“That is my own personal opinion.”

There’s something I’ve noticed through years of reading, and it’s something Michelle has picked up on, too. Christian fiction, ninety percent of the time, just isn’t as good as secular fiction. It isn’t as well-written, the characters aren’t as fleshed-out, the plots are more clichéd… in fact, generally speaking, it’s pretty lame.

Now lately, I am glad to notice that there are more good Christian books being written. Bryan Davis, Jill Williamson, Wayne Batson, Davis Bunn…  but Christian fiction is still sadly lacking in elements that make a book memorable, exciting, touching, and well worth the time you took to read it. More often than not, when I read a Christian book, I’m a bit disappointed.

There are a few reasons why I think this is. One, Christian novels tend to be preachy. Now, I’m a born-again Christian of no denomination other than I Believe What the Bible Says, but do I appreciate having it shoved openly in my face in a very un-subtle and frankly quite annoying way? Nah. And I know for a fact that non-Christians dislike it even more.

Two, Christian writing also tends to fall short of the general quality I’m used to. The plot isn’t as good or well-thought out, the allegory is the same thing re-hashed over and over again (I’ve been guilty of this too), they’re clichéd and the characters could have come out of a cloning operation for all I know. (Again, this isn’t true for *every* Christian book, but it is for a good amount of the ones I’ve come across).

It feels like Christian authors are trying too hard, and sacrificing a possibly wonderful story for the sake of putting a Bible verse every other sentence, and I’ve come to a conclusion. We don’t need more ‘Christian authors.’ What we need are more authors who are Christians. We need books full of faith and hope and light and good versus evil and strong spiritual messages. We don’t need more Amish Fiction Book #19358734, we don’t need more Non-Christian-With-An-Abused-Past-Falls-In-Love-And-Is-Suddenly-Reborn (though as anybody will tell you, most of my stories are redemption tales), we don’t need another preachy Holier-than-thou.

Characters have to be real. They have to be flawed, we have to relate to them or else we won’t feel connected to them, or fall with them, or grow with them. They can’t be ‘Perfect Christians.’ Those so-called ‘Bible People’ were messed up – why should we try and make our characters better than the ‘man after God’s own heart’ who was an adulterous murderer? It’s hypocritical, it’s pushy, and if I’m going to be honest, I can’t stand characters like that.

What we need are books that can stand on their own without having to pour literal translations of the Gospel over the whole thing. We need books that are Christian by virtue of their content, by sheer being of what they are. We need books with morals and values that Christians uphold, but that any person would see were things to look up to.

Jesus didn’t shove the Gospel down people’s throats. He illustrated heavenly truths with earthly realities, with stories, with miracles. A book should do what Jesus did.

This is my stance, and this is what I try to write. I’m not perfect, my writing will continue to get better and better over the years. I’m still a fledgling, after all, but I hope my books draw people in rather than turning them away.


61 thoughts on ““That is my own personal opinion.”

  1. Amen to that! We are called to glorify God with everything we do. Does that mean we should chuck Bible verses in peoples faces 24/7? No! It means living, as Michelle would say, “Coriam Deo”. 🙂 Glad to find someone after my own heart!! xD

  2. Here here! I agree with you! If Christian authors are trying to reach unbelievers they are doing a horrible job. I think most of them are just preaching to the choir. The same critique goes for “Christian movies”.

  3. I agree too. Although I do love me some fantastic Christian fiction like Jill’s and Jacobs. 😀 AND I’m still working on the Bryan Davis books, which are likewise great.

  4. I’ve been saying this for a while, and I picked it up from Chila Woychik from Port Yonder press.

    Welcome to the club!

  5. Agree. Far too much same old same old and nothing interesting is coming out anymore. Maybe that’s another reason why I haven’t been reading a lot lately. And it’s not fair how some writers sell sooo much by generating out the same story over and over and people gobble them up. I don’t get it. It’s so boring. Meanwhile, the writers with original ideas go unnoticed.

    And that’s exactly the problem I’m having with Machinery. I want them to be real people with real problems. I don’t want the message to be cliche. Well, it doesn’t matter, no one’s gonna read about them anyway.

