Christian … or Fiction?

Haunt of Jackals by Eric Wilson, second in the Jerusalem Undead Trilogy, stirred up considerable discussion. To be honest, I think that’s great. I like, above all else, people thinking about what they read, and discussing their thoughts with others.

In the end, though, the question about Haunt seems to focus on Wilson’s decision to weave together real-world settings, vampire myth, and Biblical history.

One tour participant, Cris Jesse, had this to say:

With the story being set in our world, it just comes too close to reality for the unaware reader to differentiate between Bible truths and fictional elements.

Also, as Sally Apokedak asked in her comment,

Is it obvious to the reader that the undead are make-believe but the blood of Christ is real?

So here we are again—how is fiction to handle God and/or Biblical history? Should it? Or should fiction be fiction and the Bible be the Bible? And if the latter, then can God be part of fiction? I mean, He is real and fiction is … well, not.

You may already know I think God can show up in fiction, but when He does, the author should be consistent with Scripture. I discussed this at some length over at Speculative Faith during the August tour for Offworld.

But what about other Biblical elements? May we speculate about things and people introduced in Scripture, such as the soldiers who gambled for Christ’s robe as He hung on the cross? (The basis of the novel The Robe) Or the fate of the Ark of the Covenant (central to the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark). How about Jesus’s life as a pre-adolescent (Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt)?

What about the tower of Babel or Noah’s experiences on the ark (Bryan Davis’s Eye of the Oracle)? Or the existence of the Nephilim (The Enclave by Karen Hancock)? Or Judas’s blood, Barabbas, the demons Christ sent into the swine and … Christ’s blood—all (and more) in the current work under discussion?

Are all of these free game for the novelist to incorporate in fiction by way of speculation? Or are some things untouchable, if a work is based on the Christian worldview?

My answer may be different from yours and I’ll be interested in your thoughts. Here’s my thinking: I believe some things must be untouchable because to speculate about them would 1) twist the truth of Scripture; or 2) bring them down to the level of the fictitious.

By saying they are “untouchable,” I don’t mean they can’t be included in fiction. For example, The Bronze Bow is a story set in Biblical times and the main character has an encounter with Jesus completely consistent with the Biblical account of the days when Jesus was surrounded by sick people begging to be healed.

The speculation centers on the story of a person in the crowd, not the historical event or Jesus Himself.

There’s a fine line between appropriate speculation and inappropriate, one I choose not to walk. No wonder other bloggers called Eric Wilson courageous.

Your turn. Are there some untouchables if a work of fiction is Christian or written from a Christian worldview?

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm  Comments (13)  
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