Christian Fiction No More
Recently, on some blogs around the blogosphere, the topic of Christian fiction has come up again (see this post and this post). Anyone who follows my thoughts regularly knows this is a hot topic for me and these recent posts got me thinking about some things and re-evaluating some of my own thoughts.
Here’s a question: Should the word Christian be used as anything else than a noun?
A Christian is a person, right? The word means “like Christ” and in the New Testament it’s only used as a noun . . . a person who is a follower of Christ and “like Christ.” In recent history, though, the word Christian has been used more and more as an adjective. We have Christian bookstores, Christian fiction, Christian music, Christian movies, Christian-wear, Christian colleges, etc.
Really? What makes them Christian? What makes them “like Christ?”
Are we watering down the word Christian? Tagging it onto anything and everything to increase it’s marketability? Has the word become too ambiguous? I mean, what exactly is Christian fiction? Is it evangelical, is it Catholic, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox . . . Mormon? Is it “like Christ,” or is just wholesome, or rather, not unwholesome? Or is it more the intent behind the fiction (or music or t-shirt or school)? These are some of my questions.
There’s a lot of philosophical arguments here and I don’t want to spend too much time on that but I’m becoming more and more convinced that Christian should not be used as an adjective. And therefore, we should do away with the whole Christian fiction label.
What makes a book Christian fiction anyway? Herein lies the topic of so many discussions. If we take the word for what it means, “like Christ,” it really narrows the field, maybe eliminates it. There are writers who see their craft as more ministry than art and others who see it as more art than ministry. Both may claim they write “Christian” fiction (or at least their publishers claim they write it) but do they really or is that just a label thrown on there for easier categorization in the bookstore? Do we want the term Christian used that loosely, that casually? Really?
I mean, if a book is called “Christian” fiction but has nothing to do with Christ or Christians or biblical thinking, what’s so “like Christ” about it? And do I then call myself a Christian by those same standards?
Do you see the problem I’m having with the term Christian fiction now?
We need to come up with something else to call it. Something more ambiguous because that’s what the genre is. Maybe Positive Fiction or Inspirational Fiction or Faith Fiction. Whatever. Just please oh please let’s stop calling it Christian Fiction.
Now I know I’ve probably upset some and stepped on the toes of others but that’s my opinion. Changing the label should have no affect at all on the content or the art or the ministry of writing fiction with a biblical worldview or faith message or whatever you want to call it. But it may affect the perception of the genre and maybe free writers to explore the art of writing a little more without feeling like they’re defaming the name of Christ because, after all, they write “Christian” fiction.
Note: I know this is a big paradigm shift for many and for me as well. I’ve always called myself a Christian writer writing Christian fiction. But it’s good now and then to revisit a topic, put some thought into it, and maybe change your mind. It’s okay to change your mind. Change is good.
What do you think? Should we do away with the label, Christian fiction? Should we stop using “Christian” as an adjective?