Scott, Angela (2012-03-18). Wanted: Dead or Undead (Kindle Locations 3355-3357). Evolved Publishing. Kindle Edition.
In this book, the zombie plague has the President of the United States of America telling people that they’re on their own. There are still “safe zones,” but the zombies are taking those out pretty easily too. In the midst of this, one of the main characters briefly connects the world she sees with her lack of faith in God.
As both a Christian and a writer of Zombie fiction, I’ve asked myself how our loving God could let the Zombie Apocalypse happen. One of our rules here at New Authors Fellowship is to not bring up controversial denominational arguments, and that isn’t my point here. But as a Dispensational theologian, I am going to approach my discussion from that perspective. If you are not Dispensational, or even Christian, that’s fine. I just read Angela’s passage and wanted to work this out for myself. Since my next novel may create a zombie apocalypse, I thought it pertinent that I figure this out.
I wrote a blog post a while back “How Much Fiction Do You Allow in Your Fiction.” In it I addressed the advantages to reading and writing about fundamental truths as if they were untrue. The story I used as an example used a form of deism (God created world then left it to fend for itself). At first, this jarred against my apologetics training, preventing me from engaging with the story, but in reflection, I enjoyed how seeing a world with a different God made me appreciate my God more.
1st Question: Does it matter what the Bible says will happen in the end of the world?
At this point, it does. Some people answered my above blog by saying that Fiction is fiction, and you have license to write whatever you want. Others pointed out how my fiction could be interpreted as a reflection of what I believe.
We could be very close to Jesus’ return, so this area in particular is a cautionary area as far as not leading people astray. While there are signs that we are near, I’m not convinced that God doesn’t have another few thousand years or more planned. This could involve some form of Dark Ages where we lose a lot of our technology and have to start from scratch. Would it be less biblical to have a plague kill off millions of people?
In 1 Samuel 4, Israel brings the ark of the covenant into battle against the Philistines, but is defeated in a “very great slaughter, [losing] thirty thousand foot soldiers.” There was a purpose to this, fulfilling prophecy about two of Eli’s sons dying, and having the ark get captured. When God’s purpose is concerned, sometimes people die, but the part to focus on is that God has a purpose, which will one day be revealed as ultimately what was best.
2nd Question: Does God care less for one person dying, 30,000, or 1 million?
Clearly, the answer is no. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). A few days ago, our church had a wedding between two people who lost their spouse to cancer. I was there through both Becca and Josiah getting sick, watched their fight, saw their testimony of faith in spite of their pain, and believe that God was glorified in their selflessness. They did not curse God as their lives were taken, and I know that God was glorified as a result. The emotions of those events were extreme. I have no doubt that God was immensely sad to see each one of them go, just as he would 1 million Josiahs and Beccas, but I also have no doubt that the end result was greater, seeing them in His presence. “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the Bible, but it has far-reaching application (John 11:35).
Just because evil happens in our world, does not mean that God is neither in control, nor sorrowful.
Question 3: So, having established that God can still be loving, and also let evil take place, would He allow something like the zombie apocalypse?
My answer is that as long as the end result matches up with End Times prophecies, then yes.
One of these prophecies that come to mind:
The Church will not partake in the seven year tribulation. While there are differing opinions on this, my understanding of “He who now restrains” refers to the Holy Spirit, which I summarize to mean that the body of believers baptized by the Spirit into the Universal Church will be in Heaven while the 7 years of tribulation occur (2 Thes. 2:7).
This means that, according to my beliefs, a zombie apocalypse would not wipe out humanity as part of God’s judgement upon mankind, because the Spirit is protecting a living remnant to rise up and wed the Lamb of God during this tribulation/judgement period (1 Thes. 4:17). I suppose you could say that this means only one born again Christian would have to survive the zombie apocalypse in order to maintain this thinking, by which civilization would start over and the tribulation occur much later. While that would be tragic to see all those people die, “my ways are not His ways,” so I do not pretend to understand how that could best be used to glorify God (Isaiah 55:9).
So, returning to the passage in question: “I don’t believe in God,” she said, her eyes searching his. “I haven’t for quite some time. Not with the world the way it is. God can’t possibly exist. He wouldn’t have let all this happen.”
My answer to this is that God does not promise peace in the world as it is, nor is that even His will. In that same book of First Thessalonians 4:3, we learn that the will of God is your sanctification–not your physical safety, but the purity of your heart. If it takes the zombie apocalypse to save one more person, though that may seem extreme, God can do it.
Josiah, a true man of God, lived his final moments in faith and peace. As a result, the funeral director, who was a member of our church (a sad oversight), came to know the Lord as his savior. As much as it brings me to tears to write this, I believe with my whole heart that Josiah would have willingly given his life for this funeral director’s soul, even though that meant leaving behind his wife and two young daughters.
It seems like a strange way for God to save people, but that’s how it works sometimes. He doesn’t enjoy seeing people die, but in the priority of seeking our sanctification, sometimes He uses trials to point us to our fear of the afterlife without His love.
Do I believe I can write a zombie apocalypse where a loving God is still in control?
It will be emotional, but I believe I can. If He calls me to do so, I will follow. While I believe in zombies as much as I do unicorns at the State Fair, if God were to use that in His plan, I believe Christians would offer their lives in great numbers to save the lost. This difficult truth may be a strong reason for writing about the zombie apocalypse.