    Ok I’m done rambling XD Good post!

  6. Sadly, I just got done wandering through the “Christian” section of a second-hand bookstore. The only book I came away with was Augustine’s “Confessions,” and THAT book has been around for some time… What you have said here, Mirriam, is exactly what I believe – the same pain I feel, the same desire that fires me, the same conviction that my writing must not be “Christian,” but “of the Christian mind.” If you think about it too closely, it is a frightening task: to bail with your own decent, God-fearing works the great sea of rubbish that is floating in the “Christian” literature. But then I am of a very insular mindset, hunkered down behind my walls of Tozer and Augustine and Co., and when I write, I write stories about real people living real lives under the banner of a real God on a real war-front that really happens every day. We don’t write, thinking, “Biblical illiteracy is overwhelmingly high. I must insert as many salvation-quotes as possible and put a note in the front of my book that I used the King James Version only – ’cause Paul used that too!” We don’t think about that. Through our characters’ eyes and in their footsteps we pit ourselves with a Christian mind against the darkness within and without. We live. “Here we have battle and blazing eyes / And chance and honour and high surprise…”

    “The frontiers between sense and spirit are the devil’s hunting-grounds.”

  7. I raise a piece of toast to you, Mirriam.

    This so very accurately conveys my own feelings on the matter that it’s difficult to formulate any reply. Like Jenny, I want to write about characters – flawed, yes, and sometimes very flawed indeed – who nevertheless possess that Christian mind and live. Those are the sorts of stories that are needed from Christians, I think: stories that are unmistakeably different, not because of Scripture verses flung in or a prayer or two, but because of the mindset behind them. It’s a struggle, and I often feel that I don’t capture it the way I want to. But it makes something to strive for.

  8. 😀 Woo look I showed up when I was tagged. Hm, almost as if I were SUMMONED.

    Here’s the thought that has been bouncing back and forth between my ears like an undercooked kernel of popcorn:: what if Christians just wrote christian books? (Little c is deliberate)

    Hold onto your hairnets, I’m not done (and if you’re wearing hairnets, please, take them off and hold onto them)

    christian books that show 1) good overcomes evil 2) redemption is possible 3) evil is there to be fought against 4) choices count 5) people are of vast importance/worth 6) they were meant to more than what is revealed to be their lot in life.

    I’m not talking about “churchianity” in books that we write, I’m talking about a book perhaps that never overtly mentions Jesus but the characters live, breathe, and die, by His morals and values (you know the ones that are in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation). Lewis did it. So did Tolkien and Chesterton and Sayers (none of which were perfect which is why I have hope) so it is possible.

    By the way, the six mentioned up there? I’ve not read many secular books that have them any more. The culture’s changed. But the ones that DO have them? Well, more likely than not you’ll find them on the reading lists of most people. People are hungry for good news. People are desperate for good news. People want heroes. I’m thinking that it’s time for Christian writers to abandon Gospel fiction, and simply write brilliant sparkling christian fiction.

    Any one up for the challenge? Let me know, and I’ll start a prayer-list/fasting and praying list of names. And I’ll check in with you too, and you can check in with me. I think, it’s past time, we were DELIBERATE about what we write, for whom we write, and why we write.

  9. Hear! Hear! I’m glad I’m not the only one. (I found this true even in two children’s picture book princess tales I picked up in the christian bookstore) While they both had pretty pictures and may both have been enjoyed by little girls, I found myself pleased that the one of them the message was there woven in along with the pictures and story. Each contributing beauty and having equal part in finished project. The other book I could see was more of what this blog was talking of and could easy see the moral that was being shoved in my face. Anyhow enough of my rambling…

  10. Mirriam, once again, I give you a nice long round of cyber-applause! I’ve told my friends this very same thing, but I could never word it right and I’m not sure I got my point across well. But this, this is perfect. This IS what we need.

  11. Hear hear! I think you’ve been reading my mind, this is exactly what I’ve been thinking as well! I don’t want to be labeled as a Christian author and I honestly don’t want my books to ever fall into that genre. I want non-Christians to read them, and they aren’t going to reach a very big market if they’re just on the shelves of a Lifeway store.

