I just returned from a Christian writing conference, feeling unexpectedly discouraged. I had been looking forward to this event for months, anticipating that I would learn new ways to communicate God’s truths more creatively and effectively. It was disheartening to hear many of the presenters and attendees express their belief that it’s not a good thing to present a clear Christian message when writing fiction for children (or adults).
I don’t want to be a Christian who writes. I hope to be a Christian writer or author.
Ten years ago, when I first began to write seriously, I found an article by a woman on this topic. Her view was that if you can remove all the Christian aspects from your story—and still have a story—then you are not a Christian author. Although I’ve forgotten her name, that standard has stuck with me.
Can Christians write (and/or read) books that don’t have an obvious Christian message? Of course! I have no problem with that. And in fact, I see a great need for it in an increasingly dark world—good, wholesome, informative, positive, moral books—but in my opinion those are not Christian books.
The opposing argument is that because unbelievers are not going to read Christian books, Christians should therefore write books stripped of all Christian content, so that unbelievers will read them. And these books, with no references to God, Jesus, or Christianity, are somehow supposed to lead people to Christ. Honestly, I don’t see how that is even possible. Those types of books may help someone become a moral person, but they will not lead anyone to faith in Christ.
People have the misconception that unbelievers are supposed to like us—that a Christian could write a book that is so appealing it would lead an unbeliever to faith in Christ, without it being offensive to them. Besides being a rather arrogant supposition—that our writing might somehow be more effective than God’s—it is totally unscriptural. Jesus Himself was hated and crucified by those who opposed His message, as were each of the disciples, except John who was banished to Patmos. Paul, also, was killed for relentlessly preaching the word. When they faced opposition, Jesus, Paul, and the disciples didn’t back down or change their message.
Those unbelievers who won’t read a Christian book now, may someday become seekers who desire the truth that the world cannot provide. The question is—will they be able to find it? Or will all the Christian authors, writing books with a truly Christian message, have become extinct?
The prophet Jeremiah’s message was rejected so often that he resolved not to speak about God anymore. However, it didn’t take him long to realize he couldn’t do that. Isn’t that how we, as Christians, should feel? If we have the knowledge of the only way to a relationship with our loving Father and the eternal life He offers, why would we not want to share it with others?
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
I hope some of that burning fire, or passion for sharing God’s word, comes through in the Sonrise Stable books. Although I don’t do it perfectly, I can’t imagine anything I’d rather write than books that help children draw closer to God.
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.