Is the bible the ultimate horror novel?
Today’s post comes from the “You have got to be kidding me” files of the Gospel-driven Disciples. The Rev Zahl, a retired Episcopal priest who was formerly the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, MD, and who is the dean and president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA speaking of Stephen King, made this statement, “There’s a lot faith behind his fright.” Zahl believes that some of the most stirring affirmations of our Christian faith can be found in the chilling stories of author Stephen King.
Zahl cites several examples from various books by King to substantiate his claims that King is not an anti-religious horror story writer but a preacher of “grace in action.”
In a CNN article, The Gospel According to Stephen King, John Blake also quotes from the writings of both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Blake writes, “In one interview, King said he was shaped by C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, and J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings. Both Lewis and Tolkien were devout Christians who layered their fiction with Christian themes.”
I feel no need to cite each example of this seemingly ludicrous idea, but his first example cited in a CNN story by John Blake is of the character John Coffey in the Green Mile.
First, Lewis was more than likely a believer although at times it is hard to understand his faith. However, Tolkien was a devout Catholic. Quoting Blake, I cite from his article, “Want to read a powerful mediation on Jesus sacrificial love? Check out how King links the death of the mammoth death row inmate John Coffey (note the initials, J. C.) to Jesus’ crucifixion in the “Green Mile.”
Why are we looking for “Christianity” in the writings of Stephen King or any other author for that matter? We find the definition and demonstration of Christianity not in horror novels but in the Bible. We see the definition and demonstration of sacrificial love in Jesus the Christ not in John Coffey, regardless of his initials.
What one misses when one attempts to read “the tenets of Biblical Christianity” into secular works of fiction is the meaning or the reason behind the events or the actions of the biblical text? It isn’t enough to see John Coffey’s death as sacrificial and then attempt to link it Christ’s death. Although Coffey was unjustly accused, wrongly convicted and executed as the Christ was there is no similarity. Coffey was a man, Christ was the God-man in the flesh, Coffey was a sinner in need of a savior, Christ was the Savior, Coffey’s death atoned for nothing, Christ’s death atoned for the sins of His people. The sacrificial death of Christ had eternal meaning and purpose. John Coffey’s death was a tragic miscarriage of justice.
When we try to “read into” the writings of various authors Christianity we are really legitimizing subjectivity. Each one who attempts to do this becomes the judge and jury of what represents what or who represents who.
Blake concludes his CNN article with this summary, “The Bible is filled with terror: demons, ghosts, floods wiping out making and the rising of the dead. Good horror examines the struggle between god and evil. The bible is the history of that struggle. The bible is in many ways the ultimate horror novel.”
No, Mr. Blake, the bible is not the ultimate horror novel telling an entertaining story of good versus evil. The bible is God’s history, or “His Story” revealing both His majestic and marvelous character and His eternal decrees and purposes as He reconciles mankind to himself.