    So thank you for this post, I couldn’t agree more!

  12. Most true, Mirriam. This is mainly because the big Christian publishers who have a stranglehold on the market won’t allow anything that falls outside the box. If it doesn’t Preach the Gospel or show someone Growing in Faith, and if it has cussing or anything real or gritty, forget it.

    BUT–the reason they have that stranglehold and demand those things is that most readers of Christian fiction fall into a certain demographic who *want* fiction like that.

    Christians who don’t want those things have pretty much elected to just keep reading secular books. You can actually find all kinds of awesome Christian writers out there writing secular books. Or books where their faith runs under the radar :).

  13. Amen and amen. And amen. 🙂
    It’s sad that so many of the things Christians produce aren’t of high quality (sometimes because of the “preachy” aspect); I think that perhaps this might have a bit to do with dualism…by the way, did you ever read Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey? I’m sure I must have told you about it before; it’s one of my favorite nonfiction books.

    Oh, and did you watch any of the YouTube videos I suggested?

    • I have NOT read Total Truth yet, but I’m adding it to my Library list! And I haven’t yet, but – *rubs hands together with gleeful smile* – SOON.

  14. Mmmmhhhmmmhmmmhmmmm giiiiiiirlfriend!
    I totally connect with what your saying. It’s something I struggle with as an artist/writer- I’m a TRY-TOO-HARD-ER! I do a bit of artwork and try to “add” God to it. In a way, to justify it as a Christian. That’s just my “flesh” and no one is going to be drawn to that.
    However, artwork that is my organic and natural response to God is much more likely to, because that’s His Spirit working in me, rather than something that’s forced.
    Too often I forget that to be skilled at something and to pursue excellence in a craft is not a sin. (and just this morning I was reflecting on God’s creativity- the flowers are all His design, and they are BEAUTIFUL and exquisite. Why would I not let everything I create soaked in such imagination? He does!) There’s no need to “add” God into it- if He is the center of my life, what I create will naturally revolve around Him.

  15. Amen! I love how you put it: “We don’t need more ‘Christian authors’. We need more authors who are Christians”. 😀

  16. Oh my word, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST!!!

    Yes, absolutely…. this is the sort of fiction that readers want. Especially Christian readers. Quite honestly, I’ve noticed the same thing and it drives me crazy. Good stories are sacrificed for the sake of a sermon-on-a-soapbox. I can’t stand reading that stuff, and I pray to God that my writing doesn’t turn out like that either.

    Ok, before I go into a total rant on the subject right here in the comments, I think I’m going to go write a blog post on it. 🙂 I’ll post a link for you, if you like. ^_^

  17. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject, but I’ll only share a few today. 😛

    The reason we keep getting Amish romance stories is because that’s what the Christian market wants. The people buying Christian books are married housewife-type individuals, who are stressed out with the real world and want an escape. The prairie romance is these peoples’ type of escape. I may think they’re weird for wanting to read books about Amish romance, but those people would think I’m just as weird for wanting to read about dragons and alien planets. So I can’t hold anything against them.

    And I keep hearing about all these corny Christian books, but even though I’ve read a lot of Christian YA, and have seen my fair share of shiners and stinkers… no more so than I have in the secular market. Everyone is pushing a message. Christians are. Atheists are. Buddhists. Everyone. Narnia is essentially a Christian allegory. Harry Potter is an appeal for equality. The “His Dark Materials” books are an attempt to convert kids and teens to atheism. Everyone is preaching. Some of it we just don’t want to hear.

    For me personally, Chuck Black’s allegory series might have come off as preachy. But I’m not going to bash him or his audience, or belittle the fact that some people do want to read fiction like that, because it does impact them.

    So I’ve decided to support Christian authors. I’m one myself. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Some Christians write for Christians. Some write for unbelievers. It’s not up to me to decide for them how they go about doing what they do. But I can support the people I know have good motives.

