Monday, November 17, 2014

What Really Constitutes Christ-Centered Fiction?

by Caitlin Hedgcock

Today I’d like to share some thoughts on a topic that’s been on my mind recently: What is the essence of God-centered fiction? Does a book have to include Scripture references in order to be Christian?

For context, all of my children’s novels have been targeted at Christians. The books are full of Scriptures and references to theology that families will understand and appreciate—all within the framework of an adventure.

As I learn more about non-Christians, however, I realize that there are some subjects they will just not make time for. As writers, we have the potential to reach more people than we could ever meet in person; but what if those people won’t touch our literary endeavors?

I’ve got this quote up in front of my writing desk to remind me of the grand challenge wrapped up in our charge:

“Good writers don’t moralize, nor do they preach, but they do create longing for the true and the beautiful, and that is why you must write with Christ at the center of your reason for writing. That does not mean that every book must be a retelling of Luke’s gospel, however, every worthy book written by a Christian will direct readers away from self, and sin, and put them on a quest for God and his gospel. Create longing for these things.” ~ Douglas Bond

Create longing—isn’t that a good way of putting it? And it’s not a longing for just anything, but a longing for truth. That makes me think of a master planner leaving little clues for a reader to detect, a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the most important reality.

Of course, it all comes down to your audience. If you write to provide Bible-oriented stories for Christian children, then your style will be different to the writer who specializes in creating fictional parallels to current issues and moral dilemmas. Homeschool families might not mind “preachiness” too much, but an average Amazon customer probably won’t like it.

That is not to say we are ashamed of using Scripture, or that we are conforming to worldly patterns; not at all! All I suggest is that God created the art form of storytelling and that we don’t all have to focus on the same audiences or use the same approaches to glorify Him. Putting Christ and truth at the center of our aims, methods, worldview, and writing decisions can result in constructive diversity.

On the other hand. . . . 

We don't want that diversity becoming blurred with license to do "just anything" in stories, remembering Eph.  4:29 ~

"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth," (pen works pretty well here too) "but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." (Or readers, right?)

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them!
  
Caitlin R. Hedgcock is a Christian author who aspires to use storytelling for God’s glory. She lives with her family in England's picturesque county of Hertfordshire. Visit her blog or Facebook page to find out more.



9 comments:

  1. So true! Knowing you audience is so important when deciding how much to put in. I never plan to put scriptures into my story, yet most of them have them. As I write, verses appear because they fit the story.

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    1. I find that too! I'll be writing a sequence and a scripture will often pop up as the best way to make the point. Hopefully the fact that it's a natural occurrence rather than a contrived one helps toward not sounding preachy. :)

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  2. Wonderful thoughts, Caitlyn. I love that quote! I have noticed, and felt in myself, longing for truth created in the best of Christian fiction. In fact, a lot of times, unbelieving/rebellious characters inside the story are made to feel that longing after coming in contact or influence of the protagonist(s), thus leading to their repentance, conversion, etc. If you bathe your stories in the true, simple Gospel of Christ, you don't need to be preachy!

    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
      And isn't that a great idea for living life in general? To live in such a way that others feel a longing for God and His gospel after spending time with us?
      Thanks for commenting!

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    2. Yes, exactly! Thank you for mentioning that. Even though we are so poor and weak, it is amazing how God can use His people as real, living instruments by which He draws others to Himself. And He deserves ALL the glory. :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing this! I have thought on this a lot lately and realized how much Christian authors need to share truths through their writing. It isn't as difficult as it seems either! :)

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    1. You're welcome! Thank you for stopping by :)

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  4. Very good thoughts! Another thing I've noticed with Christ-centered fiction is that it can be directed at people who already believe, thus acting like missionary biographies ... it inspires Christians to take their faith to a higher level, to make them want to go out themselves and bring the Gospel to people and help those who need help. We need that urging.

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  5. I think praying and focusing on being really close to the Lord while you're writing is super important. He'll direct you about what needs to go in...and what needs to come out. It's all about being edifying. :)

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