Does a Christian writer have an obligation to be sure his writing advances the gospel (a.k.a. helps people come to a belief in the redemptive work of Christ or in some way build up the existing church) to be using his time in a way that is worthwhile? What if a writer chooses to write solely for the entertainment value he and his readers find in his books? Does that mean he is being a bad steward of the talent that God has given him?
As you can imagine, Christians in the arts fall on every part of the spectrum when they endeavor to answer this question. But when I look at it, I have to wonder...is writing any different than any other hobby or profession?
If you scrapbook avidly, should you be only putting together albums that preach the gospel or commemorate church events?
If you're a cabinet maker, does your woodwork need to have scripture graven upon it?
If you golf, is it a waste of time if you're not using the time to witness to your companions on the course?
If you're an accountant at a big corporation, are you spending too much time earning a paycheck and not enough serving God? And what if you work for a company that actively discourages any sort of religious dialogue in the workplace?
|Cobblestone Brooke by Thomas Kinkade|
Now, I realize the examples I've thrown out there are borderline absurd. But is there something about narrative that somehow bears a greater responsibility to convey biblical truth than cabinetmaking? What about visual arts? Thomas Kinkade, the "painter of light," was said to be a man of faith, but he painted tons upon tons of pictures that were merely pretty with no significant gospel narrative attached. Does that make his entire wall art empire a sham?
As you can probably tell, I am not of the mind that we have to tell the story of Christ in order to write fiction Christians can feel good about reading or I can justify writing. I am of the belief that if my work engages the reader with excellence, that we honor God through a job well done. We small-time authors might not get to engage thousands of fans and share the way we try to live out the gospel with them, but we might get to someday do so with one, or six, twenty. Last I checked, God doesn't keep a tally of how many people we told our testimony or mete out rewards accordingly. And it's not as if our writing is the only route we have to touching the lives of others.
This is one of those blog posts that exists mainly to pose questions. I have come to place of peace on writing "entertainment" fiction. What do you, as a reader or a writer, have to say on your own stance?