Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Faith in Christian Fiction

On Monday I posted some exclusive background to the character of Daisy Pierce, Nathan Pierce’s sister and a character around whom the entire Black Earth series seems to orbit. Throughout the series, Daisy’s character explores what true conviction and boundless faith can look like in Christian fiction, and in life in general.

So what is faith? Faith, according to the Bible (Hebrews 11:1 NASB), is “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Essentially, it is the belief that something is going to happen even if all visible indications say otherwise. But faith can also extend to our relationship with God. The Bible states (Hebrews 11:6 NASB), “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” So our relationship with God depends on our faith – belief that He exists, that He knows what is  best for us, and that He has the best in store for us.

In a lot of Christian fiction I have read, I notice the theme of faith is portrayed on a very basic level. The characters have faith that God will get them out of horrible situations – or walk with them through horrible situations – and that God will save the day. But in reality, true faith calls for a more mature belief in God. What if things don’t go well?  What if God doesn’t save the day? Regardless of our own well-being, do we believe that God can turn all things around for good, that He can use every situation to the best it can be used?

In my Black Earth series, Daisy’s faith and relationship with God are tested to the extreme. She ends up being beaten and tortured and made into an example of what will happen to those who disobey the powers that be. Instead of giving in completely to despair and discouragement, she pulls close to God who gives her many episodes of respite from the horrible demon that plagues her. He also gives her answers as to what her purpose is. In so many words, God acknowledges that things will get worse, but that Daisy has been chosen by Him to set an example. To carve a path. To change the world.

How many people have been called to the impossible only to deny walking it out because of lack of faith? Faith is more relevant in fiction than many readers believe because fiction threads together events that haven’t happened, the chords of imagination. God is a God of imagination, and He calls many people to walk out the impossible but sadly many never do. They get stuck in the in-between and give up somewhere along the journey, or maybe they don’t step foot into the journey at all. They lack faith, and that lack of faith results in a lack of relationship with God.

This brings me to another thing I’ve noticed about some Christian fiction: the fear some writers have of portraying God. The Bible is clear about adding or taking away words from its text, but we’re talking about fiction here, not altering the Bible. There seems to be anxiety with a lot of Christian authors when it comes to portraying God – not just the idea or reality of God, but the actual presence of God. In truth, each relationship with God is unique. He’s seen our most despicable behavior, he reads our dirtiest thoughts, he knows us on such an intimate level, and yet we’re afraid to portray that level of relationship to others, as if we’ll dishonor God by doing so. What better place to lay out characters and their relationships with God than the fictional world? Fiction leaves room for speculation and room for what ifs.

In my Black Earth series, God speaks to Daisy. He answers her tough questions. He comforts her in her darkest hours. He even communes with her on a joyous level. God is all these things to Daisy, but in reality, He should be all these things to us. Daisy shows us what a relationship – a true relationship, not a religious relationship – with God can really mean. She doesn’t just pray to Him and then take another beating. She prays, she speaks, she listens. And in return, God speaks and listens and comforts her.

Writing Daisy’s character and the relationship she has with God, I found I was able to create a character who is broken and yet searching with everything inside her for healing. Daisy realizes what true faith – and maturity – is when she realizes that God is asking the impossible from her.

This Friday, Daisy’s profile will be added to the Compendium. Next Monday we’ll take a look at Pearl’s background, and next Wednesday we’ll dive into the theme of inherited religion.


Kat Heckenbach said...

I love this comment:

"The Bible is clear about adding or taking away words from its text, but we’re talking about fiction here, not altering the Bible."

I think too many people take fiction as though the author is claiming it's entirely scriptural. But even Jesus used just facets of who God is to make points--such as telling parables in which God is a landowner. I don't think we could ever understand God in His entirety, and therefore there is nothing wrong with showing bits here and there--facets of God--through our stories.

Unknown said...

I like how you worded that - facets of God. That's exactly what we can show off in our fiction. Like you said, we could never understand God in His entirety. Fiction is a way to draw out what we do know of God, and it's great because everyone has a different experience with God.