    Those are just a few of my thoughts… I’ve been seeing this topic come up a lot lately, so maybe I’ll post more of my thoughts on my blog. Not sure I want to deal with the debate that would ensue, though! 😛

    • I agree, everybody has an agenda behind everything they write, but I feel Christians are too in-your-face about it for the most part. And I wouldn’t have as much of an itch to scratch with Amish fiction if every single synopsis I’ve read of them didn’t sound exactly the same.

      • No offense to anyone here, but I just wish Christian writers could work together and build each other up in encouragement rather than tear each other to pieces whenever we get a chance. We’re all in the same boat! But it’s like we all have our own idea how to paddle and we have to stop paddling ourselves to tell the other people how they’re paddling WRONG, and then we don’t really get anywhere, do we… lol

        • You have a good point – I hope you know I wasn’t trying to tear down anyone! I hoped this post would give my opinion so people could do better, or at least see what I’m trying to do.

    • Christopher, you have a great point here: “Some Christians write for Christians. Some write for unbelievers.”

      There is a lot of debate among Christians about what is the “right” way to go about it. Be overt? Be subtle? Write for unbelievers? Preach to the choir?

      IMHO, there is room for ALL of that. Just as there is room in the secular market for deep, philosophical, literary writing, as well as pure-adrenaline action, as well as formula romance, as well as dragons and aliens :).

      I, personally, prefer subtle, and dark, and gritty. But that doesn’t mean I think no one should write sweet, sanitized, bonnets and buggies. There are so many people who *want* those kinds of stories, and it’s not my place to tell them their taste is “wrong.” I simply don’t buy those books myself. Instead I look for what appeals to me in the places where it’s found.

      The fact is, if you’re looking in the Christian section for anything other than overtly Christian writing, then you’re looking in the wrong place. Look in the secular section. Look for indie presses that focus on niche markets.

          • Thank you, Chris!

            And, Mirriam, you’re awesome, too! I hope you don’t think my comments imply that I think you’re tearing anyone down either.

            Trust me, I understand your frustration. It’s so hard as a reader when your taste doesn’t fall into the mainstream. And it’s easy to feel irritated by publishers and writers, but the truth is, consumers tend to drive the market.

            That said, there are a lot of Christian readers getting tired of the selection out there, and a lot of writers who are in the void between the mainstream Christian market and the secular market. That’s why presses like Marcher Lord and Splashdown Books have sprung up. Trying to find the best books for a market that can’t find what they’re looking for. If readers and writers like you don’t express that frustration no one will know about it.

            My only point is, we can’t expect the change to happen *within* the established market. The Christian bookstores that sell mostly bonnets and buggies do so because the demographics of their customers demand such. They sell what sells, to put it simply. Instead, we have to look to forging forward in a different direction.

            I’m gonna tell ya something–before I found my publisher (Splashdown Books) I used to joke that I was going to wait for this generation of teens to become adults, because I know so many who are aspiring writers, who love fantasy, who want new and different and awesome reading that fits into that void I mentioned (the void where I write), and someday those teens would be running small publishing houses or getting jobs as acquisitions editors at larger houses :). The tide is turning, Mirriam. It really is. You just have to look in the right direction to see it coming! 😀

  18. So very well said. I’ve often thought this myself. Christian books are often so preachy that it’s hard to find the story beyond the sermon, if there is even one to be found. I can see how Christian authors might want to avoid certain topics, but the truth is we live in a flawed world where all sorts of things happen, and sometimes those things will find their way into our stories. I’m certainly not saying condone un-Godlike behavior, just remember that we’re all human and even the most upright Christians will mess up sometimes.

  19. Have you ever been to the Speculative Faith blog site? We’ve had oodles of conversation on the difference between “Christian fiction” and “fiction written by Christians,” as well as the definition of “preachy.” What I’ve worked out so far is that not only Christians can be preachy, some people think any reference to Christianity is preachy, and the integration of faith and writing is challenging.

  20. Fantastic. It’s what I’m trying to do. I am happy with the direction writers are taking now…Christian writers are making much more of an effort to make fleshed out characters with flaws, good plots, and a lack of twenty-four-seven verses. It’s just more REALISTIC, and people can relate to it more.

