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E.T. Newman

Balancing Fantasy with Christian Worldview

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Hello fellows (and fellas),

 

How do you balance fantasy without stepping into heresy? My work is based on a time period later in revelation but the world is fantasy and characters are fantasy. Some previous critiques suggested that I include scripture as a reference for the time period. What are your thoughts?

 

Blessings,

 

E.T.

 

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You need to make it realistic. I just finished a 3-book heroic fantasy series that offers strong witness to how believers walk in the real world. I just got a review this morning which says, "This is a nice piece of speculative Christian fiction. The Christian elements are strong (5 stars). The story a good one; easily as good as many non-Christian fantasy stories (4 stars). I was pleasantly surprised." 

 

In it I created new names for the three parts of God, new scriptures, a new method of sacrificial death, and made it the focus of an exciting story of cultural upheaval and spiritual warfare. 

 

Ask the Lord to show you by His Holy Spirit how to get it done. He's very creative.

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2 minutes ago, davidbergsland said:

You need to make it realistic. I just finished a 3-book heroic fantasy series that offers strong witness to how believers walk in the real world. I just got a review this morning which says, "This is a nice piece of speculative Christian fiction. The Christian elements are strong (5 stars). The story a good one; easily as good as many non-Christian fantasy stories (4 stars). I was pleasantly surprised." 

 

In it I created new names for the three parts of God, new scriptures, a new method of sacrificial death, and made it the focus of an exciting story of cultural upheaval and spiritual warfare. 

 

Ask the Lord to show you by His Holy Spirit how to get it done. He's very creative.

 

That is a great review indeed! What a blessing that must be...to know the Christian elements and fantasy elements work together to make a great story.  

 

My work has a lot of those elements typically found in fantasy but the basis is still a Christian worldview so just trying to figure out how to present it the best way. 

 

Yes, the Lord is the (GOAT) for sure.  Greatest architect, artist, physician, etc of all time!

 

Blessings in your work!

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I've struggled with this as well. One of the things I try to do is make a clear distinction between the real God, and my fictional representation of God.

 

C.S. Lewis did this in the most brilliant way possible in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Aslan told Lucy that he exists in the "real" world, but he's known by a different name there, and his desire is for Lucy to know him by his true name. Almost like breaking the fourth wall, Lewis reminds us that Aslan is merely a fictional representation of the real thing, and we ought to not confuse the two.

 

The way I see it, it's okay to have differences between how your fictional world operates and how the real world operates, so long as those differences aren't akin to heretical teachings in the real world. 

 

For example, in my story, the protagonist has the power to use white fire against his enemies, but this power is given only to him by Emery (my world's version of God). The white fire actually represents the Holy Spirit. In real life, the Holy Spirit isn't some white fire you can throw at bad guys, but no one who reads my book would think I actually believed that or taught that. It's merely representative of the real thing, and white represents purity in scripture so it makes sense.

 

IF, however, I were to make my protagonist use that white fire to exact revenge on people, or kill innocent people, or make the use of the white fire similar to the use of witchcraft, I would say THAT is heretical. Because then I'm using a fictional representation of evil and presenting it as good.

 

Does that make sense?

 

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11 hours ago, dprowell said:

 

IF, however, I were to make my protagonist use that white fire to exact revenge on people, or kill innocent people, or make the use of the white fire similar to the use of witchcraft, I would say THAT is heretical. Because then I'm using a fictional representation of evil and presenting it as good.

 

Does that make sense?

 

 Makes great sense. So encouraged to hear of other Christian writers and their journey in creating great worlds to explore in freedom.

 

Thank you for your input!

 

Blessing,

 

E.T.

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I think @davidbergsland and @dprowell have both make great points. An additional aspect to consider is whether your fantasy is meant as pure fantasy, or as allegory. If it is purely fantasy, it isn't really possible to be heretical, since you are in an imaginary world. If, however, you mean your fantasy to refer in an allegorical way to the real world, then, yes, you must take care.

 

Even if you just want to to have your fantasy world just reflect the realities of our God-created world (not in a direct way, but in a this-world-follows-the-same-rules-as-our-does way), you have to really think about what is good and what is evil.  The fantasy worldview has to be internally consistent. As @dprowell correctly points out, he would violate that rule if, "...I were to make my protagonist use that white fire to exact revenge on people, or kill innocent people,"

 

In my stories, which I would categorize as lightly allegorical, I started with the question of what would a Narnia-like world look like after the Spirit had been sent? It has made for some interesting dilemmas as to how and when the Spirit interacts with the characters in the stories; dilemmas that go back exactly to your original question E.T.   

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I go with the "magic" as tool point of view. Compared to 1st Century Christians, I have magical powers of telecommunication, super speed (with my car), super strength (with my tractor), super healing (with medicines), etc. But, I'm still expected to follow the same rules and behavioral expectations as they were back then.

 

So, those blessed with magic in my fictional world have to choose between following God or following Man and the Devil. Same as here and now.

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