Monday, March 12, 2012

What is a "Christian" Storyteller? (Part One)

In an online writing group I'm a part of somebody recently asked the question "If you're a Christian, do you have to write 'Christian' genre fiction?"  Some would say yes.  Most disagree to some extent.  I'd like to delve a little deeper and ask a question with a bigger scope.

"What does it mean to be a Christian Writer?" (or, more specifically, a Christian Storyteller, as what I'm referring to is fiction, not nonfiction).  Here are three things people may think a Christian Storyteller is or ought to be.

One: "A Christian Storyteller is someone who happens to be a Christian and also happens to be a writer, so therefore their writing has little or no connection to what they believe, either overtly or in more subtle ways."
Saying you're a writer who just happens to be a Christian is faulty reasoning.  It's akin to saying you're a teacher or a plumber or a songwriter who just happens to have Christian beliefs.  Some people say that we need to distance our own beliefs from our work.  But that's a serious problem.  This idea suggests that somehow your belief in Jesus is divorced from your real life.  It suggests that your Christianity is 'private' and has no real effect on who you are.  But that isn't God's calling.

God's calling encompasses all of life.  He wants the whole man, the whole person with all their hopes and dreams and plans and lifestyles.  Jesus demands that everything must come under His leadership.  Our lives- lives saved by grace- become lives given over to Jesus in every aspect, and that includes writing. 

Two: "A Christian Storyteller is someone who only writes overtly 'Christian' fiction, labeled Christian in genre and usually read mainly by a Christian audience."
I don't think this is quite so common of a view, but there probably are some who believe it.  In this idea, being a Christian and a writer means that you have to write "Christian" books.  I'm not saying anything against Christian stories. We need them. I've been encouraged and strengthened by Christian fiction. But if every Christian writer only writes books for the Christian marketplace, then Christians will have no influence in the world of literature outside of ourselves. It's a fallacy that all writers who are Christians must write overtly Christian stories.

If we are the salt and light of the world, then we NEED writers who are Christians writing books that non-Christians will read. Most of my favourite stories are not labeled "Christian."  But they point to beauty and Truth and draw me closer to Jesus.
As Christian storytellers, we have the opportunity to affect people, both Christians and non-Christians with the power of stories that honor and point to God even if they never mention His name.  It's tough, but it's needed.

Coming Tomorrow:  What is a "Christian" Storyteller (Part Two: My Vision)

No comments:

Post a Comment