“Could We? Should We? Part 2” is the second half of the guest blog written by author/editor Michelle L. Levigne. To read the first part, click here. She discusses at greater length and depth about Christians writing speculative fiction in her book To Eternity (and beyond).
[No help is to be despised, even though it come from a profane source.]
But whether the fact is as Varro has related, or is not so, still we ought not to give up music because of the superstition of the heathen, if we can derive anything from it that is of use for the understanding of Holy Scriptures; … For we ought not to refuse to learn letters because they say that Mercury discovered them; nor because they have dedicated temples to Justice and Virtue, and prefer to worship in the form of stones things that ought to have their place in the heart, ought we on that account to forsake justice and virtue. Nay, but let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found it belongs to his Master;
[Whatever has been rightly said by the heathen we must appropriate to our uses.]
Moreover, if those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use, not doing this on their own authority but by the command of God, the Egyptians themselves, in their ignorance, providing them with things which they themselves were not making a good use of; in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to abhor and avoid; but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they did not create themselves, but dug out of the mines of God’s providence which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully prostituting to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in the spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them, and to devote to their proper use in preaching the gospel. Their garments, also that is, human institutions such as are adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable in this life — we must take and turn to Christian use. St. Augustine. On Christian Doctrine. Great Books of the Western World. Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor in Chief. (Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc. Chicago 1952) pp. 646.
 Ibid. pp. 655.
Essentially, Christians are commanded to plunder the “treasures” of the non-believers and turn them to God’s service and glorification. Countless times, the Israelites were commanded to plunder their conquered enemies and keep what they took. And there were always instructions for what and how much went to the Tabernacle and the priesthood.
Yet, there were also occasions when the Israelites were ordered to destroy all the possessions of the enemy, and not keep even one small coin of the spoil. This can be extended to modern times to apply to Satan’s tools of drugs, pornography, profanity, and anything that is not profitable for God’s service. These things are perversions, warping away from the true intent of their basic drives. Such twisted things only distract from the truth and must be totally wiped out.
Just because some science fiction/fantasy seems to promote occultism or immorality does not mean all the rest is bad. Certain cults use the cross as part of their symbolism, and others use the Bible, with their own twisted interpretations. Does that mean Christians should stop wearing the cross and reading the Bible? Of course not. It must all be redeemed and used for the good of society and the furtherance of the Gospel. People must be trained to want the good over the evil, to tell the difference between the two opposing forces, and to find the side of light to be more attractive than the side of darkness.
Science fiction/fantasy is stepping in and filling the needs in people’s lives that the church and other institutions are not filling, or if they are, not meeting the need adequately. Such as the need for wonder, and fostering the imagination, and hope in desperate, dark circumstances. Don’t condemn the genre for doing this — condemn the ones who are not doing their jobs. Christians should study and get involved in science fiction/fantasy and all the sub-genres associated with it, so that the uses and abuses can be understood, and either redeemed, turned to their proper uses, or guarded against.
There will always be those who say something is wrong for Christians because they don’t feel comfortable with it. God works differently with everyone. All His people are individuals. A story will have a desired effect on one group of people, a sermon will have the same effect on a different group of people, and a song will be designed to have the same effect on yet another group of people. God uses many tools. He used Balaam’s donkey, so who has the wisdom and authority to dictate His choices in either tools or methods?
Thank you, Michelle! Wonderful insight into writing speculative fiction as a Christian. To connect with Michelle, check out her bio and social media links below.
On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a bunch of useless degrees in theater, English, film/communication, and writing. Even worse, she has over 100 books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, suspense, women’s fiction, and sub-genres of romance.
Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. She is a tea snob and freelance edits for a living (MichelleLevigne@gmail.com for info/rates), but only enough to give her time to write. Want to learn about upcoming books, book launch parties, inside information, and cover reveals? Go to Michelle’s website or blog to sign up. You can also find her at www.YeOldeDragonBooks.com, www.MtZionRidgePress.com, Facebook, and Instagram.
Some people have criticized mysteries for trivializing crime. And some books and stories do focus on the gory and perverse. But most mystery fans read in this genre because we want to see justice done–the mystery solved, the bad guy caught, the innocent protected.