Fiction That Means Something

I almost copied the comment SilentFred (also known as Fred Warren, one of the June CSFF Top Blogger Award finalists) left to “More Thoughts about Worldview.” His views are right on and beautifully expressed—from the extended fishing metaphor to the Biblical instruction and personal example. Great!

I really appreciate all the thoughtful reactions in this discussion. Obviously this is a topic near and dear to my heart, which is why I keep coming back to it—why, in fact, I included it in the name of this blog.

So is there a conclusion? Are we left with Whatever? I hope not. Here are some things I’ve gleaned:

Christian fiction and Christian worldview fiction are not the same thing, nor do they necessarily have the same goal. (But a Christian worldview OF fiction looks at all fiction from a Christian worldview, though mostly on this blog I’ve been writing about a Christian worldview and Christian fiction.)

The fiction Christians write varies from that which writers intend for evangelism to that which they hope entertains, with any number of intermediary types in between.

Because the scale has long been tipped toward evangelism, a backlash has brought an increase in titles designed to do little more than entertain.

Both the titles aiming to evangelize and those aiming to entertain contribute to the reputation Christian fiction (used broadly as bookstores use the term) has for being shallow.

Christians don’t have to be afraid of writing with a purpose. Letting our Christianity show doesn’t automatically make bad fiction.

God can use our best efforts, and He can use our feeble efforts, if He so chooses. (“Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, … [they] proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives … What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice” Phil. 1:15-18)

The goal is to glorify God, and I’m not privy to how God brings glory to Himself out of what sinful Man does. I want to write a book that shows God, but I also want to sell that book and make enough money to work as a novelist (and maybe become rich and famous! 😉 . When are my God-glorifying motives ever free from my selfish, self-sufficient, self-indulgent motives?

A call for Christians to write fiction with more substance isn’t a slap in the face but a proper exhortation—we should all want to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Savior. And that growth should be reflected in what we write.

I’m sure there’s more, but I’m trying to do a better job staying within my (self-imposed) word count.

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3 Comments

  1. I don’t think there’s anything selfish about wanting to make a living at writing. I want to contribute in a significant way to our family income and lighten the load on my husband.

    I also think there’s a middle way between wanting to evangelize and wanting to entertain: wanting to stimulate questions. Didn’t C.S. Lewis say that once a man begins thinking, the advantage flips to God’s side? Or words to that effect.

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  2. Janet, I don’t think there’s anything selfish about wanting to make a living at writing either. But I find that when I start focusing on the money, it messes with my motives. Pretty soon I’ve jumped to that place inside where I want More. I want not just a living but a nice living, maybe even the kind of living that would allow me to go First Class.

    I agree with you, too, that there is a middle ground. I tend to think literature makes people think. And if Christians are writing it, why shouldn’t we want people to think about God, Christ, Christian values? The fact is, people who aren’t Christians have no problem writing their values into fiction (see today’s post about the episode of “Eli Stone” I saw.)

    Becky

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  3. Yes, focus matters for sure.

    I would think that there is even a place for Christian works that do not focus on God, but which hold up a mirror to the reader, and call on them to see what’s really there. Francis Schaeffer spoke of forcing people to the logical conclusion of their own values and views, forcing them to acknowledge where it really leads them if they’re consistent, which they frequently aren’t. Outside of one-on-one conversations, who is better placed to do this than a novelist? Draw them in with a good story, and leave them realizing how shaky their foundations are.

    I’m speaking theoretically here, seeing as I haven’t personally taken this approach. But I see how there is a place for it.

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