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166. Should Christians Hire Nonbelievers to Help Make Fantastical Stories?

People criticize Christian creators for working with nonbelievers, but the Bible assumes we’ll face these challenges in a mixed-up world.
Fantastical Truth on Jun 13, 2023 · No comments

Summer brings the heat, especially among the Very Online. Not long ago lots of people were yelling at The Chosen because one of the crew was flying a heathen flag on set, as spotted briefly in one behind-the-scenes video. Then two of the disciple actors got bothered and started calling fans “phobes.” They’ve since apologized, but not before a lot of controversy. Behind all this yelling is one big concern: Christians are hiring non-Christians to help make stories and websites and things. Is this allowed? Does the Bible require Christians to create culture only by working with other Christians?

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Quotes and notes

Concession stand

  • We’ve already talked about biblical fiction and The Chosen controversies.
  • Some people irked by this disagree (deep down) about biblical fiction.
  • And yes, it’s right to take (some) offense about a sin-celebrating symbol.
  • But the real question is how Christians ought to work with nonbelievers.
  • We will need to work with nonbelievers. The only question is how.
  • One big question: Do we expect other Christians to do our job for us?
  • In other words, if I’m a pastor/pundit, why expect a show to do my job?
  • A bigger question is: which sins do we let nonbelievers publicly show?
  • In a working relationship, can Christians rightly disagree on the answers?
  • We must be aware how our own backstories will inform our view of this.

1. Churches: grace for newbies but rules for Christians

  • Many want The Chosen and Christian publishers to be like this.
  • We can’t help wondering if this comes from unique kinds of personalities.
  • People only familiar with church rules, or with ideals, may expect this.
  • And it’s a great setup. Paul, et. al. have specific commands for churches.
  • A keystone text about church behavior expectations is 1 Corinthians 5.
  • You might show grace for a newbie, maybe even one with a “pride flag.”
  • But members must be confessing Christians who want to be like Jesus.
  • I once met one obvious nonbeliever in a megachurch band. Not good!
  • Standards go even higher for those wanting to teach or lead a church.
  • If you’re no member of a church with solid boundaries, you’d want this.
  • Or if you do have a church with solid boundaries, you expect even more.
  • But the Scripture is clear that our world expectations are very different.
  • And even in the Church, people have different views about some issues.

2. The world: needs gospel grace but is ruled by sin

  • STEPHEN: Again, see Paul’s view of world expectations in 1 Corinthians 5.
  • Paul forbids “sexual immorality among you” (verse 1), that is, members.
  • But see verse 10: we can’t avoid the world’s sexually immoral people.
  • Paul assumes the world is darker and messed up and yet needs us there.
  • Most Christians agree that, for now, the world can’t behave like a church.
  • Someday the world will be one great big Church, but it is not this day.
  • That’s why Scripture bans associating with unrepentant immoral folks …
  • But specifically the immoral in the church and not of this world (verse 10).
  • This does not ban significant Christian influence in culture/lawmaking.
  • Citizen issues call for wisdom. But they’re not same as church leadership.

3. Third spaces: Christians hire nonbelievers (and their messes)

  • This “third space” is not quite a local church and not quite the world.
  • This is the closest scenario to the way they’re making The Chosen.
  • It’s also close to a group like Realm Makers or a Christian company.
  • Even a website like The Daily Wire mixes Christians and nonbelievers.
  • Christians may hire nonbelievers, or conservatives(?) hire Christians.
  • The gospel message may arguably get garbled, ignored, or rejected.
  • But does the business as a business exist to do the job of the church?
  • If I’m a Christian in “civilian” capacity, am I an always-on evangelist?
  • For The Chosen, yes, they’re making a Jesus show with evangelistic aims.
  • Yet the production itself will inevitably mix believers and nonbelievers.
  • A cameraman isn’t hired to write the script, but to film the action well.
  • Even the actor isn’t hired to preach a sermon, but to act the role well.
  • And at Realm Makers, they may “hire” a nonbeliever to talk about craft.
  • This is typical. Any local church will hire nonbelievers to build/print/help.
  • If then a construction worker cusses atop the roof, would you fire him?
  • If the Bible printer is same-sex attracted, but a good worker, do you fire her?
  • Scripture does not require these actions, so we can’t require them of others.
  • In fact, if we do want to get good, we’ll need to learn from nonbelievers.

Open discussion

Mission update

Com station

Mahina in the Guild shared her enjoyment of episode 165:

Hey I really enjoyed this episode. I could listen to you three talk about sci fi all day so thanks! Can’t wait to read [B. L. Dean]’s sci-fi series. I just ordered it through my local (quite liberal) bookstore as a sneaky way to get more Christian made content in there (sometimes I see things I order appear in the shelves) and also I just like to support my local bookstore and be a voice in the community.

Growing up I only ever watched secular sci-fi (and loved it) but in my recent exploration of Christian made fantasy and sci-fi there are some really amazing characters. Of the Christian made fantasy if I could be any one of the characters I’d have to choose between math genius Jo from Simulated, spy and tech expert Raviel from Starlore Legacy, or a girl version of Tig from the Starlore Legacy. If I have to choose of those three I’d choose Tig who is like the Samwise character of the Starlore Legacy. He’s the unsung hero that is just the best and most sacrificial and understanding friend. I want to be like that. Loyal, true and reliable.

Next on Fantastical Truth

If we as Christians want our own great creative works, we’ll need to be the ones producing them. That means families raising up children to value careers in the arts. What does this look like in practice? Next week, Zackary Russell will be joined by his wife, Naomi A. Russell, to share how they’ve been doing this with their own four children. From homeschooling to public school, to musical theater and dance classes, they’ll explore how Christians can better engage faithfully in the world and in the arts.

Fantastical Truth
Fantastical Truth

Lorehaven explores fantastical stories for God's glory: fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.

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