1. Kessie says:

    It’s really a shame that this is a question–there is reality, and there is fantasy. But people (and for some reason, Christians) have trouble distinguishing between the two.


    Elves, dwarves, wizards, dragons? Fantasy! They’re just trappings to tell the same stories we’ve been telling for centuries–the simple farm boy who overcomes terrible obstacles and achieves greatness, or boy meets girl, or girl learns to love monster. Those stories fit into Western trappings, Outer Space trappings, Contemporary Romance trappings, you name it, it fits.


    I think we Christians have this filter we strain all our media through, instead of chewing the meat and spitting out the bones.

  2. Lots of great food for thought, Pam.


    I love fantasy. I love that fantasy, and all fiction, really, give us so much room to tell the truth.


    I have never understood Christians who think fantasy is sinful, or worse, that all fiction is sinful, because it’s just a bunch of lies.



  3. Pam Halter says:

    Yes, Sally, and even Jesus told parables.  These were works of fiction to illustrate or explain a point. I don’t understand why some folks can’t see that.  Still, everyone is entitled to their opinion, right?

  4. Yes, lots of Christians have been taught, and so repeat, that fiction is lying and the worst fiction is fantasy. However, what I find even harder to believe is how few Christians are aware that there is an entire industry called Christian fiction for them to explore. Books written by Christians whose intent is to teach and glorify the truth of God. Imagine how exciting that could be for them if they could just believe Christian fiction is truth-sharing not lying.

    Just strikes me as I write this that people don’t give the pastor grief when he shares a joke that everyone knows was tweaked (or completely made up) for a laugh.

    But, to answer your original question, I look for the same stuff in fantasy that I look for in any book –engaging characters, entertaining plot, interesting world, and good kicking butt on evil. I expect the worldview to be undergirded by the same God who holds together mine — whether there is magic or magical creatures or miracles.

    I have no problems separating fantasy from real life, any more than I have problems recognizing romance novels as fantasy or action adventure movies as fantasy. The problems I have are the news shows and the reality tv where I cannot believe real people behave in such fashions.  My husband assures me those are fantasy as well.   🙂

    • Pam Halter says:

      I agree with your husband, Gloria.  HA!!  But yes, many Christians feel fantasy is wrong because they don’t see real life in it. Contemporary fiction is more realistic in their minds. I know not everyone likes fantasy, sci fi, horror, and the like. But don’t put down those of us who do. We’re no different from any other Christian – we can good spec fiction, just like others want good contemporary fiction.

  5. merechristian says:

    My problem with the “fantasy is evil” or “fiction is lying” stuff is that it makes Christians for most of history, even the Apostle Paul himself, evil. It kinda brings the Word of God into question since it includes Paul using pagan references, and even a pagan religious teaching, to make his points, preach. Paul was well-read in the culture of his time and never seemed to believe that reading/knowing/enjoying pagan myths at the time (or Jewish ones before that) was a sin.

    Christians proceeded to record and read the pagan myths for centuries. They survived the so-called “dark ages” (which are seriously not what schools teach sometimes, but still) due to CHRISTIANS keeping records of them and presumably, enjoying them. Beowulf was originally, quite obviously, a pagan epic reworked into a mix of pagan/Christian elements.

    What is my point in all of this? Well, I guess that it is arrogant of many of the people in the, you name it, Christian fiction only, no fantasy, fiction is lying, wholesome stuff only, so on, groups to make their claims when the Bible and history goes against them. They would have to conclude that Paul (including his biblical writings inspired by God) down through the ages until around the past century or so, was wrong, and they are right. That, or else the pagan writings are only good for “special” Christians like the Apostles/early church, or are somehow “grandfathered in”. Neither of those possibilities can find biblical support.

    • Pam Halter says:

      Good points!  You mentioned Paul, and he was the most prolific author in the New Testament.  But let’s not also forget the greatest spec writer of all – John.  And the Old Testament includes Daniel, Ezekiel and even Isaiah, whose writings were so beautiful they sometimes make me weep.  And Job.  His description of everything God did in creation is the stuff speculative fiction is made from.

