Christian Fiction – What Purpose, Part 2

Two opposite positions lure the church—1) the pull to be absorbed by the culture and 2) the pull to separate from the culture.

From where I sit, I hear much more criticism about the church in regard to it separating from culture than I do about it being absorbed by culture. That might be a red flag. When we aren’t guarding against both errors, we just might be slipping toward the one we are neglecting.

I tend to think the same is true for Christian fiction. For some time, as a general rule fiction categorized as Christian held the lofty goal of showing the way to salvation. At some point, however, a secondary purpose surfaced—providing stories that were “safe” from the evils of society.

From my perspective, safe fiction doesn’t actually exist, but I suspect those who hope for it may be in danger of separating from culture—a position that makes it all but impossible for Christians to fulfill the job Christ gave us.

Some writers, of course, make no attempt to merge the mandate to make disciples with the stories they create. How can I say this is wrong? I do lots of things that don’t contribute to my accomplishing what Christ told me to do. I grocery shop and do laundry. I watch football (go Broncos! 😉 ) and political conventions. And read the paper and do the daily Sudoku puzzle. My point is, if a writer chooses to write a good escapist story, fine. He’s writing as a hobby or to make a living.

But should we call stories that make no attempt to show Christianity, Christians, or Christ, Christian fiction? What would make them so?

Some would advocate that there ought to be no difference between stories written by those without faith in Christ and those Christians write. In that case, I believe the latter will quickly become irrelevant. If we sanitize stories of Christianity, Christians, and Christ, we no longer have anything unique to say. Whatever themes might “emerge” from stories without Christians, Christianity, or Christ will have little chance of conveying anything eternally significant.

As I indicated in yesterday’s post, I think there is a third alternative, one that aims to write in a way that is relevant to the culture but does not shy away from showing either Christianity, Christians, or Christ. These stories tackle hard issues without pat answers. They contain characters that seem to live and breathe and struggle as real people do. They tell interesting, even exciting stories, not with an author intervention along the way that points a finger at the reader and says, Now go thou and do likewise. The only conclusions are ones the characters reach, and they feel natural, fitting.

These are the kinds of stories I see some publishers producing more and more. Others, not so much. The thing is, these stories don’t need Christian publishers. With culture being more “religion” friendly, I suspect Any House may be willing to publish the kinds of books I’m talking about. Ones equally resistant to separation from and absorption by the culture.

Published in: on September 4, 2008 at 3:03 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. A-men, Becky!! I love your posts! I need to comment more often! I can count on you to make me stop and think!!

    Have a terrific weekend!

    Kim

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  2. Thanks, Kim. Your saying the posts make you stop and think is a huge encouragement. What more could I ask? I appreciate your feedback! 😀

    Becky

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  3. You are right. I have a brother and a few friends who love Christian fiction. It is a growing market and I believe one best selling Christian fiction is actually either been made into a movie or is going to. I “thought” someone told me it was at Blockbuster but the name of the author escapes me now. When I think of it, Ill come back and post it.

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  4. Hi, Chris, thanks for the comment. There have actually been several Christian novels made into movies, with more on the way, as I understand it.

    Becky

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