As you probably know, I read a lot [2-5 books a week]. I like Clancy, Cussler, De Brul, Dale Brown, Brad Thor, early Vince Flynn, W.E.B Griffin’s speculative Presidential Agent series, Baldacci’s Camel Club series, and so on. Most of the authors eventually get into something weird like violence for its own sake [late Flynn] which seems to be all about justifying torture.
But nonetheless, I really like near-future speculative fiction. Also, as a Bible teacher and former teaching pastor, I like Christian versions of this type. However, they are exceedingly rare. I’ve read several dozen over the last year. Maybe one or two could be called a Christian book.
Many are only vaguely Christian
I just read a good series with a female lead based on speculations over terroristic attacks. The heroine is a Christian and a good moral woman, but other than that Jesus has no real presence in her life. Saying the character is a Christian or a church goer does not make the story a Christian story. Jesus needs to be involved and active in the story—just as He is in real life.
You can get very speculative. Ginny Jaques in her speculative novel about the millennium, Zinovy’s Journey, does a wonderful job of expanding our understanding of the possibilities while remaining within the realm of scriptural accuracy.
Christian Fantasy & Sci-fi
Here the problem is usually that spiritual reality is reduced to allegorical references to morals. Often it is so minimized that it’s hard to see it being any help in leading people to the Lord. Rarely do you see an author rise to the level of Sir John & the Dragon’s Boast by R.P. Edwards or even Dustan Stanley’s The Winter Letter. Most often these tales are vague allegories about good morals. The hero or heroine learns through trial to be a good, moral person. We all know this is impossible in our real world. People only accept the Lord as the result of a direct touch from the Holy Spirit, and a new birth from God is the only way to actually change your character. Otherwise we are stuck in the old testament and even God realized that would never work. That’s why He sent Jesus.
I’m reading one now that I almost quit. In the first three chapters, I had to wade through long Bible quotes, a complete sermon, and other boring silliness presenting doctrine to readers looking for edifying entertainment. We’re finally getting into a fairly good story, but the bad taste from the preachiness has not left me yet. The book’s value was seriously compromised by it.
Often the only Christian mention is a person getting instantly saved from a sinner’s prayer—we know that this rarely happens. My guess is that it never happens to a reader reading about someone else doing it in a book. Here’s a quote from my book, The Narrow Gate:
“How many people do you know who came down front to an altar call (especially at a large crusade), prayed the sinner’s prayer, and nothing happened?
I know many people like that. The most common figures are that somewhere between 6% & 10% of people who come down for an altar call become church members.
As we will talk about in a bit, becoming a church member has little to do with entering the Kingdom of God. There are no statistics about true conversions resulting from an altar call. It may be only a percent or two.
Let’s look at Billy Graham’s own beliefs about the people who came forward during his crusades. He had a formula that looks like this:
Sermon + Counseling + Follow-up = Decisions x 25% = Born-again
But look at this quote: “According to Kel Richards, National Coordinator for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Australia, on the 1994 Christian Life and Witness Course video made for Australian BGEA counselors, only 2 percent of conversions take place during the sermon, 48 percent during counseling and 50 percent sometime during follow-up.
“When the previously cited 25 percent salvation rate is applied to these statistics, Graham’s formula for success looks even better. If only a sermon is provided, just one half of one percent of decisions will be effective. If a sermon plus altar counseling is provided, twelve and a half percent of decisions will be effective. If a sermon plus altar counseling plus follow-up is provided, twenty-five percent of decisions for Christ will be effective.”
The obvious problem is that in most churches presently doing a weekly altar call, there is no counseling and no follow-up, so we are looking at one out of two hundred people who come forward actually end up born again—statistically.”
I want true spiritual reality!
Is that really so difficult? It is that rare? It almost seems to be so rare that no one can write about it. I experience God’s marvelous workings in my life daily. He constantly gives me a fresh testimony. Satan’s reality is also obvious. Jesus’s power to thwart that evil reality is also constantly obvious. By Satan has free rein in our culture and society. The Bible warns us about people puffed up by tales of angels and the like. There are no werewolves [maybe demons masquerading as wolves or even werewolves]—same goes for vampires. There are no aliens [maybe demonic counterfeits]. The occult has real power. But it is easily countered by the Holy Spirit within a true believer [as far as the effects to the believer’s life are concerned]. With no believer, there is no real counter to the demonic kingdom.
Let’s make our books real and true!
Of course there’s violence, sex, and bad language in reality. We cannot ignore that—though we certainly do not need to wallow in it. Sex outside marriage is sin—really bad. Don’t glorify it by graphically allowing evil people to flaunt their sin. Killing people is sometimes unavoidable, sometimes part of our job description, but it is never fun or a rush except in an evil mind. Lying is just as severe as sex, violence, and murder. The same is true of stealing, not honoring your parents, not keeping a sabbath, worshiping idols. [As an aside, in my experience, going to church rarely makes it to the level of keeping a Sabbath.] Make sure your readers understand that. A Christian writer should never titillate and certainly never excuse sin.
It’s a strait and narrow path we walk
Let’s keep our books holy yet real. The Lord showed us how in the old testament. If we write under His inspiration, that level of communication is certainly possible—no matter how improbable.
- From fables to truth (creation.com)