What makes a Christian novel a Christian novel? Is it the fact that the characters pray? Must there be a message of salvation? Or is it just that the novel is “clean” and has a “hope” message. Personally, I don’t think there is a right answer to this question. That said, I have run across some novels that made me scratch my head and wonder why they were considered “Christian.” I have read books from authors who always include the message of salvation in their novels (Lori Wick) and I have read books from authors who always have Christian protagonist so as to avoid, perhaps, the potential-ness of corni-ness in their books. I have read books that do not have the message of salvation, but were so focused on Jesus that I knew the author had spent some time with Him. And then I have read some books where God is mentioned in the last chapter right before the character thinks they are about to die. But this being the subjective topic that it is, I decided to list some things that I think should be necessary to a Christian novel:
1. Evidence of Faith. This can be shown through the message of salvation or the characters using prayer to combat whatever situation(s) they come up against. But clearly, clearly they could not make it through their situation without some kind of interaction between them and God.
2. Scripture usage. It’s important. I can’t live a successful life in Christ without reading the Bible. If my characters are believers, they should be reading the Bible too.
3. Lifestyle. If the character is not a good person (they don’t have to be perfect), and supposed to be Christian (unless the novel is about that person changing) it’s just not going to work for me. And this includes leading men on, being incredibly selfish, unwilling to hear people out, or being involved in shady areas of the law. Let’s not even begin to talk about Christians who don’t live Biblically, and see no problems with it.
4. Hope. At the end of the day, when I finish a Christian novel, I should leave with hope. I should put that book down knowing that God is still sovereign and He is still in control.
So, what are some things that make a Christian novel a Christian novel to you?
2 thoughts on “Monday Musings…How Christian Should a Christian Novel Be?”
That’s a really interesting question. I know some people think there are fashions. Around the early 90s, it seemed the proper thing to have at least one conversion scene per novel, yet nowadays, I’ve been told at the last conference I attended that authors are sometimes advised to stay away from them.
I like your criteria. When all’s said and done, if a novel extends your faith, makes you probe, and doesn’t violate your sensibilities (although I know there’s a variety of opinions on this one), it’s a good Christian novel.
I agree that there does appear to be fashions, I think Christian novels in the 90s are very different from Christian novels now.