Bouncing off Mike Duran again and the apparently Sisyphean debate over sermonizing in Christian fiction, I want to pull a Van Helsing drive a stake in the heart of this.
What would Jesus do?
When Christian writers use Scripture to justify heavy-handed sermonizing in their novels, I can’t help but wonder if we’re reading the same book. Jesus preached with sublime clarity. Take the Sermon on the Mount as your example. Dealing with individuals and their needs, whether demoniac, tax collector, prostitute, or Pharisee, He was direct to the point of discomfort. In telling stories (i.e. parables) however, He took a very different track.
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? – Mark 4: 10-13
A Novel isn’t a Sermon
Freighted with meaning and divine truth, Jesus nonetheless gave room for His stories to be misunderstood or ignored. He knew there would be people who didn’t “get” them, and He didn’t mind. In fact, the tactic was deliberate. I know He explained them afterwards to His Disciples, but there came a point where He expected them to be able to figure them out. He never footnoted the parables or went chasing after critics begging them to reconsider.
Christian fiction writers must get over a bad case of “Medieval Morality Play Syndrome” and while writing prayerfully from their hearts, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, allow their work the possibility of being misinterpreted, mocked, or ignored. Once cured, that will allow both the author and the work to be true to themselves, and ring authentic before God.
“…this is the weakness of most ‘edifying’ or ‘propaganda’ literature. There is no diversity…You cannot, in fact, give God His due without giving the devil his due also. ”
― Dorothy L. Sayers, Mind Of The Maker
10 Replies to “Jesus wasn’t very Christian…”
Excellent point. I absolutely agree.
There you go quoting me…;-p
Or maybe we just share the same thoughts on occasion.
Yes, I was quoting you. And yes, we do think alike.
Separated at birth…
Today on Facebook I found out that another author friend is writing a book that sounds identical to Running Black.
Except for the Gay Porn aspect she’s putting in there. It’s odd. So much of it is RB–dystopian near-future, multinationals-as-governing-bodies, team of mercenaries. Except while your team of mercenaries are confronting ethical issues in between throw-downs, hers are just throwing down with each other.
The world is an odd place.
Yes, the world is an odd place. Gay porn…. *face palm. shakes head in confusion*
Got a title for this “Running GLBT” book?
She told me. For some reason I didn’t bother writing it down or committing it to memory.
::heads over to Facebook::
_Hard Reboot_ is due on shelves in time for the next OutLanta convention. You’ll excuse me for not having that on my calendar.
I agree that Christian fiction need not provide footnotes as to its explicit meaning (or even a vaguely formulated theme that the author intends to explore in his or her work). Art can be art and whether the audience “gets it” or even brings something else to the table is a wonderful interaction between the perceived and the perceiver. And I agree that Jesus wasn’t too concerned about how “the crowds” interpreted him – but he was concerned with how his true followers understood him. So what he intended to say (about anything, really) and how people interpret him (the meaning people derive from Christ and his teachings) must be pretty close to the same thing if we are going to be authentic Christ followers. Christ can’t mean something to someone and something else altogether to someone else. Someone is, by definition, closer to the truth.
This would be part of the role of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit is our comforter and our interpreter.
Picture Christ’s teachings as a bowl of strawberries. The Holy Spirit guides you to the berries that are just ripe and sweet for you that day. The berries that are ripe and sweet for another person may be smaller or larger, fewer or more numerous. And the true HS will not feed anyone rotten berries.
But the truth of Christ is so very rich and flavourful and abundant it’s good we have a guide.
Of course Christ can mean different things to different people. Sorcerer, sage, charlatan, savior… He did back then and He does now. Look around you.
Do all people interpret the information accurately? Obviously not. But the question isn’t Accurate Discernment; it’s whether they can and do arrive at conclusions other than the intended one. God allows that possibility and freedom.
That’s all I’m saying.
Thanks for being so definite and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.
Good points. And I agree – we’re likely saying the same thing with different emphAses. 🙂