Dear Writer, What's Your Testimony?

Everything we write will tell people something about us- and if we're Christians, it will tell them something about the God we serve. It will tell them something about the faith we live out. It will tell them something about the salvation we believe in.

Are you giving the world a good impression of your faith, or a bad one?


Many of us don't really think about this when we write- I didn't up until recently. But then I got to thinking, and I thought "What is my writing saying about my faith?" 

I think a lot of us might try to be neutral. We think that our fiction isn't Christian, but there's nothing bad in it either. Sure, we don't deal with God in our stories, but neither do we include swearing. 

I know Christian fiction often gets a bad rap. I'm aware of that. But the thing is: Why should that stop us from writing our own quality Christian fiction? Just because somebody else who's gone before us might have failed, doesn't mean we have to. 

When I write, my novels address God. They address faith. They address the state of the world, and they address brokenness and salvation and hope and meaning and purpose

They're not just stories without meaning. 

Sometimes, we'll get warned about not being preachy. And I get that. If you're writing a novel, then you're writing fiction, not a sermon. 

But that being said, I would ask you this: Can you write distinctively Christian fiction without being preachy? 

Yes. Yes you can. And I believe every Christian should do it. 

I'm not writing this post to try and put you on a guilt trip if your novel doesn't include a bunch of profound Christian doctrines. (spoiler alert: mine doesn't really) But what are you saying with your writing? 

Are you shining God's light to a lost and dying world, or are you spreading hopelessness? 

Are you sharing the Gospel, or sticking to vague statements like "Life is beautiful" and focusing on those instead? 

These are hard questions. And this is a tough issue. I realize that there are sincere, devoted Christians out there who might not write Christian fiction.

But what message does this send to the secular world? What does this tell them when they can pick up a book, and not even know that the author is Christian until they read the author bio on the last page? 

Christians are supposed to be different. Does your writing demonstrate this difference? 

That's all I have to say for now. I definitely have a post coming up about writing your faith into your fiction though, so stay tuned for that. This is a big, wide topic, so anyone who has any thoughts or anything to add to this, feel free to share! :D 

~ Jonathan 

Share this:

,

CONVERSATION

46 comments:

  1. THIS IS MY FAVORITE TOPIC IN THE WORLD, JUST FOR THE RECORD (well, besides theme xD).

    Yes, yes, and YES. I agree with all those points. About seven months ago I was re-introduced to good Christian fiction, and I knew that I wanted to write that. As a Christian myself, I really enjoy reading about characters whose faith and struggle I can relate to. I feel disappointed when I read a "Christian" novel that barely mentions faith at all. I'm not saying we should preach, but we can at least show through our characters' actions and stories that we believe in the Gospel, and even though that doesn't make us perfect, it's worth everything to follow God.

    I'm definitely looking forward to that next post!

    audrey caylin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AH WELL THAT'S SUPER GREAT. It's one of my favorites also :D (ooh yes I love theme)

      SAME. To all of that haha- I always feel sorta cheated when a Christian author releases a book and it ends up having NOTHING TO DO with Christianity. :D

      Haha well I hope I don't disappoint! XD

      Delete
  2. Nice post. I feel like it would be impossible for me not to include God in a book (if I ever get around to writing one!) God is just such a huge part of my life, it would naturally be a part of my character's life, if not at first, then at some point along the way he/she would have to discover God. I'd have to make an effort to avoid putting God or my Christian beliefs in there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! :D Haha yes same for me. (LOL well try doing NaNo sometime, that's really helpful)

      Delete
    2. I've thought about it. I need to try it out!

      Delete
  3. This is something I've been thinking about way too much (not a bad thing, just... interesting.)
    I don't know how to shine God's light through my story, since it's a Dystopian, Futuristic, Fiction. Any advice?! I'm so dead confused with what to do and how to do it. *face palm*

    Allie Taylor
    http://thedepthofmyfaith7.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. XD It can be challenging in a futuristic/fantasy type of story. I don't really have any advice that is specific to your genre (praying is a good place to start), but I've definitely got some general advice coming in a post soon. :D

      Delete
    2. In that case, HURRY UP WITH THE POST JONATHAN!!!!! Story, I get aggressive when I don't get what I want when I want it. XD

      Delete
    3. LOL WORKING ON IT. XD It might not be until next month, because of the way my monthly wrap-up is going to work out. :P

      Delete
    4. WELL FOR GOODNESS SAKE SACRIFICE THE MONTHLY WRAP UP AND GET ME THAT POST NNOOOOOWWWW. *whispers to humanity* "Geez. Men; Lazy as can be."

      Seriously. Do I HAVE to track you down and make you suffer until you post the thing? Good. I didn't think so. *scowls*
      - Allie / Hebrews 11:1, 6 / thedepthofmyfaith7.blogspot.com

      Delete
  4. Johnathan,
    This is one of the most amazing things I have ever read! Bravo! It made me really think about what I write and how my writing does (or doesn't) show what I believe. Thank you so much for writing this and posting it. It is absolutely wonderful and I plan to share it with quiet a few of my friends. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you liked it and that it made you think- Thanks so much for sharing! :D

      Delete
  5. idk what to say. I really like this tho... its just so true, and something I 100% agree on. Being a Christian should impact every part of your life, especially your writing life.

