Christian Science Fiction (CSF) (2022)

Christian speculative fiction (Christian SF, ChristianSF, or CSF) or, as some prefer to call it, Christian futuristic fiction (CFF), and Christian fantasy (CF) combine one or more aspects of speculative or fantasy fiction with Biblical themes to examine Christian doctrine, ethics, and relationships (with God and other people) in a fresh context. Christian SF can be useful in removing the myopia attendant on the context we do live in, so as to allow the issues to speak for themselves.

A substantial amount of what is sold as Christian speculative fiction (Christian SF) is apocalyptic (chiliastic) "end-times" literature, not dealing with science or technology, and this is one reason some people use the term "futuristic" rather than "Christian SF". Fiction that is futuristic in this sense is properly fantasy (or, more accurately, future history or apocalyptic fantasy) rather than science fiction. This and other types of Christian fantasy fiction are often written for younger audiences or as romance. Science fiction, on the other hand, has science and technology as principal characters, part of the essense of the story.

The Christian content of speculative or fantasy fiction may be explicit as in Rick Sutcliffe's Christian SF, or allegorical as in that of C.S. Lewis' Narnia series (Christian fantasy). It may be thematic (i.e. dealing with good and evil, but not in an explicitly Christian setting.) If Christian themes are quite muted (perhaps the characters have a church connection, faith in God is mentioned, but not expanded upon), or the story is merely clean, i.e. "suitable for Christian audiences" the material may be termed "Inspirational", and sold in Christian bookstores, though there isn't necessarily anything Christian about it. The term "Inspirational Fantasy" may also be used by those writing with Christian themes, but preferring a muted genre name. In the broader science fiction and fantasy market, very little literature makes direct reference to Christianity. Specifically, most science fiction takes its cue from the majoritarian culture and its mass media by either ignoring religion or being specifically hostile to Christianity, stereotyping or even demonizing believers as villians--something authors could never get away with if the issue were race, gender, or nationality. There is little or no explicitly Christian SF available in secular bookstores.

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Note: Some Christians object to the very idea of fantasy, speculative literature in general, or even to fiction in its entirety, for some or all of the following reasons:

  1. elements of magic call on powers other than God
  2. elves, dragons, and such creatures are the tools of Satan alone
  3. intelligence is ascribed to creatures other than humankind
  4. the anti-Christian worldview that suffuses much speculative literature
  5. they are hostile to science and hence to science fiction
  6. all fiction is an extended lie, and lies are all from Satan

They therefore regard "christian SF" as an oxymoron.

The author of this site understands these objections and agrees with them to some extent, but offers the following observations:

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  1. It is indeed inapropriate to seek for "magical" powers rather than to rely on God. Rick Sutcliffe's Christian SF does not do so.
  2. Elves and other such creatures may be imaginary, but the imagination is not in itself evil. If other worlds than earth or intelligent creatures do exist (and whether they do or not is irrelevant to Christianity), God has his own plans for them.
  3. Intelligence is a Divine characteristic God has chosen to instantiate in the physical world. He has provided it in degrees, and if to other creatures than humankind, that is His business. While the Bible does not say there are intelligent beings elsewhere, it does not explicitly say there are not.
  4. Writing is a tool, just as computers are. It can be used to advance a Christian worldview just as it can the other. Besides, the anti-Christian stereotypes are old and tired. It's time for something new.
  5. Let the hostility be theirs against Christians, not Christians' against them.
  6. Say rather that Christian science fiction and Christian fantasy are extended parables.

Christian Alternate History

Christian speculative literature may or may not be set in the future or an alternate world. Sometimes both are termed Christian Futuristic Fiction, though the latter is more properly Christian Alternate History, and is somewhat rare, for AH (Alternate History) fiction properly depends on taking some decision from our own history and supposing that it was made differently. That is, the fictional world has roots in ours; it does not simply stand on its own. Rick Sutcliffe's Christian SF fits this latter category, as his alternate worlds, unlike, say, those of C.S. Lewis, are not merely connected in a way that allows occasional travel from one to the other, but are all derived from the originally created earth. At key points in history a decision or group of decisions results in God allowing a nexus in which one earth becomes two, each having the same prior history, but diverging afterward. If alternate history SF is not carefully crafted, this form of Christian SF can easily become fantasy instead.

