Three years ago I wrote a blog entitled, “Is There Such a Thing as Christian Horror?” The premise was that some Christians believe they should not read, discuss or know of anything negative or horrible in the world because of Philippians 4: 8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” That, unfortunately, translates into a very shielded and sheltered view of the world, one that many non-believers make fun of as Pollyannish and living in a world of make believe.
On the website Goodreads, the discussion continued, with arguments rising on both sides. Some Christians couldn’t see what if any good could come by adding horror as a genre to a Christian writer’s repertoire, while others felt like the Bible itself had its own incidents and stories of horror. Even references to Satan and his demons can fall within that category.
I found myself raising the question without really falling into either camp, because I saw merit in both arguments. And then I came across a discussion recently on Quora, the website where people go to ask questions and have them answered. The question was what was the difference between horror and the relatively new genre urban fantasy. The answer I read stirred my own thoughts.
The respondent said that horror is based on hopelessness and helplessness. It is all about the emotion that it stimulates. Urban fantasy is about facing the same fantastic challenges from horror–vampires, witches, demons–but facing them with solutions. So instead of screaming and cowering before a werewolf, they would simply load up on silver bullets.
And suddenly I realized the biggest issue I had with horror and what made Christian horror an oxymoron. Hopelessness. There can’t be hopelessness with Christ. There can be helplessness, but only as far as Paul says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (I Corinthians 12:9). Christ is our hope and our solution. He is more powerful than any challenge we confront. And so any horror we face is more an urban fantasy than something that would leave us cowering in defeat.
I see horrific elements being included in a Christian story, but that doesn’t make it a horror story. It’s how we face that horror that matters.
So I guess the answer is, no. I don’t believe in Christian horror. Not anymore.