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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  1. Great blog, Becky. A house divided cannot stand, and as Christians we need to remember we are on the same side. A “non-preachy” story may not directly teach a spiritual truth, but hopefully it will plant a seed of interest that will begin the reader on the road to finding The Lord. Speculative Christian fiction often seems a bit more edgey than other Christian ficiton, but that may be what will hook a reader who wouldn’t touch another book outside the genre. Lashing out at a book or author because you don’t like a genre seems to work against, not for, the work Christians are called to do.


    • Timothy, thanks for the house divided point. I thought about Jesus saying that too, but thought the post was already getting too long. 😉 So I’m glad you brought it up!



  2. I remember the whole contemporary Christian music arguments that started in the 60’s and ran through the 90’s. Christian’s took heat for much of the same thing in the music industry, that Christian’s get hit for in the publishing industry.

    The Christian music industry has pretty much settled and achieved a state of balance and, dare I say it, acclaim. It will happen if fiction too.

    I think the biggest hang up is many believers still see no value in fiction.


    • Tim, the Christian music analogy is a good one. It’s troubling to think that there are believers who see no value in fiction. I’m fine if someone prefers nonfiction, but no value? YIKES! That’s a sad thought. But then I was a lit major. I guess I’ve been seeing value in fiction all my life.



  3. Thanks for this, Becky.

    It directly inspired tomorrow’s piece at the revived Speculative Faith.

    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.

    A fact that many bash-it-all critics simply don’t know. Like good evangelicals, they’re still stuck in (at best) a bygone era, in this case perhaps the late ’90s, when all Christian fiction was “Left Behind” novels and Peretti wannabes and of course Amish fiction. But even the evangelical publishing industry then was ahead of the curve in several ways: apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, and even Amish fiction, are all evangelical originals. My recommendation, then, is for bash-it-all critics at least to catch up with the evangelical bubble!


    • Looking forward to your thoughts tomorrow at Spec Faith, Stephen. Interesting idea that Christian fiction was ahead of the curve re apocalyptic fiction. I hadn’t thought of that. But yes, Amish fiction. Interesting how some of us decry the industry not being inventive, then decry the type of fiction we invent. 😉



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

    Both and neither, surely. I’m sure the activity of bashing Christian fiction can be and has been a tool of Satan. And due to the absolute fallen nature of all people and all Christians, I am equally sure that
    “unbashed” Christian fiction would sometimes be a tool of Satan, and probably is even with the criticism it receives from within the Evangelical community.

    The opposite is also true. Honest criticism can mutate into something evil very easily, even when the critic is truly sincere and well-meaning. However, honest critcism is still absolutely needed, or any group will become warped from its original purpose, its tropes and traditions becoming idols. Martin Luther is a good example of Christian who was reluctantly but earnestly driven to “bash” elements of his own community.


  5. […] Tearing Down The Church: A Tool Of The Devil and “A Tool Of The Devil: Christian Fiction Or Christian Fiction Bashing?” I question the approach of some toward the Church and toward Christian fiction. Could it be that […]


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