Christian Fiction’s Bogus Rap
It seems every few months there’s this resurgence of questions and opinions that float around the blogosphere about the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and Christian fiction in general. Unfortunately, much of what I read paints the CBA in what I believe is an unfairly negative light. Misconceptions and stereotypes abound.
If I may, I’d like to point out some of those misconceptions and offer my view on them.
- The CBA requires biblical support for anything written. This just isn’t so. Any reader of Christian fiction can point to numerous books that push the theological envelope and challenge mainstream beliefs. Ted Dekker is notorious for this (good for him) and much of the supernatural and speculative fiction has done more than raise a few eyebrows. CBA publishers are careful but not restrictive.
- Christian characters are mostly portrayed as perfect people who have it all together and villains are almost always portrayed as the emodiment of evil. Maybe it was like that when the CBA was in its infancy, but I think most readers of Christian fiction would agree this is not the case at all. Lead characters are shown with flaws and struggles the rest of us share and villains are often more roundly developed to show the humanity they possess.
- Christian fiction only deals with “safe” subjects. Absolutely false. In recent years (meaning in the past decade or so) Christian fiction has tackled issues like homosexuality, incest, rape, racism, terrorism, bigotry, adultery, you name it. Authors like Lisa Samson, Gina Holmes, Mary DeMuth, Austin Boyd, and so many more have all taken on the “big” issues and dealt with them beautifully.
- Christian fiction only seeks to answer questions, not ask them. Not sure where this one came from but I doubt you’d find a single author of Christian fiction who agrees with this. We ask lots of questions and hope our stories prompt readers to question things as well. BUT–and here’s where we part ways with general fiction–we don’t just ask questions, we can also provide an answer. See, the world is already asking questions, lots of them, and seeking answers, but their blinded to the answer (how will they know unless someone tells them?). Why would we, as Christians writing fiction, be satisfied with only adding to the questions when we have the Answer? I know it sounds trite and maybe too simplistic but it’s true. Jesus is the answer they need. If I’m wrong about that tell me I am, but I don’t think I am. the challenge, of course, is how to pose those questions in a way that leads readers to the Answer and doesn’t push them away from him.