f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Justification vs. Sanctification – Which Makes for Better Fiction?

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Friday, November 11, 2005

Justification vs. Sanctification – Which Makes for Better Fiction?

So we’re not even at the official Day 2 of CSSCA and already we’re bringing out the theological terms. Which means we’re headed in the right direction.

These weeks upcoming, I hope, are going to get to the real heart of faith and fiction: the “god-talk” that fills our books and its inevitable link to our own individual expression of faith and beliefs. It’s going to traverse ground that church and denomination has helped establish for thousands of years…and it’ll touch on our own often idiosyncratic interpretations of those thoughts.

Fiction and theology often become inextricable at this point and I often wonder: Is this for the best? No, we may not be writing a fictionalized systematic theology…but the faith witnessed, practiced, and revealed in our fiction quite often fits into that framework.

Which leads us (at least in my head) to a quick sidebar on justification and sanctification.

My post a few days ago immediately led to some discussion. But it wasn’t so much about fiction as it was about the nature of conversion itself—which many of you had pretty definitive ideas about. There is a level of specificity that has come to our understanding of the doctrine of justification. And I wonder if that specificity has made it more difficult to write about. You’re writing within a tight theological box at that point and the room for two of the hallmarks of fiction—surprise and question—don’t seem to exist.

(And please note, this isn’t criticism or blame. I set up of the story parameters. I’m just realizing now that in doing so, I tripped a few wires that we need to discuss. Because we can extrapolate these things outside of our story contest. Many folks are writing novels where important characters get converted at the end.)

So does a novel considering the idea of sanctification offer more wiggle room to the average Christian writer? Does it, I wonder, offer more space to approach the notion from the perspective of metaphor. Conversion was treated with theological accuracy because I think many of us believe that to view it from any other perspective means to corrupt it. But to me it seems there might be a preponderance of different avenues by which one could tackle what happens after …

Yikes. No clue if any of that made sense. Long week. If nothing else, reread the post heading and give your thoughts on that.