  21. You, my dear sim patico friend, are Amazing. With a capital A. Thank you for speaking what was on my heart, but what I was too afraid to say, and also sparking me to post something of my own along these lines. ♥ I love you!

  22. Hi Miriam,

    This is the first time I have commented here, though I have stopped by your blog before. My name is Joy (and i have heard a lot about you from Abigail and Jenny via facebook and their blogs) :).

    This was a very much a topic I have been thinking about lately: Christian fiction, and what are we as writers who are also Followers of Jesus Christ are supposed to write, that may bring honour and glory to God and be something of an inspiration and blessing to our readers?

    I cannot say that I have read many non-Christian fiction, except a selected few. I have to admit a lot of the non-Christian novels of even gone by days, though perhaps amazing in their literary skills, would not be ones I would try reading simply because I know they will not be very edifying to my spiritual life or Christian growth. However, all that said and done I totally dislike modern Christian fiction, that preaches one thing, and practices the other thing. There are too many Scripture quotes and typical Evangelical sayings stuffed into those stories, but the characters, the event… the plot, the story just falls drastically short of the truth of God’s Word, or the true Christian life as portrayed in the Gospel. Somehow, I think it is also a reflection on what is happening in the world in general and Christians in particular. We have to make it “accessible to the world” watered down our faith, our way of life, and thus also our writing.

    I think it is wonderful to have fiction that is definitely Christ-centred in its matter… where the Gospel is present everywhere, in every nook and cranny, and shines its truths. But it should be more than just words… it should be the life, the whole body! (I hope I am making sense). Characters may be flawed, (in fact they SHOULD BE because we are all sinners; even Christians are sinners saved by His redeeming love and mercy), yet there IS triumph over sin through Christ, there IS the Christian life, and there IS Grace. It does not have to be spoken over a loud-speaker, it can be imparted and blended into a story with all the beauty and literary skill of days gone by. And isn’t writing really about showing, instead of telling? Why do we not SHOW in our writing Christianity instead of TELLING it? Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, John Bunyan, Patricia St. John and such other literary “Greats” who were Christians did a marvelous work at this and I think we can learn from them…

    I also think that in trying to “reach out” and evangelize to those “outside”, we have done nothing but let our writing grow limp, along with the intended message and kept it confined to Christian readers, keeping out non-believers because it just has no depth, is not true Christianity really. And that kind of reading for a Christian will simply not help in one’s spiritual growth either! So we have just made it worse.

    As a Christian, I long to find fiction that will truly impart something to my life as Christian, and truly challenge or inspire me! And it is also what I long to write. Why do we not try to write to encourage, and challenge God’s people… our own brothers and sisters in Christ through our writing instead of trying to appeal to those outside simply by watering down our message?

    Well, these are just my thoughts inspired I am sure by this thought-provoking post, Miriam. Forgive me for rambling on… and I am glad I stopped by today :).

    In His love,
    ~Joy @ joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com

  23. Amen! This post made my day!! 🙂 I totally agree with everything you said, and I really, really loved it how you said “We don’t need more ‘Christian authors.’ What we need are more authors who are Christians.” That is my stance too. I don’t write a typically “Christian” book (where everyone gets saved and goes to church.) I write fantasy. With good morals. That point you in the direction of doing good. Excellent post. I love it that I’m not the only person who thinks like that. (phewf!) :]

  24. Mirriam. I WANT TO HUG YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ACED IT!!!! AMEN AND AMEN. PREACH IT SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *CLAPS HANDS AND PULLS OUT POM POMS* This is why I NEVER WANTED TO WRITE CHRISTIAN FICTION!!!! It turned me OFF in a crazy manner – I gagged and cried over “Christian” stories there was NOTHING TO THEM!!! People were recommending books to me because it had a great CHRISTIAN theme…and I just wanted to go cry. Sure it had FABULOUS ROMANCE..and sure he got saved… .is that what they really saw in the book??? I wanted a story – I wanted friends…not rubbish!!!! *sigh* AMAZING!!!! *hugs* Well said!


