As I’m preparing for my workshop at the upcoming Orange County Christian Writers Fellowship Conference on “The Christian Speculative Fiction Writer,” I’ve been pondering what the Christian fiction market possibly reveals about our theology.
If your beliefs are reflected in what you read, what does your library say about your worldview?
Francis Schaeffer in “True Spirituality” illustrated the difference between secular and biblical worldviews by using two men, sitting in two chairs, in the same room. The room represents the universe, but both men have dramatically different perspectives on what they see. One chair is the Materialist’s, who sees only half the world – the visible world. The other is the Supernaturalist’s, who sees both halves of the world – the visible and the invisible.
- Materialist Chair — The Visible World
- Supernaturalist Chair — The Visible AND Invisible World
Please note that the Supernaturalist does not just see the invisible world. Unlike the Materialist, the Supernaturalist sees the complete universe, the world as it really is. So even though the Materialist may have a “complete” view of their world, and the science and stats to prove it, they are still only seeing half of the real world.
Interestingly enough, Schaeffer suggests that there’s a cultural shift occurring, that many American Christians have abandoned Supernaturalism in favor of Materialism. We’ve vacated our rightful chair. We’ve relinquished an entirely biblical worldview. So while we claim to believe in a God who performs miracles, a florid invisible world surrounding us, myriads of magnificent and horrific beings vying for our attention, and an unspeakable Paradise that awaits us, we live remarkably bland, earthbound, materialistic lives. We live in only half the world.
I wonder that this worldview shift is reflected in the Christian market.
Could the preponderance of Historicals, Romance, and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers?
It’s a lot like the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson had a hard time intellectually digesting the miracles in the Gospels, so he removed them. What was left has been called the Jefferson Bible. It’s a Bible without miracles. Faith without the Fantastic. It’s like a spiritual condom — Belief in God, with protection against the Supernatural.
You don’t read with a spiritual condom, do you?
But perhaps even more fascinating than our shift toward Materialism, is the secular world’s shift toward Supernaturalism. If pop culture is any indication, modern man is incurably addicted to the Fantastic. We see it in our art, films, and literature. Each year, some of the most popular movies and novels contain speculative elements, whether ghosts, angels, magic, or futurism. It’s a weird reversal of roles.
While Christians are embracing Materialism, mainstream Americans are, perhaps unconsciously, moving towards Supernaturalism.
Our world is hungry for Spiritual, Supernatural themes! Having a view of the the Complete Universe, we are perfectly positioned to meet that need. But sadly, the Christian fiction market has little to offer.
We have swapped chairs.
Could the proliferation of Historicals, Romance, and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers — a shift away from a biblical worldview to something secular, sanitized, stripped of mystery, and utterly predictable?
A biblical worldview IS a “supernatural” worldview. And Christians are called to live there. We believe in angels and devils. We believe in signs and wonders. We believe in life after the grave. We believe in chariots of fire and a Man walking on water. We speak to God and are spoken to by Him. We believe that one day Jesus Christ will return to earth and set everything right. In short, We believe in a universe that is anything but “natural.”
So why isn’t that reflected in the Christian fiction market?