  6. Jason Brown says:

    The worst part of the whole debating idea is how tenaciously stuck to certain traditional ideas certain people are. There are those that absolutely hate the Harry Potter series yet love Lord of the Rings. Both include wizards as integral characters. Others have an uber-strict belief that literally anything with any element in the normal realm of “fantasy” is automatically demonic (much like how they would think of horror), and if it includes a reference to God, it may as well be blasphemous.
    Back in ’09, I talked with a street preacher about if he liked to read books (wanted to distract him from calling everyone on Marshall University’s campus every demeaning term he could think of that wasn’t considered a cussword), he said “self-help”. When I asked him what he thought of fiction, he said “Fiction is lies, and lies are an abomination against God.” Irritated at how he said that, I prayed to God for some help, and He gave me one word. Parables. I immediately knew what to say, “Jesus told parables.” When the street preacher looked at me like an annoying bug and asked “So what?,” I told him “If a parable is a story and a story is a lie and Jesus told parables, then-”
    He interrupted me and demanded “Are you calling Jesus a liar?” I told him I wasn’t, he was. I was using his logic to point out that flaw in thinking. I’m not the best at debating in terms of mathematics nor science… but in terms of stories, I become a little feisty…

    • Pam Halter says:

      Good for you, Jason!  I mentioned Jesus telling parables above. And I totally agree with Jan about fiction not being intended to deceive. Our pastor will sometimes tell a story to illustrate a point if he can’t draw from his own experience. People love stories. And authors love to tell stories. Seems like a win-win situation to me. We have to keep in mind that what speaks to one person will not speak to another.

    • HG Ferguson says:

      Let us always remember how much personality/temperament feeds into this.  The person you describe did not read fiction, because fiction is evil, so the argument runs.  Truth is, when you peel away the viscera, this person just simply did not like anything creative because he didn’t possess that temperament.  I don’t like it, therefore no one should.  American culture also feeds into this.  To borrow an allusion from Franky Schaeffer, when an American looks at a tree he doesn’t see a living, growing, beautiful thing of God’s creation — he wonders how many tables and chairs he can get out of it once it’s cut down.  (Also sounds a lot like what Tolkien decried :)!)  Fiction has no purpose, therefore, because you can’t”get” anything out of it.  The “fiction is evil” crowd furthermore cannot deal with Jotham’s fable in Judges 9:7-21.  Though it had definite real-world application, the way Jotham framed it is as fictitious — as fantasy — as it gets.  This crowd also cannot deal with expressions like “the trees of the field shall clap their hands” and other colorful, fantastic allusions in scripture.  Sure, it’s figurative language. but trees don’t have hands.  That’s fictitious.  It’s not…true…  But let God be true, and every man a liar!  Because it’s in God’s eternal Word!  

    • There’s more than a little cringe-worthy irony/hypocrisy in enjoying “self-help” books while calling fiction the work of the Devil. #Discernment

  7. A lie is a statement intended to deceive. Since nobody expects fiction to be literally true it’s obviously not intended to deceive. But stories can convey truth in ways people who wouldn’t have understood or accepted it otherwise will understand.

    I think fantasy is an especially good way to do that because readers let down the walls of what they think is correct. In historical fiction or a police detective story, for example, if there’s one thing that’s not exactly accurate it draws the reader out of the plot and makes him or her question everything else. But when the whole world is made up as long as it’s consistent that sort of thing doesn’t happen.

  8. Jonathan says:

    I love to read fantasy and I am a Christian. I don’t see the big deal, but I do avoid fantasy that is New Age. Has anybody read The Wheel of Time series? I wanted to know what people think about it since I am interested in reading it.

    • Pam Halter says:

      I don’t care for New Age, either.  Although, I guess it depends on how it’s handled.  I’m not familiar with The Wheel of Time series.  I’ll have to check it out.

      BTW, Tosca Lee’s newest novel, The Queen of Sheba, is being released in just a couple of days.  It’s not fantasy in the traditional sense – it’s more Biblical fiction, which is its own kind of fantasy, I guess – however, Tosca keynoted at this year’s Realm Makers conference and she was terrific!

