Divinity and accountability in Fiction

When writing I have often pondered the futility of leaving God out of the story. His presence, whether embodied or as a distant spirit-being, omnipresent and omniscient, is necessary even in fiction. Without an ultimate accountability characters lose their punch.

Divinity and accountability in fiction

All stories need a level of good versus evil. Characters make choices between right and wrong. Humanism would have us believe that we do not need God to explain the choice between good and evil, whereas the standard of morality we know is completely dependant on Him.

Western society is founded on the moral system passed down by Judeo-Christian values. Without a Common Standard of morality society is left to the whims of its individual members. One person may say that stealing is wrong, but another may say it is not because they believe in survival of the fittest.

Why is sin always sin? Why believe in truth and falsehood? Because we do have a standard in the laws passed down by God through Moses and the prophets and Jesus Christ.

This is pivotal in writing. Literature needs to reflect that God is the same always, whether in the past or in the present or in the future. An eternal being whose standards are not dependant on our desires, whims, or failings.

Without that standard a story becomes dependent on the characters’ perspectives. But when that standard is used the story gains coherancy because all actions, whether good or bad, have consequences temporal . . . and eternal.

Freedom of choice does not mean your characters can escape the fact that they are created beings.

Question: How does accountablity to God factor in the fiction you read and write?


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The most obvious thing about me is how much I love reading and writing. Great stories are truly my passion and have been for as long as I can remember. Growing up in a conservative Christian home I learned to value God, intelligence, and life. I am always striving to learn. I am a husband and a father to five children. I love my family and my life. God is good and I attribute my success to His provision.

Great fantasy stories are a lot of fun. I write the stories that I want to read and am fortunate enough to have several published novels under my belt as well as more in the pipeline.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Divinity and accountability in Fiction

  1. Have you ever read Dorothy Sayers’ “Mind of the Maker”? It goes into this in depth (amongst other things). I picked it up because my wife was reading it and said I should when I was telling her that characters in stories I write can be really frustrating at times: you drop them in there and then you have to let them be true to their natures, and sometimes they just steer the story where you didn’t really intend for it to go and there isn’t anything you can do about it as an author, except may to try to put things in their paths to entice them back to the straight and narrow. But still they choose.

    As Sayers notes, as soon as you force characters to submit to your will against their natures, the story loses power. She also notes that the same loss of power occurs in a story in which a “miracle” happens to turn the tide of a story because it is headed (according to its author).

    I can create a world in a story, and it has its natural law (which is a reflection of a divine law of absolutes), even if that law varies from my reality. When characters in a story make choices that violate the natural laws of their worlds, negative consequences always result, unless I force a miracle. Stories are always more satisfying when the characters are allowed to suffer the consequences of poor choices, and worlds are allowed to change according to the choices characters make: not because of a sadistic pleasure in seeing them suffer, but because the suffering is just according to the law of the universe in which they live.

    Anyway, the real thrust of Sayers’ book is the trinitarian nature of creativity, which she relates to Father, Son, and Spirit. Her thesis is that the best works are those that balance the trinity, and when a book (or other kind of work) seems to fall apart the failure can be traced to an imbalance in the trinity.

    Anyway, it is really fascinating and insightful, and if you haven’t read it, I *highly* recommend it. I think you’d really enjoy it.

    • Fascinating! No, I had not heard of that book before but thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out.

  2. I hate it when a good book is wrecked by sin. There are so many books that I have LOVED until the author just goes too far. Even books that are written by supposed Christians sometimes have immoral content. This really bothers me because, as Christian authors, they should be writing about/with the values that they believe. I think that Christian authors really need to write with accountability so that their readers don’t get the wrong idea.

    • Immoral content is also in the Bible, so it is not the content itself but rather how it is used. Some writers choose to call wrong right/or to call sin good. It is necessary to show the evil to reveal the good, but we must not show the evil to glorify it. We must show the sin if we are to teach others the consequences of it. Today society wants us to believe that nothing is wrong or right because they do not want to accept an accountability to a God who is above them and able to destroy them “both body and soul.”

      We should not shy from talking about sin or showing it because it is a powerful tool to show that “the wages of sin is death.”