Christian Fiction … So What?

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Christian, Christian horror, Christian market, Fiction, novels, supernatural suspense, writing, Writing/Publishing

"Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction" by Ron Benrey

I have been following the ongoing discussion about the state and nature of Christian fiction.

This is not really a new debate. It just takes on new twists as the scope of Christian fiction expands. From the beginning there have been those critics who think that writing Christian fiction constitutes something just short of sin. It is either a lowering of the writer or a perceived bastardization of Christianity and Christian teachings for Christians to write fiction.

Heaven forbid we try to express the tenets of Christian beliefs into a form that people can readily understand.

To better understand the whole idea of Christian fiction, let’s take a look at what Christian fiction should actually do. In my view Christian fiction has three purposes.

First: Christian fiction serves as a catalyst for bringing people to Christ. Now that is not the only thing it does, not is it always the primary thing it does. But in those cases where a person is seeking something in their lives, a work of Christian fiction can be the thing that helps “bring it all together” for that reader. Something in the actions of a character or in the overall story may be the thing that points them toward Christ.

Second: Christian fiction can serve as a reinforcement of what we already feel or know to be true. In this case someone may already be a Christian and the work of fiction somehow reinforces their beliefs. Again, through the actions of a fictional character, written from a Christian perspective, we may get a new insight into salvation, redemption, etc. Is that not what Jesus did through parables? Spoke to people where they lived through allegory?

Finally: Christian fiction provides an alternative to secular fiction. Some people (Christian and non-Christian alike) simply want a good story that engages them without the use of gratuitous violence, language and sex. They want a decent story they can read without having to constantly be on their guard. And please don’t misunderstand me. I read both Christian and secular fiction avidly. I have some favorites in both areas, and there are some authors I don’t particularly care for in both. I’m just drawing a distinction. For example, right now I’m reading books by Dean Koontz Travis Thrasher and Douglas Clegg and having a blast with all of them. But again, sometimes the purpose is nothing more than a good story with no unwanted surprises.

That’s the way I write and the way a good many of my colleagues write. We ask God’s blessing, put pen to paper (OK, fingers to keyboard), and write the best story we can. Then we leave God to do whatever He wants to with the result.

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Comments
  1. Dennis Patterson says:

    Dennis Patterson, author of the Christian baseball novel ‘Mississippi Wind’ is announcing its release. Go to Amazon.com, or visit his Website on Facebook. Simple type in the title (Mississippi Wind)for storyline and details. Blessings!!

  2. Thomas Smith says:

    Too true … too true. I am consistently amazed at the lengths to which Christians will go to complicate an issue.

  3. William Simkiss says:

    Ooh! Well said to all, especially the “Finally” paragraph, about not having to be on guard.

    I was greatly encouraged in the 70’s by theologian Francis A. Schaeffer, in a small booklet on “Christainity and the Arts”. At a time when many Christians were loving C S Lewis’ ‘Chronicles of Narnia” but denigrating the “non-faith” of J R R TOlkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, Scaheffer says that we need not fear Fantasy because as Christian (as thinkers) we can differentiate between Subject and Object.

    The humourous and tragic thing there also is that the blast was against Tolkien’s Catholic faith – not up to the proper bar apparently of Lewis’s Evangelical Protestant faith. Yet if you read Tolkien’s letters,and the testimony of all his friends, his faith wa deep and shining, an example to all.

    And the next humourous bit is that Lewis is Anglican – what Americans call Episcopal – hardly known these days for outspooken theology or practice.

    The final straw in the bad thought process of slamming Tolkien in favour of Lewis and other “Christians” is that in fact Lewis credited Tolkien as both his best friend and the man who brought him to a saving knowledge of Christ!

    Those who do such shallow research deserve gentle reminders about keeping their words sweet and tender, for tomorrow they may have to eat them.

    Often, fiction can tell a story far better than a historical report.

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