Adam Blumer's The Tenth Plague released today

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I don't think that means what you think it means. Biggrin

For instance, I can learn about the inner turmoil experienced by teens with terminal illness by reading research or a textbook, and I can also read The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene. I can learn about how autistic children process the world around them by again- reading some sort of nonfiction work on the topic, or enjoy The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.

Should I read what the Bible has to say about dealing with disability, tragedy, or how to comfort someone in the valley of the shadow of death? Absolutely. However, I can also gain a sense of empathy for these kinds of specific situations by reading a story that allows me to more fully understand and empathize.

Is fiction the only way to accomplish this? No- but it by no means should be considered ill-advised or taboo. Especially when hot chocolate and fuzzy socks are involved.

Kevin Subra's picture

I do not disagree with your third paragraph, though I would suggest that we do not need outside sources to become what God wants us to become. Is the Bible unable to give you an adequate sense of empathy for such situations?

<I am on a diet. Mentioning hot chocolate ravages my soul through my now incited fleshly imagination. ;>D>

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Easton's picture

"Jesus used only very abbreviated, specifically focused forms of fiction. He never used long forms of make-believe." 

I remember hearing this argument in regard to the production of Christian films based on fictional events.  Last time I heard it voiced was following a screening of Facing the Giants...

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Bro. Subra, you keep using the word 'need'. No, we don't 'need' fiction. We also don't need air conditioning, Lazy Boy recliners, or Cheetos. We don't need hot chocolate or fuzzy socks. Come to think of it, we don't 'need' commentaries or devotional books. We have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to truth. And we certainly don't 'need' Sharper Iron. So... <drums fingers on keyboard and makes a scrunchy face>

However, we do need coffee and bacon. I'm not moving on that.

As for empathy- I can, on a certain level, feel some empathy for a terminal cancer patient. I can try to get them to talk to me about their innermost struggles. I can attempt to put myself in their shoes. But if someone reveals, via fiction or memoir or poetry, the depths of their experience, and I gain an extra measure of understanding, then yea for me.

So, according to you, Jesus was into flash fiction. Cool. :p 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Alas... I haven't quite torn myself away yet either.

A premise in Kevin's argument:

Jesus fiction = short, novels = longer.

I accept that premise. But why should we believe that something good becomes bad when we have more of it? I'll readily agree that more of something good is not necessarily good or better (a little morphine after surgery = good;  more can = bad real fast!). But it's something else entirely to argue that more of a good thing is necessarily bad.

Another premise...

The Bible = 100% truth, novels = less than 100% truth

I accept this premise, too--with some qualifications. For example, beginning at Genesis, you come fairly soon to non-truth: "You shall not surely die." Of course, the Bible's report of the Serpent's statement is perfectly true. The Bible records other lies as well. So what we usually say, when we're being really precise, is that the Bible is error free in "what it affirms."

Now apply that standard to lengthy fiction (or short... there is no difference): though the story is made up, what it "affirms" may be 100% true. It's theoretically possible for an ordinary human novel to only represent one or two things as the truth... and be right about both of those things.

Doesn't mean any novel is as good Scripture, of course. Nobody's saying that. But nothing is equal to Scripture, whether it's lengthy fantasy fiction. the lawn mower owner's manual, Pilgrim's Progress, or a Christian work of non-fiction, such as The Pastor: A Guide for God's Faithful Servant  (which I hear is a fine book).

But the underlying problem with most of your arguments, Kevin, is that you're assuming lengthy fiction needs justification, when this is really the point in dispute. Do we have any biblical reason to believe it needs justifying?

Kevin Subra's picture

Susan R wrote:
Bro. Subra, you keep using the word 'need'. No, we don't 'need' fiction.
Actually I am more than questioning the need. I am arguing that the "needs" suggested by others throughout the thread would be more convincing if justified by Scripture.

Susan R wrote:
We also don't need air conditioning, Lazy Boy recliners, or Cheetos. We don't need hot chocolate or fuzzy socks. Come to think of it, we don't 'need' commentaries or devotional books. We have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to truth. And we certainly don't 'need' Sharper Iron. So... <drums fingers on keyboard and makes a scrunchy face>

However, we do need coffee and bacon. I'm not moving on that.

I see these suggestions as wholly outside the discussion. Lazy Boys, etc. are passive, not forms of influence.  The Bible claims to be sufficient for our spiritual needs (thus, apart from fictional works), requires us to meditate on it (as opposed to something else), and does not present fiction as a tool that many are suggesting it to be. (As far as the bacon and coffee, I always say that the "f" in Baptist stands for "food," so I'm in all the way.)

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Kevin Subra's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

A premise in Kevin's argument:

Jesus fiction = short, novels = longer.

