The New Wave of Christian Fiction
Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 9/14/2007
Christian fiction is not knew. It has been around for many years, but in recent years Christian fiction has become more popular. Another thing that has occurred with Christian fiction is that it now deals with topics that were not considered to belong in Christian fiction in the past. Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that many of the subcategories of general fiction would become subcategories of Christian fiction?
A large portion of the novels that make up Christian fiction can be described as romance novels. While this is true, there are some expectations when it comes to Christian fiction. While a romance novel is a romance novel, readers expect a Christian fiction romance novel to meet certain standards. The quality of the writing is not as important as the requirement that the novel meet these standards. Many readers of Christian fiction are looking for a novel that is clean. In some cases, the major characters are expected to be Christians and attend church. On the surface, it seems like an admirable goal.
There are some issues with the new wave of Christian fiction. In times past, Christian fiction tended to be written in such a way that it covered a particular issue, but now there is more of a trend to entertain more than teach. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, of some good clean entertainment, but Christian fiction lacks some of the backbone that it had in times past. Open the typical Christian fiction novel and you will not find the denomination of the main character. In a Christian fiction romance novel we are likely to learn that he two main characters happen to be members of a similar denomination, but you will be hard pressed to learn which denomination it is. On one hand, it does not matter which denomination the characters happen to be if doctrine is not going to come into play in the story, but it gives the impression that the author or the publisher is afraid to offend the reader by making the character a member of a different denomination than what the reader is. Since many of the “Christian” publishers are actually secular publishers in disguise, this may be the case.
Another issue with the new wave of Christian fiction is that just as some of the publishers are Christian in name only, the authors are writing books that are Christian fiction in name only. Some of the books do not cover Christian topics at all, but are instead secular novels with some Christian jargon through in to make it look like Christian fiction. It used to be that we would not classify a novel Christian fiction if it portrayed divorce in a good light, but now there are Christian fiction novels that use divorce as just another way to get two people single so they can fall madly in love and get married. Recently, I heard about a Christian fiction novel in which a woman was trying to adopt her unmarried twin sister’s child. The child’s father learned that this was happening. Now that he knows he has a child he wants the child. During the process, he discovers that he really loves the sister of the woman he had a child with. While this is a believable scenario, it produces some problems that the author failed to cover.
I want to make it clear that I love divorced people. I have friends who are divorced. While I love these people, I also see the problems that exist in their lives because of the situation they are in. Not only is it a bad situation, it is a situation that the Bible warns against and makes it clear that God does not want people to be put in this position. Divorce, adultery, fornication and many other things cause problems in people’s lives. When Christian fiction cover these things in a nonchalant way it tends to glamorize things that are bringing great pain to families and churches.
There must be a balance. We should not expect that Christian fiction will right all of the wrongs in the world, but some authors go to the other extreme and view the world through rose colored glasses. A person would think that they were in the garden of Eden . The biggest problems that some Christian fiction characters face is how to fit reading ten chapters of the Bible in while they are busy working at the church and teaching a lady’s Bible study while home schooling.
I think the same rules should apply to Christian fiction that should be applied to churches. Let’s be relevant to people living in the current world environment without compromising on the principles that are set forth by God in the Bible. A reader should not have to have go to church his whole life to understand a Christian fiction novel, but at the same time a Christian who is reading a Christian fiction novel should not be unjustly offended by the content.