Finding Christian Elements in Fantasy Literature

As a writer and lover of literature, I’ve heard several complaints against fantasy books. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that fantasy isn’t real, that it isn’t applicable to the real world. Some people look at ungodly themes and immediately dismiss the story for having no quality Christian moral content. However, I think that the ways of God are so deeply embedded in our world that authors often can’t help but include Christian themes in their stories. So here are a few common fantasy tropes that exist in many novels and reflect Christian ideals.


Good Versus Evil

It’s the eternal battle. Whether or not a story occurs in a real time or place, if there are overlying themes of the forces of good fighting and winning over the forces of evil, this in itself is a Christian element. Our God is good, and his love endures forever. He is righteous, just, and will help the cause of those who follow him. Good will always win in one way or another. In essence, the fight of good vs. evil reflects the struggle we all have to overcome the greatest evils in the world which attempt to bring us down and keep us from serving God. There is always truth to the good vs. evil struggle, and it’s relatively easy to find this theme in fantasy literature.


Sacrificial Love

Often, in fantasy literature, there are characters who are willing to give of themselves to help others, often their friends or teammates. They may be only slightly inconvenienced, or they may suffer and even die for someone else. These are the characters who are most often labeled as “Christ-figures.” They put others first and help others for the greater good while sacrificing their own plans and/or well-being. Jesus did this for us. He willingly became a human and lived among us, then suffered and died for us. He rose again so we can have salvation. This is sacrificial love, as John 15:13 states:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Any character who exhibits sacrificial love reflects the love that God has for us and its power to overcome obstacles and help other people. So whether or not a deity or religion actually exists in whatever fantasy literature you’re reading, if a character exhibits this trait, he or she is acknowledging the truth of the Gospel, whether the author was aware of it or not.


Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - Martin Freeman Going Outside
My favorite fantasy heroes are those who rose from nothingness and became something great, and I know I’m not alone here. These characters were mentored and enabled by the people around them, and they do something nobody expects them to do or to be able to do. We are all ordinary, everyday people, but we have skills, and if we allow God to take control of our lives, we can do great things in His name. The old adage goes, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” None of us are perfect, but as 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says,
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Everyone is inherently weak in one way or another, but everyone also has strengths. With God’s intervention and careful crafting of us into who He has called us to be, we can be ordinary people who do extraordinary things. This is why we relate so much to the characters in fantasy literature who are become great even though they were nobodies. God does this for us, and it glorifies Him.


We Are Not Alone

Every main character in a fantasy story has friends and helpers, people who share their loads and help them along in their goals. These characters help each other for a greater purpose: each other’s well-being, success, and the overall health of the group. God is always with us, and He provides us with people who recognize our value and help us to become better along the arduous path of life. Accountability, constructive criticism, and deep conversation are all a part of this, and all of these play a role in making sure that nobody is alone.
We are social creatures, dependent on one another in some way — whether we like it or not. This is the reason why God created men and women to be together in the bond of marriage. A married couple help one another in their differences, complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and play different roles that the other partner cannot play as well. So whenever you see a team of characters in a fantasy story who help one another in love, patience, loyalty, and forgiveness, they reflect the qualities that God desires us to have with one another.
So there you have it: four ways in which fantasy literature, despite its unreality, can still exhibit Christian ideas and morals. Fantasy stories may not be true, but all stories have truth in them, because all authors write from what they know of the real world. The real world is where God exists and rules as the ultimate author of something that didn’t exist before He created it: us and the world in which we live.
If I missed anything, please feel free to let us know in the comments!

Andrew Scoles

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