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Zee

Christian Fiction...what Is It?

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Maybe this is a silly question for someone who has already posted fiction on a Christian writers' forum...but I am truly curious. I want to know what you all think. On the most basic level, I would say it is fiction written by a person who loves Jesus and writes from a Biblical perspective...but is there more to it than that? Conversely, what isn't it?

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Posted (edited)

According to Wikipedia:

Quote

A Christian novel is any novel that expounds and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both, also seen in the Bible. or which deals with Christian themes in a positive way.

 

Here's another (from Linda W. Yezak) :

Quote

The best definition of Christian fiction I’ve ever seen was provided by Francine Rivers: If you pull out the Christian thread from the plot and the story unravels, it’s Christian fiction. 

 

 

Edited by Accord64
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I do like the thread image...rather than the "Christian message" being pasted on top of the story, as sometimes happens, the story ceases to the much of anything without it. Good guideline.

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Posted (edited)

"The best definition of Christian fiction I’ve ever seen was provided by Francine Rivers: If you pull out the Christian thread from the plot and the story unravels, it’s Christian fiction."

 

I agree with this quote.

 

Sorry, I don't know how to drag the actual quote in here, that Accord64 made. 

 

Edited by Bob Leone
added persons name

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1 minute ago, Bob Leone said:

"The best definition of Christian fiction I’ve ever seen was provided by Francine Rivers: If you pull out the Christian thread from the plot and the story unravels, it’s Christian fiction."

 

I agree with this quote.

 

Sorry, I don't know how to drag the actual quote in here, that Accord64 made. 

 

Oh, I live that explanation! 

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Author Mike Duran has thought about this a lot. He wrote about it awhile back. His line of thinking introduces what seems to me to be a tangent - who is the focus audience for Christian authors. (Spoiler - I think there are two audiences, fellow Christians, and unbelievers)
http://www.mikeduran.com/2011/01/19/christian-fiction-whats-our-mission/
 

Quote

 

I was recently interviewed for a website and was asked what changes I would make with the Christian publishing industry (loaded question, huh?). I answered thus:

Quote

 

…we need some Christian crossover imprints, titles that are aimed at seekers rather than believers. In my opinion, this is a fundamental philosophical flaw in Christian publishing. If Christians are about spreading the Good News then we are shooting ourselves in the foot by just aiming at existing believers. The Church needs two wings: a discipling wing and an evangelism wing. I think the same is true of the Christian publishing industry.

Where are our literary missionaries?

 

As you can see, one of my issues with our “mission”always comes back to aim: Who should Christian publishers be aiming at? Perhaps, to you, that question is too obvious — “Christian publishers need to aim at Christians, you dummy!” However, to me, that’s like saying Christian churches should only aim at the saved. Without outreach, apologetics, assimilation, and evangelism 101, churches become ingrown, stagnant, and out of touch with culture.

 


I think Christian fiction is fiction written by Christians with a thread of Christianity which is central to the story which may be written either to other Christians or to non-Christians. If written to the former group, the fiction can use jargon and terms common to Christians and Christianity. If written to non-Christians, the language is usually better using Biblical concepts but not Christianese. (I personally like telling redemption stories to the broader, mainstream audience.)

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34 minutes ago, Alley said:

Oh, I live that explanation! 

Love! I love that explanation. Wow, I can't spell today! :$

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As Christians what is our commission by Jesus? 

 

There are millions of fiction books out there. Our books should not only be clean fun, Disney does that, and not only reflect moral values Aesop did that with his fables, Dr. Seuss taught morality with his stories, but we need add another dimension Jesus, so it can be called Christian. Otherwise just write good fiction like all of you talented people can do. 

 

Therefore I agree with the second quote by Accord64.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Bob Leone said:

Sorry, I don't know how to drag the actual quote in here,

Open a box to reply. Highlight what you want to quote from someone. A little box will appear that says, "Quote selection." Click on that and it will appear in your reply box. As you may have seen, you can do it several times. 

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3 hours ago, Johne said:

(I personally like telling redemption stories to the broader, mainstream audience.)

Sounds like evangelizing to me, evangelizing undercover.

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18 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:
4 hours ago, Bob Leone said:

Sorry, I don't know how to drag the actual quote in here,

 

You can also highlight the quote first and the reply box will open automatically. :D

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13 hours ago, Johne said:

The Church needs two wings: a discipling wing and an evangelism wing. I think the same is true of the Christian publishing industry.

