Good Characters and Christian Fiction, Day 3

Brandilyn Collins, suspense author with Zondervan, made some interesting observations in Tuesday’s post on her blog Forensics and Faith. She identifies the current tendency for Christian authors to hold back presenting Christ, to the point that Christian characters no longer pray, talk with other Christians about spiritual things, or—Heaven forbid—witness to non-Christians.

In other words, her take on it is, they do not act the way true Christians act. This kind of plastic Christian character is no better than the cardboard ones of an earlier era that never sinned or so much as contemplated sin unless it was to condemn it.

Some of the comments from Brandilyn’s readers were interesting as well. One person pointed out that the author might actually be depicting Christians as he has experienced them to be.

That was a little frightening. Not because there are baby Christians out there who don’t have developed prayer lives, but that these might be the Christian fiction writers publishers are choosing to put in print. And even if the writers are mature Christians—who themselves have an active prayer life and have no trouble discussing spiritual things whenever the occasion arises—why are publishers not recognizing that the Christian characters aren’t acting in a natural way?

‘Tis a mystery.

Best thing a writer can do, I am convinced, is to pursue quality with a whole heart: “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:7).

So my Christian characters need to reflect their core beliefs—what their nature is, the old and the new. There should be some spiritual dimension to their internal conflict. Their relationship with God should spill out into their words and behavior, at least in a crisis. Or they should be troubled that it doesn’t.

One of the finest examples of an author who writes Christian characters in a real, natural way is Sharon Hinck. I’ll be posting a review shortly on her second novel, Renovating Becky Miller.

Undoubtedly, as another of Brandilyn’s readers pointed out, non-Christians would be baffled by the concerns the characters express, the fears, desires, tensions they deal with.

Such a book that portrays Christians relating with other Christians is obviously limited to a Christian market. So what. Do all Christian novels have to center on outreach?

But my next question is, if the Christian character is relating largely to non-Christians, how, then, does the author show the distinction without preaching?

I’ll share some thoughts on that next time.

Published in: on October 25, 2006 at 11:55 am  Comments (3)  
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