1. R. L. Copple says:

    I’m not sure I prefer one over the other. I think it has a lot to do with the context of the story.


    That said, in my Reality series, God is called God, and Jesus is Jesus (though he doesn’t directly come into the story–Sisko attends a Christmas service in one place). But on the other hand, Jesus is also symbolized both in Sisko as a type and His presence in the ring that “wedded him to God.” Sisko even has a dying and resurrection event happen at the end of the first book, though not the same as Christ (he doesn’t come back glorified like Gandolf did). More like Lazarus.


    I don’t know if people noticed, but in the second book of that series (Reality’s Ascent) while Sisko always prayed to the Father when calling for God’s help, Kaylee addresses her prayers to the “Lord” when she inherits the ring.


    On another note, in an unpublished book set in the same world, Jesus makes an appearance though his name is never mentioned, but it is obvious who He is. So He eventually will appear as Himself.


    Since the Reality world is a parallel time line to our own, it has some similarities to our own as well as differences, both in events and the relational time period for those events. So it made sense to keep the same names and to a large extent, religious practices as our world experiences them.


    If it was a totally unconnected fantasy world from our own, like some you’ve mentioned, it would make more sense to use different names for God and Jesus since it would be highly unlikely they would have the same names as we do, or even the same time line for Jesus’ appearance in that world. So it depends on the context, whether it fits or not, to me.

    • Good point, Rick. Setting does dictate a writer’s approach, though not entirely. Robert Treskillard indicated that when he said he needed to stay within the  understanding of God true to his historical setting.

      I’ve read at least one fantasy set in a pretend world that includes God as God. I’m trying to remember which one, but my mind has drawn a blank.


  2. sheesania says:

    I wonder if Christ figures are rarer than simple God figures in fantasy because they are so specifically Christian. Some notion of “God” exists in many religions and worldviews. You can include a God in your fantasy story without stepping on too many toes (depending, of course, on how vaguely you portray His nature). But a clear Christ figure, on the other hand, marks your story as specifically Christian, not Muslim or deist or pantheistic or anything else. Including a Christ figure may also lead readers to think that you’re trying to write an allegory, in a way that a simple God figure doesn’t. (This reader, at least, starts suspecting allegory when she notices a Christ figure but doesn’t if the author includes a God.)

    In my own work, I often try to include parallels to Christ, but avoid straightforward Christ figures that are incarnated as humans, live perfect lives, die, are resurrected, etc. That’s already been done many times by far more skillful authors. If I can, I’d like to go at it from a different angle and focus on other aspects of who Jesus is and what His place is within the Trinity.

    • I wonder if Christ figures are rarer than simple God figures in fantasy because they are so specifically Christian.

      That’s a really good point, Sheesania. When Christ shows up, there’s little in doubt about the worldview, and even about the trajectory of the story (which is why J. K. Rowling didn’t want readers to know about her affiliation with the Anglican Church).

      But I see few writers presenting a sinless savior in their stories. The ones that do include Christ by another name seem to put him into place after he came and sacrificed—sort of an equivalent of the times we’re living in, though the world might be more medieval.

      Maybe that’s because C. S. Lewis portrayed Christ so perfectly in Aslan that most writers don’t want to try something like it—sort of what you said about your own writing.

      Anyway, it’s interesting to see what other writers have done, I think. Thanks for adding to the discussion.


  3. Lisa says:

    I guess it depends on the story and the skill of the writer, but I generally really dislike an allegorical story. To me it often comes across as clunky and as “trying too hard” to make a fantasy book “Christian”. It’s tough, to be sure. Which is one of the reasons why I chose to do historical fantasy, so I didn’t have to make up a religion which is “Christian-like”. I admire the authors that try to do that, but it’s hard to do well, I think. It is much easier to include a God-figure than a Christ-figure, because, as sheesania says, that makes the story much more universal for readers.

    • For me, the drawback of an allegory is that I know where the story is going before it goes there. A skillful writer (John Bunyan, for example, and C. S. Lewis) can pull it off and keep my interest, but I don’t readily pick up books that are specifically allegories. When I do read them, though, I actually like them.

      Most novels today aren’t straight allegories, of course, though some use allegorical characters.

