Excerpt from Tim Challies talking about fiction in the latest Connected Kingdom Podcast (audio):
I have heard it said that the purpose of fiction is to ask questions while the purpose of nonfiction is to answer them. That may be an over-simplification, but maybe it is not too far off the mark. At least that has been my experience of fiction. Fiction introduces ideas and evokes feelings and arouses emotion. These feelings demand answers or make us long for them. There are many questions I have been asked in fiction that I’ve had to go to the world of nonfiction to answer.
Cormac McCarthy’s novels ask if there is hope even in a world like this one, a world of darkness and depravity. John Piper has rightly said that Cormac McCarthy is to the American literary canon what the book of Judges is to the biblical canon. McCarthy portrays the darkness of humanity and asks us if there is hope even here. It doesn’t offer answers—just questions, questions brought about by deep feelings of pain or revulsion or sadness. Answers must be found elsewhere. ...
I am convinced that to truly enjoy fiction we need to have a knowledge of what is true and fixed and unchanging, which is to say, we need to know the Bible. So many questions are asked in the pages of books that can only be answered in the pages of The Book. The Bible interprets and refines and answers. It gives hope where fiction is hopeless, it gives light where fiction is dark, it gives joy where fiction is depressing. Fiction gives us stories of the world as it is or the world as someone images it; an author takes his experiences and hopes and desires and dreams and wraps them in a story. The Bible takes that story and makes sense of it. It tells us why the world is this way, why this author’s experience of the world has been so painful, why there is still hope even in a world like this.