Sometimes it’s good to just focus on who God is.
Wayne Grudem points out in his video series, Christian Beliefs, that God’s omniscience means that God knows everything about everything right down to knowing the history and future of every single atom in the universe he created. But that isn’t all. God also knows everything about everything that he could have created but did not put into this universe including its history and its future.
As a comic book and fantasy fiction tragic, my immediate response to this is the realisation that God knows what a universe where Batman, Superman, Spiderman and the X-men are real and what that world would have looked like and how it would have played out.
The not so little and not so trapped boy inside of me would love for a world like this to be real. However, even though I think a world where super powered heroes roam rooftops would be awesome, because I know that God is loving, wise and good I know that it is not the best thing for us.
Despite this there is something to be said for our desire to create alternate worlds of our own. In some way we are reflecting the glory of another God’s attributes; that of creator.
We are made in the image of God. This does not make us equal with God, nor an exact mirror image, but it does mean that in us is the capability to reflect His attributes. When authors and script writers and artists and directors create fictional worlds in which to play out a story, they are in a small way reflecting the creator God that created them.
We do not have the power to speak new worlds into life but conceptually we can imagine what they might look like. Granted, these imaginary creations of our own are like lumps of poorly moulded play-dough when compared to God’s creation but they do have value. Often they reflect and reveal something of our own character and attributes.
For example, it’s impossible to listen to the music of the recently deceased Amy Winehouse and not hear a soul in distress. It’s impossible to watch Family Guy and not see the arrogance and mocking spirit that Seth Macfarlane has towards the Bible and religion in general. Its impossible to watch any romantic comedy without feeling as though your life’s happiness is dependent on finding ‘the one’
It’s incredibly insightful for all us Christians who are charged with making disciples of the people of this world to understand what lies they have believed and what their hearts are crying out for.
But this ability to recognise truth and falsehood in the art and fiction of our culture works for Christians in reverse as well. We can create art and fiction that speaks to the soul of a person who may revile and reject a book about Christ but will warmly welcome in Aslan or Gandalf into their house.
A brief look at the top grossing films of all times reveal just how many times the story of a hero who sacrifices himself to save others but returns from the dead to bring victory has been retold. Consider ***SPOILER ALERT*** the above mentioned Aslan (the Chronicles of Narnia) and Gandalf (Lord of the Rings) but also Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Harry Potter (Deathly Harrows Part 2), and Optimus Prime (Transformers). These last three are particularly interesting examples simply because they were not (to the best of my knowledge) written by Christians yet still have shadows of the gospel.
When we create fiction and art that reflects the truth of the gospel I believe that God can use our work to soften hearts and impart truth that prepares a person to believe the full truth of the gospel of Christ. Christ did this exact thing with his parables. A Christian writing fiction is not just a child seeking to imitate their father, it can be a story to tell all the other children who have run away from their father that he actually is loving and good, just and true.
If you have it in your heart to tell stories and create art then that is a good and healthy desire and it is best expressed by using it to honour God and glorify his name. To do so, we do not necessarily have to speak His name (depending on our audience) and we can even create worlds with gods of our own imagining as both J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis did. But if we meditate on the gospel and what Christ has done for us then we will tell stories and create art that point a world that does not know Jesus towards Him. We can prepare the hearts of this world to one day cry his name from the roof tops themselves.
For some terrific insights into this topic as it relates to fiction and fantasy, check out this video that the guys at Movieology have done.