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Christian Fantasy Evades The Theology Police

From blogger Mike Duran…

Fantasy, often of the YA variety, appears to comprise the largest segment of the Christian Speculative Fiction category. Bryan Davis, Jill Williamson, Donita K. Paul, Wayne Thomas Batson, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Christopher Hopper, Jeffrey Overstreet, D. Barkley Briggs, C.S. Lakin, Vox Day, Karen Hancock, G.P. Taylor, Stephen Lawhead, are just a few of the Christian authors with entries in this field. By way of example, the last three Christy Award winners in the “Visionary” category have been Fantasy novels.

Having bemoaned the disparity of Spec titles in the Christian Fiction market, it’s rather fascinating (to me, at least) how so many of the titles that DO make it into the market are in the Fantasy genre. Why is this?

I’m sure there’s lots of possible reasons. On the surface, you could say we’re simply following the footsteps of two of the greatest Christian novelists ever in C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, whose Narnia and Middle Earth sagas have shaped the genre. But I have another theory. It goes like this:

Fantasy Fiction is a buffer against theological scrutiny.

This is the “Christian” part of “Christian Fiction.” Our tales must jibe with revealed biblical truths. Stories that take place in make-believe worlds are LESS subject to theological analysis than stories in “real-world” settings. In realms where magic is tolerable, ethics may also have wiggle room. If I am free to create Elvish races, then binding those races to the Ten Commandments (or some equivalent) is my prerogative. Which is why one reason for a Christian novelist to write Fantasy is to evade the Theology Police.

continue reading Christian Fantasy Novels: Our Theological Buffer here at Mike’s blog, Decompose…

For those who don’t click through, I don’t want you to miss his closing statement:

…[Y]ou don’t need to watch your theological P’s and Q’s if the world you create uses a different alphabet.

  1. January 16, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    What do you think about the possible ‘prophetic’ edge Christian fantasy fiction could hold? I mean, couldn’t a story carry the sci fi/fantasy label and be about what could happen if…with the author taking reference from (but not exclusively to) Revelations? Or Daniel or Ezekial?

    • January 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      There are possibilities for a number of sub-genres. You could also not overtly reference the scriptures and take the product into the wider market, provided the publicity and distribution machinery was in place to do that effectively.

      We tend to think of more direct borrowing in fiction as “Biblical Fiction” but if I understand correctly, combining this with a fantasy element is what Chuck Black is doing with his young adult series. But you don’t have to write “Biblical Fiction” to write “Christian Fiction” and I’m sure writers like Bryan Davis would argue his fantasy series are directly informed by scripture.

      As to prophetic, you don’t have to look farther than Narnia.

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