November 17, 2013


Fiction writing is God’s idea. The Bible’s full of it. From the stories of Nathan’s ewe lamb; Jeremiah’s marred pottery; to Isaiah’s vineyard; the Old Testament spins many tales of humanity’s broken sinfulness and God’s restoration.

Jesus’ many parables simply followed a long tradition explaining the truths of the kingdom. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” was His signature beginning of stories that told of God’s love and redemption, or of judgment to come for the unrepentant.

Christians throughout the centuries—whether writing for believers or unbelievers—when driven by the Holy Spirit, have attempted at some level to express the nature of God, and the godly values derived from Him; and much of that was written through fiction.

C. S. Lewis claimed: “Any amount of theology can be smuggled into people’s minds under cover of romance without their knowing it.” His fantasy yarns in Narnia, and his humorous banter in Screwtape Letters point to the truth about God just as much as the logic of Mere Christianity.

So writers, who are Christian, have imaginations inspired and fired by the Holy Spirit as they write their modern parables. From romance to high adventure, their signature “Once upon a time . . .” (rarely used but always understood), points to sublime truths that raise the human condition.

But are these pictures of God’s character, often concealed in figurative language, understood by the reader? That question raises another question; why use parables? Contrary to popular perception, parables conceal, as much as reveal, the truth they proclaim.

Isaiah was the first to record God’s warning that a calloused people would, “be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9). When the disciples asked Jesus why He used parables, He quoted that passage from Isaiah (Matthew 13:14).

Previously He’d said: “The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven has been given to you, but not to them” (Matthew 13:11), explaining that the one who has will receive abundantly, and those with nothing will lose even that.

His words, like a riddle, remind us the same Holy Spirit that inspires the writer, also illumines the reader. An open heart will prompt the Spirit to give more understanding; a closed heart will lose even the opportunity.

This life may never reveal those drawn to Christ through our writing, fact or fiction. Be assured, He will not inspire us unless someone awaits our message.


  1. Agreed, Bryan! God is the original story-teller. It's no wonder we love to hear, read, and tell stories so much when we are fingerprinted with God's love of story. Everyone perks up in church when the sermon includes stories!

  2. That's an excellent point to bring out, Bryan - that the Holy Spirit is the one who inspires both the writer and the reader. Aside from the obvious need to get rear end in chair and fingers working, it's good to remember that God is very willing to work in and through us as we write - that He even has particular readers in mind! Wonderful thought.

  3. Great post. Love the quote from Lewis!

  4. What you're saying about the Holy Spirit, how He illumines the writer and the reader, reminds me of your book, "Gone with the Spirit" that I am really enjoying. Thanks.

  5. Good thoughts in here, Bryan. I agree with your saying that C. S. Lewis points to the truth about God in fantasy, in humorous banter, and in straight non-fiction writing. With God guiding us, we can use more than one genre to share what is revealed to us about him.

    Thanks for this blog.


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