Both as an editor and as a writer, I have to deal with the issue of theology in fiction. Even if a writer is not deliberately writing to espouse a particular theology, his or her own views do tend to percolate through. How much does it matter? What if the writer wants to speculate a little, especially about areas where theological thought is vague or divided, such as the afterlife or the world of spiritual beings? Must fiction be held to the same firm standard as nonfiction lest the weak be led astray?
Please note I’m not primarily talking here about the kind of fantasy that invents whole other worlds. I think people who enjoy fantasy understand that an invented world, even if it doesn’t play by exactly the same rules as the real one, can still communicate fundamental truths.
I’ve created a poll about our attitudes as readers. Please feel free to comment at greater length as well, since this is hardly a cut-and-dried issue. I’m really curious to hear what you think.