Where are our literary missionaries?

This is a question I have been turning over in my mind for a long time. After all, when asked, Jesus explained His use of parables as follows:

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Matthew 13:10 - 13

10And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

But maybe I should open up a separate thread for this, rather than hi-jack Zee's question. Over to General Discussion I go ...

 

20 hours ago, Zee said:

I want to know what you all think.

I think I agree with Francine Rivers on this one - if you pull the Christian thread out, and the story falls apart, it is Christian fiction. My reason for saying this is that Christians can write fiction that isn't necessarily Christian. Think about it like this - if we were to pull the Gospels out of the Bible, what would we have? A collection of ancient manuscripts, full of history, poetry, and moralizing. The history part is accepted by at least two other religions (well, parts of it, anyway), and is corroborated by archaeology. The poetry is considered beautiful (I have seen some really non-Christian films, where the Psalms were quoted), and everyone can generally agree on the morals (it is morally wrong to kill, for example). So what separates the Bible from this? The Gospels, and the message of God's grace, mercy and love throughout history. 

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I would like to think most of my stories would come under the heading of "redemptive stories for a broader, mainstream audience." However, it's probably closer to the truth to say that they are "moral" stories (i.e., stories with a clear sense of right and wrong,) but not necessarily Christian by many of your definitions, in the sense that Jesus and Gospel are explicitly portrayed. I'd love to move toward that, without alienating non-Christian readers.

 

For example, in the story I posted on this site, "Nikolai's Gun" the main character speculates about what Jesus would think of his actions. He has a vague idea of what it might mean to obtain mercy...which I think is  clarified for him by the end of the story...but there is no explicit "Come to Jesus" moment.  But I don't think every Christian story, even Christian stories with non-believing main characters, needs that.

 

Of course, I also want to make sure anything I post on this site is in accordance with its theme and spirit.

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Claire Tucker started (moved?) this subject in a thread in the General Discussion: Can Christians Write Fiction For Non-Christians?

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40 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

Sure, they absolutely can.

 

I have no doubt that a Christian writer can write a good clean moral story, and should, if so inclined. We need more clean books out there. But, my point is just because it is written by a Christian, doesn't make it Christian fiction.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Johne said:

If written to non-Christians, the language is usually better using Biblical concepts but not Christianese. (I personally like telling redemption stories to the broader, mainstream audience.)

Amen, Brother (using church language).  My interest is in "Christian Sci-Fi" where I can tell a good yarn using techie hardware, suspense, and intrigue with characters that have strong, but un-preachy morals and ethics as informed by faith. 

As C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien are two of my models, Lewis said (paraphrase) I stopped writing theology turning to fiction because stories work!" (or something close to that) -- re Parables of Yeshua Jesus.  

Edited by RLBailey

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Some thoughts - in another related thread, one person raised the question about sharing the gospel via fiction - "What would make a non-believer read a Christian novel?" The obvious answer was  - nothing.

 

I've adapted my fiction to having elements of Christianity such as a theme of redemption in my Star Trek novel. Why leave it there? Because any Star Trek story that speaks positively about religion is rejected like the plague by most of its fans. But if I plant seeds, I'm conditioning readers to expect themes and elements like this.

 

With most Christian publishers cutting their fiction and non-fiction lines WAY back to the point I'll only get published if I've played for a major sports team, this is now almost the only way we have to market and make a living writing.

 

I could self publish and I think I'm savvy enough at marketing to sell maybe 50 copies of a book. I'm thinking broad market though. If I can get readers to see religious and Biblical themes  positively, then I can finally get my apocalyptic fiction published.

And that will scare the willies out of everyone.

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I’m new at writing children’s fiction and thought I should avoid any mention of Christianity so as not to confuse kids which is true and which is made up... and to be honest, I also thought it would mean ‘Rejection’ stamped all over it... but I just finished reading “The Inquisitor’s Tale” by Adam Gidwitz and my mind is blown. He beautifully interweaved fiction, Christianity, and Ecumenism. He even got stories of saints in there, and St. Michael, the archangel, as one of his main characters to boot. The book is a Newberry Honor Book - a distinction given to “the most distinguished contribution to american literature for children”.

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This is a very thought provoking question. I've wondered what the true meaning of "Christian Fiction" is myself. I am a secular writer who happens to be a Christian and I can not deny that Christian themes find their way into my stories. But that's bound to happen when you are a Christian because Christ is at the center of your life.

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