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Hello friends,

Every time I come to CW I feel a bunch of gratitude for your simply being here on the internet, real sisters and brothers in Christ who are wrestling with aspects of being a voice in print. I appreciate yall so much. 

 

I have been writing a story of a boy who lives in the town where Jesus does the miracle of the large catch of fish and calls his fishers of men to follow. In my initial writing I wrote 2-3 sentences from Jesus to the boy about delight in God's creation being a way to pray. However, the thought of putting words in Jesus' mouth or even a story of Him in a boy's life disturbed me severely and I reconstructed the section in phrases out of scripture. But I'm still uncertain if I should even write anything where Jesus is a character. I do not want to take writer's license with Jesus! What can you offer me to consider about this? I need strong arguments:) Thank you so much

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Try writing it as the boys understanding as he recalls what Jesus told him. 

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Thank you for this deep question!  No one answer would suit.  I think you have to write with assurance and direct, personal conviction that it is God's voice.  

It sounds like you have doubts, which might be true caution, but they might be a man made legal doctrine that God is inviting you to challenge within yourself.  Either way, you can't go wrong following George Mueller's steps to discerning God's will.  Discerning God's Will  

As part of his plan, we are to seek community, so perhaps putting the story in the critique section is an option for you!

 

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53 minutes ago, zx1ninja said:

Try writing it as the boys understanding as he recalls what Jesus told him

 

I think Z's is a great ideal, Carolyn, because I too, don't think you should put words in Christ's mouth.

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In a way, Jesus is a character in all Christian fiction. If a person has a relationship with Jesus, it only makes sense that he would be thought of, talked about, and heard from. In fact, I often think of Him as the one true character in my novels. He's the one who didn't come from my imagination.

 

I completely understand the hesitation to put words in Jesus mouth, but this post has brought up multiple questions for me.

 

If Jesus can speak to me in ways beyond Scripture now, couldn't He do it then too? Is there really a difference between having a character set in modern day who hears Jesus speaking (in words other than Scripture) and having a character set in Biblical times hear Him speak? (Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm just ruminating here.)

 

Does it make a difference if Jesus is physically present and speaking vs. speaking in one's heart (or is that just the Holy Spirit and does that (Jesus or HS) make a difference)?

 

If so, what about stories that imagine Heaven (like Randy Alcorn's Deadline or Dominion? (This is an important question for me since parts of my novel show glimpses of Heaven and Jesus, and I'm trying to be really conscious of what is actually Scriptural and what is just our cultural perception of Heaven.) 

 

Should any words a character hears Jesus speak come solely from Scripture (no matter the time period)? 

 

Seriously, so many questions to think about.

 

 

 

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It's a tough question to answer, Carolyn; I agree I wouldn't want to put words in Christ's mouth, either. I would go with what Nicola has to say; just let the Spirit move and guide you, and let God be the judge of how to handle it. I don't think I would be able to make that decision by myself. :)

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I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't do it because I keep seeing how I thought scripture meant one thing only to go back to it a decade or two later to discover I was wrong the first time. And then going back to it another decade or two and discovering I still didn't get it.

 

Of all characters to get wrong, the one I'd hate to do is God. What if the story sells? What if it becomes a story people read for generations? And then what if all along it wasn't what the Lord meant there?

 

It could go down through the ages like "God helps them who help themselves." Many people think that is the truth and use that as a guiding principal. But the truth is it is a lie. I'd hate to be the person who put another lie into pop-culture simply because I didn't know any better when I wrote it. 

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4 hours ago, Spaulding said:

And then going back to it another decade or two and discovering I still didn't get it.

 

I agree with Spaulding.

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Posted (edited)

    I have written a fan fiction story titled, "See Lord, Here Are Two Swords".  It's a crossover between the former TV Series, Xena: Warrior Princess and the Bible, in which Xena and Gabrielle meet Jesus.  Every scene is based on events recorded in the Gospels of Luke and John; and all of Jesus' words are direct quotes from those two sources.  

    While I don't want to give away the plot, I'll just say that Xena and Gabrielle are the "Two Greeks" who say to Phillip, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." (Luke: 12:21)

   It's an old story of mine, which I originally wrote back in 2007.  I haven't posted it here on Christianwriters.com.  Where would be the appropriate place to do so? 

