I recently went back and reread an essay by Scott Derrickson, the director of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” I had written a chapter on the movie for Adrenaline Rush: Flix for Guys, and had found the essay during my research. Derrickson has some important things to say about Christianity and the horror genre.

“No other genre offers audiences a more spiritual view of the world, and no other genre communicates a more dearly defined moral perspective…What artists can do is to take the truth of sin, the truth of salvation, the truth of redemption and find new ways of representing them. Love in the Ruins is the parable of the good Samaritan retold in a Los Angeles gas station. Hellraiser: Inferno is about the enslaving chains of sin that can lead to eternal damnation; it is about how, without God’s mercy, our flesh tears away at our spirit.”

Now certainly this is not the only genre that can examine our relationship to God, but with the growing popularity of Christian horror (or supernatural suspense for those still a little skittish about using the “H” word) and the ongoing debate about the appropriateness of horror in Christian fiction, it bears closer examination.

Christian fiction as I see it does three basic things (depending on the reader):

  • For those who are not believers it provides insight into the Christian life and the redemptive power of God.
  • For believers it enforces what they already know to be the truth and helps strengthen their faith.
  • It provides a publishing alternative for those who want a good story without excessive (or any) sex, questionable language and “offensive” situations

The same goes for Christians working in various areas including film making and other artistic endeavors. Our Christianity should color everything we do, including our artistic endeavors. For example, I would have no trouble recommending the work of Michelle Sutton or Tracie Peterson to the Women’s Sunday School class? Would I recommend Hellraiser: Inferno to them? Probably not. But are there people out there who would see the fictional danger that comes from associating with Pinhead and the Cenobites and make a real-life correlation? Absolutely. It happens. (Here’s a bit of trivia. The credits for the movie contain the words Soli Deo Gloria which means to the glory of God alone).

Christian fiction has come a long way from the days when the answer to almost every problem was just to pray it away. It was like one big Kum ba yah party. In real life, prayer is just one part of the Christian life. As it says in the gospel according to Benjamin Franklin (OK, in Poor Richard’s Almanac), “God helps them who help themselves.” And in Christian horror (as in other genres), that helping themselves is where we usually see the spiritual/moral growth that makes the difference in their outcome.

Kinda like in real life.

  1. Yes, Christian fiction has indeed come a long way. 🙂

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