by Elva Cobb Martin
Can We Define Christian Fiction–in more ways than one?
Novelist and sought after conference leader Ron Benrey in his Complete Idiot’s Guide for Writing ChristianFiction lists a spiritual content spectrum for Christian fiction.
At the high end: The Conversion Scene—you tell a story that shows conversion.
The Middle Ground: Show Jesus at Work—in the lives of your characters or theme.
At the very Least: You show progress in a lead character’s Christian walk.
A few years ago literary agent Karen Ball did a three-part blog and survey on “What Makes a Christian Book Christian?” She posted the results as follows:
- Written from a Christian worldview.
- Story offers hope.
- Core of the story shows importance of faith in Christ.
Worldview is often defined as the core values that determine a person’s outlook on life and, for a writer, how and what they write.
Christy award-winning author and mentor, Rosey Dow, in her novel-writing course, says worldview can be determined by the answers to three brief questions:
- How did we get here and who are we?
- What went wrong?
- What can fix it?
The short answers from a Christian world view would be:
- God created the world and made us in His image.
- Adam and Eve sinned and brought condemnation upon all mankind.
- Sin must be punished but God loved mankind so much He sent Jesus Christ as our substitute to take our punishment so we could be forgiven.
The World’s Other Views
I think it's significant as a writer to understand the basic non-Christian worldviews that some of our characters/villains may need to exemplify.
I’ve ran across a text in Proverbs (1:22) where worldviews other than God’s POV are described as three types of non-Christians. We see these worldviews played out in multiplied popular novels, movies, and television programs, as well as life in general and in politics.
“How long will you who are SIMPLE love your simple ways? and SCORNERS delight in their scorning, and FOOLS hate knowledge?”
A) The simple naively think they can live any way they want without negative consequences.
B) The scorners are the defiant and cynical freethinkers who see no place for God in their philosophies of life.
C) Fools is a term the Bible uses for those who reject the idea that there is a divine being and that such a being, if he does exist, has any interest in the affairs of humankind.
In many powerful stories we see a contrast of characters who have a Christian/loving worldview with characters who embody, overcome, or suffer defeat with a secular/selfish worldview. Scarlet O’Hara and Melanie in Gone with the Wind come to mind. The contrast is what makes the story and the characters unforgettable.
How would you define Christian fiction? How important is worldview? What stories, books, movies, television programs come to your mind that exemplify various worldviews? We look forward to your comments.
Next Time Part 3: How Alive or Well Is Christian Fiction?
If you missed Part One, Is it Alive and Well, Click Here.
Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have published her articles. She is currently polishing her second novel, an historical inspirational romance. A mother finally promoted to grandmother, Elva and her husband Dwayne, and a mini-dachshund Lucy reside in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site www.elvamartin.com, her blog at http://carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com on Twitter @Elvacobbmartin and on Facebook.