  25. You make good points. The quality of the stories in Christian books can be poor, though I have found a number of good ones that I was pleased with, such as Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, L.B Graham, some of which you mentioned 🙂 I think, however, that the quality in recent non-Christian books has gone down recently as well, or at least that has been my observation. As far as how a Christian should write, the balance between message and story and action is always difficult. However, the right mix is very attainable, and you’re not far away from it if you aren’t there already. Keep writing! You’re off to a great start.

  26. Wow. I have finally found a post that has actually said “no” to the way overproduced Amish fiction. I mainly read Christian fiction, but finding a good one is getting harder & harder. The characters just keep getting cornier. Bleah!:)

  27. Woot!! 😀 point well made, I do agree. 🙂 Also, I LOOVE those authors you mentioned!! 😀 Well actually, I don’t know who Davis Bunn is, but those other three ARE AWESOME LIKE A POSSUM. Woww, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve said that. XD Annnyyywaayy……. another author you may like for Christian fiction is Donita K. Paul. Maybe you’ve already tried her books, idk, but I like them. 😀

    • I LOVE Donita K. Paul! I ought to have mentioned her!!! And C. S. Lakin; I love her “Wolf of Tebron” (and the rest of her series, but Wolf is my favorite). You ought to read Elixir by Davis Bunn; it’s REALLY good.

      • Ahhh, I love Donita K. Paul as well. So much goodness in her books. ♥ I love how subtle they are while still packing a good punch and a fabulous message. Plus, the characters are great too — Wizard Fenworth, anyone?

  28. You should get a job as one of those people who decide which books get published. Seriously. Sometimes I finish a book and go “Who okayed this??”
    I really like Ted Dekker and recently discovered Regina Doman, if you’re looking for new books (I always am, so I usually leave lists of Books To Read on other people’s blogs)
    Anyways, I love your blog, Fellow Mad Person!

    • TED DEKKER AND REGINA DOMAN – two of my literary loves!!! And my goodness, being a Decider (official term for it escapes me, Decider sounds so very dystopic) would be an extremely interesting job… hmm… I think I’d like it. =D

  29. Pingback: “That is my own personal opinion.” | Thoughts of a Shieldmaiden | Christian Dailys

  30. Got a link to this’un after reading Nichole’s post. 🙂 *shall be the lone dissenting voice*

    While, for the most part, I agree, the theological side of me raises some objections. Quite honestly, I have sometimes have problems with Christian writers writing secular books. It’s something that’s widely accepted in Christian writers’ circles but something I’ve always struggled with. In the words of Paul, how can they accept what they haven’t heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

    I don’t believe that books that come across to Christians as preachy are really preaching at all. (“Behemoth” is a recently published book that was sickeningly preachy, for instance.) In that, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’m really sick of shallow characters and plots and books that claim the title of Christian.

    I’d say more, but I recently wrote a post that sums up my thoughts pretty well. http://teenagewritingrocks.blogspot.com/2012/07/writing-like-theres-no-tomorrow.html

  31. I too came over from Nichole’s site, and I liked your post, Mirriam. I especially liked your line, “We don’t need more ‘Christian authors.’ What we need are more authors who are Christians.”

    I see that partly as the difference between the parables Jesus spoke, and the interpretations he gave. He used parables to hide the truth, and the interpretations to make it plain. I think Christian non-fiction should be more like the interpretations, while Christian fiction should be more like the parables.

    That is, the purpose of Christian fiction isn’t to make the truth plain; it’s to hide it, perhaps even from the author. To put it another way, I don’t think a Christian author should feel like they have to make the truth plain in their stories. Rather, they should write out of what God put in them, and see what happens.

    One example is the Lord of the Rings. The theme of that story (and continued from the Hobbit) is this scripture:

    “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (I Cor. 1:27-29)

    The hobbits were the weak and foolish things of Middle Earth, but they confounded the things that were mighty and wise. They had more in them than it seemed.

    The Lord of the Rings was written to that principle; the whole series is, in a sense, a Scripture illustration. But it’s not “evangelical” in the stereotypical sense.

