Christian story tellers write Christian fiction. I proudly belong to a national group called American Christian Fiction Writers.
What makes Christian fiction different from other types of fiction?
Is it the words we use? Is it the issues we tackle or the way we deal with them? Is it the amount of Bible references we put in our books? Or the subtle Christian themes we fold into the pages?
But what makes a book, theme, or scene Christian?
I’m convinced the answer to that question can liberating. Or dominating. Perhaps it depends on attitude and agenda. We like “black & white” answers, and that’s okay, but not everything can be so designated. For instance, here another question that stirs discussion in churches–even causes splits: what makes a worship service a “real” worship service? Some demand the old hymns, while others want the newest praise songs. Some want a pipe organ and others get all giddy when they walk into a sanctuary and see a drum set and guitars. So which is it?
See what I mean?
When it comes to Christian Fiction, who decides what is and isn’t Christian? And what standards do they use to make such a judgment?
My opinion, formed through observation and experience, is that Christian Fiction can be defined as much by what is not a part of the story as by what is part of the story.
I believe our story should leave people thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute…(Phil 4:8a). But I also believe that we have a responsibility to keep in mind that all the things mentioned above–along with the source of our salvation–is specifically revealed in the name of Jesus. But does that mean that I have to include His name in every book? Keep in mind that there is an entire book of the Holy Bible in which God’s name never appears! Yet God included it in His collection of “books” called the Bible.
If I use Philippians 4:8 as a guide, then I’ll be careful to include story elements that honor God, AND I’ll keep from using profane things that dishonor him (such as explicit sexual content, profane language, and any other elements that celebrate “evil” instead of exposing it). But even deciding how much to hint at sexual attraction/activity, foul language, etc… isn’t always “black & white”.
I very much want to hear your comments on the questions in this post. Please take a minute to share your thoughts. Thank you.