From time to time I am asked about why I write stories and novels when there is “no spiritual value in it.” I disagree with the idea that there is no spiritual value in literature, both in and of itself, and as a furrowing force for the later harvest of truth. Here I want to focus on the latter. May I present some guy you’ve probably never heard of, Dr. Martin Luther:
“I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature pure theology cannot at all endure, just as heretofore, when letters [literature] have declined and lain prostrate, theology too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate; nay, I see that there has never been a great revelation of the Word of God unless he has first prepared the way by the rise and prosperity of languages and letters, as though they were John the Baptists. . . . Certainly it is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies, as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily.”
Martin Luther, Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523. Werke, Weimar edition, Luthers Briefwechsel, III, 50.
HT: Justin Taylor
So bouncing off of Luther’s quotation, and in an effort to directly answer the charge that love of literature is an attack on the sufficiency of Scripture, I write.