Christian Science Fiction

Christian Speculative Fiction may have science and technology as an integral part of the plot. When it does, the "SF" in "Christian SF" could be said to stand for "Science Fiction. When this is the case, in all likelihood the SF is soft. That is, while science and technology are necessarily integral to the plot of a Christian science fiction novel, technological speculation and explanation are not the most dominant theme as they might be in "hard" SF. Rick Sutcliffe's Christian science fiction also fits into this latter category, as his novels have ethical choices as their predominant theme rather than the science and technology that drives those choices. That is, the science and technology in Rick Sutcliffe's Christian SF are critical supporting cast, but not the central characters.

Christian Visionary Fiction

This is a new (and not yet common) term employed to describe fiction like that of Rick Sutcliffe, which deals at least in part with ethical and life issues from a Christian point of view but in a futuristic, fantasy or science fiction context. Sometimes issues can be better highlighted by examining them in an unfamiliar setting, or via allegory. Note that the term "Visionary Fiction" by itself appears to be used by most its proponents primarily in a New Age context, and therefore contains elements that are antithetical to Christianity. It may be unlikely, therefore, that "Christian Visionary Fiction" will catch on as a descriptor of this sub-genre of Christian SF.

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Rick Sutcliffe's CSF

Rick Sutcliffe's Christian SF is alternate history and soft science fiction, but neither fantasy or chiliastic. It is set among several alternate worlds linked by a medium called the timestream, and involves the characters in ethical decision making. The only sense in which it is "futuristic" is that some of the alternate worlds have had information technology and biotechnology hundreds of years longer than ours. However, they have deliberately chosen to limit the deployment of these technologies, so such futuristic elements are blunted, and this is especially so since our own contemporary history frequently intrudes into the stories.

The key nexus or decision points that generate two alternate worlds going forward to the future from that point, where only one existed before, are Biblical events, such as the crucifixion, which is known about on all the worlds, but took place on only one. A nexus may hinge on a single decision and complete in a moment, or on several and take years to result in the final separation of the two worlds. The "great" or "long" nexus began when Pilate did/did not wash his hands, but only completed a thousand years later when Brian Boru did not/did survive the battle of Clontarf. The Interregnum series of novels plays out against the backdrop of a nexus in the fall of 2001. For more information on these alternate worlds, see the page on the timestream.

Characters of Rick Sutcliffe's Christian science fiction wrestle with sin, salvation, the problems of pain, evil, and war. Some are Christians, some are hardened sinners, others are ambiguous, at various levels of interest or maturity, or still on a spiritual journey. They learn and grow--some toward God, some away. Each book has at least one explicit Gospel presentation. However, the Christian content is not in the readers' face. It's just there, and this in itself sets this fiction apart from most science fiction and fantasy, and indeed most modern literature (including much of what is sold in Christian bookstores) because modern authors and editors sanitize fiction of all Christian content so depicting an unrealistic world. That is, mainstream modern fiction could be rightly be accused of being just as speculative, fantastic, or futuristic in its own way as the fiction presented here.

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At the same time, science and technology are an integral part of the scene and plot. Decisions and their consequences revolve around issues related to information science, biotechnology, management science, appropriate technology, medical techniques, and what the future may hold. On Ortho Earth, past experiences with the horrors of technological warfare have led to a ban on certain technologies, such as projectile, nuclear, and biological weapons. A brief summary of some of the issues mentioned in Rick Sutcliffe's books--both the ethics text and the speculative fiction--can be found here.

The first series, The Interregnum, takes place largely on Ortho Earth, also called Greater Hibernia, and covers the period 1941-2001, during which there was a ban on the throne and the High King's family, and a corrupt oligarchy of nobles ruled.

