Now that I’ve established the different kinds of stories that I mean when I say “Christian fiction,” but before I get into my encouragement posts, I want to explore a few of the reasons Christian fiction is important, in all its forms.
Fiction Impacts Culture
Everything we take in affects our worldview and our behavior. Fiction—whether in the form of books, movies, TV, or music—is something that we take in a lot of, and it shapes our thinking and our approach to certain issues. Just as one example, taking in a lot of media with “mild” language can cause us to become less sensitive toward that language and can even lead to our using it ourselves. But beyond behavioral things like language, perhaps more important is its ability to shift our thinking on issues of morality and social norms. If our worldview is unsteady and we read a lot of fiction with premarital relations in them and no consequences presented, will we begin to wonder if those relationships are really so bad?
But just as fiction can have negative impacts on our worldview, it can also have positive impacts. If we see honorable characters praised, will we have a stronger desire to be honorable ourselves? If we see characters who are firm in their biblical beliefs, will we dig our heels in deeper to the truths we believe ourselves? I think we will.
So why are we letting secular authors (and filmmakers, and artists of all kinds) be the loudest, most skillful voices in the media? Why do we settle for sub-par media from our own communities, and why don’t we do more to produce quality content that shows realistic consequences for actions and biblical morals? Now, I’m not at all saying we should shove our beliefs down people’s throats, nor am I saying that it’s unreasonable or surprising that there are more secular authors than Christian—there are fewer firm Christians than unbelievers, and even fewer of those are artists—but can we do better? And can the Church do better to encourage those who are aiming to produce godly media? I think so, and that’s the purpose of this series.
Quality Christian Fiction Encourages the Body
Many, if not most, people read fiction, and that’s just as true in the Church as outside of it. Fiction that is honest about the Christian life, fiction that provides hope in contrast to real darkness, and fiction that simply allows for an escape can all be encouraging and edifying to a Christian reader. We need to see the real struggles of the faith and know that we’re not alone and we’re not expected to be perfect, but that encourages us to do our best and stand on truth. We need fiction that isn’t afraid to show darkness, but shows an even greater light and reminds us that all is not lost. And we need fiction that doesn’t try to be anything but a good story, that allows us to escape from the real world for a little while and take a deep breath. All of these allow us to grow in our faith and in our character, all of these allow us to draw closer to God, and all of these—when done well—fulfill their purpose of entertaining and educating a reader in some way.
Quality Christian Fiction is an Outreach Opportunity
Whether it’s a good story that happens to have some biblical themes, a dark story that points to true hope, or any other skillfully woven story written by a Christian, fiction is an opportunity to reach unbelievers in a way that is entertaining and doesn’t shove the gospel down their throat, but that hopefully also leads them to think and to ask questions. While it’s fully God who changes hearts, He can and does work through fiction. Whether we’re “raw” authors reaching people where they are in their brokenness, not shying away from the harder parts of life; or we’re “clean” authors providing examples of honorable characters and characters who struggle and including themes of grace or unconditional love or justice… God can use our work to reach the lost. I believe it’s an important calling, and one that the Church can often overlook. Jesus Himself frequently spoke in stories. Why would story be any less effective now than it was then?
Biblical Purposes for Writing
These are just some Bible verses I want to bring up as food-for-thought as we talk about writing as Christians, and understanding and encouraging those who write, whether writers in general or writers who specifically write a different “flavor” of fiction. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions and your own personal convictions from these, and I encourage you to explore Scripture yourself on this topic to gain a fuller understanding. (And I’d welcome your thoughts, if you’d like to share.)
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. – Ephesians 5:11
My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. – Psalm 45:1
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. – 2 Timothy 2:16
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8
“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” – Matthew 15:11
He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. – Romans 14:6
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth From the great assembly. – Psalm 40:10
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:11-16
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What are some reasons you think Christian fiction is important? Or even reasons you don’t? What is your view on the purpose of Christian fiction (either how it should be or how you think it is, if they’re two different things)? What are some books you think have fulfilled the purpose(s) of Christian fiction particularly well?