The Case for Redemptive Fantasy

“I don’t read fantasy because I don’t want to waste time with things that aren’t real.”

Better yet:

“I refuse to read fantasy because it goes against God.”

The first is a statement I’ve heard dozens of times from Christians and nonbelievers alike. I think you can guess who said the second.

Can we just take a step back? Can we just take a breath? First off: All fiction is fake. Even when pinned down to the term ‘based on true events’ it is still, at best, an educated guess. The author is toying with your emotions as authors do best. And really, can’t we all just have some extra fun and spend time learning things from worlds that don’t exist? From seeing things in a never before done light?

Second, I’d like to introduce you all to a genre called Christian Fantasy, or Redemptive Fantasy, as it is known in some circles.

“Whoah. Hold it. Wait up,” you might say. Christian Fantasy? Alternate worlds? What about the real world, the one our Heavenly Father created, the only one with Truth?

I’d say, what about the talents he has given us to mirror that Truth with stories that convict? What if people are so fed up with the world we are in, too tired of its overused themes being played in context to their own lives that they need a fresh perspective?

I know I did. Amish books? How is there a whole genre based on this? An intriguing premise? Yes. Enough to fuel thousands of books? Maybe. But at some point, don’t they become dull? Probably.

Let me introduce you to Mr. Ted Dekker. A genius of the Redemptive Fantasy genre. His story is set in an alternate world, one that the beginning reader is not sure is parallel to our own, or some sort of distant future.

He takes major events of the Bible, from Creation and the Fall, to the coming of Jesus and his death and resurrection and puts them in the context of his trilogy. One world is our own, the other is the past where all of these events are being played out in fantasy realm.

Fantasy.

I have never been so convicted as I was when I read that series. As Dekker’s characters betrayed Jesus unknowingly, I asked myself, ‘Have I done this?’ I even cried when one found faith and was saved, albeit in a physical swirling pool of God’s glory. The rush of emotions, the vibrant descriptions and the awe-inspiring fantastical setting carved by Dekker hit me hard. I’d seen all these things play out in real life, or even in other fiction, but it wasn’t until it was put in a new frame with a genre I love that it truly had an impact on me.

Real life is real. Fantasy and fiction are not. But the Truth of God, wherever you find it, is.