A Confusing Stance In Christian Fantasy?

Becky Miller has recently covered the topic of “In [Christian] Fantasy’s Defense” (Part 2 here), and in spirit I agree with her, but I also wonder if we have brought on some of our own criticism.

These are difficult topics, and I can see why people hold differing opinions.

Questions:

If a demon repented, would he still be a demon, or would he go back to being an angel? If a witch repented, would she still be called a witch? Can someone be a “good” witch? Is there such a thing as a “good” demon?

Now I am talking about real life here … not speculative fiction. I don’t pretend to know if a demon can repent (though I tend to think not based on the Biblical evidence), but I do know that a witch can repent. In real life if a witch repented, she probably would not go around calling herself a witch, even if God gave her some spiritual gifts of healing, etc.

So what do we do in fantasy?

With wizards we follow Tolkien’s lead and say “yes”, there can be good wizards. In fact, just yesterday, I let my kids purchase a “Return of the King” video game where they can play Gandalf, so you can see my own personal, yet still cautious, stance regarding the written word and video games.

But witches are always bad according to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis—after all, did not Lewis make the two witches in his novels evil?

But is this too quick of a brushstroke? Didn’t Tolkien have Galadriel considered a “witch” by outsiders, even though she was “good”?

Despite this, if you try to write a novel about a good witch and get it published in the CBA it would probably be impossible.

But if it’s a good wizard, we nod to Tolkien and let it pass.

Somehow, though, it seems like maybe we’ve drawn the line inconsistently one way or another and haven’t thought through this fully.

Again, I can see why we are accused. As an unpublished author (or as Randy Ingermanson says, ‘pre-published’), I personally am trying to be careful about this line knowing that many have reservations in this area.

Be careful however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idols temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?

So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.

For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:9ff, 10:28ff

But this issue of magic (etc.) in Christian Fantasy is not something private we do in our own homes like eating meat sacrificed to idols. We are not writing for ourselves, but rather for the public. How can we follow this scripture, being convinced ourselves that for us this is not sin, but yet not cause others to sin?

Maybe that is the central question: Is it possible to cause someone weak in the faith to think that witchcraft or magic is okay? Could they really be confused by something we have written and go out and try learning about the Occult in a curious sort of way?

I would argue that it is possible, however so small, and that this is a heavy weight to bear.

As writers, we need to be careful what we write. We have no control over who reads our words once it is out there. “We who teach will be judged more strictly.”

On counterpoint, what about those who are unsaved? Could our works draw them to Christ? That I also say, in fact emphatically, YES!

But are we in the business of opening up “Sacrificed To Idol” restaurants to draw in the unbelievers so we can witness to them? Would this be proper?

Somehow I think not, but yet we in Christian Fiction have a harder time applying that to our work.

Maybe it doesn’t apply. But if not, why not?

My advice: Pray over your words. Pray.

To read my second post on this topic, you can find it right here.

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2 thoughts on “A Confusing Stance In Christian Fantasy?

  • Robert, this is a balanced, thoughtful, Scripturally sound examination of the issue, I think.

    I have indeed steered away from the term “magic” and have no witches or wizards in my books (though that was as much because I wanted to avoid all of the preexisting imaginative creatures to keep from being derivative). Still, I think it is helpful to instruct the weaker brother or sister. I mean an idol is powerless, not real. How much more so are the pretend witches and wizards of literature—notable those in Harry Potter, but also in Donita Paul’s books.

    Consciously I have been seeking publication from CBA houses in order to avoid the very misunderstanding you mention. I want no New Age group to adopt one of my characters and add some cult practices to “honor” him (that’s if my pipe dream should ever happen—the books are published and read by non-Christians as well as by Christians đŸ˜‰ ).

    Becky

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