I accept that premise. But why should we believe that something good becomes bad when we have more of it? I'll readily agree that more of something good is not necessarily good or better (a little morphine after surgery = good;  more can = bad real fast!). But it's something else entirely to argue that more of a good thing is necessarily bad.

Frankly, I believe this to be very poor logic resulting in a very poor summary (of my apparently very poor viewpoint). ;>D

My points and premises are many, but here are a few (to be redundant from earlier posts):

  • The Bible is complete and sufficient for us. Nothing is required to be added to accomplish God's work in our lives.
  • The Bible suggests / requires that we meditate on it.
  • The Bible nowhere suggests in pattern, principle, or practice that we supplement it by using fiction. It rather does the opposite.

My premise does not directly relate to length or quantity. It has to do with function and purpose. Jesus never used fiction in the way you suggest to relay truth. It is simply not a dog that will hunt. He used fiction only very surgically and specifically, not as entertainment or to help us to better understand how people feel in a given situation. He taught the Word and explained the Word. He did not condone or commission works of fiction to do that. He did not send his disciples out to tell stories. He sent them out to proclaim the truth.

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Another premise...

The Bible = 100% truth, novels = less than 100% truth

I accept this premise, too--with some qualifications. For example, beginning at Genesis, you come fairly soon to non-truth: "You shall not surely die." Of course, the Bible's report of the Serpent's statement is perfectly true. The Bible records other lies as well. So what we usually say, when we're being really precise, is that the Bible is error free in "what it affirms."

Now apply that standard to lengthy fiction (or short... there is no difference): though the story is made up, what it "affirms" may be 100% true. It's theoretically possible for an ordinary human novel to only represent one or two things as the truth... and be right about both of those things.

Doesn't mean any novel is as good Scripture, of course. Nobody's saying that. But nothing is equal to Scripture, whether it's lengthy fantasy fiction. the lawn mower owner's manual, Pilgrim's Progress, or a Christian work of non-fiction, such as The Pastor: A Guide for God's Faithful Servant  (which I hear is a fine book).

But the underlying problem with most of your arguments, Kevin, is that you're assuming lengthy fiction needs justification, when this is really the point in dispute. Do we have any biblical reason to believe it needs justifying?

To say that fiction is true is a good example of an oxymoron. Fiction is untrue, even if it uses some truthful facts in the process. It is therefore false, or unreal, and therefore only make-believe and not something we can truly build our beliefs upon, our viewpoints or feelings upon, etc.

The Bible is inspired and wholly accurate in what it conveys, and is what we are to build our beliefs, understandings, viewpoints, etc. from.

I believe that you do need justification to such works.

Allow me to try the Aaron premise process (to illustrate the absurd only):

Aaron's Premise: Fiction Is Essential to Life (and thus the Bible is not accurate nor sufficient)

1. I promote a work of fiction on SI, which is out of the ordinary for the purpose of SI.

2. I promote a work of fiction on SI without even a review or summary, which is totally out of character.

3. I state that I don't know how I could live without fiction, stating that it has done things for me that apparently could not have occurred otherwise.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Kevin Subra's picture

I think Aaron, and Susan (the entire thread's participants) have great points. I am sure that they love God and walk with Him (in spite of their love for fiction ;>D).

I wrestle with these things in all honesty. I do not want to build my life on the premise that since I enjoy it, it must be good. Neither do I want to build my life on the basis that if something brings some benefit, it must be good. I want to build my life on the Word, and be directed by (Prov 3:5-6) and immersed in (Psalm 1:1-3) the Word.

I enjoy fiction (though I rarely read it anymore). I can relate some benefits of reading fiction (at least I think I can, but I'm not sure if such results are in any way accurate or measurable). I do know that I need to know, memorize, meditate upon, learn and live the Word more.

I do imbibe in the occasional movie, which would fall into the same category (and watching is arguably less beneficial than reading from a stimulation standpoint). I do enjoy such times, but I cannot fully justify the use of the time, and most of the time I cannot justify the content (which at best is without God). I've enjoyed the Sherwood Pictures films (someone mentioned Facing the Giants in the thread), though I find them artificial. (My review of Courageous brings up some of my concerns: http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-review-of-courageous.html).

I don't think that fiction, by and large, helps us, in any form, if for no other reason that it distracts us from our mission and focus as believers.

I'm still wrestling with this, and I enjoy singing the Les Miserables music (the stage production - haven't seen the movie), and listened to the unabridged gargantuan work on audio some years ago. However the more I seek to walk with God, I believe my lack is not of another story, but a lack of a deeper knowledge and understanding of, and obedience to the Word. I do not believe I will end my life wishing I had spent more time in or in front of fiction.

