It’s hard to say when people began writing fiction, but it has been used for millennia to communicate truth. Seems strange to say that something that isn’t true can teach truth, but good fiction always has done that. Using characters, settings or events that didn’t actually happen, writers create a vehicle by which to make a point. Jesus Christ taught parables, beginning with “A certain man … or “A sower …,” or “A woman …, ” a clue that what he was about to say was not about a particular person, but was going to make a point about people. Even the Old Testament had parables, such as the Parable of the Trees, warning a king not to get too big for his britches.
Writers of the genre contemporary fiction write about the time they live in. Charles Dickens was immersed in the culture of his times and used his fiction for social commentary, to try to change what was wrong with life as he lived it. Writers like Georgette Heyer use historical fiction to go back to a time and place where things were done differently, to deal with certain social customs, or just to show the readers the color and life of a lost way of living. Science Fiction writers bridge from existing technology to what may be sooner or later. Robert A. Heinlein colonized Mars, updating the pioneer/settler storyline with futuristic adaptations.
Fantasy writers usually base their works on smidgins of reality or convention, classic creatures of Greek mythology or simple agrarian economies. Then they add an element of magic, spirit intervention or other supernatural influence. Allegories are a subcategory of fantasy, but they differ in including an element of teaching, usually related to religion. Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory. Things and people stand for something other than the reality. Pilgrim becomes Christian, symbolizing the salvation experience. His journey is Christian growth. Pilgrim’s Progress was inspired by Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, another story of a Christian and his armor fighting and serving God. This in turn was derived from Ephesians 6, a parable of sorts describing the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, and the rest of the equipment the Christian needs to wrestle against the dark forces of this world.
The point is that the best fiction, the right fiction to read, is based on Scriptural principles. It treats good and evil as the Scriptures do. Articles, excerpts and essays in this section will show how that should be done.