    It is, however, evangelical in the true sense of the word: which literally means a good message, or good information. Good information doesn’t have to be explicitly labeled to be good; it can remain hidden in a story, underpinning everything that happens in it, like in the Lord of the Rings.

    I want to write stories like that. 🙂 The Lord of the Rings has been written; I don’t need to write that again, but there are plenty of stories that could be written to the principles of God, to hide good information in them, perhaps good information the author didn’t know was there, but information that found its way into the story because it was hidden in the author already.

    If you’d like, check out my first book, SmorgaSword. It’s twelve short stories in ebook format, but you can read the first three for free in the preview on Amazon:


    I hope it’s something like what I wrote above. 🙂

  32. I agree. Not just with your post but with these great comments. As Christians we need to remember that when God doesn’t give explicit instructions on how He wants a specific aspect of His Church to function, there is no right and wrong (within, of course, the parameters that He has already laid down).

    Paul writes about this, regarding the eating of specific food and drinking of wine, in Romans 14. I think it applies in this situation because Paul states that we need to follow our own convictions, not the convictions of others (unless it will cause them to stumble).

    If writing about the nitty gritty reality of sinful life doesn’t sit well with you, don’t do it! If writing in firm allegories and blatantly obvious Biblical truths leaves you feeling like you haven’t given it your best, then don’t do it!

    Two important things to remember:
    God is powerful! That means He can use the weak for His glory and can work in the hearts and lives of an author’s readers, regardless of the chosen route for writing.
    AND God has instructed us not to “despise the one who abstains,” nor “pass judgment on the one who,” does not abstain (v. 3).

    Both the Christian author and the author who is a Christian will be used by God, can glorify God, and most importantly are a part of the Body of Christ. We are one, with one common goal. Don’t forget it!

    I was intending this to be a short comment; sorry for the novel.
    [For the record I hope to someday fall into the author who is a Christian category or a nice mix of them both. Really, just so long as God is glorified I’m happy.]

  33. I’ve tried my hardest to read Christian fiction. I failed, because I really don’t like being preached to when I’m reading. Aside from that, the diction is… Well, overall the novel is simply bland.

    This is a nice article, and I do agree with much of what you’ve said.

    However, I’m working on a novel that depicts the story of my life, and if you ever happen to read it once it’s published, I hope you don’t find it too similar to Non-Christian-With-An-Abused-Past-Falls-In-Love-And-Is-Suddenly-Reborn (which it wouldn’t be that/Christian-based; just the story), though.

  34. Miriam, I just want to say that you’ve spoken aloud what I’ve been thinking for years regarding Christian fiction. I hope this message spreads like wildfire, because Christian literature could be so much more, if only we’ll recognize how we’re shooting ourselves in the foot despite our good intentions.

    I used to be the one who tried too hard to fit God into my stories. Finally, I gave up and decided I would write the sort of story I wanted to read at the moment. Lo and behold, my ficiton was not only more exciting, but the Biblical truths shone through without my even trying to stuff them in. I figure that my writing should be influenced by my Christianity as it is influenced by my feminity; I need not announce that I am a Christian any more than I need to announce that I am a woman, since all of my writing should be influenced one way or another by my Christianity anyway (and if it’s not, the problem is not my fiction but my relationship with Christ).

    Christian writing need not be a rehashing of the gospel, but simply a reflection of truth. And what is ultimate reality but the Lord? A non-believer will be more challenged by latent Christian assumptions (i.e. sin is real, life has meaning, there is only one truth, we are accountable for how we live our lives, etc.) than by blatant evangelism. For this reason, I prefer not to be labelled a “Christian writer.” I want my books on secular shelves–and then I want Reality and Truth to take root in the readers’ subconscious. The Lord will take care of the rest.

  35. I agree with everything you have posted about the need for Christian authors writing real stories with punch and verve. I even agree that sometimes it is better not to label your book as Christian, but therein lies the problem. Even a hint of religion means you get tarred and feathered for not identifying the Christian element in your book. So, just so no one gets offended by references, you have to label it as such.

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