 

Edited by William D'Andrea
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I could be completely wrong about this, but I think that using some artistic license here is okay as long as it's made clear that you're doing so and not demeaning Jesus in any way.  It's an interesting question.  God knows your heart.

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41 minutes ago, Chuck Kralik said:

I could be completely wrong about this, but I think that using some artistic license here is okay as long as it's made clear that you're doing so and not demeaning Jesus in any way.  It's an interesting question.  God knows your heart.

I have just posted "See Lord, Here Are Two Swords" here on Christianwriters.com, in the Reading Room section.

The story consists of approximately 4,000 words on 14 pages, using microsoftword format.

I acknowledge that God knows my heart.  Anyone who read the work may learn something about it too.

Thank you. 

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11 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

I can't see it, William.

I've gone to the blue column at the top of this and clicked on "Reading Room".  Right now my story is second in line, beneath  "What Really Killed Jesus" by Chuck Kralik.

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What a time I've had contemplating this issue with you all. It has been worthwhile for me. I appreciate your views; I hear emphasis and caution about the sanctity of scripture and the person of our holy LORD Jesus as well as an exhortation to seek what the Holy Spirit may be after in our writing. I believe the LORD has brought my attention to, what? perhaps it would be called a device? a perspective I have acquired over the years? for getting the narrative drive (?) going in a story.  I'm sorry, I'm new at the lingo and may be butchering it:/  In short, I removed Jesus from the story by removing the story from the first century AD in a way that, in my mind, lends itself to developing several characters and writing a longer story that deals with some current missiological issues faced in explicitly anti-Christian nations. When we were serving in a Central Asian country, a friend had remarked, "This place is like Bible times with cell phones!" His judgment was spot on. So I've asked myself, "What if I bring the story forward in time along that train of thought with some modifications in light of John 14:12 (believers doing the works of Christ and greater works)?"  

 

My favorite scripture is 1 Tim 1:5, The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  For me, the solution above fits the bill.  We cannot assume our readers will bring any scriptural knowledge to our pages with which to determine if our account of Christ is strictly accurate or that they will even care how they recall the story to a friend. Spaulding's post reminded me that, in fact, there is a major world religion, Islam, which is rife with incorrect Bible stories that have been passed down since their spokesman's death in 632. Scholars believe he heard many (incorrect) Bible stories as he traveled the caravan routes of the day.  One of my dear Central Asian friends once told me the story of how Joseph brought Islam to Egypt back when he saved Pharaoh's kingdom from starvation. He was completely serious, sadly.  There are many such stories.  But it is also true that I "saw" Bible stories with my own eyes out on the Asian steppe, like Gen. 24:61&63, so I feel really excited about exploring this new aspect for writing that's before me. 

 

I would like to put the chapter I have up for you to see if you think the time change might be an idea I should keep developing so let me know. It'll be in the critique section if I can handle the instructions for posting:) The forum/responses format is a bit much for me to get figured out. I appreciate yall's patience.

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4 hours ago, Carolyn W said:

In short, I removed Jesus from the story by removing the story from the first century AD in a way that, in my mind, lends itself to developing several characters and writing a longer story that deals with some current missiological issues faced in explicitly anti-Christian nations. When we were serving in a Central Asian country, a friend had remarked, "This place is like Bible times with cell phones!" His judgment was spot on. So I've asked myself, "What if I bring the story forward in time along that train of thought with some modifications in light of John 14:12 (believers doing the works of Christ and greater works)?" 

A brilliant solution!  I am excited to see how God led you to this decision, through community and the creative spirit He put in you!  

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We’re in a curious position aren’t we? )if I may speculate among writers of Christian fiction:) when we want to be writers who are instructed in/pupils in the kingdom of heaven, to bring out kingdom treasures new and old from our unique Christlives and express them in story form (see Matt 13:52).

 

I think, just as with Bible translation, Christian narrators have to soberly weigh the pros and cons of their word choices and the conventions they use to help the reader (such as red font:)  However, proclaiming through story as it were, hopefully we can find with the Spirit of grace a fictional account to effect a specific audience with kingdom truths whereas, in Bible translation, the scriptures themselves are to be safeguarded - kept a solid comprehensible foundation for believers/Christianity's one "holy book", and not re-purposed as a tract targeting a specific people group.