      You’re right about lots of fantasies including god, whether or not the book is Christian. Religion is generally part of culture and therefore part of the worldbuilding, but authors can put much or little emphasis on that aspect, depending on their bent.

      I think it’s interesting to see the diversity of the books mentioned in the post.


  4. I like fictional representations of Christ IF (and only if) they are done well.  Those are few and far between.

    My favorite fictional Christ figure is from Kathy Tyers’ “Daystar,” the final book of her Firebird series – I was surprised he didn’t make the list!  He was almost a direct portrayal of Christ, just with a different name and under slightly different circumstances.  I loved him because He made me think about how human and down-to-earth Jesus really was. It made me reflect more on His human nature, and really affected the way I think about the true Jesus, in that it made my perception of Him richer and more tangible to me. The only thing I disliked was how she handled his death and resurrection in that sci-fi setting.  But I loved his portrayal as a person.

    In my main WIP the characters are contemporary Christian young adults, so they pray to the true Jesus, who is in heaven with the Father, as He is now. 🙂 The same goes for my secondary WIP, although that one is set in the distant future in our universe.  I do have a fantasy story tucked away for later where a Christ figure will appear as a powerful wizard who is the only one who can save characters that have essentially been zombie-fied and had their souls displaced.  I think that will be a powerful symbol, and I’m looking forward to writing that.

    I have to quibble slightly with Mr. Carr’s use of the word “incarnations” about Christ…  Christ was incarnate *once*. He will COME twice, but He is still a man incarnate now, and will continue to be the man He became in His first and only incarnation. 🙂 Perhaps it was just a wrong word choice, but I thought it worth mentioning. Words matter! Especially when speaking of the Word Himself. 🙂  (Loved the first book of that series, though! This reminds me to read more! But I never would have guessed Errol was a Christ figure…since he starts out as a drunk I thought of him as the one being redeemed. But maybe I need to read more to see it.)

    Fascinaring post!  I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    • Hi, Bethany, thanks for your feedback. I only read Kathy Tyers’ first book, so missed the Christ figure there. Too bad. I wanted to include more science fiction.

      Patrick’s “incarnations” bothered me at first, too. But he said Errol was representative of Christ in His first incarnation—when He came to earth as the Suffering Servant—while Liam represents Him as the soon-and-coming King. So the “incarnations” he’s referring to are the same two you’re thinking of—His first and His second coming, one fulfilled, one yet to take place.


  5. I’m rereading the Warrior Kind by Stanton as my Christmas present to myself. He has the whole Trinity, radical conversions, spirit-filled power, and much more within an outrageous epic scifi fantasy. http://words-of-action.com/a-warriors-redemption/

    A Warrior’s Redemption, Book #1
    Exciting fiction told from the heart and meant to take you on a journey to new realms and settings of imaginative…


  6. This is a challenging topic to address! Especially because there are so many different opinions about what should and shouldn’t be represented into Christian fiction. Speculative Faith has already done an excellent job bringing up discussions about whether or not Christian stories should be considered allegories and whether or not Christians must include such elements within their works. The way I see it, no matter what you do, you’re going to get flack from somebody. Even C.S. Lewis gets heat for using figures from Greek mythology in his stories. 😉 Not to mention all the hating on the 1930s-1940s British school system.

    I don’t care if the book includes Christ or not, and I give authors a lot of slack on their interpretation, because daring to do anything featuring Christian faith is HARD, and there are plenty of critics and theologians ready to shred things already. What I care about is that the author sticks to their vision/version and is consistent in their worldview. Without that, the whole story will fall flat.

    Actually, these discussions are why I don’t write ‘Christian fiction.’ Too many options and choices to consider. I tell stories, and then my faith naturally slips through in sacrificial themes and metaphors, because I can’t help it. My contemporary epic fantasy series includes a prophecy and a prophet from a quasi-Christian religion (with all the trimmings), but I also have atheists, agnostics, animists, a pagan, and other things in there. And no, they aren’t all converted. The overall plot centers on the protagonists overthrowing a corrupt world system, and while their faith anchors them, they struggle with it, and the story isn’t centered around an allegorical message. Instead, it’s more like important figures out of history who worked with others to accomplish goals (like Martin Luther King Jr. or William Wilberforce or the like). This probably comes out of my own love of history and cultures. There are so many vibrant stories of action. 🙂

What do you think?