Thank each of you for the kind stimulation and discussion.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Thanks, Bro. Subra- it's always fun to 'rassle' ideas with someone who is interested in an exchange, and has a sense of humor. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Kevin Subra wrote:
(As far as the bacon and coffee, I always say that the "f" in Baptist stands for "food," so I'm in all the way.)

There may be no 'f' in Baptist, but there sure is one in "fundamental baptist," so the 'f' point is still valid!

Dave Barnhart

Kevin Subra's picture

dcbii wrote:
Kevin Subra wrote:
(As far as the bacon and coffee, I always say that the "f" in Baptist stands for "food," so I'm in all the way.)
There may be no 'f' in Baptist, but there sure is one in "fundamental baptist," so the 'f' point is still valid!
Just an inside joke we've had at our church for years. It's a forced, ignorant sounding "Baptist distinctive" that we made up. The fictitious "F," I guess we could call it. ;>D

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Greg Long's picture

Kevin Subra wrote:
Jesus never used fiction in the way you suggest to relay truth. It is simply not a dog that will hunt. He used fiction only very surgically and specifically, not as entertainment or to help us to better understand how people feel in a given situation. He taught the Word and explained the Word. He did not condone or commission works of fiction to do that. He did not send his disciples out to tell stories. He sent them out to proclaim the truth.
This is at the least a false dichotomy and perhaps a false statement. How do you know the disciples didn't tell stories to proclaim truth? Jesus did, so why wouldn't they?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Kevin Subra's picture

Greg, reading the entire thread would help. These things have already been addressed.

[Funny we only meet on SI, even though we live so close. ;>D]

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Greg Long's picture

Kevin, I've read the entire thread and the previous one, too. And I just don't get your argument at all. You seem to make statements and then backtrack them. You seem to make pronouncements about the sufficiency of Scripture and then admit that you don't hold yourself to the same standard (in your enjoyment of Les Mis, for example). I don't understand your overall argument because as Aaron has so clearly stated, the Bible is full of literature that "contains falsehood" according to your definition (which, if I understand it correctly, means "stuff that didn't actually happen in time and space"). The Bible (and Jesus, mind you) has allegory, stories, parables, poems, hyperbole, etc., that use "falsehood" (things that did not actually happen in time and space) to teach truth. And Christians throughout the centuries have seen nothing wrong and everything right with using fiction to teach truth.

Of course there is bad fiction, just like there is bad music (there, I said it!), bad preaching, and bad children's Bible curriculum. But that doesn't mean there isn't good, or that we can't discern the good from the bad, or that we should throw the whole thing out the window.

But Aaron has said this all far better than I could say. Additionally, just because I don't "get" what you are saying doesn't mean you are wrong. It may just mean I don't get it. Which wouldn't be the first time. Smile

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Kevin Subra's picture

Greg, I'm having a hard time understanding what you don't get, or why you write what you do, since you've read both threads.

My question does not ignore the "allegory, stories, parables, poems, hyperbole, etc." that are in the Bible, some of which is fiction. My discussion has been weather those brief, direct instances in the midst of Jesus' teaching (for example) justify our embrace of fictional works, which I believe are of a completely different nature that what Jesus used. My discussion also cites the Word as necessarily being our constant meditation and sufficient resource. How does our immersion in fiction reflect these? I am presently not convinced that we focus on the Word enough, or that such fiction (in any media form) actually benefits followers of Christ (and I can find no Bible principles to the contrary so far).

I do not believe I have backtracked. I have simply, in the hopes of being honest and transparent in my pursuit of the truth and the precious sharpening that these interactions are, I brought up areas that would necessarily be included if I were wholly consistent. I interact to be sharpened. That has happened, but not in a way to convince me that fiction is important, essential, or helpful. I am still chewing on this, but I do lean towards "we spend too much time in other things rather than on what the Bible does require of us" than "we really need to lighten up and read fiction."

Greg Long wrote:
And Christians throughout the centuries have seen nothing wrong and everything right with using fiction to teach truth.
Excellent, Biblical justification, Greg. ;>D That would work for almost anything, given the particular group of Christians you would care to cite. What Christians have done through the centuries might help support in a secondary way (if that is possible here), but the Word must be the authority.

Greg Long wrote:
Of course there is bad fiction, just like there is bad music (there, I said it!), bad preaching, and bad children's Bible curriculum. But that doesn't mean there isn't good, or that we can't discern the good from the bad, or that we should throw the whole thing out the window.
If you would care to expound on just what Biblical principles you would use to define "bad fiction" (and "good fiction," for that matter), that would be most helpful. I keep being forced back to the learning and teaching of the Bible by what I study. (Teaching on 2 Timothy lately. Maybe that's why I'm so keen on this right now.)

(I dislike Pilgrims Progress VERY much - there, I said it!)

 

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

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