 

[In grappling with the recent “Son of God” controversy in Bible translation (though I’m not a translator I am on the user end of some translations) I saw how the vocal proclamations of the gospel recorded in Acts seemed circumspect as to the nature of the audience, not once using the potentially inflamatory phrase “Son of God” (excepting the remarkable declarations of the newly converted Saul), whereas in the epistles there is explicit “Son of God” terminology as one would expect in a holy book for a religion’s adherents to purposefully study. Audience and purpose are important to consider.]

 

My translator friends wrestle with how to put the Biblical language, including any necessary punctuation, capitalization, etc. , into a contemporary language (that may not even have punctuation or other conventions familiar in the Biblical languages) and remain faithful to the Bible’s charge to safeguard scripture, whereas orators and narrators, I suppose, are like the scribes Jesus speaks of who are employees of the kingdom of God, yet students, responsible for their treatment of the kingdom’s ancient holy text as it grounds discourse within contemporary context. We do, don’t we? seek to work by the Holy Spirit to incite a hunger and thirst for true righteousness, to effect in some way people within some specific modern worldview? So if we believe the Bible is relevant today, we must find the ways to bridge time either within a story itself or in the reader who is able to take a timeless principle to heart.

 

Possibilities abound of taking an intriguing question tangential to a scriptural account, such as William’s speculation about the “two swords”, and finding a way to bridge time into readers’ feelings.  I expect target audience will determine how and how much scripture to use.  I pause and wonder, Shall I write a story about a character grappling with life and changing or hand out Bibles?  “Both/and” I guess, because the word of God “works in those who believe” and I feel the LORD is also pleased if I write.

 

As I consider burdens and risks in deciding what characters and words to use in Christian fiction, particularly regarding Jesus Himself, I find your voices a priceless commentary - Proverbs indicates that King Solomon would have added to brother Mueller’s advice, #7 listen to the counsel of the godly. The cautions and concerns expressed in response to our forum questions are good to process. Hopefully, our stories will be more meaningful and far reaching as a result.

 

The bookish interface is where meaningfulness between two persons can happen if each are paying attention to the other.  Other religions’ adulteration of Biblical accounts, such as I’ve heard and read in Islam, are all happening under God’s watch and He will bring about their end. Still, the burden lies upon us, I think, to get the reader’s attention and communicate the distinction and holiness of the Bible when we reference it, because words travel. We cannot determine the response and attitude of our audience, but God himself chose (designed?) long story book form, so I’m encouraged that there is a burden of seeking truth which rests upon the reader. 

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I truly appreciated this question, and I don't think there is any definitive answer to it. Just what we think. And it did make me think. 

 

If I were a Bible scholar, or even a biblical linguist, I might be bold enough to tell a story with Jesus in it. I'm part smart and part dumb. The smart side includes bookkeeping abilities, creative abilities, and I can learn some things quickly. The dumb side comes in understanding grammar, mechanical stuff, and God. I am a slooooowwww learner in those areas.

 

Because of that, I do get most others aren't me. Hubby is mechanically inclined, so can fix heating problems, electrical problems, and small appliances, while my reaction is always, "It's broke. Let's buy a new one."

 

In like style, I watch Christians read the Bible and get it the first time. I'm the one always saying, "No. Wait. How does that work?" Give me a decade or two, and I finally catch up.

 

So, no matter what you chose, I was bound to be impressed. First century? This century? If you can convey God in a story by having one of the characters be Jesus? It just impresses me.

 

And I have had God answer me in modern verbiage on occasion. I'd love to tell that story, however, I know it would sound like I was mocking him in the telling. So, honestly. I truly love you can do it. Wish I could.

 

I think it gets back to we are the body of Christ. Sometimes I feel like the anvil in the ear, but would rather be an index finger. We need both though, so I'm sure God has each of us do what he created us to do.

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Thank you for posting this question, @Carolyn W, I have been struggling with the same worry since I have a story I want to work on down the road about the disciples Simon the Zealot and Matthew. I, like you, have been disturbed by the idea of putting words in Jesus' mouth so I was interested to see everyone's responses. Thank you everyone for the great input.

 

I think you have a great solution, Carolyn! Not sure what I'm going to do for mine yet since I can't take them out of 33AD! Lol!

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