A Christian perspective on fantasy literature
IV. Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
"Fantasy can, of course, be carried to excess. It can be ill done. It can be put to evil uses. . . . But of what human thing in this fallen world is that not true?" 1
If we agree with Tolkien that fantasy can be used for good or ill, how are we to discern between the two? There is no litmus test. There is no tried and true formula that will fit every situation. Each family must decide for itself where to draw the line. But for the Christian in these media-saturated times, the line must be drawn somewhere. The purpose of these notes is to give Christian parents the tools they need for deciding what to allow into their homes.
Trust your own reactions.
First and foremost, every Christian should remember that if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have the Holy Spirit in us. The Bible tells us to test the spirits to see if they be from God (I John 4:1) and discerning of spirits is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:10).
"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." - I John 2:20 (NIV)
Ask God to help you and He will. Turn on your Holy Ghost "knower". Pay attention to your initial reaction. If something makes you uncomfortable, learn more.
Since no one can possibly preview everything, it is important to learn how to evaluate a book or film during or after we experience the story. This is not as difficult as it sounds, nor does it necessarily decrease enjoyment. It is important for parents to talk about stories with their children. By doing so, they teach children to think about the meaning of the stories. This is an important skill to develop since parents cannot protect their children from everything they consider inappropriate. As th e children learn to judge for themselves, they will be better able to walk uprightly in this world.
Using The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter as examples, we will present one Christian perspective on the positive and negative uses of fantasy.
Copyright © 2002 by Stephen Mark Spence