Fiction as Evangelism, Some Questions and Thoughts
Earlier this week I mentioned a blog post by Mike Duran over at Novel Journey about using fiction to evangelize. Thank you for the responses. I’ve been thinking about this issue lately and it’s brought up some questions in my mind.
Now, first, I realize that evangelism is a continuum that runs from living a godly lifestyle to sharing the gospel to leading someone to Christ to discipling that someone. There’s more or less steps involved there, of course. Each situation and how someone ultimately comes to Christ is unique and unto itself. For the purposes of this post and my thoughts I’m zeroing in on the aspect of sharing the good news of God’s salvation part of evangelism.
A few questions running through my mind:
Can fiction itself evangelize? Obviously, if it’s going to, somewhere in the story there must be the gospel message. That can be presented in a myriad of ways, from covert to overt, but let’s face it, telling a wholesome story with no swearing or sex and maybe a moral message isn’t going to clue anyone in on the glory of what Jesus did on the cross and our need for Him as a Savior. Yes, God can use anything to lead someone to Himself but how shall they know unless someone tells them? God’s intent is that people introduce the message.
Can fiction be used as a tool to evangelize? This is where I say a hearty YES! Jesus did it all the time in the form of parables. From the time we’re old enough to understand the English language people are in love with stories. The way I see it, this can be done a couple ways. One, a story can be another seed planted in the soil of an unbeliever’s heart. Maybe something in the story plucks that right heart string or opens the blinds just the right way to let the Light in. Maybe it clues in on just the right topic that brings that dawning of understanding. Whatever. The point is, when we write a story, we never know how God is going to use that story or the characters in it or the message in it. The second way is that the story can be used by someone else as a platform to share the gospel. A believer can give the book to an unbeliever then get a conversation started about the book and guide that conversation toward spiritual things.
Here’s another question I have and it’s spawned by Christian authors writing for the secular market with an intent to evangelize. They say they want to reach the unbelievers and I commend them for that and am not in any way questioning their heart or motives. My question is asked out of simple ignorance: How can they evangelize a lost world who knows nothing of God’s salvation with a story that speaks nothing of God’s salvation? Obviously, their target audience is the lost. And I would imagine a secular publisher isn’t going to go for overt Christian messages in the book (except in rare circumstances), so how does this happen? I equate it to working side by side with your co-worker and living a clean, moral life in front of him/her but never going beyond that, never talking about spiritual things, never mentioning your faith, never talking about Jesus.
Now, I can see where a Christian author (or “an author who is a Christian,” which seems to be the popular way of saying it nowadays) may want to write for the general market with an eye to believers who are struggling with one thing or another and has strayed from the faith. They would have a much better chance of reaching that person in the general market with a story of hope and redemption.
Just some thoughts. They are my thoughts. Feel free to agree or disagree. This is after all, America, and still a free country . . . for now.
I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts as time goes by but for now, I’d like to hear yours.