Dave Meigs

David Meigs is a novelist with a background in youth outreach, specializing in ministry to at-risk youth and their families. Though his writing is enjoyed by all ages, his novels provide a unique, life-changing quality, critical for the youth of today. David and his family lives in Seabeck, Washington, where he serves his church as youth pastor.

Is There Such a Thing as Inspirational Horror?

Last May, a fellow author contacted me about collaborating on a book he was putting together about the role of “edgy” fiction as a sub-genre within Christian inspirational fiction. He introduced himself as a former horror writer who recently came to Christ. The list of authors already committed to contributing was both long and impressive. My part, like most of the other authors, was to participate in an interview. It seemed simple and straightforward. I wrote back that I would be happy to help.

A couple of weeks into the project, I shared about the venture with a few writer friends. I was surprised by the bipolar reaction I received. On one side, some friends were excited for me and seemed genuinely interested in reading such a book; but others warned me against it in the strongest of terms. Their concern was that by associating myself with this project I might alienate potential publishers in the future.

All of a sudden, my enthusiasm for the project sank like a rock thrown into a pond. Had I made a huge mistake that would derail my career as an inspirational novelist before it even had a chance to take off? I hit the brakes. For the next two weeks I prayed over it and debated the decision from every angle. Should I back out? After all, I had not yet signed the contract; but on the other hand, I had already given my word—something that means a great deal to me.

At first, I had all but decided to decline the project and offer a sincere apology; however, as several days passed, I felt a growing peace to proceed. Not only was it right to keep my word, but I felt sure that the Lord was in this somehow. The deadline for my involvement was only a few days away, so I sent in my signed contract and received the interview questions. I prayerfully wrote out my answers and sent them back to him by the deadline. My delay pushed my section to the back of the book, but isn’t that supposed to be the best part anyway? (I’ll share more of the particulars of the book with you all as its publishing date arrives.)

Is there such a thing as inspirational horror?

After all, isn’t inspirational horror an oxymoron? It might be; nevertheless, the answer of whether or not the horror genre can be inspirational is not found in the horror side of the equation, but rather in the very meaning of the term inspirational. Can a story set in a backdrop of terror and utter despair be used to display God’s miraculous deliverance? Yes, absolutely. In fact, in real life, God does it every day.

By definition, inspirational fiction has the ability to open readers’ minds and hearts to a new level of hope and understanding. Fiction has the ability to demonstrate truth in a powerful way. I’m not talking about the good feeling we might get from a well-written book that touches our hearts. I’m talking about a book that somehow goes the extra distance and opens our hearts and lives in a way that we had never experienced before.

An example from the Bible.

In the book of First Kings chapter 18, we read about one of the darkest times in the history of the nation of Israel. Under the corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, Baal worship and other detestable forms of worship had become the norm, and nearly everyone had forgotten the true God. Not even the

imagination of today’s secular horror novelists could match the sheer depravity of Elijah’s day. It was a dark time filled with every kind of extreme wickedness, including demonic gods that demanded human sacrifice and even infanticide.

Admittedly, this example is not about fiction, nor is it about the topic of the horror genre; but it does speak to the key ingredient of inspirational fiction: altering strongly held perceptions and setting the mind and heart free. In this case, the people of Israel needed a wake-up call, and God used His prophet Elijah to achieve it.

Elijah called for a contest between himself and the 450 prophets of Baal. In response, King Ahab gathered all the people and the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel. Perhaps the utterly lost state of the people is best summed up in their flat response to Elijah’s challenge. “Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing” (1 Kings 18:21 NIV).

We all know the story. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to build an altar and prepare a bull for sacrifice, and then to call down fire from their god to ignite the wood on the altar. The prophets carried on for hours, chanting, cutting themselves, and dancing in ever-increasing fervor. All the while, and I believe for the sake of the people, Elijah taunted them in a way to deliberately cause them to realize that Baal was no god at all.

When it was Elijah’s turn to call down fire from above, he built a new altar made from twelve stones, which the people would understand to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. After he placed the bull on the altar for sacrifice, he ordered twelve barrel-sized jars filled with water to be poured over the sacrifice, the wood, and the altar. Elijah even ordered that a ditch be dug around the altar to hold the excess water.

What followed was a miracle on more than one level. Fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and even the stones and water. But the biggest miracle is how the event unlocked the people’s hearts to perceive the existence of the true living God for the first time in their lives. At the beginning the day, their hearts and minds were locked in deception. When the fire fell, it opened the eyes of the people, which would have been impossible in any other way. Once again, the people’s response summed up the biggest miracle of that day—the opening of their eyes. “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!” (v. 39 NIV).

In the space of mere hours, the Lord opened the eyes of an entire nation. Fortunately for us, inspirational fiction, and, yes, even the horror variety, carries the same power to open the eyes and hearts of the reader to the wonderful truth of God’s amazing love.

Until next month, may God richly bless you all.