Should Christian Novels Should Be Different?

As Patrick from patrick’s thoughts reminded me in his comments on my initial post on writing as a Christian, Christian authors have a standard to uphold. We cannot approach novel writing just as non-Christian novelists do.

1 John 1:6 says, “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and not practice the truth.” And 1 Peter 2:16 says we are to “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” Titus 1:16 says, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works…”

These are not the sort of Christians we want to be. Our novels have the freedom to include immorality in the pursuit of truth (one of the goals of art, as discussed here), but how much immorality is needed to create a work worthy of Him who is our Lord?

P1030227 by bigal101

I’m not saying that every character will be perfect, that every line should be full of the “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy” content that we are encouraged to think about in Philippians 4:8.  If such were the case, we could hardly read scripture, for certain passages, in the Old Testament especially, are none of these things, but they are still the inspired word of God, “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” as discussed in 2 Timothy 3:16.

And perhaps this should be more of our goal, as Christian novelists. Not to write preachy fiction, whose goal is to convert. Not to write Christian propaganda or educational models wrapped in a pleasing, fictional form, but to create art that provides the framework for the Holy Spirit to use, to reproof, correct, and instruct its readers in righteousness.

Because we cannot ignore that art is capable of more than just an exploration of the good, the beautiful, and the true. Once created, with that goal in mind, it can be used as education, to understand ourselves and our world better. It can be entertaining. It can be encouraging. It can be profitable, in a spiritual sort of way.

And these subcategories, while they are not the goal, should be considered while we write. We are like bakers who make bread. The goal is a good, solid loaf, and we cannot try to make a sandwich while the stirring and kneading is underway. We cannot add mayonnaise and mustard to the mix, even though these may be useful and good in their own sort of way. We have to help our bread be the best bread it can be, and for this we must focus on the goal.

And yet, knowing that our good, solid loaf may be used in a sandwich-sort-of-way, we should pick our ingredients accordingly and not include things that could spoil the work from other purposes that the Holy Spirit might have for our labor. If Christ is truly our Lord, then He should be Lord of our art as well, and there should be something different about our novels, just as there is something different about our lives.

Copyright 2016 Andrea Lundgren

Photo by bigal101, Creative Commons

2 thoughts on “Should Christian Novels Should Be Different?

  1. “It is the very nature of language to form rather than inform. When language is personal, which it is at its best, it reveals, and revelation is always formative – we don’t know more, we become more. … Despite all the money and time our society expends in teaching us to read, nobody gives much attention or energy to teaching how to read.” [Eugene Peterson]


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