Monday, July 2, 2012

Part II : What IS a Christian fiction book or story?

Last week I said I am a Christian writer. Then I asked the question, is everything I write a "Christian" story?

I’ve heard from other (published) authors in the Christian market that Christian publishers have an array of qualifiers to help them answer that question. Each house, each agency has its own parameters for dubbing a fiction manuscript acceptable  by that Christian publisher or not.
The criteria for that judgment might include the presence or absence of:

  • Characters who are Christians
  • Characters becoming Christians
  • Profanity and/or innuendo with sexual connotations
  •  References to church, worship, prayer, salvation, the Bible etc.
  •  Unacceptable activities the characters participate in such as drinking alcoholic beverages, using illegal drugs, implied or stated sexual activity
  • The characters reaping the just results of sinful or unlawful activity
  • A satisfying ending that reinforces Christian principles
  •  A moral lesson that is implied or stated
  • A theme based on Christian morals or doctrines
  • The use of Christian symbolism

I also read that simply pasting the right things onto a manuscript doesn’t make it "Christian." Nope, sticking a little prayer or Bible verse to the end of a story does not make it a Christian story, folks.


I’m still favoring the definition I posted here a few days ago.

Photo courtesy of Miawa

A Christian story is about characters who question their faith, then come to a resolution that results in spiritual change.


That can mean either a salvation experience or a renewed or regained closeness to the Lord. Such a crisis of faith necessitates – demands – a non-compromising decision. Sounds like a black moment and its resolution to me.

So how do I invent a convincing story that relays “Christian” ideas without the use of artistic super-glue?

In my opinion, that invention must come out of a mind that has been transformed by Christ. And that, dear reader/writer, involves more than simply being “saved.”

I know experts disagree about this, but I think that great stories grow out of universal themes and thoughtful premises. Sometimes the choice of that theme is deliberate; we set out to write a story about love or family or fear, then build the story around that idea.

But often we start with a distinctive character who faces a challenge that naturally gives rise to a universal theme. Those universal themes unconsciously flow out of our minds and our personal world views.

For a Christian who writes (or a writer who is Christian) I believe that should be a world view that flows from a mind being transformed to be like the mind of Christ.

In my favorite stories the themes are carried along effortlessly like rose petals riding the current of a stream. I can’t see how an imagination that is unredeemed, or one that is saturated with the philosophies of this world can produce stories that flow naturally toward Christ, salvation and redemption.

I say that stories of redemption, forgiveness, hope and God’s love spring from an imagination that is redeemed, forgiven and transformed by the hope and love of God. 

That’s my opinion.

What is yours?


Carol Baldwin said...

I love your opinion and since I can't write it more eloquently than you have...may I just make it mine??? Very well said Jean. I'm going to save this in case I'm asked to speak on this topic at w2I and then quote you!!! Hugs.

Carol Baldwin said...

oh, didn't my post get saved? I just FB'd this for you. Loved this post. Will reference it at W2I. you said it all very well.

Jean said...

Thanks, Carol!

Quote away!


quietspirit said...

You have some very good ideas here. Thanks for sharing.