Christian Libertarians Need to Stop Ignoring the Persuasive Influence of Fiction

Why Fiction Should Be Taken More Seriously Among Christian Libertarians

J.L. Pattison
Mar 20 · 7 min read

“There is a time for stories, and there is a time for rational arguments, and the skill we need lies in knowing which to use, and when.” — Os Guinnesse

Courtesy of Matias North via Unsplash

I recently came across an article by Mark Tapson who wrote:

And there are few better examples of such compelling science fiction than the old Twilight Zone series where Rod Serling often used fictional threats—like aliens—to shine a penetrating light on real-life threats. Serling even conceded:

But where are those storytellers like Serling today? Where are those men and women who are cleverly adept at using the vehicle of fiction to share far deeper truths to a much wider audience who would otherwise not be interested in seeking out those truths?

Dare I suggest, they’re all around us?

They’re the lesser-known Christian and libertarian authors whose books we give little regard to, but whom we should familiarize ourselves with because — after all — who better understands “the dangers posed by our own humanity” than Christians and libertarians?

The Power of Fiction

Non-Christian readers who would never read books such as John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, JC Ryle’s Holiness, or John Owens’ Mortification of Sin, have thoroughly enjoyed CS Lewis’ entire Chronicles of Narnia series. Likewise, many professing Christians who would never read a book on practical witchcraft, happily own the entire Harry Potter series.

So, what’s the common denominator? What would persuade an agnostic to read books with religious themes, and what would attract a Christian to read books with occultic themes? The answer is remarkably simple: a compelling story, well told.

Humans love stories. We’re drawn to them — enchanted by them actually — and although non-fiction books are great, there’s something deeply intoxicating about a well-crafted fictional tale.

And when it comes to changing the world around us, it could be argued that fiction has been more successful at influencing readers than most non-fiction.

Courtesy of Christin Hume via Unsplash

The use of storytelling, be it in books, movies, television, art, or music, has long been a catalyst for change in our culture, because, as Francis Schaefer once observed:

But why is this true?

Nancy Pearcey, in her book Saving Leonardo, attempts to answer this question:

It’s through the age old art of storytelling that authors possess the power to shape the hearts and minds of others, yet today, this medium is most often neglected by Christian libertarians—if not outright ignored.

Examples of Fiction’s Influence

Consider that two exceedingly popular, best-selling books written in the last hundred years is George Orwell’s 1984 (warning of the evils of communism) and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (often credited as a gateway drug to libertarianism for those who make it through its voluminous pages). And then consider that one of the most widely read and enduring books in the world for over 300 years has been John Bunyan’s beloved Christian classic, Pilgrim’s Progress which has sold over 200 million copies and has never been out of print since its first publication in 1678.

What do these three books have in common? They’re all works of fiction. And the truth is, as much as we may not want to admit it, they’ve all reached a broader audience than the likes of F.A Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and Frédéric Bastiat, or R.C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, and John MacArthur.

These three novels alone did more to introduce the world to libertarianism and the Christian faith (respectively) than most non-fiction books advocating the same ideals.

Courtesy of Sérgio André via Unsplash

But why are authors who promote libertarianism and the Christian faith — through the conduit of fiction — so often ignored by those who share these same beliefs? Perhaps it’s because the allure of intellectualism is so great that most don’t feel there’s any value in trifling with fiction, even though an appeal to the likes of the aforementioned Orwell, Rand, and Bunyan would prove otherwise.

Conversely, however, our adversaries have not neglected the persuasive power of fiction, art, film, and music — they’ve actually been exploiting these areas to advance their agenda for decades. In fact, hijacking the arts was just one of their many steps designed to bring America to its knees in subjection to a Marxist dystopia.

Destruction By Design

In 1958, W. Cleon Skousen revealed communism’s 45 goals to take over America in his book, The Naked Communist. Goals 20–25 pertained directly to arts and entertainment:

Instead of competing with our sworn enemies in the arena of arts and entertainment, we happily abdicated these influential areas to our adversaries so we could focus on more serious avenues of influence, like non-fiction. And now we are paying the price as we and our children are drowning in the most base, vulgar, and profane movies, music, art, and literature imaginable, and all pushing a collectivist agenda. This alone — if for no other reason — should be impetus enough to support Christians and libertarians in the arts.

Nancy Pearcey again:

Quality Assurance

Now, this does not mean we should settle for subpar efforts. On the contrary. We should seek out and find the books, films, art, and music that not only exemplifies our beliefs, but does so in the highest quality. The story should be worth telling, and it should be told well. And if it is, then it should be supported, encouraged, and shared by Christian libertarians everywhere.

Unfortunately, many Christians and libertarians have not been very encouraging to or supportive of creatives in their own camp, and thus, the artists whose very labors could evoke real change, end up withering on the vine.

Courtesy of Matthias Boeckel via Pixabay

So, what do we do? Nancy Pearcey gives us direction:

Conclusion

Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, observed:

There’s no doubt as to the level of success the propagandists of Marxism have had. Fortunately, our side also has the tools and the talents to combat the propaganda of those who would seek to enslave us. Unfortunately, however, Christian libertarian authors, artists, film makers, and musicians, can’t do it alone. We need you — we need each other.

With your support and encouragement, our message can reach far and wide in our endeavor to remind “one set of people” that “certain other sets of people” are human, are made in the image of God, and are deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This article originally appeared in Mere Liberty under the title Challenging Our Paradigms of Fictional Literature.

J.L. Pattison is the author of contemporary speculative fiction for modern-day thought criminals—winning Libertopia’s “Best Libertarian Fiction” award two years in a row—and who’s storytelling has been compared to the likes of Rod Serling and M. Night Shyamalan. Pattison’s articles have appeared in such publications as Liberation Day, Predict, The Startup, and The Writer’s Sanctuary.

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