In God’s economy, the writers of the Bible did not have something better to do with their time and ability than to be artistic to the glory to God. (Leland Ryken)
God created us to be creators. While there are certainly words of warning in the Bible not to create something to take the place of God, the Bible itself gives us the best example of a work of art that points to the greatness of God. The Bible is God’s story, compiled by God’s human agents, designed to inspire us to glorify God and enjoy God always. In the Bible, the Word of God is expressed in words we may not fully grasp, but that nonetheless lead us forward in faith.
The book The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing contains reflections from Christian writers, artists, and thinkers on the role of creative work in expressing our faith. Christians have, throughout history and into the present, had a very ambiguous relationship with all forms of writing outside of Scripture, but particularly fiction and fantasy. Yet, some Christians (like C.S. Lewis) have produced marvelous fictional works as a way of expressing, not compromising their faith.
Theologian Abraham Kuyper provides a faithful basis for creative writing when he writes –
As image-bearer of God, man possesses the possibility both to create something beautiful, and to delight in it.
To be faithful as creative writers, we need to focus first on creating something beautiful, something delightful. We are to first focus on writing a good story or a good poem and only then can we effectively convey a message through it.
A good story can draw us into a world where we can be re-shaped in the image of God. C.S. Lewis writes –
Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality… In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
Losing ourselves in a good book, then, is not just literary escapism. Or it doesn’t have to be. We can get lost so that we can be found, in a better place.
(photo of C.S. Lewis from Devin Gosberry in My dinner with Andre and/or people I would like to dine with.)