The Christian Fiction Conundrum


I am drifting away from my usual topics, to touch on something very near and dear to my heart.

Christian Fiction.

Many of you may not even fully understand what “Christian Fiction” even is. At one point, The Christy Awards website defined it as this:

Christian fiction is a category of stories written by novelists whose Christian world view is woven into the fabric of the plot and character development. Although this definition might seem either simplistic on the one hand or overly broad on the other, this grouping of novels is as comprehensive and as varied in age, interest, and spiritual depth as its readership. C.S. Lewis resisted the label “Christian” for his novels, contending that he was simply creating a story. But whether overtly or subtly, Lewis’ fiction came out of his understanding of God and of the universe He created, out of the knowledge that God cares deeply about His creation that has been damaged by sin, and He joined the human race to build a bridge back to himself. This bridge between God and humanity will in some way inform and characterize every Christian novel.

Good fiction, whether or not it is identified as Christian, will provide a memorable reading experience that captures the imagination, inspires, challenges, and educates. Fiction published for the Christian book market does not include the gratuitous demonstration of sin—whether language, violence, sexual situations, or the more hidden sins of idolatry and self-worship. Credible characters in a fallen world, of course, will sin. But the Christian novel’s presentation of the grit and grime of human circumstance will not be done for its own sake or to titillate, but to point the reader toward hope, toward God.

Because the essence of Christianity is a relationship with God, a Christian novelists’ well-conceived story will in some way, whether directly or indirectly, add insight to the reader’s understanding of life, of faith, of the Creator’s yearning over His creation.

But, the reality, is that people who don’t like Christian Fiction usually fall into one of two categories. Those who say it’s just “fluff” and doesn’t contribute any sort of deep meaningful theological content. Or those who think it’s too preachy.

This leaves the authors of CF, in quite the quandary. If they make their books too deeply rooted in Christian principles, then non-Christians won’t read them, but if they don’t include enough, then Christians will label their books too fluffy, or secular.

Many websites don’t even have a designated category of Christian fiction, so instead you are forced to find them scattered about the Mystery/Suspence fiction, Romance, Historical fiction and so on.

Is Christian Fiction still relevant in this day and age?

Many people may say no to this, but then I would ask, “Are the more then 30 parables that Jesus told in the New Testament still relevant?”

Of course they are. Jesus was the ultimate Storyteller, because He knew that teaching a principle that was intertwined in a story that his followers could relate to, would be easier to understand and remembered, then if He just simply stated His thoughts.

You may not be able to picture your pastor binge reading the latest series by Terri Blackstock, but I have yet to meet a pastor that doesn’t tell stories in their sermons.

For me though, the biggest draw to Christian Fiction, is the fact that it truly can, and does, lead people to Christ.

Your friend that you’ve been witnessing to, may not be ready to read through the book of Romans, but she just might be willing to read through the latest book by Dee Henderson.

While it’s true that the CF Genre won’t please everyone, one can also say that it truly has something for everyone.

Enjoy reading Historical Fiction? Stephanie McGee or Connilyn Cossette has plenty to suit your needs.

Looking for a good beach read? Colleen Coble has several series that fit the bill.

Do you love a good “Who done it?” Book? Then check out any of Christy Barret’s books.

I could go on, and on and on, because there are literally hundreds of amazing CF authors, who write books that not only are Christian Fiction, but also cross into every other genre you can think of, except for of course gore and erotica.

If you read Christian Fiction books, then keep reading, and share with your friends! If you haven’t read any CF books yet, then I would encourage you to try a few. If you start one that you don’t care for, try another! I’ll try and edit this blog post, to include some of my favorite authors, but I admit, I tend to be pretty biased, as I mainly just ready Mystery/Suspense books.

Christian Fiction books have blessed me in so many ways. Reading how others got through trials similar to my own, has truly helped me in my own walk with Christ. True, the characters may all be fiction, but for me, they become friends. Friends who are there for me at 3:00 when I can’t sleep. Friends who help take my mind off of “real life” struggles, and friends who help remind me of the goodness of God, and how blessed I truly am.

The authors have become my friends as well, especially when I get to see how they truly pour their heart and soul into every word, in every chapter.

So friends, if you are reading this, I encourage you to support the writers in this genre. Buy their books. Leave reviews. Support your local bookstores, and encourage them to continue stocking books in their CF section. Let your church know how important having a library is.

Remind naysayers that Jesus arguably started the Christian Fiction genre.

Reference books surely have their place, but never forget the impact of a good storyteller.

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