Let me begin by saying emphatically, Yes! However, I also believe “All scripture is given by inspiration of God …” II Timothy 3:16
You may be asking, ‘Doesn’t the Bible contain lots of stories?’
It does. There are romance, survival, murder mysteries, short stories, and long epic stories. There are stories of men overcoming great odds and stories of men falling to lust, murder, and corruption. All are true, and all were placed there by God to warn and/or encourage us.
But what about the fictional stories?
Before I answer that question, allow me to set the stage. “A good story evokes an emotional reaction.” Randy Ingermanson
Whether it is a fictional or non-fiction story, it should cause its readers to have an emotional response. That is the result of having a goal, a motivation, and a conflict. These are the building blocks of any good story.
To illustrate my point allow me to use one of the most poignant fictional stories as told by Nathan the prophet. The story is given in II Samuel 12 involving a poor man who owned a single lamb. It was his pet, and he treated it like family. Compare that with a rich man who owned many sheep, but when a visitor came unexpectedly, he was unwilling to take from his flock, but rather, he stole the poor man’s lamb and slew it. King David felt an immediate association with the poor man since he was a shepherd at heart. Losing one in such a violent way would have and did affect him deeply. The problem was, King David had done a similar deed when he stole another man’s wife, and tried to cover it up by killing her husband. In a fit of rage, he condemned the offending rich man, saying he should be made to repay the poor man four-fold because he had no pity. It was then, Nathan made the convicting statement, “Thou art the man.” This illustrates the power of a good story. It elicited an immediate response and convicted David of a heinous crime; one for which he paid dearly.
A couple other, lesser known, but equally powerful fictional stories are given to us in the Old Testament. The first was told by a woman from Tekoah. In II Samuel 14 Joab hired a woman to tell a heart-wrenching story to, once again, King David. She pretended to be a widow with two sons. As the story goes, the two young men fought, the one killing the other. Now the town’s people were up in arms demanding he pay with his life. As she later reveals, if they executed her remaining son, she would lose her family’s inheritance. As expected, David reacted. The point of the story was to make David aware of his own shortcomings. His son, Absalom, had killed his half-brother as retribution for raping his sister. Later, he caused an insurrection for which he was banished. Joab’s purpose was to restore the father and son back to each other, and the story worked. David and Absalom were eventually reconciled. Again, a good story evokes an emotional response.
The other fictional story is given to us in I Kings 20 where the Lord tells an unnamed prophet to go to the Ahab, king of Israel to point out his sin. The King Ahab allowed King Benhadad to escape after capturing him in war. The prophet disguised himself as a soldier who was assigned the task of guarding two prisoners. As he was busy going about his other duties, the two detainees escaped, which was a capital offense. Because of this, King Ahab condemned him to death. Then the prophet removed his disguise, and made his point. In essence, he said, ‘thou art the man.’
Each of these fictional stories was designed to make a point and bring its audience to a decision or an emotional response. And in each case … they did.
So the answer to the original question is yes. God, the author, and finisher of our faith uses fictional stories to draw in His audience and bring conviction or cause us to respond. This is why I write fictional and fanciful stories. I write with a purpose and hope and pray my readers will respond accordingly.
Next month we will discuss Fiction in the New Testament.