A Tool Of The Devil: Christian Fiction Or Christian Fiction Bashing?

ChristianFictionCoversSpring2013In “Tearing Down The Church: A Tool Of The Devil” I established that the devil is the Christian’s adversary, that believers are commanded to be on the alert, that Satan’s schemes include lies because he is the Father of lies. The Church, then, has become a target of Satan’s lies in the twenty-first century with it’s postmodern mentality, in part because contemporary thought still respects community. A loving, caring Church is one way to reach this generation for Christ.

Another element postmodernism responds to is Story.

As an aside, I have to say, I marvel at how God has provided for each culture, implanting in His Word and by His plan something that will speak to disparate groups of people down through the ages.

The greatest Story, of course, is the Bible, but rationalism and higher criticism discredited the Bible in the eyes of many so that even a good number of people who identify as Christian don’t believe the claims of the Bible.

Jesus Himself taught in parables, and these, postmoderns seem to embrace, but in some ways that’s not good since a number want to take Jesus (a distorted or “re-imaged” version of Him) and pit Him against the “wrathful, vengeful” God of the Old Testament.

Which brings us to extra-Biblical stories, ones created by believers. I’m thinking primarily of Christian fiction, though a growing number of believers are publishing stories in the general market without any attempt to “reach the lost.”

In the Christian writing community there continues to be conversation about the place of Christian fiction in the culture. Some label it as preachy, and worse, “preaching to the choir.” Many decry its inability to reach the culture at large because it’s shut up in the ghetto of Christian bookstores or on shelves reserved for Christian fiction.

Others lambaste Christian fiction because of its artlessness. First it was poorly written, then shallow. Now it is lacking in ambiguity–apparently an element of true art.

The critics of Christian fiction might take the position that it is a tool of the devil because it deceives. It first packages the gospel message as a story–so that’s deceptive. But it also gives the impression that every problem has an answer and ever conflict has a happy ending. The truth is that godly people die of cancer before they turn fifteen, become quadriplegics at seventeen, have their spouse kidnapped and (presumably) murdered in their first year of marriage, and more, so much more. Real life doesn’t turn out the same as the sugar-coated lives of the protagonists in Christian fiction. And all the squeaky-clean stories isolate Christian fiction from the very culture the authors say they want to reach. Or so the argument goes.

The proponents for Christian fiction, however, point to the inclusion of stories with a wide range of culturally relevant scenarios and themes. Novels have addressed abuse, sex trafficking, infidelity, and any number of other topics (I just recently read a book in which the protagonist dealt with alcoholism). Others decry the demand for ambiguity as a whitewash of the heart of Christianity–hope and redemption. An extrapolation of this position would seem to say, pretending that there are no answers is a lie from Satan.

So which is it–Christian fiction is a tool of Satan’s or Christian fiction bashing is a tool of Satan’s?

The thing is, Christian authors published by traditional Evangelical publishing houses have letters from readers telling how their lives have been changed by the stories they read–the Christian fiction stories written by these “CBA” authors. If God is using these stories, I wonder, then, at the validity of the criticism.

Can Christian fiction do better? Undoubtedly, but I think it’s growing and changing to meet the changing times, particularly as publishing goes through the technological revolution it’s presently experiencing.

Bashing brothers and sisters in Christ who are having an impact on others certainly seems like a counter productive move. That such bashing reinforces a false stereotype about Christian fiction is potentially harmful–certainly something Satan can use. Remember, he is a liar and the Father of lies. He’d love people to run screaming away from any title labeled “Christian fiction.” If, on the other hand, it was a tool he could use, it would seem he would love just the opposite.

Published in: on June 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm  Comments (8)  
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