On Writing, Art, and Salvation (part 2)

So, about those possibilities I mentioned yesterday . . .

Possibility number one: the content of my work was inappropriate, but the Spirit just hasn’t gotten around to convicting me yet. I leave this possibility open, but I have to say again–the Spirit has not been shy this past year. I have had very many moments of blubbering, slobbering, swollen-eyed, pile-of-tissues confession. I have rambled, wept, railed, begged, sassed, argued, and, finally, submitted to the Almighty over and over. I have, ultimately, begged for my sin to be revealed that I might repent and rebuild. When one asks for conviction, the Spirit seems to be more than happy to oblige. And in the last several months, when I have opened my documents and considered changing those parts that I thought might be problematic, I have not sensed a profound conviction that I should. Rather, I have grudgingly changed some of those parts to satisfy possible outside readers, but not due to any particular conviction that I should change them.

Possibility number two: the content of my work was inappropriate, but I am unconvicted because I’m actually not saved. This gets a little involved. Or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know.

I believe in election. I think God calls those whom He wishes to call. I also believe that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. I’ve called on the name of the Lord. I’ve asked for forgiveness. But I also believe that the Spirit convicts of sin, both before and after the moment of redemption. So the thing I keep coming back to is . . . if I’m not convicted of something I thought I might be convicted of, then was it really a sin? Or am I not saved?

I have mentioned how out of place I feel among believers. I always feel lonely, the odd-man-out, unusual, weird. I don’t fit. And it’s not just that I don’t fit–I don’t fit in huge, spectacular ways. Forcing myself to fit is painful and exhausting. The thing is that I look like I fit. I’m a pretty standard suburban American Christian, and I’m absolutely capable of engaging in Churchese when the situation calls for it. But I feel so . . . ugh. And a big part of me always wonders if maybe it’s because I really don’t belong. I do worry about being saved. What if I’m not one of the elect? What if I’m not called?

There are those (including my husband) who have assured me that if I’m asking the question, I’m probably all right. But it’s tempting to think that I may not be one of the elect, and possibly not for the reasons you think.

It’s tempting not because it frees me from obligation or because it allows me to write with abandon and without concern for God’s opinion, but because it would explain so much about why I feel the way I feel. It would be a relief, honestly, and that’s such a horrible thing to admit.

But it’s only a temporary relief, because I know that if I am not saved, then I’m actually in a really weird place of believing without being called. So then I put myself in opposition to the world, but without believing I have a place among other believers, and then I make myself miserable in this life and damned in the next.

And honestly, that just doesn’t make any sense.

In addition–and really, there’s just no getting around this part–if I think I’m not saved, then I’m calling Jesus a liar. Jesus said that those who believe in Him will be saved. I do believe in Him. I not only believe but also promote all of the tenets of classical Christianity. Satan might believe it, but he’s not going to spend time trying to convince others to believe it! So to say that I believe all of those things and yet also believe they don’t apply to mean makes Jesus out to be a liar. I do not believe Jesus is a liar.

So possibility number two seems to be out of the running. The only problem is . . . why do I have such a hard time fitting? What am I missing? But this question is about my (dis)comfort in Christian circles, not about my writing.

Possibility number three: the content of my work was just fine, and I am unconvicted because there’s nothing to be convicted of.

Gulp.

So what if we just assume, for the sake of argument, that the content of my writing was not sinful, but that it was merely objectionable to a modern American Christian culture? It might help for you to know two things. First, I never marketed or promoted my work as Christian fiction. I always marketed myself alongside mainstream, secular work. I did not want to be accused of misleading Christian readers who were expecting squeaky clean works of fiction, but I also sort of hoped that mainstream readers might enjoy my work and get a taste for Christian truth in the process. Modern mainstream fantasy is very dark and occasionally very disturbing, and I wanted to be an alternative to that. Unfortunately, mainstream readers weren’t interested; they called my work too traditional and clean. So I was left in a place of not fitting . . . again.

Second, it might help readers of this blog to know what specific issues I’m talking about here. As I see it, there are four main issues with the content of my writing, at least as far as a Christian audience might be concerned. But this is long, so I’ll post those tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “On Writing, Art, and Salvation (part 2)

  1. Laurel C Kriegler

    I’m starting to come up with an alternative explanation, but I’ll hear out your argument first. This depends on, of course, my remembering my alternative! So far I’m in agreement with your objections to options one and two.

    Regarding being saved – I’ve had the same questions – and the same response: if you’re asking, then you’re probably ok. Implication being that if you weren’t asking and didn’t care about the answer, then that probably means you aren’t saved because you don’t care about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit in the first place.

    1. jmpadoc Post author

      I’m curious what your alternate explanation is, so I hope you remember it! 🙂

      You do have a good point about salvation. I do care about the Trinity and want to please God. I think it’s possible for someone to believe that it’s all true, but to just not care about submitting to God’s authority. I do. Perhaps that’s a good sign that the Spirit is working in me.

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