  9. Great point and I agree with the importance of letting the Spirit lead us in the way The Lord intends for us to go. I’m writing the sequel to Talon’s Test and the Shield of Faith right now and struggling with whether or not to introduce blatant sorcery as a weapon of one of the antagonists. I’m leaning toward yes because I think it is important to understand that in the battle between good and evil, those who follow evil have powers as well, albeit limited and temporary by design. My intent is not to glorify evil but to highlight how inferior it is to the power of righteousness. When we knowingly choose to allow the “dark side” into Christian Fiction, I think we must first ask ourselves why? What purpose does this serve? Is there value in going there? If the purpose is to glorify God and leading others into temptation is not a likely consequence, I’m typically all for it.

    • Pam Halter says:

      I agree, Nicholas.

      The dwarves in my fantasy novel do not worship God. They worship a goddess. My editor wasn’t sure about including that, but I said it’s not realistic for everyone on an entire planet to worship the same god. So, we worked to make sure it was known the goddess had no power. The dwarves made excuses as to why she didn’t, of course. They didn’t want to lose face. But I made it plain that only God (who I gave a different name because it’s fantasy) was the only One with the power.

  10. Eileen says:

    So what about good mages fighting against evil mages? I’m not trying to glorify anything of the dark arts in my WIP but magic is used for both good and evil–kind of like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. (Didn’t the elves use magic?) I think I’m okay but this little prick of conscience makes me wonder if I’ve crossed some invisible theologically correct/moral line.

    • Pam Halter says:

      That’s a really good question, Eileen. I struggle with it myself.  I’ve heard it said the lesser of two evils is still evil.  The magic in Harry Potter differs a bit from the magic in TLOTR. Yes, the elves had magic, but so did Gandalf, and he used his for defense and healing. Does that make his magic the lesser of two evils? Which still makes it evil? Not sure.

      I think it we don’t glorify the darkness, magic or not, we’re probably okay. Jesus did some pretty miraculous things, and I’m sure some people thought it was “magic.” And the Bible is clear about what is evil: sorcery, divination, witchcraft, etc. But the line can still be fuzzy with these, depending on the author.

      Anyone else have a comment on this question?

      • In the LOTR universe Gandalf was a maiah. An angelic being in human form. That’s how he “came back from the dead.” His powers came naturally. Ditto for what the elves could do. And Galadriel was reluctant to call her mirror “magic.”

        When the hobbits or humans used the supernatural there were consequences. Frodo was never the same after bearing the Ring.

    • I have a few.

      All this should come back to Scripture. What exactly does God forbid? Why does He forbid it?

      Without basing the discussion in Scripture, we go off looking for answers from other sources.

      Often Christians will try to define or discern the “dark arts” based on what non-Christians say.

      But I’m not sure why we should be giving them the time of day on this particular issue.

      Reading Deut. 18 and asking, “What exactly does God forbid? Why does He forbid it?” really helped me. Quick spoiler: He forbids divination, getting “answers” about “fate” or His will in ways He did not prescribe — thus the “final Prophet” promise — and trusting others over Him.

      • Pam Halter says:

        Thank you, Stephen – Deut. 18 was just what I was looking for.  It does make it clear.

        None of these things is to be confused with spiritual gifts, which are to be used to build up the body. Although, I think people can use these to step over the line.  We need to be wise in how we handle mystical things, whether we’re writing, reading, or practicing them.

  11. Meiglan says:

    I’m very fond of a show that uses fantasy. There isn’t really much along the lines of magic (mostly it’s considered technology or something like that) but recently it mentioned religion. It talked about someone believing in two gods, and while it was simply one characters belief, some of it was true to the story. The strange thing is that the beliefs mentioned are similar to Christianity. It’s very interesting, and nothing has been presented as truth, but the mention of more than one God has me concerned. Any thoughts? Also, I know my comment isn’t book related, but hopefully it’s similar enough.

  12. Maybe read some old fairy tales by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and the salon fairy tales along with Aesops fables.

    These gave me some ideas. Not all fantasies contain magic. Read “King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid” or “Maid Maleen.”
    Some only grant magical powers to other beings they come naturally for–unlike witchcraft. “Cinderella.” “The Wise Woman” by George MacDonald. “The Donkey Skin.”
    Some depict magic as a negative thing that is used for villainy. “The Six Swans.” “Snow White.” “Hansel and Gretel.”

What do you think?