Faith and fiction.
According to one particularly repugnant atheist they are the same thing, and theologians are the same as fairyologists. But they are not. I couldn’t disagree more. Faith is being certain of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see, not what is unreal (Hebrews 11:1). The reason I have put them together in the title of this post is that, for me, they are beautifully intertwined.
What I mean is this: I am both a man of faith and a writer of fictional stories. So faith and fiction belong together for me. I have explained elsewhere Why I Write, but here suffice it to say that I write to honour God. Whether through blog-posts on the Bible, love-poems for my wife or full-length novels set in the far-distant world of Astrom, I do it all for the glory of the God who is my first and greatest inspiration. I believe He gave me the gifts I have, and so I will use them to serve Him anyway I can. I write to entertain, to inspire and to share truth. I hope I’m succeeding, but that’s for you to judge.
My hope is that my writings will help lead people to Jesus, but unless I’m writing about the Gospel I don’t want that aim to be oppressively apparent. Instead I weave it in, letting it surface manifestly at times but mostly leaving it as a subtle but constant undercurrent. The Bible, while always truthful, is full of good stories. Jesus was the ultimate storyteller, and I think if more Christians were better storytellers, the world would be a better place.
The person of Prélan underpins all that is spiritual in my fiction, so it would be well to introduce Him. He is God. The same God that we meet in the Bible, and I can tell you, there’s no harder character to do justice to. The very name Prélan is an elvish word for a personal deity, encapsulating concepts of creator, sustainer and master in one very holy word.
I’m undecided if there is other life out there in our universe, but I firmly believe that if there is, then God would be fundamentally the same to them as to us, that even if He revealed Himself in different ways the basic truths would be the same. In fact, I like to think that Astrom truly exists somewhere out there and that God has just given me the privilege of bringing it to life for the enjoyment of others.
I will be writing a sister-post to accompany this one that will explore the religions of Astrom, but for now I will simply say that Prélan created Astrom just as God created Earth, and He governs it in much the same way as well. He gave life to the first elves, and their religion, for want of a better word in English, was to worship and obey Him.
What about Jesus? There I have a conundrum. He does not appear in my writings. I have deliberately and painfully left out the very person who is the key to all life and hope. Prélan is a triune God – He bestows His Spirit and works through a begotten Person to redeem Astrom – but I have chosen to set my stories of Astrom in an epoch before this second member of the Trinity comes to give His life as a ransom for many. In that respect the tales of Astrom are theologically equivalent to the Old Testament. There are Christ-like figures, but no Christ.
Why? Because I simply cannot portray Jesus adequately. He is too unique, too beautiful, too transcendent, too utterly ‘other’ for my pen to convey. I could never do Him justice, and any attempt to try would be at best misleading and at worst inadvertently heretical. Besides, there already exists the only portrayal of Him that anyone will ever need: the Gospel. What could I add to that? I intend my writings to be a gateway, a starting-point. If you encounter Prélan and want to know more, I suggest you go straight to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. I plan to write the best stories ever told after theirs.
I hope that makes sense. If you would have chosen differently in my position, I hope you at least understand my reason. And do visit again soon to find out more about Astrom…