A person’s worldview is largely influenced by the way he looks at things. For example, a Marxist may view history as a series of conflicts between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat–with each sequential conflict bringing society closer to an eventual secular workers’ Utopia.
Similarly, an atheistic evolutionist might view humanity as originating in the primordial ooze–without rhyme or reason in the cipher of space and time–and going nowhere other than its own refinement towards a higher species of ape. To them highest law may be the law of the survival of the fittest–which in turn determines which of the species will pass on its genes to the next layer of excellence–always striving towards some vague eugenic Eden.
A purely secular historian might view history as the long march of time influenced by wars, famine, conquerors, and conquered–any of which could determine at any given time which random fork in the road history will take–a crap shoot of chance and circumstance.
Now imagine a novelist coming from any of the above-mentioned worldviews and you have Hemingway’s “lost generation,” Sartre’s existensial angst in his plays, Camus’s “philosophy of the absurd” in his writings, or the current phenomenon of escapism into pleasure or fantasy–or horror.
Contrast all these worldviews with that of the Christian novelist. Conflict still exists; but not as the mere struggling of the warring classes of the masses to see who will come out on top. Nor is it merely the clash of civilizations to determine which will most direct the course of history. And it’s certainly not the striving against the elements simply to become a higher class of ape.
The Christian writer’s world is informed by one immutable fact–the entrance of the God-Man into the world. History is His story. And it does not begin with the first living cell in the long-lost and forgotten fog of time. Nor does it end with a final cataclysm of comets or ballistic missiles. In the Christian’s worldview, it begins with creation–by the Creator. The fulcrum of history is Christ entering the world of man. In fact, history is divided by this event into A.D. (anno Domini) and B.C. (before Christ). Even those who attempt to classify time by the “politically correct” C.E. and B.C.E. cannot get around the fact that the event selected for this division remains the birth of Jesus.
To the Christian, history also has a destination. It is going somewhere as it hurls towards the end of time–which is not the end of being–but rather the transformation into “a new heaven and a new earth” when Christ returns to make all things new. The Christian novelist’s work is built within this framework. Life has meaning. History has meaning. Coincidence is really God-incidence. Even evil can work toward’s God’s purpose–as evidenced by the fact that the greatest evil ever perpetrated, the murder of the God-Man by godless men, is the very act by which man is saved.
In Christian fiction, conflict–whether it’s the external conflict of good vs. evil, the City of God vs. The City of Man, or the internal conflict of the flawed human being striving towards the perfection God has always intended him for–has purpose. And so His story, in a way, also becomes everyman’s story–your history and mine. Each person has inestimable value–for each was purchased at a price.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of Christian fiction is its optimism. There is purpose in everything that happens. The most depressing events have meaning. The most seemingly lost characters are redeemable. Even death is not the existential slide into oblivion or the railing against that dark night, but rather the birth into life everlasting. Christian fiction, by its very nature, embodies hope, purpose, and meaning far beyond the here and now. And Christian writers, if they practice their craft well, can reach out to their readers and extend the offer of the same hope, purpose, and meaning they’ve found.