At one time, the term “biblical worldview” was seen as a drift (albeit intentional) AWAY from explicit Christian fare. As a result, CBA / ECPA books containing little, if any, references to God or overt redemptive themes began to pop up in the Christian market. Christian authors wanting less sermonizing, less sanitizing, and more creative leg room found it under the “biblical worldview” banner. Now apparently, even Christian authors are hedging at the label.
This weekend, Christian author and film reviewer (and Christy Award nominee) Jeffrey Overstreet wrote this “disclaimer” on his Facebook page:
I do not write “from a Biblical Worldview.” Just, you know… for the record.
I’m not even sure what a “Biblical Worldview” is.
Many of the people I know who would say that they have a “Biblical Worldview” disagree with one another on many fundamental points.
I also know many writers who say they have a “Biblical Worldview” who are terrible writers, and many who would deny that they have a “Biblical Worldview” who write things that bless and inspire me.
So, yes, I have faith in Christ. But I would be reluctant to call my ever-changing, ever-evolving understanding a “Biblical Worldview.” Even in the Bible itself, heroes of the faith demonstrate some very different “worldviews.”
This was in response to a post entitled 15 Fantasy Authors Who Write From a Biblical Worldview in which Overstreet is included in a rather eclectic compilation of Christian authors.
While I can relate to Overstreet’s concern with the “Christian fiction” label (and have said as much in posts like THIS), my initial response to his thoughts was one of concern. Here’s why.
How “ever-changing, ever-evolving” can one’s worldview be and still remain “biblical”?
I mean, if I suddenly “evolve” into the belief that God is an extraterrestrial who seeded earth with spores and Jesus was just an ancient astronaut summoning us back to the planet Tatooine (home to the Great Pit of Carkoon), am I still “biblical”? Okay, so that’s an extreme example. But you get my point. The term “biblical worldview” is intentionally broad (which is why some Christian authors like it!). However, the fact that it contains the word “Bible” in it immediately limits its interpretative breadth. And us having roots on the planet Tatooine.
A “worldview” is defined as “The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.” This “perspective” is intrinsic to who we are. Because of this, someone who does not believe in God will have a difficult time consistently, deliberately, writing from a biblical worldview.
- Can a humanist write from a biblical worldview?
- Can an atheist write from a biblical worldview?
- Can a Hindu write from a biblical worldview?
- Can a hedonist write from a Christian worldview?
- Can a polytheist write from a biblical worldview?
Of course, the above folks can often write beautiful, inspiring, moral, redemptive stories. God is known to haunt many an unbeliever. Nevertheless, biblical worldviews must have parameters or, at some point, they cease to be “biblical.”
Perhaps anticipating the kickback, later in the post Overstreet clarified:
What concerns me is the tendency to say “These authors are okay because they have a Biblical Worldview” … because the influence of the Bible on my worldview does not have any bearing on whether my books are worth reading. And I think the category suggests that authors with “Biblical Worldviews” are somehow safe, or similar.
Aha! Now this is something I agree with. Just because an author writes from a “biblical worldview” is no guarantee that their stories “are somehow safe, or similar.” Furthermore, belief in the Bible does not miraculously make one a good writer. In this, we concur.
Nevertheless, I think Overstreet’s real complaint here is not with what it means to write from a “biblical worldview,” but how the label has been incorporated (or hijacked) by the mainstream CBA / ECPA market. As I see it, Overstreet is distancing himself from what the “biblical worldview” has come to mean in publishing jargon, not an actual Christian belief system (although it is a bit disconcerting to hear a Christian author proclaim an “ever-evolving” belief system) . While “biblical worldview” fiction once delineated stories outside the traditional genre, now the term is employed, ad hoc, for ALL Christian fiction. Which is why Jeffrey Overstreet is so easily (perhaps carelessly) grouped with other mainstream CBA authors.
The term “biblical worldview” has now become synonymous with mainstream Christian fiction. Which makes me wonder whether or not we do some Christian writers and their stories a disservice by including them therein.
But while I share Overstreet’s reluctance about being labeled as a “Christian fiction” author, I’m not at all worried about being portrayed as having a “biblical worldview.” Why? Because I have one! Sure, we can debate the parameters. But as long as we use the same Bible, there ARE parameters.
Perhaps my bigger question is: Can Christians authors NOT write from a biblical worldview? I don’t see how. So while this may be more of an attempt to distance himself from the Christian fiction genre (which I totally understand), as long as Jeffrey Overstreet remains a Christian, is it possible for him to NOT write from a “biblical worldview”?