Volume I, The Peace, published as an electronic book, won an award nomination, was a best seller with its first publisher and received very positive reviews, particularly from Analog magazine's Tom Easton. It was republished by Writers Exchange ePublishing in December 2002.
Volume II, The Friends, is also available in electronic book form and in paper from Booksurge. It was published by Writers Exchange ePublishing in June 2003 and was named the best Science Fiction novel of the year with an EPPIE 2004 award.
Volume III, The Exile was published by Writers Exchange ePublishing in July 2003, and was an EPPIE 2004 finalist for Science Fiction. It is available in both electronic book and paper form.
Volume IV, The General, was published by Writers Exchange ePublishing in March 2006 and is available from them and their retailers in a variety of formats.
Volume V, The Nexus, was published by Writers Exchange ePublishing in April 2006 and is available from them and their retailers in a variety of formats.
Volume VI, The Builder, was published by Writers Exchange ePublishing in March 2012.

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The second series, The Throne, takes place almost entirely on Ortho Earth, also called Greater Hibernia, and covers the period 1000-2001 and the kings and queens of Hibernia during that time.


Book 1, Culmanic Parts, contains a memoir of Catherine the great, first High Queen from 1014, the story of the thirteenth century culmanics who began Hibernia's scientific and technological revolution, and the first part of Amy Rea's fourteenth century story.
Book 2, Rea's Blood or Navy Girl or follows Amy Rea through to the battle of Trafalgar in 1440. Expected in November 2015
Book 3, Tara's Mother concludes the story of the war with Spain in 1441 and the peace that follows. Expected in January 2016

Book 4, The Paladin tells the story of Hibernia's throne from 1492 through 2001, concluding both series. Finished; Awaiting second poof reading.
All of Rick Sutcliffe's books can be purchased via links here and of course from the Publisher and other fine retailers in many formats..

Christian Science Fiction (CSF) (1)Christian Science Fiction (CSF) (2)
The FriendsThe Exile


FAQs

Can Christians write Sci Fi? ›

I'm Christian, and my faith plays an important role in my life. As someone who has spent his life studying these questions, I can say with certainty that there's no conflict between writing fantasy and being a Christian.

What is Christian speculative fiction? ›

Biblical speculative fiction is speculative fiction that uses Christian themes and incorporates the Christian worldview. (It is thus distinct from speculations on the Bible and/or Christianity such as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.)

Is Cs lewis a science fiction Author? ›

In addition to his scholarly work, Lewis wrote several popular novels, including the science fiction Space Trilogy for adults and the Narnia fantasies for children.

Who is the best Amish author? ›

The following is a list of authors who have written Amish fiction, inspirational books that often include romances and that feature Amish communities and characters.
  • Wanda E. Brunstetter.
  • Linda Byler.
  • Barbara Cameron.
  • Linda Castillo.
  • Vannetta Chapman.
  • Mindy Starns Clark.
  • Amy Clipston.
  • Patricia Davids.

Is The Shack fiction? ›

The Shack is a novel by Canadian author William P. Young that was published in 2007.
...
The Shack (Young novel)
AuthorWilliam P Young
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreFiction
PublisherWindblown Media, FaithWords, Hodder & Stoughton
8 more rows

Why did Tolkien and Lewis fall out? ›

Tolkien wrote in 1964, “We saw less and less of one another after he came under the dominant influence of Charles Williams,” a writer who Tolkien perceived as a wedge between himself and Lewis, “and still less after his very strange marriage.” That marriage was to Joy Gresham, unacceptable to Tolkien because she was ...

Was C.S. Lewis a Catholic or Protestant? ›

Although C. S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity was greatly influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien, a Catholic, and although Lewis embraced many distinctively Catholic teachings, such as purgatory and the sacrament of Confession, he never formally entered the Church.

What is C.S. Lewis most famous quote? ›

1. "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” 2.

Do Amish people read Amish fiction? ›

Summary: Beyond the four basic books, the Amish read now what they read years ago, as well as some new fiction and nonfiction, often printed by Christian publishers.

