Monday, May 16, 2011

How does your mind work?

That is the question a reader asked me at a book signing recently. He had read the first three books in "Reluctant Demon Diaries" and was having trouble breaking through some of his doctrinal bondage that told him Christians should not read a book about demons, especially if the demon turned out to be not so bad - even if it is speculative fiction. His question prompted me to think about why I tend to see things differently when it comes to scripture. I know this is probably true because so many people have said it to me so many times. There must be something to it. I suppose it might be because I am a trained forensic debater. When I was in college I participated in a lot of debate tournaments. While I always knew in advance what the topic for the debate would be, I never knew until we drew lots which side of the issue I would defend. Therefore, it was necessary to know the evidence supporting both points of view. It is sort of like a trail lawyer who prepares the case for the other side before preparing his/her own.

When I use scripture as a basis for my writing, I approach it with three questions: (1) who is talking, (2) who is he talking to (3) what is he talking about? When one uses this template for reading the account, it is interesting to discover how many interpretations of well known stories are not supported well by what the Bible actually says - or does not. While I believe in the infallible word of scripture, I do not necessarily believe in the infallible word of commentary. Commentary, unless it is historically verified, is always someone's opinion of what the author meant. While it may be a very good opinion, it is still just opinion and I believe we do well to be careful not to give opinion the same weight as scripture. Because the Bible is the "Reader's Digest" version of what happened, there is ample room for reasonable speculation about the details.

What about you? Is it threatening or liberating to think there may be more to the stories in the Bible than we have thought or imagined?


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

I'm one of those Christians who believe we must handle the Word of God carefully. God warns about adding to and taking away from His word. That said, you write speculative fiction -- it's make believe. It's pretend. Just like any fictional work (mine included). It's not meant to replace Scripture. So I don't have a problem with it.

Greg Mitchell said...

Techinically, I think the Bible warns against taking away from or adding to Revelation, specifically.

I, too, think the Word of God should be treated as absolute authority--but there's so much in it--when it comes to the subject of angels, demons, End Times--that's very vague. I think so much of what we cling to regarding what the Scripture says about these topics are, like Linda said, based on commentaries of Scripture, rather than Scripture itself.

I know an issue I ran into with "The Strange Man" was the idea of demons taking physical form to attack people. One reviewer didn't think this was possible--that it never happened in Scripture. While, no, it didn't, Scripture leads us to believe that demons are fallen angels, and angels appeared all the time in physical form. Logic would dictate it could swing for demons, too. Again, I'm writing speculative fiction and my demons are more B-movie allegory to the very real struggles we face, but still :p

Good post.