Whether we read a novel just to kick back and relax or to jump into an exciting adventure, we enter one or possibly more new worlds.
Fiction’s power comes from its ability to draw a reader into a world view—a set of beliefs, ideas, and attitudes about the world, ourselves, and others. It can impart both truth and deception, so as Christians, it’s vital to discern what we’re reading and, as writers, what we’re writing. Understanding and utilizing world views can help us to do both.
World views appear in themes of truth and deception, love and hate, good and evil, unity and brokenness, and more. The realities of those world views play out through plots, characters, action, dialogue, atmosphere, and other fictional elements.
A biblical world view discerns good from evil, truth from falsehood. The Apostle Paul tells us to take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), and Romans 12:2 exhorts us to mature in discernment through God’s Word. Comparing world views that we encounter with the Bible, helps us to do this.
What worlds entice you when you read? And what worlds do you create for your readers?
Following are four influential world view areas operating in our culture today. Can you spot their spiritual realities in fictional landscapes? Do they shape any world views you encounter or want to write about? Studying world views will help you understand how they conflict, combine and communicate their message to others.
- Biblical. The Word of God is the foundation of a Christian world view (Heb. 4:12).
- New Age/mystical. Sees the world as magical with no Creator God. Emphasizes imagination, feeling, and intuition. Looks “within” for truth though mysticism, “spirit guides,” psychedelic drugs, etc.
- Psychological. Seeks transformation via therapy, self-analysis, pop psychology, and self-help and behavioral change methods. Intersects with New Age/mystical.
- Secular/materialist/atheistic. Relies upon worldly techniques and materialistic philosophies.
Want to create a riveting story? Utilize world views to increase conflict, reveal character, and create atmosphere. Here’s an example. Can you spot the world views operating in this vignette?
Judy McGrath stirred her coffee and stared out the window at the veil of fog shrouding the garden. She shivered. It reminded her of the veil she felt over her marriage—a cold, distant, and alien fog. Once again, John was off managing the high-tech company he loved—and once again she was alone.
“Children are counterproductive to a green Earth,” he’d insisted. “Our planet’s already overpopulated.”
“But John, don’t you want family?” she’d protested.
“Nonsense. We have to separate human sexuality from human reproduction or earth will be doomed.” He’d hurried away, scowling.
Judy wiped a tear and stirred her coffee, then wiped away another tear. Finally, she gave up and reached for the box of tissues.
The ability to identify world views can sharpen our awareness of the world around us, enrich our stories, and protect us and our readers from deception. To identify world views as you read and write fiction, ask yourself:
- What philosophies, attitudes, and beliefs underlie and shape the plot, imagery, characterization, and dialogue?
- How do these world views interact, conflict, combine, and communicate with each other?
- How do they line up with the Bible?
In summary, learning about world views can help us to:
- Discern what we’re reading and, as writers, what we’re writing;
- Mature in discernment as we are transformed by God’s Word;
- Understand how they conflict, combine, and communicate among themselves;
- Create a riveting story through conflict, character change, and atmosphere; and
- Sharpen our awareness of the world around us, enrich our reading and writing, and protect us and our readers from deception.
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We’ve taken on the challenge of writing about radically conflicting world views in our new thriller, The Glittering Web, coming this April 22 through Redemption Press.
Based on the true story of our rescue by Jesus Christ, our fast-paced novel plunges the reader into deep struggles involved with escaping Satan’s kingdom and clearly distinguishes the conflict between the kingdoms of light and of darkness.
Linda Nathan has 27 years of experience as a professional freelance writer, editor, and consultant for authors and institutions through her business, Logos Word Designs, LLC. She is a staff freelance editor with Redemption Press and a gold member of the Christian Editor Connection. Linda has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon and master’s level work, as well as 10 years of experience in the legal field. She has helped numerous authors attain publication and in several instances achieve industry awards.