I’ve written on this subject before (see The Bible and Fantasy Fiction Parts I and II), but it’s worth revisiting.
For starters, check out fellow-author R. L. Copple‘s well-articulated thoughts in a guest post on another writer’s blog.
While I understand some Christians’ reticence to accept fantasy fiction, I think we need to get real (pardon the apparent contradiction).
If God didn’t approve of the use of fantastic imagery to illustrate His truth — which is, bottom line, the only truth — then why does He, Himself, tell of a talking donkey (Numbers 22:21-35); the destruction of a multi-headed dragon (Psalm 74:14); a disembodied hand writing on the wall (Daniel 5:5-6); a lion with eagle’s wings (Daniel 7:2-4); a four-headed winged leopard (Daniel 7:6); angels who unlock prison doors and break open leg irons (Acts 12:6-17); out-of-body experiences (2 Corinthians 12:1-6); a plague of locusts arising from a pit like smoke who are shaped like horses in battle armor, with human-like faces and lion-like teeth (Revelation 9:1-11); war in heaven between angels and demons (Revelation 12:7-10); a beast arising from the sea with seven heads, ten horns, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion that speaks great things (Revelation 13:1-5); or…? I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
Yes, we live in the real world. A world in which we don’t ordinarily see those things. A world in which magic is absent and (unless God miraculously intervenes) natural law prevails. However, God through His word makes it clear that, beyond our sight, a spiritual realm exists just as surely as the chair you’re sitting on, which is as real as gravity, and affects our everyday lives. Because we can’t see these spiritual things with our mortal eyes, we need illustrations in order to grasp them; and those illustrations abound throughout the Scriptures.
Yes, there is grave danger in twisting Scriptural truth to suit our own fancies. Agreed, modern stories (whether cartoons, movies, or books) put far too much emphasis on demonic power and tend to ignore God’s truth. I don’t deny that too many Christians today are more interested in being entertained than edified. But let’s not throw out the whole idea of fantasy fiction because of the abuses of some.
The prophets told fictional stories to get God’s point across when the direct approach might create conflict (for example, see 2 Samuel 12:1-14). Jesus told parables to illustrate difficult truths (such as in Luke 7:36-50). And, as we’ve seen, God uses fantastic imagery throughout the Scriptures to help us understand that there’s more to reality than what we can perceive with our human senses (see, for instance, 2 Kings 6:8-17).
We merely follow Christ’s example when we tell stories to point the reader to Him, to edify the believer, or to move readers to consider truths they’d never grasped before. But, like Jesus, we must bathe our stories in prayer and remain faithful to the truth God reveals in His word.
Failure to do so hands a victory to the enemy. A small victory, to be sure — having read the end of the book, we know Who ultimately wins, of course. But if we’re in Christ’s army, we need to be in His camp, all the way, and all the time.
So, Christian fantasy writers, get on your knees; and when you then rise, pick up your pens and fight!