By Norma Gail
What is the role of Christian fiction as our world grows increasingly hostile? Those who would change our culture want all references to faith in God removed from anything public. However, the written word is personal with a reach far beyond an individual author’s circle. We possess a tool to change individual hearts. God gave us an imagination. He will use it for His purpose when we write prayerfully.
Non-fiction teaches facts. Readers learn about one topic in detail with little stimulus of their imagination. One problem in our world today is people’s desire to be heard above news media rhetoric. Talking heads with a set agenda tell us what to think.
On the other hand, fiction covers a broad range of experiences through the eyes of many different characters. One book enables us to enter the minds of people from various levels of society: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, management and employee, husband and wife. Points of view are expressed in a non-confrontational way. Readers experience what someone thinks, why they think that way, as well as relaxing and developing empathy.
Fiction exposes the reader to new ideas while stimulating pleasure areas in the brain. Therefore, Christian fiction teaches spiritual lessons in a less confrontational way than non-fiction. People who would never attend a Bible study will read a novel given them by a friend. Through identification with the characters, the spiritual journey of fictional characters may translate into a reality in the heart of the reader. Good fiction holds the power to convict, instruct, and challenge.
People today fear the COVID-19 pandemic and protests over racial inequality. Stress and anxiety run rampant. Fiction removes the reader from the tension of non-stop news to a place where their mind can rest. Stimulating the imagination is therapeutic.
Works of fiction contain truth about life, history, current events, and even faith. Christian fiction reveals how others might respond to personal crises, relationships, and world events from the standpoint of their faith.
For spiritual change to occur, people must recognize personal struggles, hearts must change. Real life contains conflict and so do novels. When fiction engages the imagination of the reader, they can recognize their own conflicts in those of the characters. Good character development enables the reader to see how the power of God changes lives.
As a Christian author, my writing belongs first and foremost to God. He provides the audience and the opportunities. Christian fiction is based on struggles that are common to people in all walks of life.
For example, My first book, Land of My Dreams, looks at dating, romance, heartbreak, and death. In my new romantic suspense, Within Golden Bands, the reader experiences the hurt and longing of a woman who craves motherhood but cannot become pregnant. I wrote from the heart about longings I experienced. The story isn’t mine but the emotions are real.
Down through the ages, fiction has had a powerful impact on society. While extremely controversial, Uncle Tom’s Cabin fueled the abolitionist movement. To Kill a Mockingbird taught us to see the world through someone else’s eyes. The Grapes of Wrath revealed the terrible poverty of the Depression era. Reviews indicate a book’s success toward meeting the author’s goals.
Set spiritual impact goals for your writing. Then, look for indicators of success through the reviews. In a hostile world, Christian fiction touches hearts and minds.
© Norma Gail Holtman, June 24, 2020
Norma Gail’s debut novel, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. Within Golden Bands released May 19th. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals have appeared in several publications. She lives in New Mexico with her husband of 44 years.