeper than that, nowhere does Scripture say that a Thing can become a source of evil. Instead from the beginning we find the opposite: man, because of his sinful heart, abuses Things.

    Me: As far as story/fiction/lie goes, that’s more indicative of our use of the English language. So you’re right, but it doesn’t stop people from using story/fiction the same way they would myth/fantasy/untruth.  I agree, but, again, that pesky sibling thing…. (Btw, your Daniel citation is one of your strongest here: Daniel studied astrology. Forget Harry. Astrology. Even if someone will point out to you Daniel ‘had no choice,’ despite him having no trouble risking lions.)  Mark is probably the other of your strongest. )

    Stephen: Scripture does not ban Godly storytelling from the New Earth. So why ban it now?

    Me: That’s probably under the ‘generated from silence’ category.

    Stephen: Hey, I don’t mean only to preach at those brothers and sisters of mine who’ve been led to believe that Imagination or stories, rather than being abused for evil, are themselves wrong. As I said before, I wish I had more time to show and not just tell why this is so, but these are my limitations. Far better would be, if not to spend time growing in the same local church, to reassure you with reminders that we, like you, have a heart for truth and holiness as God defines it. We don’t see all “rules” as legalistic. We’re as aware of the world’s garbage as you.

    Me: I’m really not sure what holines/legalism and ‘garbage living’ have to do with whether or not storytelling is good or evil, but as I’m  a bit baffled anyone would have a problem telling stories or enjoying them (btw, do these people watch TV? Movies? Do they read? Do they teach their children to read using a picture book or Christianity Today?), so take it in stride. I’ll discard my deer-in-the-headlights look.

    Stephen: Would you disregard other uses of imagination just because others abuse that gift for evil? What about physical pleasure in marriage? Music? Writing? The internet and technology? Stained-glass windows and organs? The Bible itself? All these Things have been abused for evil. So if you don’t reject them, why would you reject stories, fiction and imagination?

    Me: This is the real rub for me, I think.  I don’t quite understand why music and usually art get a general pass, but for whatever reason dance, theater, writing, and other forms of entertainment don’t. But that’s an entirely different subject.
    ::tosses her devil’s advocate hat in a Doctor-style flourish::

  5. Here’s another interesting perspective on this issue that came up today – might be of interest to you: http://newauthors.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/put-down-your-sword-and-write – I found this to be a very balanced commentary. What it comes down to: Jesus isn’t limited by genre choices.

  6. […] their imaginations, yet suspect it would be more “spiritual” to focus only on nonfiction and avoid supposed corruption by imagination. And to resolve that, it takes a Biblically based Theology of Things to show why sanctified […]

  7. […] in part 2 came a recounting of a revelation: that “fiction is evil” notion is not a relic from certain […]

  8. […] Spec Faith-Imagination for God’s Glory:E. Stephen Burnette […]

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