Christ figures can be found all throughout literature. Why is this the case? Joe Carter, writing for The Gospel Coalition, claims that all of literature is “Christ-haunted.” Even in the stories we create, we mere sub-creators cannot write the one great Creator out of our lives. This is especially common in the genre of fantasy. The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia all stand as clear examples.
Recently, while in class with the other Fellows, we spent some time discussing the ideas of order and chaos, specifically in the Old Testament. In Genesis 1 we are introduced to a world in which material already exists. We are told that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). According to John H. Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, “In the ancient world the cosmic seas were populated with creatures that operated against the ordered system.” An example of one such monster exists in the Bible: Leviathan. Isaiah 27:1 gives us a description of the monster and foretells its fate:
In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
This sounds eerily similar to another monster in scripture: the red dragon in Revelation 13. This dragon is almost certainly Satan, the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve into disobedience. In Genesis, God promised that an ancestor of Eve would eventually destroy Satan (Genesis 3:15).
What does all of this have to do with fantasy literature? It seems that the idea of slaying dragons is a biblical one, and modern fantasy’s basis for such a motif comes from the Old English poem “Beowulf.” Beowulf is a Scandinavian warrior who comes to the land of King Hrothgar to help him dispose of a heinous monster Grendel. The poem recounts the story of how he defeats Grendel in hand-to-hand combat, slays Grendel’s mother, and later becomes King of the Geats. Oddly enough, his final act is to sacrifice himself to slay a dangerous dragon. The king sacrificed himself to defeat the serpent of chaos. Sound familiar?
Jon Bloom argues that we love great stories like The Lord of the Rings in stories “because in them we hear echoes of the Great Story, the story of God’s redemption of fallen humanity. The narrative arc that our hearts recognize as glorious is the narrative arc of the Bible.” Fantasy literature is wonderful. However, as we dream about knights slaying fire breathing dragons, we should consider the reality that those stories are pointing us to. The reality that a good God created order out of chaos. An evil being, Satan, brought disorder back into the world, but he does not get the last word. Our Father has sent a righteous King to fight on our behalf. The great battle did not happen in a dungeon or a cave but was fought and won at the cross. Our King sacrificed himself so that our lives would be put back in order, so that we would be in a right relationship with the Father.
My life got a little chaotic when I moved to Salt Lake City. I was thrown into a place I did not know, with people I did not know, to do a lot of stuff I was unsure about. But Christ brings order to my soul, he restores me every day with his mercy and grace. As I go to work, engage with the Fellows, and form relationships in a new place, I look forward to the day that my King deals the final blow to the dragon and this chaotic world is restored to order.
*Joe Carter, “Why Every Story and All of Literature is Christ-Haunted,” The Gospel Coalition (August 17, 2019), https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/every-story-literature-christ-haunted/.
*John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 65.
*Jon Bloom, “What Makes Any Story Great?” Desiring God (September 13, 2019), https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-makes-any-story-great.
Prior to our trip to Escalante a few weeks ago I had never been to the desert. I had seen lots of pictures and movies and had heard people talk about the desert many times so I felt like I knew what to expect. I realized as we walked to our first slot canyon that there was a lot more to it than what I had envisioned.
The first thing I noticed was that there weren’t any well-marked trails or landmarks that could help you orient yourself, just red rocks and sand with a few randomly placed trees for miles in every direction. As we made our way through the slot canyons, I began to appreciate the beauty of the desert. There was something unique and intriguing in those canyons that I had never encountered before.
That feeling should be similar to the way I view the Lord. He is like the desert in that He is also mysterious and amazing and scary at the same time. He is more powerful than I could ever imagine and I don’t think I recognize that enough. His power makes me feel smaller and weaker than the desert ever could, but I do believe this experience gave me a chance to better recognize that feeling.
I have no control of my life and the outcome of each day. That scares me and it is something that I try so hard to avoid. As hard as I may try there is no avoiding the sovereignty of our God much like I could not avoid the sun’s intense rays in the desert. Thankfully that is not the only piece of God’s character that He shares with us. He also is more beautiful than we could begin to comprehend. His beauty never fades and if I truly understand that then it will be impossible not to be in awe of Him. I am thankful for the time I got to spend in Escalante and that God continues to reveal Himself to me in ways that I never expect.
God bless and GO VOLS.
the risky situation and navigate with God towards the potential greater outcome. This leads into why I am a Salt Lake Fellow walking in courage.
Throughout the past several years I have been dealt with circumstances that have molded me into a home body. I have been given the best family, and I want us to walk around in a danger, grief, and disease-free bubble. As I mentioned above, we cannot control whether or not we are completely freed from those heartbreaking outcomes. Not only have I been instilled with innate fear, but I have lived it out in a heartbreaking outcome. Every day presents a new battle, decision, etc. I’ve found it hard for my mind not to go to the worst case scenario. I think it’s a defense mechanism… in case it does happen then I have already mentally prepared myself for that letdown.
I have also found that navigating fear and uncertainty in that way is exhausting and essentially saying that I do not trust my Lord to give me the best plans imaginable. If, in those best plans, there’s still heartbreak, my distrust says I do not believe he will hold and comfort me like He has already done before. Therefore, when I encounter the small/mundane grip-holds of distrust, I need to reframe and trust that stepping into courage from the Lord will direct my best plans, regardless if letdowns and heartbreak are intertwined.
Fighting the enemy in the mundane reminds us that He is with us and for us in the small, so of course he is standing with His arms open for us in the big and inevitable trials. How freeing! With this freedom, I chose to apply across the country, away from my family and friends into 10 months of a looming question mark. Yet, I felt at peace. I know God gives this restless heart peace for a reason, and that is to remind me it is from HIM. I do not find peace on my own, I do not find comfort on my own-- I find it in the One who already fought for me so I do not have to tire at the countless unsuccessful attempts.
Lord, You have replaced unnecessary fear and instilled peace and trust which transforms this experience into one of growth. I’ve gained friends who love and champion me well while we navigate this new chapter together. I learned that trusting You allows me to trust myself, knowing that I do not have to carry all the unknowns-- I can enjoy life in peace and delight in Your comfort and sovereignty. Thank you for giving me the courage to step out into the unknown.
Salt Lake Fellows Collaborative