One must recognize line between faith and fiction

The term Christian fiction refers to stories based on imagination with a Christian theme.

“The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” are among the more popular writings in the category.

Although I’ve been familiar with term Christian fiction since I was in college, when I saw it recently, it just struck me as an odd piece of nomenclature, even oxymoronic. It’s not that I have any problem with the imagination of creative writers being driven by Christian values (I wish more of things were driven by Christian values). It was just that my immediate thought on this occasion was that there should be nothing fictitious about Christianity — the process of becoming and living as a Christian. That is, our lives as Christians can only be based on truth, or we’re hypocrites rather than Christians.

Hypocrisy was originally a theatrical term for one who feigns a part because it generally doesn’t reflect their true character. According to Jesus, hypocrites are those who act overly pious in things like giving, praying, and fasting to receive honor among men (Matthew 6:1-18).

He pretty well laid it on the religious leaders of the day for acting pious but not really being so — for not practicing what they preached (Matthew 23:1-33). The hypocritical will receive their reward on earth from men, as they desire, along with a not-so-pleasant reward for eternity from God (Matthew 24:51).

Fictitious Christians (those who claim to know the truth, but actually do not love it enough to find out what the truth really is) often formulate teachings that mislead and cause others to miss out on salvation (Romans 10:2-3; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 15:7-14). Any person can be honestly mistaken, but when exposed to the truth, they’ll either cease to be mistaken or they’ll cease to be honest. Each person will be accountable to God for how they’ve handled what they’ve learned, whether truth or fiction (2 Corinthians 5:7; John 12:46-50; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Similarly, any person can fall into the trap of hypocrisy and lead other Christians astray (Galatians 2:11-14). It’s apparent that Peter learned how dangerous this sort of hypocrisy is after Paul pointed it out to him, as well as how important it is to ground oneself in the truth (1 Peter 2:1-3).

Teachers will be held to a higher degree of accountability because their influence can have eternal consequences (James 3:1-6; Hebrews 13:7-9, 17; I Corinthians 11:1). Their teaching must be reflected in all aspects of their lives without coming off as holier-than-thou, which is akin to hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:11-16; Romans 12:3). If the shallowness of hypocrisy isn’t evident as a first impression, it will eventually come to the surface and be recognized by those who do have a love for the truth (1 Timothy 5:24-25).

Are you grounding yourself well enough in the truth, checking your resources to recognize fiction when it comes along, and setting an example that fits the Christian character (Acts 17:11; James 1:22-25)?

 

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at lmlaur@plateautel.net

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