Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Speculative "Christian" / Emergent Fiction

This post is in particular response to comments and questions left by Danny Polglase after my third Meltdown article. I apologize it's taken so long to answer. We never received notification when your response arrived and only found it and published it recently.

Danny, since one of your questions had to do with speculative fiction, I recommend that, first, you read our article, "Children of the Inklings: Emergent 'Christian' Fiction" at the link above. We put a lot of thought and effort into that article.

The larger issue though isn't types of fiction or just being wary of hidden paganism, but realizing that there is a movement that is gaining ground rapidly among evangelicals that is generally undiscerned in the churches. It is connected with an ignorance of Christian history, especially since the beginning of the 19th century when a major spiritual-artistic-intellectual movement, which was Romanticism re-cast in a modern form, began sweeping the culture and the churches. Because American evangelicals have very little awareness of this influence and the seductiveness of its philosophy and literature, many Christians have been seeing it as a new move of the Holy Spirit--a breath of freedom--rather than what it really is--another aspect of worldliness and paganism. They think of it as an answer to materialistic thinking and don't see how very far it is from true Biblical thinking.

I believe that what would help Christians most to discern this deception is to understand the roots of this kind of literature and its artistic productions. Speculative fiction is only a part of this much larger milieu.

While I agree the Holy Spirit does give us checks in our spirits sometimes, I don't think that depending upon this and assuming it's going to happen is always a reliable approach, not to mention knowing whether what you are experiencing is really from the Holy Spirit.

Finally, you might read something and be aware of a non-Christian worldview behind it but still just want to read the story and be able get good things out of it anyway. But if you then start using that book as a teaching aide, or giving it to your children who are not equipped to discern, it can be a real problem. For instance, a friend gave our son the Narnia stories when he was about eight, and it turned out his fourth grade teacher at his Christian school was also reading some of the stories to the class at the same time. We finally decided that, since we knew he was going to get it from all sides of the culture as he grew up, we would go over them with him and teach him to recognize the clearly pagan elements. We couldn't do all this when he was only eight, of course. It's been a process over the years, and it's been a real battle because that kind of literature is so attractive to young people. The real problem I think is when pastors deliberately read The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia stories to their children as part of their devotions. I know personal examples of this, and Russell Moore, Dean of Theology at Southern Baptist Seminary, mentioned doing this on the Albert Mohler radio program. (I mentioned this in another blog post.)

Thanks for your questions and comments, Danny. I hope this helps and may God strengthen you in your search for truth and desire to write. And I sympathize about trying to find discerning fellowship.

As for writing speculative fiction, that's a whole kettle of fish I don't have an easy answer for. Some of our own fiction could be called speculative; however, it also clearly shows the difference between paganism and Biblical thought. We like to think of it as anti-Romanticism spiritual adventure fiction, as part of our purpose is to expose deception.

No comments: