Theology for Writers 101

I try to live holistically. My faith is the core of my personhood and identity, and it informs everything else: my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. As Christian, I approach all of life through a Christological lens. How does this act reflect Christ?  Does this feeling align with Christ’s? Would Christ approve of this behavior? Do others see Christ in this? I ask these questions often throughout the day.

With this in mind, I often consider my writing an act of worship. As I use the talent that God has given me, as I communicate the truth with sincerity, and as I seek to make Him more beautiful through such action, I believe that I am in a state of worship no different than when I sing to him on a Sunday Morning (and I SING, albeit poorly).

As I’ve been working more with serious fiction in the last 2 years (my goodness has it been so long), I’ve come to a very poignant realization that has not only informed my deep love for God but also deepened my lament for humanity’s ills.

You see, writers have a distinct advantage in their study and understanding of God, for we’re both creators. Not only that, but we’re both creators who develop immense love for our creation, and when that creation experiences evil, we feel it.

My fellow authors will know what I mean. At times, when we write, our characters take a certain “life of their own”; their personalities and worldviews begin to inform the next event in the story. Sure, we are putting the words to paper, but in a sense, the choices the characters make are their own–they are choices we may not have wanted for them but were inevitable based on the world around them and their inherent flaws and failures when engaging it. Our characters act in ways we wish they didn’t, but sometimes that the truth.

Furthermore, when those poor choices result in their harm, we are pained again.  Yet we know that for the good for the story–for its most true telling–the darkness must be shown real, the pain must be severe, the plight must be felt. We lament for our characters in this, not in an unhealthy way (at least for most us) but in a way that says, “I wish the story didn’t have to go” or “I can’t put them (or myself or the audience) through this.”

But we do. We allow it.

And we do so in the name of truth, goodness, and beauty, to allow the story of our characters to be bold and honest. I believe that this phenomenon we writers experience–that, indeed, we must embrace for our integrity to remain intact–is at the very least an echo of God’s own experience.

And be assured, echoes can be heard at a distance. God’s experience with us real, sentient beings, pillaging the backdrop of this world that he designed from his infinite wisdom, must give him greater grief than we could imagine. How could it do not?  Rarely do the evils of fictional villains outmatch the weightier sins of mankind. And let’s not forget our thought-lives also–theatres of carnality, violence, and hatred that we all too often endure without pause (and, now, in our present age, such mental evil is, in many instances, believed not only private and innocuous but, dare I say, sacred). Yet God sees. And he endures.

Do you not see the patience he must possess to bear with us in our seemingly endless depravity? As a writer I feel for my characters, but they are few and my knowledge of them finite. Their world is a picture, and yet the evil in it vexes me, demanding my attention and calling for remedy. Is not God’s position exponentially greater? Oh how he endures the sordid tale of human history! How gracious he must be to directly intervene into it, providing a hope and a better way–the most excellent way–through Jesus Christ. How slow to anger he truly is. How merciful to withhold his justice, if even for one more day.

Because friends, I believe, yes I believe wholeheartedly, that like all authors, the Lord will set this story to its climax, and the highest beauty, the most profound justice, and the most eloquent truth will all be felt at the tip of his pen when he closes the book on this present age and begins the long awaited ever after.

By his grace and for his glory, I look toward it with great anticipation. I hope many of you do as well.

This is how my faith informs my writing. This is how my writing informs my theology. This is my worship, and I cannot help but praise God while I do it.