Reply To: Allegory vs symbolism

Forums Fiction Themes Allegory vs symbolism Reply To: Allegory vs symbolism

#42128
E.B. Raulands
@e-b-raulands

*door creaks open slowly*
Hello? *looks around and sees no one inside*
I’m not too late to put in a good word for allegory, am I?

I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread over the past week, and I think I agree with many of the points made throughout the posts. However, I do differ on a couple of topics, so I hope it’s okay if I make a few belated observations.

The first point I wanted to make was in regards to the purpose of art. I believe Karthmin used illumination in medieval texts to illustrate the idea that the most art can do is point to Truth, which must be preached didactically. While I do agree that the Gospel should be presented as clearly as possible, I also believe that art is fully capable of making this presentation. To me, art is a picture frame; it can be gorgeous in itself but is only truly beautiful when it frames Truth. We can try to present symbolic truths to the reader and hope that he investigates God because of them, but how can we plant seeds of truth into his mind when he cannot receive it? As it’s been declared before, only the Gospel can change people, so unless a person has already been transformed by this ultimate Truth, how can he be convinced to pursue God by smaller truths? Truly great art must present Truth to its readers (Pilgrim’s Progress and Paradise Lost being good, albeit imperfect, examples). These works are not beautiful simply because they’re artistic; they’re beautiful because they demonstrate man’s state before God and how He redeems the sinner’s heart! If a work of art can clearly present this Truth to its audience and one person is saved from Hell because of it, won’t that work of art be worth more than all the treasures of the world in the eyes of God?

With that being said, fantasy is a challenging genre to present the Gospel in because the characters face unnatural forces and answer to a god who may not be our God. The question, then, becomes whether the Gospel can be presented in fantasy at all; Christian authors turn to symbolism and allegory for the answer. I favor allegory because the strong connections between Christian orthodoxy and fantastic elements turn the story into a living sermon. Terms like “redemption” and “temptation” aren’t words anymore; they are living beings who create, destroy, and mold both character and storyline alike. They aren’t abstractions anymore; they’ve become powerful forces that can violently affect our world just as much as the fantasy world they’re presented in. Allegory also allows the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the God of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. The setting may have changed, but He’s still the same just, gracious Father we want others (both fictional and real) to know and love like we do. Consequently, this fact also means that the plan of salvation for individuals doesn’t change because of their surroundings. They must still answer to God for accepting or rejecting the love He offers to them (and to our readers). Allegory, like symbolism, has the potential to confuse. However, if it’s written prayerfully and with God’s blessing, allegory will have the power to illuminate the mind to Truth, which is the ultimate goal of the Christian fantasy writer.

*scans the post critically* Okay, I’m pretty sure that’s everything. Thank-you so much for reading this post (I really did try to make it as brief as possible), and I hope it was edifying! =)

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by E.B. Raulands.

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