Gerald C. Anderson, Sr.
Christian Fiction - Reasons to Keep it Alive
I am a Christian Fiction author, and I love providing fictional stories for the enjoyment of others while teaching them something about the word of God. However, some pastors tell me they don’t like Christian fiction, nor will they sell it in their church bookstores. This saddened me because I believe they missed the point on this one. I wrote this article to shed some light on my reasons why I feel Christian fiction can help move the word of God forward in today’s society.
My first encounter with this notion involved the thought that pastors expressed a belief that God is not present in Christian fiction because it contains aspects of the world. The comparison was drawn that in nonfiction you are teaching on the word and worldly aspects are not brought into it. However, my contention involved examples given to bring home a point are from the world. Same as in a fictional story, just more pronounced.
I wrote a novel that contained some romance by one of the characters. For example, I depicted her as a steadfast single Christian woman with a boyfriend. She spent the night with her boyfriend and I got flack for that. One person even marked my novel down one star saying she was a Christian and shouldn’t be having sex. My response was, “You’re right she shouldn’t be but in the real world do you really believe that all single Christians don’t have sex?”
Continuing my opposition to this notion I add; The first Christian fiction novel I read was, “Left Behind” by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I read this book prior to beginning my walk with Christ, and it inspired me to learn more about God and the end times. With any writing, fiction or not, if the writer isn’t following God, God may not be in the writing. You cannot assume that God is not in a Christian fiction novel because its fiction. God is not in many nonfiction novels regardless of the writer. To bring this point on even further, God used people who no one would believe deserved it to teach his people. For example, Saul persecuted Christians but ended up writing most of the books of the Bible. If this is possible, couldn’t he teach with Christian fiction?
My last point here is that I write books to entertain and educate readers. I write them from a real-world standpoint. We live in the world, but we are not part of the world. However, if we are writing a story to entertain, it must match up with the world we live. I am not condoning the overuse of sexual scenes, language, etc. If you want to catch readers and educate them, then your stories need to come as close to the world we live in or can imagine living in as it can. If you achieve this, you may save a soul.
I remember when Kirk Franklin came on the scene, and many Christians attacked his music. They said, “It’s not of God”. However, the music drew people into the church and gave the church an opportunity to minister to them. Again, I am one such person. I was driving to my assignment at McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kansas when I heard “Why We Sing” by Kirk Franklin and the Family. I remember thinking, “This is Gospel music? I love it!” This is the music that motivated me to become a musician in church. In short, the music that some church leaders pronounced as not being of God drew many into the church and saved their souls. If it were not for that music, I might not be typing this article now.
Now let’s move on to the remark that truly hit home. Another pastor stated that he wouldn’t sell
Christian fiction books out of the church’s bookstore because they don’t teach. Teach in this instance meant, teaching the word of God. I have to disagree with this comment. I stated earlier, I design my books to entertain and educate my readers. I provide scripture references pointing to where my story derived, and I discuss in the back of the book how the story relates to our Christian walk.
My biggest contention to his point comes from the ability of fictional stories not to teach. The other day I was watching the show, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and in the show, they reference The Spear of Destiny.
Encyclopedia Britannica provides this definition of The Spear of Destiny, “Holy Lance, also called Spear of Destiny or Spear of Longinus, a relic discovered in June 1098 during the First Crusade by Christian Crusaders at Antioch. It was said to be the lance that pierced the side of Christ at the Crucifixion. The recovery of the relic inspired the Crusaders to take the offensive against the Muslims, routing them in battle and securing Christian possession of Antioch. Disputes about the authenticity of the lance, however, caused internal dissension among the Crusaders, and its discoverer, Peter Bartholomew, was eventually discredited.”
If I had not watched this fictional story, I never would have learned about The Spear of Destiny and that it existed. Sure, we all know a soldier pierced Christ’s side with a spear, but who thinks about it after that? I didn’t, but now I know that despite the discreditation the spear turned up and the founder named it The Spear of Destiny. In short, a fictional story taught me something that I didn’t know, and it taught me something involving Christ. Regardless of the fact that it was later discredited, the fictional story caused me to research the topic. This alone provides reason that the notion, ‘You can’t learn something from Christian fictional stories,’ is wrong. If that didn’t persuade you from the theory, here’s another one.
During the pandemic I have watched more TV than I have in years. I recently binged watched the recent version of Lost in Space, yes I love sci-fi. While watching one-episode Maureen Robinson told her kids about Venezuela, where lightning strikes 250 days per year.
I looked this information up on Google to see if a fictional story taught me a little-known fact about the world. It was true, Venezuela along with the Congo have the highest number of thunderstorms in the world.
These two examples are not the only examples of fictional stories; television or writings, that have provided a medium to teach others. Nonfiction is a good method to provide teaching but captivating an audience by entertaining them and slipping in educational information will always be the best method for me.
In conclusion, pastors and church leaders should understand the methods to draw people into the church are not always conventional. If a fictional book, movie or play does it, celebrate the move of God rather than attack the medium.