    (btw i really like your new blogging style.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha yes I definitely agree with that statement *nods*

      (oh okay well thanks then! even though I didn't know I had a new blogging style xD)

      Delete
  6. *is totally speechless at how well you articulated everything* So true, though! I have read "Christian" fiction that is absolute fluff, but I've also found some really good books. The one thing that I especially dislike is when the author hasn't really emphasized the Christian messages, and then throws a sermon in the mix. Great job, Jonathan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UGH I HATE THAT ALSO LOL. XD It's as if the Christian points are sort of an afterthought so you have to plop in a quick sermon at some point to make it "Christian." :P Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  7. The only stories in which I don't mention God are the ones that are magical stories. I don't like mixing my real Savior with things that are obviously NOT real (elves, fairies, magic, etc.) Otherwise, I do include Him in my books. I admire people like C. S. Lewis who manage to work fantasy stories and Christianity together without making God seem like a fairy tale Himself. :) #authorgoals
    Thanks so much for this post! It really made me take a step back and reevaluate my writing. After all, my goal as an author is to bring glory to God...so why would I write a story without Him as a major part of it!
    (On another note...I see we of the classy black and white pictures have finally won you over. ;P Nice picture.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *nods* I can definitely understand that. I've never really thought about it because I've never written magic into my stories, but it does make sense! :D
      (LOL well okay I only made it black and white because my blog is black and white. So then they match. #perfectionist xD)

      Delete
  8. Oooh. You really got me thinking!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice post!!
    "Sometimes, we'll get warned about not being preachy. And I get that. If you're writing a novel, then you're writing fiction, not a sermon." I love that statement. It really just sums up this whole posts.
    Great work! <3

    Sophy
    lavender & blue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! :D Super glad that you liked it!

      Delete
  10. This is actually something I think about a lot. I've never been able to include God directly into my novels and I've always felt awful about it. "I'm just wasting my writing." "How can I be so hopeless at this?" But recently I actually had a small break through and realised that it /can/ be Christian without mentioning God direct. Through the Theme mostly, and also your faith should come out through what you say, and your actions in everything you do, and that includes your writing. Your character has a positive arc that shows that /this/ is the right thing. How do we know that it's right to help the helpless? (to use a random example) Because God tells us to.

    I still battle with this regularly, but I simply don't know how to properly include God in my current novel (although that might be different in others that I write). I really really try to show how living this way really does work. It's not easy, but it does work, and it's doing the right thing.

    Some 'Christian' fiction can be so so bad. Like...I've read some and I honestly wonder if the author is actually a legit Christian because the characters are so stereotypical and ugh. But other authors (*cough cough*Nadine Brandes*cough cough*) have done an absolutely stunning job at it. (Out of Time series though <333)

    It can be so hard though. >.< But hey, we're all works in progresses. And I've got the best method of solving problems /ever/. Praying. Praying needs to be a huge part of plotting, writing and editing any novel. And God does give his guidance what's more because HE'S SUPER AWESOME LIKE THAT.

    (Oops, it appears that I have rambled for twelve chapters and a prequel. I'd better stop there before I think of anything else to say xP)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [okay so I'm just going to reply to this paragraph by paragraph so hopefully this doesn't end up being super disjointed and confusing haha]

      *nods* Yes I definitely understand what you’re saying! We can totally include Christian concepts in our novels without mentioning God. But for me, I think that seems almost… counterintuitive? Because if you’re going to write a Christian concept, it would be natural to mention God. 😃
      .
      Yeah I can understand that also. *nods* It can be challenging to work God into certain stories, especially if they’re fantasy or something. I think it can be done though- no matter what! #youcandoit xD

      Haha yeah that’s true. Christian fiction tends to get a bad rap, and it’s not entirely without a reason. But you’re totally right- some people have written nonpreachy, well-crafted fiction that’s still distinctly Christian! (and yessss I love Out of Time ❤)

      Yes that’s a super huge part of it! Praying is 100% necessary for everything in life, not just writing. God will give us guidance if we’re praying and staying in His Word. 😃

      (WELL TRUUUUE but this comment was super awesome and thought-provoking. And it took me a while to reply to it but this was a really good discussion. *nods*)

      Delete
  11. totally agreed with this. When I started writing I actually set some guidelines for myself. The first and foremost was to give glory to God and, I'll admit, there have been those temptations to write only a "clean" book. definitely something I've been continually praying for God to guide me with.

    Certain genres can make it "harder" I guess you could say - my next novel is actually going to be more-ish fantasy and my last book being an allegorical I just wanted to try something different. and then I just asked myself: why couldn't fantasy have Jesus in it? - so I'm going with it lol. I think when we write it's not a thing of "fitting Jesus in", but /starting/ with Him. thanks so much for this!

    (just curious, are you doing camp nano? xD)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *high fives* I can totally relate to all of that, but setting guidelines and boundaries is a super fantastic idea.

