Something I’ve noticed recently in the circles of Christian readers that I come into contact with is an interesting trend of complaining. Readers complain that stories make “extra-Biblical assumptions,” or the the author’s “theology is incorrect.”
Ummm…pardon me if I seem naive, but isn’t that kind of inherent to spec-fic? I mean, speculative fiction is all about asking “what if…”, right?
What if a vampire could be saved? (Handled brilliantly by Ben Wolf in his novel Blood for Blood.)
What if you could trap souls as they left their bodies? (The subject of Timothy Zahn’s novel Soulminder, which is probably one of the most thought provoking books I read in 2014.)
Not to mention the host of questions raised by Mike Duran’s latest, The Ghost Box. (Too many to list here, but let me tell you, many of the things in that book are things a lot of Christians [in my experience] wouldn’t touch with a 50-foot pole.)
In a genre defined by asking what if…, by asking questions, authors are going to (inadvertently or deliberately) make extra-Biblical assumptions or seem to have incorrect theology (which is, IMO, a hazy accusation anyway, since people can be so doggone nitpicky over this.) It comes with the territory. Christian fans of spec-fic should be able to roll with this and give authors the benefit of the doubt.
I’m not talking about letting outright blasphemy go here. I’m talking about ignoring that the author seems to believe in predestination over free will. Or that a plot point hinges on transubstantiation.
Note that I’m also talking specifically about Christian speculative fiction here. Because for some reason, people seem to be able to handle differing ideas from secular authors. So why is it that they’re afraid of questions and differing ideas from people of their own faith?
Please, let’s give fellow believers some slack already. Don’t quibble over minor details. Enjoy that you’re learning something new, or be open to the fact that this could bring a new twist into the way you view the world. Don’t automatically assume that the author is the big bad boogie man out to undermine what you believe. Play along with the what if and the speculation and the questions, and enjoy the story.