We’ve explored answers to the question Why Do We Need Christian Fantasy? Now let’s look at reasons why we don’t need Christian fantasy—that is, any fantastical story (fantasy, science fiction, supernatural/horror) by Christians, for Christians.1
Why we don’t need Christian fantasy
1. So we have a Clean/Wholesome Alternative.
Here is a common belief among Christians: that our faith in Jesus should lead us only to make “clean,” “wholesome,” or “family friendly” stories. But the Bible does not advocate such standards—certainly not for Christian grown-ups! Instead Scripture advocates honesty about reality. In fact, we must feel “unclean” before Jesus cleans us. Uncleanness does not come from stories and songs, but from the state of our own hearts.2
Thus, we should not promote Christian fantasy (or Christian anything) only because it is “clean” or “wholesome”—as if any human cultural work could be free of sinful intent or content.
Furthermore, I skimmed the site—and I have not read the books, and for all I know they might be brilliant. But I could not help noticing a bevy of foxy women glaring out at me from the book covers. Their clothing was rebelliously modest. But their eyes were saying, “Hey, big boy, come check out my hot story.” Mind you, I don’t necessarily object. But I also cannot see how these images meet some universal definition of “clean” or “wholesome”!
2. So we can Send A Message.
Christians often advocate for Christian stories and songs with the phrase “send a message.”
Add the word “to” and you find out what this means. Send a message to … Hollywood. Send a message to … the “liberal” media.3 Send a message to … that other real or imaginary villain … that we want more of this kind of story!4
The Bible is all about a message. But Christians should not attempt to pry the “message” out of the Bible, cram it into a movie or novel, and then expect the movie or novel to go places the Bible cannot. God insists his breathed-out word is a two-edged sword. It’s sharper than any human story. It pierces atoms.5 It always works.
Stories are more like “play” swords. We certainly need these, for God himself commanded people to make culture,6 and this includes stories. But they’re not the Bible.
So let’s not try to make stories do a job that God assigned to Scripture alone, any more than we would make Bible teaching (like sermons or nonfiction) do a job that we should do in human storytelling. Each “thing” can reference the other, but they have separate functions in human life! Let Bible teaching be Bible teaching, and let stories be stories.
Indeed yes. But this fantastical novel is also great for the grown-ups!
Some Christians assume fantasy is primarily for children. That’s a myth we must put away. It’s a myth that assumes Christian grown-ups are only concerned with “adult,” “practical” things such as careers and family, or spiritual tasks such as prayer and Bible reading. But these things are valuable for people of all ages because they point to Someone beyond themselves—to our fantastical God. Fantastical stories have value for the same reason.
4. So we can evangelize/reach out/witness.
Supporters of “clean” or shallow Christian fiction often argue we need these stories to evangelize the lost. But critics of Christian fiction often say the same thing. They only believe The Lost need better stories that include swearing, violence, and all the rest.
Here’s the first problem: In either case, we make up an imaginary group called “the lost.” Then we argue for better stories for them, who aren’t actually in the room at the time.“The lost”—that is, non-Christian readers—may reject Christian fiction for many reasons. They may not like its lack of swear words, violence, or whatever. Or they may despise any story that names Jesus at all. Non-Christians may dislike Christian-made things just because they exist. If we deny that people may feel this way, we are actually being “sentimental” about people’s real nature! Either way, Christians should not assume that “non-Christians don’t like this story/industry/product” is by itself a good reason to change anything.
Here’s the second problem: We presume “evangelism” is the chief justification for stories.
But it’s not. Evangelism is not a Christian’s “chief end,” or highest purpose. Evangelism is Jesus’s command and it’s extremely important! But it matters because He wants us to proclaim His gospel that will repair humans from the inside out. That way we can return to our actual chief end: to glorify God, intentionally reflecting Him in everything that we do.
As I’m fond of saying, that is the reason we should have Christian-made fantastical stories (or any kind of stories). Stories don’t clean up our hearts; only Jesus does that. Stories don’t Send a Message; only the Bible does that. Stories are not just for the children. Stories are not useful only for evangelism. For all these purposes, stories can certainly help! But their “chief end,” or highest purpose, is to help us obey God’s “cultural mandate” so we can reflect His image and worship Him forever.
- This also applies to Christian-shared fiction in general, as well as Christian music and all cultural products. ↩
- Mark 7. ↩
- We must stop using the term “liberal.” A better and more respectful, yet fiercely honest term, is “progressivist.” Progressivism is the fastest-growing and arguably now the most powerful religion in Western nations. ↩
- This statement goes “meta” when it effectively becomes: Send a message to Hollywood/the media that we want more stories about sending messages to Hollywood/the media. ↩
- Hebrews 4:12. ↩
- Genesis 1:28. ↩