      Yeah I think so also. *nods* Especially like Rebekah was saying up above about how she doesn't want to write her real Savior into things that aren't real. (which applies to like, fantasy) Personally I've never really had genre-related struggles myself but I can understand it. AND YESSS OMW. I love that last statement- it's not about "fitting Jesus in" but instead starting with Him. PREACH IT.

      (okay so no I'm not officially, because I'm technically still on internet break and I'm not first drafting anything.)

      Delete
  12. Really good point... I've only directly mentioned God in a couple of my stories (and one is a retelling of Boaz and Ruth so that'd be a little hard without it ha). I agree. You can definitely write some Christian fiction without the only "christian" part being it's clean.

    -Madison

    http://www.alittlesoutherngrace.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha yeah I can see how that would be challenging. :P Absolutely!

      Delete
  13. Well said! I've been thinking about this as well. Looking forward to the next post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Haha well hopefully you'll like it xD

      Delete
  14. This is great, and SOO true! I don't like it when I find a Christian author and decide to read one of their books only to find that it has nothing to do with God, doesn't even mention/hint about God. (I think I may have said something similar to that before. :P) And just recently, I've been thinking really hard about the messages that I want my novels to send.

    I just started working on a new novel, and the message that I'm trying to send with it is that it doesn't matter what kind of past you have/come from, you can always be saved. It doesn't prevent you from becoming a child of God. (I just added this one to my Writings page if you want to know more about it.)

    Thank you so much for this post, Jonathan! I look forward to the next one. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SAME. It's almost like "Why are you even marketing this as Christian...?" It's always super good to be intentional about the messages we're sending though. *nods*

      HEY COOL. New projects are always tons of fun! :D I'll definitely have to go check that out!

      Glad you enjoyed it :D

      Delete
  15. Really good points here, Jonathan. Thank you for this. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to let my Christianity shine through in my writing without just "writing a good story without cussing" or having my characters pray sometimes. It runs so much deeper than that. Thank you so much for this.
    thefloridsword.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I definitely agree with you on that. *nods*

      Delete
  16. HEY! "Life is beautiful" was the first official theme I was ever introduced to! XP #OYAN

    Anyway, in all seriousness, these are really good points. This is something I've struggled with recently, myself. I actually posted about it on the forum, and quoting Shillim who was quoting Mr. S who was quoting someone else said something to the effect of "All truth is God's Truth. Just let go and write truth without worrying if it's 'Christian truth'", and that really made an impression on me.

    I don't think I'm ever going to write a Christian fiction novel, as a genre. But I am a Christian, and what I write will be Christian, if that makes sense. Tolkien and Lewis and Lawhead didn't set out to write Christian fiction, but they wrote some of the most powerful Christian novels of the 2oth century, and while I doubt I will ever be as good as them, that is what I aspire to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH LOL I actually remember that from the curriculum I think...? Only vaguely though haha. xD

      Thanks! It's something I'm passionate about. :D As far as the statement goes... I'm not /entirely/ sure I would agree with that? (with all due respect to Mr. S and Shil haha)

      I'm just not sure the Bible ever says that... like where in the Bible are we told that all truth is God's truth? I mean, I know we've got Jesus saying "I am the Way, the /Truth/, and the Life," but still. I'm not sure I'm seeing it. xD I mean, it sorta makes sense, but I would have to look into it more. *nods*

      Delete
  17. Oh goodness. I have to admit, you just struck some chords with me. *winces and hides behind rock* My nano novel kind of turned out to be an alegory and I'll admit it: I didn't like it. I didn't want my novel to be "christian" because I didn't want it just to reach Christians. I wanted it to reach those lost and hopeless people, and make them ask questions that would lead them to Christ. I'm still not sure where this story is going, but I need to step back from my own fears and desires and make sure I'm writing for God, not myself.

    Thank you for challenging me! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *pulls you out from behind the rock* xD I think that's valid! But I definitely think that Christian novels can reach the secular world also- not just Christian readers. That's super cool that you want to get lost people to ask questions though, I've never thought of it quite like that. :D

      Delete
  18. Very good Jonathan. This is both inspiring and convicting! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Glad you found it challenging :D

      Delete
  19. Wow, great post. :) Recently I've been praying for God to have His way in every area of my life and for my writing to be for His glory. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! :D SAME. Because pride is alwaaaays getting in the way ugh

      Delete
  20. Dang, this is super convicting. I'll definitely be dwelling on this!! Super well written, Jonathan:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you found it convicting! Haha thanks :D

      Delete
  21. Oh, nice post! I've been thinking of this a lot lately with my fantasy story I'm doing. My characters are Christians, yes. They say prayers, yes. But I want a bit more of a prevalent Christian aspect in it. Though figuring out how to do it not without it sounding forced\simply added, or not flowing right is what I'm have difficulty with. :P Making everything fit and piece together nice can be difficult!

    Anyways, loved the post! I'll be looking forward for the follow up post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! IKR I FEEL YOUR PAIN. XD It can be challenging sometimes! Hopefully my post about faith+fiction is helpful. :D

      Thanks so much!

      Delete