Okay, so the CSFF tour has moved on, but I want to post quickly on two questions that may arise from the book The Begotten.
First of all, what made this book “speculative”?
The book is set in a historical time (1300’s Italy), so it is clearly not science fiction. It is not really a fanatsy. Why did it end up in a book tour for speculative fiction? Well, it might be a little of a reach for the core audience for a focus of Christian sci-fi and fantasy. However, it focuses on alternative history with a mix of supernatural power and “speculation” on what would happen if certain letters of Paul, containing prophecies, was found at some time that led to the plot of the book. In my opinion, that premise is enough to support highlighting it during the CSFF tour. Plus, it was a very well written and enjoyable book, so what is the harm in promoting such a product when it is pretty close to the intention of the tour?
The other question is, isn’t the idea of a “lost” book of Scripture dangerous territory?
Yes, this premise is dangerous territory. If it was done by someone without respect for the Bible and Christian tradition, it would most likely be a book that I could not support and recommend. Again, a comparison to DaVinci Code comes to mind. Lisa Bergren clearly holds to ideas that show her deep love for Jesus and the gospel message. The book has a rich spiritual message (that doesn’t come across preachy), and it overall is a vehicle that combines truth and entertainment in a good way.
Now, there was some liberty with how her characters responded to the lost Corinthian level, and they probably acted a little too out of character for the time frame. They sounded like modern day Pentecostals a lot of the time, not like Roman Catholics confronted with strange new teaching that would be heretical. I think the answer to this will come in the conclusion of the series, but this could be a critique of the first book.
Fiction in general is only a “what if” that happens in the author’s mind. Intertwining fiction and the Bible can be a tricky issue. Randy Ingermanson has two novels about time travel that deal with the apostles. Anne Rice is writing a series based off of Jesus’ childhood, in areas of history that we have no record for, at least Biblically. One commenter suggested that it made the premise of the book a little harder to handle since Bergren used Paul. However, it also gives the premise more legitimacy since Paul did actually make extra correspondence to Corinth that we don’t have in the Bible.
Ultimately, I think Lisa did well in her book, and it must come down to that this is fiction, and not Bible study or teaching. We have to use discernment in ANY book we read, even if it is from a respected scholar, and whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Fiction is meant to be false, yet it can be an avenue for us to examine issues in the hypothetical. Fiction is above all creative, art, and entertainment, so we have to hold to that as a baseline regarding any book.