Beliefs in Writing

I have no stomach for debate. I don’t have the energy or type of personality to get into an escalated ‘conversation’ that inevitablity devolves into at least one party trying to trick the other party into looking dumb. Or just raising their voice and sometimes to add flavor, swearing, because obviously whoever talks the loudest or uses the lowest kind of language must be right.

Ahem, I realize not all debates end up like that, but generally, that is not the kind of potential stress I want to add to my day.

There is one lady though, who I genuinely enjoy and appreciate debating with. She challenges me to explain what I mean, and listens to what I have to say and makes it very clear she isn’t just waiting for her turn to shoot me down. She firmly defends her stance from a point of *why* she believes what she believes, not a ‘you are stupid because…’ Whenever I leave after having a conversation with her I feel like I’ve learned something, grown in my understanding of an issue, and generally just have my day made.

A few months ago she challenged me with this question: “All that we do should be to bring glory to God and advance His kingdom. How do you justify writing secular fiction?”

I had an answer, as it was a question (in a different form) I had struggled through and came to a conclusion when it was clear I would finish writing Worlds Collide. I was knee deep in Bible College and deeply convicted that I was not qualified to write a faith system that involved another world and our own. Christ came to save sinners in *our* world, how would you take a fictional setting that takes place in both our world and another planet and place the gospel in it without being disrespectful? I chose for that storyline that I would not address the issue at all.

This topic of being a believer and an artist who is not creating traditional Christian art is one I’ve been thinking over alot. Some have convictions that if you are a believer, your work of fiction should have a clear gospel presentation. And if that is your conviction- write your story that way and make it the best story you can. Unfortunately, so often those stories have the gospel jammed in to make it appear as an after thought and the entire structure and quality of the overall story shatters around it. Who are you going to reach with a shattered story? The only people who will read those stories and take it serious are other believers. AKA- ‘preaching to the choir.’

I came across this quote that stunned me in it’s simplicity and I believe really gets this point across:

“God didn’t print Bible verses on flower petals. The beauty of those petals points to God without an explicit declaration of the plan of salvation. So it is with the art that Christians make. The beauty their art embodies points to God, even if John 3:16 isn’t written on the canvas.” Source

What makes One Realm Beyond exceptional is Donita K Paul’s use of bringing her faith and belief and the church into her writing, without spelling it out for the reader. I am almost finished reading Charity Bishop’s Thornwicke and she also does an amazing job of showing faith without a step by step gospel presentation.

To finish up, I think the Christian artist/writer should have their faith and belief shine through their work. Write the best story you can write, paint the best picture you can. Give God glory by being the best artist you can be.

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Simplicity of the Gospel

I missed my Thursday update.

I had a good reason, there was Halloween and an advance showing of Ender’s Game. And then the not good reason of I simply forgot to write and schedule a post in advance. (And then the internet went down so I couldn’t post this until later.)

I had this well crafted argument in my head, down to the paragraph breaks—and then time went by and I forgot all of it except the drive behind it. So instead, I want to take this time to write on the simplicity of the gospel.

““For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NASB

Now, if you are anything like me, you learned that verse in AWANA right when they were switching over from Old King James to New King James, then spent the rest of your childhood learning Scriptures in New American Standard so whenever you end up quoting that verse you end up quoting a mixture of all three versions. Which is why I pulled the NASB translation directly from Biblegateway.com. Back to my point, the gospel, the Good News, is amazingly simple. God loved us, was not willing to let all mankind perish (predestination/free will argument will not be touched on here today), gave His Son and all we have to do is accept that gift and believe.

That’s it. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You do nothing to earn this. You do nothing to deserve this. And you cannot be too old, or too young, or too screwed up to accept this gift.

It’s so hard because we want control. We want to do something. To have a say, to in some way earn this. I think it is safe to say that it is something we all struggle with.

I am taking this time to draw attention to how simple the gospel is because I see so many articles and videos flying around with I believe well meaning people who try to complicate it. I love studying theology, I want to understand the Bible as best as I can. But you know what…I will never understand it 100% and that is ok. And there are issues and topics that people come to different interpretations and convictions. I am sure that when my time is done, and my understanding is complete there will be some hypothetical headdesking. And ‘why did I come to that conclusion?’ But, if there is a topic that the Word is not 100% clear on and it is not a salvation issue, I do not believe it is appropriate to treat that fellow believer as if they are completely off their rocker if they come to a different conclusion.

When we were kids, a friend of mine and I would disagree on everything when it came to these non-salvation issues. To this day, whenever we agree on something I am shocked. But as well as I can know with anyone- I believe this friend is a believer. She forced me to question why I did believe what I believed. And my faith is stronger for it.

I know people who only wear skirts and wear their hair long, and I have friends with large tattoos and have sported a pink faux hawk. Some people worship quietly sitting down, and some raise their hands. Some people hymns touch their heart and some rap music. The gospel transcends culture, and time and we need to remember that. Just because someone looks different, or worships different does not mean they are not saved or a ‘lesser’ believer.

(Before I get myself into too much trouble, let me state that I am not denying that there are places that teach a watered down gospel. I am not denying that in the least, but that is not the point of my post today.)

To finish up, next time you read an article or see a video, or hear a podcast that says you must be a certain way—check it against Scripture. Verify that the teacher is preaching 1) the passage in context to the rest of Scripture and 2) not just his own opinion of a passage as truth. If it is his own opinion of a passage that is difficult to understand, do your own homework, research God’s word to see what the interpretation is. And you know what, it is ok to say you don’t know and you want to continue studying before you come to a stand on an issue.

Scripture is to be our standard, not man, whoever the teacher is.