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Friday, June 10, 2011

Fantastic Literature - E. Stephen Burnett points out how the Bible supports it

Some Christians think that, say, the Harry Potter books have no place in a Christian's reading, because they have to do with magic. The same has been said for books that have some sort of pagan religion, or even, like the Narnia books, minor characters (such as Tumnus the faun) that are based on non-Christian mythology. I recognize that there are some books that I shouldn't read, because of some sort of sinful content, and that some Christians probably have no business reading the Harry Potter books, or maybe even the Narnia books, because of their own personal make-up and experience, which might open them up to temptations that I don't think are particularly dangerous for me. But I disagree with the idea that no Christian should be reading books with magicians or some sort of pagan religion, and certainly disagree with crossing off all fantastic literature.

See here for a post on a series of books that I decided not to continue reading. See here for a post on the work of a particular author who is a self-declared Druid, but whose work is clearly sympathetic toward Christianity. Here is a post, attempting to describe Christian novels. Here is an examination of Christianity, or lack thereof, in the Harry Potter books.

E. Stephen Burnett is one of the authors of the Speculative Faith blog. In two recent posts - here and here - he opened my eyes about two pertinent Biblical facts. First, Daniel, and his Israeli companions, had to be conversant with the literature of Babylon. (See Daniel 1, particularly verse 17.) That literature almost certainly included stories about pagan deities. Second, the Tabernacle, as God directed its construction, almost certainly included materials given to the Israelites by the Egyptians, and most likely some of those materials were related to Egyptian idol worship. (See here for the source of some, or all, of the Israelite gold, and here for the instructions to use gold in the building of the tabernacle.)

Thanks, Burnett. It seems that God-serving people could know about the stories of pagan gods, and that the worship of God could use materials that had previously been related to the worship of other gods. So fantastic literature can also be used to God's glory, and the edification of Christians, even though it contains elements of magic or paganism. I have thought so for a long time, but this confirms it.

Actually, Burnett goes even further, because he thinks he needs to. Some Christians think, and argue, that no fiction, of any kind, is suitable for Christians to read. (See here for documentation.)

Thanks for reading. Read Burnett.


Merissa said...

I am enjoying fiction! Even growing as a believer from it.
Good idea for all Christians to have their Bible next to them when reading any book.

Martin LaBar said...

I agree on all points, Merissa.