Can Christians write fiction? To my readers, this may seem like a silly question, but the negative undercurrent that drives it may be more prevalent in Christian circles than you realize.
Maybe you’ve heard it more specifically, like when people single out genres they believe Christians should (or shouldn’t) read. Or perhaps you’ve heard it more dismissively, like when one person told me with a sneer, “I never read fiction.”
What do you think? Do you have a problem with Christians reading fiction? Can Christians write fiction?
When Christians Write Fiction, It’s Just Fluff, Right?
Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. ~CS Lewis, British writer and lay theologian
On one end of the spectrum, people simply dismiss fiction as a whole, perhaps deciding it’s nothing but fluff with no spiritual, emotional, educational, intellectual, or other value. On the other end, some equate making up stories with outright lying, sin that should be chastised and eliminated from the Church.
Thankfully, I run into more of the first than the second. Not that I haven’t run into the second. Nothing stops you in your tracks quite like your career being tossed aside as ridiculous and useless.
It’s okay, but with limits.
Some people will fall somewhere in the middle, offering limitations on what is acceptable. Blatantly preaching the Gospel is good while mentioning any part of the darker side of life is not. Fantasy is off the table as is anything approaching horror.
What these people fail to see is that they are not the primary audience of every book on the Christian market. Maybe not even the secondary audience. One of my dearest friends loves lots of detail and explanation in her novels. One of her favorite authors can drone on for paragraphs about the whys and wherefores behind the story. He is not for me. My books with far less detail than she likes are not for her.
And that’s okay.
Fiction and Its High Calling
If we really want to dive deep into this issue outside of personal opinion and secular anecdotes, we need to stop and consider how fiction is used in the Bible. Yep. It’s there. In multiple ways. Old Testament and New Testament.
For example, in the Old Testament, the prophet Nathan told King David a story before confronting him with his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). In Daniel 2, God gives Nebuchadnezzar a dream, warning him of things to come, but rather than speaking plainly, God made up a situation and used symbolism.
In the New Testament, Jesus often spoke in parables to the people, so much so that the disciples got curious about it. The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?” (Matthew 13:10, The Message). Jesus’s response was simple and enlightening: “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight” (verses 11-12).
In New Testament times, many of the highly educated religious leaders liked to show off, speaking in an academic language that was tough for the common people to follow. Sounds like some of the books I’ve read, or rather, tried to read.
In contrast, Jesus spoke with authority in the everyday language common to the average person. In other words, He made Himself accessible and what He shared memorable. The stories He spoke stuck with people, encouraging them to think about the stories as they went on with their lives, returning to them time and again, ever nudging them closer to God.
That’s the power of fiction! While nonfiction appeals to your mind and logic, fiction goes straight for your heart and emotions.
“And people will say: ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!’ And they’ll say: ‘Yes, that’s one of my favorite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn’t he dad?’ ‘Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.‘” ~Samwise Gamgee to Frodo Baggins, JRR Tolkien, The Two Towers
I’m not suggesting that Christians should read anything and everything. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, “Be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” We should be aware of some topics but not immersed in them, and that list of topics will vary from one person to the next depending upon personality, experience, and convictions.
What I am suggesting is that instead of loading people down with burdens that you are not willing to help them carry (Luke 11:46), value what draws people closer to God. Rather than debating the value of fiction, appreciate Christian writers for using the talent God gifted.
Are you new to Christianity and want to know how to draw closer to God? While you could do lots of different things, a few rise to the top as the most critical. This book will help you get started in the right direction.
The moment you accepted Jesus as your Savior, you became a member of God’s family. The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 1 that through our faith in Jesus, we were adopted as sons and daughters. That means you now have a huge family cheering you on, including me!
Perhaps that’s a bit overwhelming. Maybe family hasn’t been something good in your life, or you fear the expectations other Christians will place upon you.
Take a moment and breathe.
One of the key pieces of information God wants to give you is this: Only His opinion matters. Yes, God will use other people and circumstances to help you along the way, but they should never take precedence over what God says.
That is why hearing God clearly is critical, and that is why I wrote this book.
Join me in learning more about what it means to be part of God’s family. Don’t worry. You don’t have to do this perfectly or know the answer to every question. Just take a step forward and turn the page.
We’ll get through these first steps together.