There is a need for more believers to effectively live out their Christian worldview within our culture, says the leader of an apologetics ministry.
"Our media is dominated by people immersed in the secular humanist mindset,” notes Anthony Horvath of Athanatos Christian Ministries.
“The evidence of this is present in books, movies, TV shows, music, as well as in newspapers and cable television,” he says. “The resulting culture perpetuates itself and creates a climate of cynicism - to say the least - regarding the claims of Christianity."
Now, imagine if more Christians were writing movies, books, and the news.
“This alone might not save a single soul, but it would help create a climate where the Christian message is better received," Horvath says.
To encourage writers to represent their Christian beliefs through arts – in particular through fiction – Horvath’s ministry is hosting a contest to identify writers who can write quality fiction that represents the Christian worldview either explicitly or implicitly.
"C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton are examples of Christian authors whose stories reflected their Christian outlook,” notes Horvath. “The remarkable thing is that secular audiences enjoy their work as much as Christian audiences do.”
Chris Jones, a theater critic for the Chicago Tribune, would likely concur.
“The Christian allegorist C.S. Lewis is to agnostics what the conservative writer David Brooks is to liberals. He’s about the only one they can stand,” Jones wrote in a review of “The Screwtapes Letters,” a Lewis novel-based theatrical performance that is currently reaping success at the Mercury Theatre in Chicago.
“Even those who abhor most religiously oriented literature – people who wouldn’t be caught dead reading 'Left Behind' or other apocalyptica – are ready to give Lewis some space in their lives,” he added.
And it is works such as Lewis’s that society needs more of, says Horvath.
“Readers let down their defenses when reading stories or watching movies and this provides an opportunity for the author to present ideas and themes that readers might otherwise have dismissed,” he says. “This is true for both Christians and non-Christians, but the secular community is more deliberate in exploiting this reality.”
The problem, however, is that Christians have mostly been unsuccessful in casting the Christian worldview into mainstream media, though Christian music and books have been seeing more success in recent years.
“A lot of Christian entertainment is incubated in a bubble and often the script isn't challenged creatively the way a mainstream Hollywood script is vetted by director and producer and (for better or worse) studio,” says Christian writer, director and producer Dan Merchant.
Furthermore, Christians sometimes push too hard on "shoving" the gospel into stories and forget that people want to be entertained, adds Phil Cooke, president and creative director of Cooke Pictures.
“We need to be far more subtle in our storytelling,” he says. “After all, Jesus didn't tell ‘Christian’ stories. He told stories about people's lives, and they were powerful and compelling.”
And those are the kind of stories that Athanatos Christian Ministries will be looking for as it receive contest entries this month through May 15, 2009.
Though the amount of the awards are not so impressive (top prize is $500), the ministry still hopes to inspire young Christians to take up the pen and promote the Christian worldview through fiction and create a culture of quality writing reflecting that worldview.
Winning entries will be compiled into an anthology and published. The anthology will be distributed to every single author who entered a story, at no additional cost.
"We want every contributor to see what a winning story looks like so they can learn from it and improve their own writing ability," Horvath explains.
Winners of the Athanatos Christian Writing Contest will be announced on Aug. 1, 2009. Anthologies and awards will be disbursed beginning Sept. 1, 2009.
On the Web:
The Athanatos Christian Writing Contest homepage at www.christianwritingcontest.com.