Remember that First Grade experiment with the bean sprout? You planted your single bean in a Dixie cup full of dirt, put it on the kitchen window sill in the sun, watered it faithfully and journaled any signs of life? You checked everyday, little farmer that you were. Even pulled it out of the soupy mud to look for that green tail.
On the notion of Faith in Fiction, I’m wondering how much of that impatient little kid is still with us. As Christians with a great Commission and a Great Commandment, we aren’t content to be part of a process. We want to reap instantly. Get an A+ with a Smiley Face, and hit the Recess Yard. No plowing, planting, weeding, pruning, watering, then – after time and God and the life inherent in the seed do their work – harvest.
Is that why there’s so much ham-fisted sermonizing in Christian fiction? So many contrived scenes with laughable dialog leading to *nudge, nudge. wink, wink* alter-call moments? It’s beyond not allowing fiction to be the mystery fiction is; it’s as if we can’t risk God dealing with people as He sees fit on His time, where ever they’re at in their awareness of Him.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not licensing being slippery, avoiding definite statements or theology. No Gospel According to Jello, for me, thanks. I’m simply pointing out devotion to God in the context of our calling means writing well. Not simply craft, that also means giving uncertainty, mystery, imagination room to work. It means letting your readers make their own decisions instead of leading them around by the nose.
I think that approach respects God’s dealings, upholds the calling to write well, and recognizes the readers as intelligent people who can make their own decisions.
John Stott said it well, “We cannot pander to their intellectual arrogance, but we must cater to their intellectual integrity.”