Christian Speculative Fiction discussion

Discussion & Reflections > Christian Literature for Non-Christians

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message 1: by Glen (new)

Glen Robinson (glenchen) | 172 comments As a Christian, I take the Great Commission seriously. I believe that we should be writing to encourage other Christians, but that we should be also writing material that appeals to and challenges non-Christians. Go on Twitter or any other social network site and you will find plenty of people who quickly shut the door as soon as you say the word "Christian." How successful have you been in getting your Christian writing into the hands of non-Christian readers, and what has been their response? What do you see your responsibility as a Christian author to share Christianity through your writing?

message 2: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Since my books aren't labeled Christian, I have had people buy my books for the young adults in their lives who may or may not believe. Still, the people buying the books usually are Christians. My blog is Christian and my biography mentions I was a Sunday School teacher. This is really a very small sample of the market since I can only report on the people I sold the books to in person. I avoid using Christain language and explicitly Christian terms so that it would get into the hands of a diverse group of young people. The world view and the themes are very Christian, though. I hope that I am successful in planting seeds.

message 3: by Glen (new)

Glen Robinson (glenchen) | 172 comments The first book I made available on Amazon was If Tomorrow Comes, a book I had written for the Seventh-day Adventist church about a family in the last three months of earth's history, based on end-times beliefs in the Adventist church. When I posted it there, I got a variety of responses, ranging from some who really liked it to others who "felt betrayed" because it didn't follow what they believed about Christianity. It's still there, and it is still popular with varying reactions.

I've written many other books since then, most either non-denominational Christian novels or even allegorical Christian stories. I've also written some secular books. I wrote a rewrite of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress set in a post-nuclear war America. I thought it would be acceptable for Christians and non-Christians alike (doesn't everyone like Pilgrim's Progress?), but one of the comments I got was, "If I had known this was a Christian book, I never would have picked it up."

So as far as my writing is concerned, I am trying lots of different things. Some are more direct; others are more oblique. I see it much like the Parable of the Sower.

message 4: by J.K. (new)

J.K. Bailey (goodreadscomzealot_finale) | 109 comments This is an old topic, but I'm new here, so...

I personally look at my writing as being the same as my life. My Lord Jesus is my joy; to live is Christ, and to die is gain. When I write, I want it to be to the glory of God. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Now I know that not everyone is going to be willing to read a Christian book, but I'm not writing to be rich, or to even make my books a success in this world. If I was writing for the world, I'd write nonsense stories about angels and demons having forbidden love affairs with plenty of smut.

When I witness, I give the gospel as faithfully as I can in love, but I know the actual work of salvation belongs to God. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44. If the person rejects God, that person is showing where their heart is, and it's personal between them and Him.

When I write, I do concern myself with whether or not my books are as good as I can make them, but I don't concern myself with people's rejection of my work because it features my Lord. My work is for Him; without Him, I have no stories. He's my provider, not my readers.

I would suggest this one thing: if you're going to write a Christian book, make it clear that it contains Christianity. In my books, I make it fairly clear on the blurb. I also like to welcome my Christian and non-Christian readers separately in the preface, tell them clearly what the book contains, and assure them that everyone is welcome to enjoy. I feel that openness promotes a feeling of sincerity and honesty, and if someone decides not to pick my book up because of Christ, that's between them and Him.

Even if you don't want to be that open in the preface or on the back matter, just write your book and don't worry about what people will do when they come to the parts with God. If you begin to worry, you'll begin to put the Lord in your books less and less as you seek to appeal to people who hate Him, and who aren't listening to His call anyway.

message 5: by T.K. (new)

T.K. Arispe (tkarispe) | 273 comments I'm more like Lara here; I don't write explicitly Christian literature, but I take very seriously my passion for creating wholesome, uplifting, values-based literature that Christians can thoroughly enjoy and that gives non-Christians a glimpse of a better worldview than what most secular media offers. I feel God helping me as I work and it brings me great joy to know that I'm writing stories that can resonate with all of His children.

At any rate, speaking from a practical viewpoint, it can be difficult to get most people to want to read literature that is very clearly written to promote certain worldviews that they don't hold. I really don't hold that against anybody. I dislike reading atheist literature, or even anything that's overly political. Especially in fiction, where I'm supposed to be getting emotionally invested in characters and a world, once it becomes apparent that the author's views are drastically different than mine, I begin to feel alienated and disappointed. There are a lot of authors out there whose work I don't like primarily because of that.

Christianity is hard. A lot of people can't handle it. God never said it would be easy. I personally know too many people who have fallen away from their faith because they are struggling with deeper personal challenges, which are getting in the way of them seeing things clearly enough to understand that God can and will help them overcome those challenges. Some of them can't even handle any mention of God at all. I pray for them and I know they're not in the right state of mind for spiritual matters right now, but people can and do change.

So I see myself as writing stuff that's more of a "gateway" for those people. Maybe they're not ready to commit to the idea of a God who can help them and everything that entails. But maybe they are ready to hear messages of hope, optimism, kindness, and triumph. I think those are things that everybody could use more of no matter what their situation is.

That being said, I also don't do anything to disguise the fact that I'm Christian. I mention it on my website and Goodreads bio, and I talk a lot about my church experiences in GR groups as a part of everyday conversation. It's a vital part of my life and I want people to know "the reason of the hope that is in [me]" (1 Peter 3:15) and what's behind the purpose to my writing. I want them to know that my prayers are answered and being a disciple of Christ brings me joy.

J.K., I agree with you about being up-front about a book's Christianity. Readers like to know what they're getting into, especially concerning subjects that can be sensitive. (I wish more atheists would extend the same courtesy.) But I love that you also have an attitude of welcoming all readers to your work, because nobody likes to feel excluded.

I also agree that it's silly to worry about what other people think of any subject matter in your writing. You simply can't write a book that will please everyone, so there's no use in trying. When I sat down to write my steampunk-dinosaur-werewolf novel, I didn't sit there worrying about everyone in the world who doesn't like steampunk, doesn't like dinosaurs, and/or doesn't like werewolves. Because there are also plenty of people in the world who do like those things and will probably enjoy the novel. That's why God gave so many diverse people the talent to write, so that there would be something for every reader.

Even then, there's nothing that says someone can't end up enjoying a book despite its subject matter. My audiobook narrator for the aforementioned steampunk-dinosaur-werewolf novel actually dislikes werewolves, and yet he loved this book, gave it a 5-star review, and now his wife is really enjoying it too. So I felt like I really did my job well if I got someone to like something they don't normally like.

The same thing could easily happen with Christianity. Perhaps a struggling reader needs just the right words, from the right author, to touch their spirit and give them the desire to believe. But as you said, the choice is theirs whether or not to give it a chance. In the meantime, we can just keep putting the good word out there and giving people something to find when they're ready for it. As Glen said, it is very much like the Parable of the Sower; we may do our part and scatter as many seeds as we can, but whether or not they take root and thrive is up to the type of ground that receives them.

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