We thought that there was no better time than January to begin the book God as Author. The start of the new year ahead brings to mind a fresh beginning to a new page in the storybook of our lives. Gene C. Fant Jr.’s “God as Author” explores how viewing God as Author can give us fresh insights into yet another aspect of His Godhood. God reveals Himself as our Father, our Provider, Counselor, but also the often forgotten facet of Author. (Hebrews 12:2)
The book’s initial pages begin with a thought-provoking quote regarding our loss of grandeur in life.
“This is in fact, the blessing and the curse of adulthood: we know the details and many of the answers, but we forget about the aesthetic component that possesses the power to move us so powerfully.”
We are lost in minutia to the point where we forget to take a step back to appraise God’s story with awe.
God as Author is chock-full of literary beauties such as Beowulf and Hamlet, as well as respectable apologetic and theological figureheads such as Allister McGrath, Nancy Pearcey, Francis Schaeffer and many others. This book is perfect for any lover of literature, theology, or someone who simply wants to find more joy in reading. The book contains plentiful sources and generous footnotes which we thoroughly appreciated.
Each chapter has such wonderful gems of truth that we have broken down some of our favorite key thoughts to share:
Chapter One- “Making Sense of Story”– How should we approach story? Fant mentions Christianity’s once intimate relationship with literary criticism that transitioned into the paradigm shift of today which is largely ruled by literary experts who dismiss the religious roots of art for the sake of “tolerance.” The approach of literary experts who value criticism over the narrative itself is appropriately broached. What has happened to our love of literature? It has been stripped down from so many literary critiques that we forget that it is even a narrative to be enjoyed. This thought is tied with the above quote concerning our sad passivity towards what once wowed us as children. Fant wisely proposes a “hermeneutics of optimism,” taking a look at the text that is “critical, but not cynical, probing, but not suspicious.” The love of narrative can remain while still discerning the text.
Chapter Two- “God as Author”- Fant compares how authors have the stamp of God’s authorship in their own work. We see that God’s omnipotence shows us He is “outside of the story.” On a much lower level, writers similarly are not confined to the normal constraints of life: time, space, etc. as they write their book. For example, they are able to foreshadow, seeing the future of their story. “God’s story has a point.” As Fant mentioned in chapter one, “The worst reaction a writer can produce is that where readers say, ‘That was lovely, but so what?’” (pg. 6) “God always tells the truth.” As readers are annoyed with text that is disingenuous, God’s story reflects the authenticity we naturally gravitate towards. “God loves his characters.” A good narrative writer is involved with his created characters so deeply that they become three dimensional. An emotional attachment forms from this created process, but how much even more so is God’s connection with His created real flesh and blood characters?
Chapter Three- “What Does God’s Story Look Like?”- Fant uses the Biblical framework of creation-fall-redemption which is reflective in the common theme of almost every literary work: balance-imbalance-and restoration. We get to dive deep into the meaning of this balance we desire.
Chapter Four- “Finding God’s Story in Narrative Structure”- Fant explores the literary rubric from Aristotle. Aristotle interestingly noticed foundational structure of narrative we still use today. We see with fresh eyes the structure of the restoration narrative applied to Biblical narrative in the lives of several notable Biblical figures- Ruth and Noah as two examples that are among others.
Chapter Five- “The Restoration Narrative in Literary Narrative”- We see wonderful pieces of literary masterpieces in this chapter. Fant dissects the likes of Oedipus Rex, Don Quixote, The Great Gatsby and many others, all through the lens of restorative narrative. Towards the end of the chapter, Fant brilliantly challenges the opposing critics of restoration narrative. What are we left with if we don’t have restoration? He parallels this thought with an illustration from Flannery O’Conner’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” (pg. 125) These finishing lines alone are enough to encourage a read of the book.
Chapter Six- “How Then Shall We Deal with Narrative?”- In this brief chapter, Fant echoes a simple, but thought provoking question similar to Francis Schaeffer, Nancy Pearcey, and Chuck Colson’s, “How shall we live in the meantime?” We are awaiting Christ, but what do we do now? We are meant to intentionally restore the brokenness we see around us through Christ. This means bringing this very tenet to all areas, even the restoration of our culture- narrative included. This chapter is a wonderful segue into the final two chapters.
Chapter Seven- “Reading Redemptively”- “The greatest writers in the world have stolen the greatest Story ever told, time and time again. Christians should recognize this Story and seize the opportunity presented by this towering influence.” Fant encourages readers to not confine themselves within the Christian genre. As we read, we should intentionally be on the look-out for truths, for all truth is God’s truth. Capitalize on those findings of truth and use these pieces to engage the culture is a beneficial take-away.
Chapter Eight- “Writing Redemptively”- This chapter mentions the sad desire of today to “sanitize” the brutal death of Christ. We forget about the agony and blood and instead, have a tidier cleaned up version of Jesus’ death. We should remember all of the following as well as the redemption. Too often Christian authors can go in one of two directions- either exemplifying the redemption to the point where we don’t even know what even needed restoring because a the depth of a fallen nature was not shown, or a story can showcase the depravity without offering much in the way of truthful redemption.
God as Author will have you wanting to dust off the classical literature on your shelf, appreciating the written word with greater fervor than you possibly ever have had prior, as well as piquing your interest even more with God’s own narrative. Fant widens our eyes to a worldview we may have not considered: viewing narratives with the creation-fall-redemption model that can be found in stories on the page, to a play, to movies, and TV. Once you read this book, you will never explore narrative stories the same.
I received this book for free from B&H Academic and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”