Are there any Amish movies? ›

  • Amish Grace. StarringKimberly Williams-Paisley. ...
  • EXPECTING AMISH. 4.4 out of 5 stars 107. ...
  • The Amish and the Reformation. StarringJoseph J. ...
  • An Amish Murder. 4.5 out of 5 stars 411. ...
  • Amish in America: The Series. 2.8 out of 5 stars 6. ...
  • The Amish: Shunned. ...
  • Amish Witches: The True Story of Holmes County. ...
  • AMISH ABDUCTION.

Why are Amish books so popular? ›

Readers know exactly what to expect from a book with an Amish cover. The very predictability of general Amish plots is also what those readers like. I found that fascinating. They also love the strong faith element of people whose entire lives are an act of worship.

Where can I watch the Baxter family series? ›

Currently you are able to watch "Baxter" streaming on Pure Flix.

What are the latest Wanda brunstetter series? ›

Publication Order of Prayer Jars Books
The Hope Jar(2018)Hardcover Paperback Kindle
The Forgiving Jar(2019)Hardcover Paperback Kindle
The Healing Jar(2019)Hardcover Paperback Kindle

Where should I start with Karen Kingsbury books? ›

Baxter Family Series. If you're interested in reading Karen Kingsbury's life-changing fiction, the Baxter Family is the best place to start, but it is important to read these books in order as this will avoid any potential spoilers.

Why is The Shack controversial? ›

Controversy. Despite the positive response from conservative critics, the film attracted the same sort of controversy for unorthodox theology that the book did. Theologian Albert Mohler said the film's depiction of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is "profoundly unbiblical".

Why is God a woman in The Shack? ›

They have developed an image of God as an African American woman in connection with the teachings of their religious tradition that God is unconditionally loving. This image has emerged recently in U.S. popular culture in the novel The Shack, resonating with millions of readers.

What religion is The Shack based on? ›

The Shack investigates possible justifications for suffering and evil in the world, and how these relate with popular notions of God in the Christian tradition as all-knowing, all-powerful and good.

Why didnt Tolkien like Narnia? ›

Tolkien hated the Narnia books, despite Lewis's avid sponsorship of Tolkien's own mythology, because he hated to see an imagination constrained by the allegorical impulse. Though Tolkien was certainly a devout Catholic, there is no way in which “The Lord of the Rings” is a Christian book, much less a Catholic allegory.

What did C.S. Lewis think of Lord of the Rings? ›

The book is too original and too opulent for any final judgment on a first reading. But we know at once that it has done things to us. We are not quite the same men. And though we must ration ourselves in our rereadings, I have little doubt that the book will soon take its place among the indispensables.

Who is Galadriel based on? ›

Mary is “Our Lady.” Sam uses a similar name when he repeatedly calls Galadriel “the Lady.” In many ways, Galadriel exemplifies Mary's qualities. First, Mary is often portrayed in much the same way as Galadriel: ethereal, bathed in light, gentle, beautiful, and inspiring.

Do Anglicans believe in purgatory? ›

Purgatory is seldom mentioned in Anglican descriptions or speculations concerning life after death, although many Anglicans believe in a continuing process of growth and development after death.

Did CS Lewis believe in transubstantiation? ›

'”28 Although Lewis believed that Christ's body and blood were present in the bread and wine, he did not accept the precise medieval formula of transubstantiation (perhaps like Lancelot Andrewes he thought it verged on monophysitism), and he was reluctant to explain the eucharistic mystery.

What is a purgatory state? ›

Definition of purgatory

1 : an intermediate state after death for expiatory purification specifically : a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God's grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven.

What does CS Lewis say about the church? ›

The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time.

What did CS Lewis say about prayer? ›

I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me.”

What is Mark Twain most famous quote? ›

  • "Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it."
  • "An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth."
  • "When in doubt‚ tell the truth."
  • "If you tell truth you don't have to remember anything."

Are there any Amish authors? ›

Amish author Linda Byler holds a copy of "Lizzie," her first novel she self-published in 2003. These days her popular novels that feature Amish characters are distributed by book giant Simon & Schuster. "Banished: An Amish Romance," her 39th novel, is out today on Amazon.com.

What is the order of the Kate Burkholder series? ›

Kate Burkholder

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