Friday, July 26, 2013

Congratulations, Mr. or Miss Christian Novelist -- You've Been Drafted Into The Culture War!

by Jeff Reynolds

What is the role of fiction in these contentious, divisive days?  

My original plan for today's blog failed to materialize, and it would have been interesting to see the reaction. The would be interviewee is a cartoonist where everybody would fall into three categories:
  1. They love it -- it's one of their favorite strips (count me in this one).
  2. They hate it -- it's one of their least strips.
  3. They either ignore it or aren't aware of its existence.
While the very busy cartoonist didn't have time to get back, I'm going to look at today's society. Some would say we're in a full blown culture war (I'm one of those), and there are those who'd even dare suggest it could evolve into a civil war. 

An idealist would see fiction as a diversion from this antagonism if not a possible bridge between sides. However, the more likely scenario is that our storytelling is caught in the cross-fire. So allow me to suggest three random thoughts and see if and how they fit together.


 If all you're doing is telling stories, you're safe. However, my hunch is that most of us either don't hide our Christian world-view or we have a Christian theme we're actively promoting. I'd be interested in hearing how many of the published authors get one star reviews on Amazon solely because there lamp's on the lampstand and not under a bushel. One speculative author friend was looking for people to listen to his book on Audible because the only people who critiqued that version panned it because of its faith angle.


In a newsletter Becky and I receive, there is critique of various views, and a pair of novels have been scrutinized. They receive numerous letters basically saying, "Leave them alone. It's only fiction. Who cares if the doctrine is off?"

You know what's interesting? In How Should We Then Live? Francis Schaeffer points out that existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Satre influenced more people through his fiction than his philosophical tomes. And would Scientology have been as successful if Hubbard wasn't a novelist? The truth is that we can influence others through what we write.

On my to-do list is to write a letter to the newsletter stating that if I get published I want that ministry to scrutinize my novel and point out its errors. After all, I'm an ordained minister which makes me a minister of the Word. But in a sense if I'm writing Christian fiction, I'm automatically a minister of the Word. We need to be leading people to the truth - not just evangelistically winning the lost but to give the new believer a solid foundation and the more mature believer edification, comfort and Spiritual encouragement.


One class that made a lasting impact on me was a high school course titled "American Humor and Aesthetics of Film." The textbook for the former part mentioned five types of humor: Low comedy, Comedy of manners, Satire, Black humor, and High comedy. I learned there are two types of satire, both named after Greek satirists -- Horatian and Juvenalian. 

What's the difference? The spirit. Horatian is kinder and gentler; Juvenalian has a mean streak (is it a coincidence it sounds like "juvenile?"). People like Anne Coulter and Michael Moore are good at the latter, as are many political cartoonists. I prefer the more Horatian type, and I think Indianapolis is blessed to have Gary Varvel who fits that description.

Juvenalian satire is good at rallying the camps. Both camps. It gets those who agree laughing and firmer entrenched, and it gives fodder for those in oppostion so they're also ready to fight. Horatian is better at using humor to point out a fault in a way the "target" has a smile on his face, and both sides are then in a frame of mind to have a productive conversation and reach an understanding.

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Thanks for letting me ramble a little. So what about you? Have you faced opposition because of your message? Have you ever been challenged on the theology of your story? Have you used either Horatian or Juvenalian satire in your stories, and to what effect?



  1. We need to rightly divide the truth because we are in this war, like it or not. The third, isn't my general style of fiction, but I'd never say I'd never be that overt in confrontation, it's just I'm not there yet.


    When men deny the truth found in the Scriptures; they are denying the words of God the Father. When men deny the truth spoken by Jesus; they are denying the words of God the Father. When men deny the doctrine of the apostles; they are denying the words of God the Father.

    All Scripture is the word of God the Father.

    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,(NKJV)

    All that Jesus spoke was from God the Father.

    John 12:49-50 "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 "And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."(NKJV)

    All of the apostles doctrine was from God the Father. Why was that? Because Jesus taught the apostles and all of the words of Jesus were from God the Father.

    John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.(NKJV)

    John 16:13-14 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

    All the teaching from the Holy Spirit came from Jesus and all the words of Jesus came from God the Father.

    There are no Scriptures that declare that church creed books, (catechisms) or any other extra-Biblical writings are that of God the Father. Remember; all Scripture is inspired by God. Creed books are not Scripture. No extra-Biblical writing is Scripture.


    1. When men claim there is more than one God; they are denying the words of God the Father.

    Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.(NKJV)

    2. When men declare that Jesus did not say water baptism precedes salvation; they are denying the words of God the Father.

    Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved...(NKJV)

    3. When men say that Christians cannot fall from grace; they denying the words of God the Father.

    Galatians 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.(NKJV)

    All Scripture is inspired by God the Father.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG: You can can find it by a google search, steve finnell a christian view.

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for using my blog as a launching pad for your unrelated comments, one which shows some shortcomings. And since neither of us want people to believe a lie, allow me to keep people from error.

      EXAMPLE: You made no reference to God the Son -- if you read Scripture you'll realize the Gospel writers, the apostles in the letters, and Jesus Himself stated Jesus is God. Now, if the Father's God and Jesus is God and Jesus isn't the Father, and there is one God, then the conclusion must be there's one God, but more than one person to this God; the Holy Spirit also is divine, so that is where we get the Trinity. Those who deny the Trintiy is Biblical or think it's pagan don't know what they're talking about.

      EXAMPLE #2 -- One danger is basing a teaching on only one Scripture. When you study the whole New Testament, you see that belief is the first and sole criterea for salvation. But that belief translates into action, such as baptism. Mark 16 is not saying that baptism precedes salvation -- it MAY be saying that one who isn't baptised doesn't truly believe (there's no mention of those who believe and are not baptized). But there are many Scriptures that say belief is what leads to salvation.

      EXAMPLE #3: A lot of people talk about falling from grace, but wrench it from it's Biblical meaning. You gave the whole passage. Does it say one can fall from grace by sin? No, it says one falls from grace by attempting to be justified by the law, that is working your way to God's favor. There's indication that falling from grace does not mean lost salvation but an evidence that the person who is trusting in works (law) to save them have never trusted in God's grace.

      There are Christians who disagree on issues (such as if and how one loses salvation). The point is that we've all sinned and can't earn our way to heaven. That is why God sent His Son Jesus (and note -- the Jews believed being the Son of God made oneself equal with God, a theory Jesus was obligated to refute before them if false -- which He didn't). He lived a perfect life because He was God become man. He died to be our sacrifice. It is receiving this sacrifice by faith that saves us -- we can't be saved by works (Eph 2:8,9 -- verse 10 teaches works follow, but it's God's grace through faith that saves) -- nothing, even baptism, is required -- as in the case of the thief on the cross. And when we receive Christ we are a new creation.

      Steve, this conversation which you started did not belong in this blog; please find better places to comment and this place is not where we should continue. But since you gave part of the picture, I needed to complete it, and I'm sure you're glad no one is being deceived by a partial picture. That's why believers are supposed to search the Scriptures and exhort each other.

  3. It absolutely is war and we are on the frontlines if we're writing what the Holy Spirit inspires us to write. We shouldn't be surprised when the enemy buffets. He's terrified -- his days are numbered. Excellent post, Jeff.