Open Discussion: What is Christian Fiction?

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

First, I want to say thanks for making the first week of Diversity Between the Pages such a success! We’re so excited to share the diverse books that these wonderful authors have taken the time to write. Today, I wanted to take the time to have an open discussion about Christian fiction, more specifically: what is it?

Some people may think that if the story is set around a church and the main character is a pastor, then it’s Christian fiction. However, that’s not enough for the publishing industry. Publishers want a novel that illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, characters, or both.

*Note: When I talk about publishers, I would like to point out that this could mean traditional publishers all the way to authors who Independently publish their own works.

Some publishers require the novels to contain no curse words, while others may allow ones by case by case basis (i.e., villain says it, or a non-Christian working towards salvation).

Christian fiction deals with issues in all sorts of fashions. You have redemptive story lines, where the character comes to Jesus. You have books where all the characters are believers and life is idyllic. Whatever your preference, there are bound to be books that fit that preference.

So tell me, what is it about Christian fiction that keeps you reading?


Post written by Toni Shiloh

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2 thoughts on “Open Discussion: What is Christian Fiction?

  1. I have actually been having a lengthy discussion about this in a Facebook reader group this week. I know there are a lot of Christian readers who feel a book needs to mention Christ and Christianity to be ‘Christian fiction’ but I think it’s a little more complex than that. For me, I take a few things into consideration:
    (A) Is the author a Christian? This might seem like an obvious point, but it will become more obvious why I started with this as I continue;
    (B) Does the book present a Biblical worldview? For those unfamiliar with the term ‘Biblical worldview’, this means: Are sin and its consequences presented in a way that is consistent with the Bible’s teaching? Are the things the Bible exhorts held up as good and right? I know that’s a sweeping generalisation, but it’s difficult to go into specifics in this space;
    (C) Has the author intentionally woven Christian themes into the story?

    I think, at the moment, ‘Christian fiction’ is used to refer to books that have explicitly Christian content, but I would love to see this category begin to embrace books that intentionally contain IMPLICITLY Christian content; stories which don’t actually mention Christ or Christianity, but nevertheless explore Christian themes and Christ-like responses to real world situations and issues. To a certain extent, this is already the case in genres such as Fantasy, but I would love for there to be more dialogue on extending this to include more mainstream genres. There is a growing number of Christian authors who have a heart to reach out to offer a message of hope to a general readership who are not inclined to pick up ‘Christian fiction’, and I’d love to see Christian publishers and readers supporting them more.

    As a side note, my personal preference is that Christian fiction avoid swearing and taking the Lord’s name in vain, although I know some authors have recently been stretching the boundaries in this regard in order to portray some of their characters more realistically.

    And now, I think I’ve taken up enough space here! Discuss!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for jump starting the discussion! I think you bring up some great points. I agree with points A and B wholeheartedly. As for C, :), that’s where the heart of the matter comes into play. It’s where the publishers (and readers to an extent) are drawing the line in the sand. Is it good enough to label something Christian fiction when the story is used as a parable? After all, Jesus taught in parables to drive a point. However, what if that wasn’t the writer’s intent? Literature analyst have often seen allegory in books that you can’t know if that was the author’s intent, because they’re no longer alive to respond. But maybe seeing Christian themes where there was no intent is what makes a person a Christian. Once you are, your perspective shifts. Then again, if you want to reach the person who doesn’t like the “stereotypical Christian fiction” I can see why parable use would be preferred. All that to say, I’m not sure what can be labeled Christian fiction or not. A Christian author can write a non-Christian fiction book (according to publishing standards) but still use it to glorify the Lord and uplift the reader. And I’m going to stop there, since I feel I’m rambling, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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