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The Crux

Does Speculative Literature Undermine the Bible?

The importance of reading a book based on what it purports to be

For about a year now, I've had the pleasure and the privilege of selling my books in grocery stores throughout the Dallas Metroplex. I knew when I started that several of my books would be mismatched with the retail audience that shops at these stores. I prepared myself for that eventuality. But there is always someone who challenges my thinking.

Property of Author Allen Taylor. All rights reserved.

What I have to offer readers are books in three genres:

  1. Christian nonfiction - Currently, my Christian testimony I Am Not the King.

  2. Speculative fiction - This includes a 3-part multi-author anthology series called Biblical Legends Anthology Series (BLAS). The series features three themed short story anthologies where I asked writers to send me stories based on specific biblical themes but not to use the biblical characters. The three anthologies are Garden of Eden, Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, and Deluge: Stories of Survival & Tragedy in the Great Flood.

  3. Web3 technology - My one book in this genre is the nonfiction title Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!).

The reaction one would expect from the two nonfiction book genres are precisely the reactions I receive much of the time. For the most part, it's positive.

Aside from the few ardent atheists who reject anything to do with God or the Bible, most people are willing to hear my 30-second testimony, designed to pique reader interest enough to get them to buy I Am Not the King. It works on some people and doesn't on others. I've even had some non-Christians respond positively even if they take no interest in the book or the topic.

More people have no interest in Web3 Social than those who do, however, of the people who are intrigued by the topic, I sell enough copies to make it worth keeping on the table. Occasionally, I'll have a Christian (usually an older one) recoil with some statement about the Mark of the Beast and walk away. That's about as strong a reaction as I get.

The surprising part, or not so surprising part, are the interesting reactions I get to the speculative fiction. Those reactions deserve their own discussion, so let's go ....

What BLAS Is All About

I realize that speculative fiction is not everyone's cup of tea. Some people like romances, some like murder mysteries, and others prefer thrillers. Those are all great genres. But what is speculative fiction?

Speculative fiction is a broad genre that incorporates elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and related genres of literature including alternative history. When I discuss the BLAS books, I am careful to point out three things about them which set them apart from other works of literature. These include:

  • They are collections of short stories and poems

  • They are multi-author, which means that writers sent me stories, I picked the best ones, and published them

  • I did not qualify the writers with regard to any background, therefore, some of them are Christian and some of them are not

Most people, even Christians, see it for what it is. It's literature with a speculative bent. There is no attempt to make the stories authentic with regard to the biblical literature. In other words, few of the writers researched the anthropology of the ancient settings to ensure their stories represented those settings as they truly were. I didn't ask them to. By the same token, few of the writers sought to include a moral lesson in their stories or attempt to recount the gospel through their stories. Again, I didn't ask them to. The stories are purely for entertainment.

That said, there are always those biblical purists who insist that a story using biblical literature in any way must conform to their understanding of what the biblical canon means. As a result, I've had a couple of people here and there ask if I thought the stories were blasphemous. With a chuckle, I usually respond that most of them are fairly innocuous. (Full disclosure: Maybe one or two of them come close to that mark, but most of the writers understood that they should honor the biblical literature, and they did.)

This week, I got a different response that has made me stop and think. Did I commit a venial sin?

Do Derivative Works of Literature 'Undermine' the Original?

As I discussed the BLAS books with one committed Christian couple, the gentleman stopped me and said, "No, that wouldn't interest me because I think it undermines the Bible." Well, I hadn't heard that one before. After a pause, he backpedaled and offered, "I'd have to hear how you handle the literature ... your tone and so on." Fair enough.

They went on their way, but I couldn't help think on that thought. Is it possible the literature undermines the Bible?

I had to wrap my head around what it means to undermine the Bible, and to do that, I had to ask what exactly is the Bible? What's so special about the Bible that it could be undermined?

For much of my audience, the Bible is the "inspired, infallible, inerrant word of God". I certainly can't argue with inspired. But for my purposes, I think it's enough to say that the Bible is reliable and authoritative. We can rely on it for insights into daily living and as accurate enough in its depictions of purported fact that it maintains its authority. I've little use for strings of adjectives.

I realize that's not a popular view, but I'm not looking for approval. When it comes to undermining the authority of the Bible, I've asked myself, what would that entail? How could a piece of literature devised from the imagination of man undermine biblical literature inspired by God? In my mind, it can't. Both stand alone as what they claim to be. If you accept that the Bible itself is reliable and authoritative on all things on which it speaks, then that is where one should look for instructions on daily living. The only way any other work of literature can undermine the authority of scripture is the reader isn't doing that.

I admit, many people in our culture today are not doing that. Christians and non-Christians alike. But I am not so bold or arrogant as to suggest that anyone should look at BLAS, or any other book I've written, edited, or published as the authority on living a Christian life. In fact, I'd be quite dissatisfied if I found that anyone was doing such a thing. That practice would truly undermine the scriptures, so I wouldn't encourage that.

But I would invite you to read a book and enjoy it for it what it is.

Allen Taylor is the author of I Am Not the King.

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#books#christianity#christians#i am not the king#testimony#the bible#speculative fiction#readers#fantasy#science fiction#horror#alternative history#fiction#christian nonfiction#web3#biblical legends anthology series#garden of eden#sulfurings#deluge#the great flood#sodom and gomorrah#literature
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