Why Christian Fiction?

I remember very vividly the moment I realized there was a whole realm of fiction that I never knew existed. 

I was a new staff member at WWIB, a Christian radio station in western Wisconsin and each week we would gather in the boardroom as a staff to pray over the requests that had been sent in. The shelves in the boardroom always caught my attention and tripped over from my OCD because they were covered in piles of books. Higgledy piggledy piles of disorganized books. 

Having studied literature, I’ve always felt a magnetic pull from any pile of books, so it didn’t take long for me to ask about them. The answer was a dram come true. 

“Oh they’re review copies from publishers. Help yourself.”

HELP YOURSELF? Oh my. 

So began a 23 year love of Christian fiction. It was in those early years that I met the work of Gilbert Morris, surely the granddaddy of the genre. Then Frank Peretti’s ‘This Present Darkness’ blew my mind and forever changed my walk with the Lord. I was able to walk in the sandals of Centurions in Masada and consider what the Second Coming might look like, courtesy of Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. 

Then there were the romances. So sweet. I had never really thought about how dating should look when you’re saved so there was a lot of food for thought there. Those piles of books morphed into a successful radio review show and I got to interview some of my very favorite writers.

Upon moving to England in 1996, Christian Fiction was somewhat sparse so I did a lot or re-reading – how did we live in a pre-Amazon world? But a few years later a move to Texas provided a huge library with more authors to try. The Baxter Family came home with me, along with a lot of Tracie Peterson, Lori Wick and more Gilbert Morris (it seems, in the best possible way, there is always another of his books to be read).

Then I found there was this thing called ‘romantic suspense.’ Seriously. As a new mom by this point, I didn’t nap much when my baby slept, I was too busy! Irene Hannon, Dee Henderson and Dani Pettrey can all probably claim to have added a bag or shadow to my face. When baby two came along and didn’t sleep much because she was unwell, I didn’t worry about company in those long nights watching over her. I had Karen Witemeyer, Becky Wade and Lawanna Blackwell to assist me, even making me smile along the way. 

But why? 

Romans 12 exhorts us to be in the world, but not of the world. So while I had been reading Patricia Cornwell, Nicholas Sparks and John Grisham whenever I didn’t have a good Christian book, they didn’t quite hit the spot. I didn’t turn their pages in rhythm with my heart. 

There are some secular books that are fantastic works of art that can transport readers to far away places so they can witness unimaginable events. However, books of the world don’t move me one inch closer to Heaven in the real world (borrowing some artistic license from Steven Curtis Chapman).

When I felt so nauseous I couldn’t move in the first trimester of pregnancy, when I was at a loss following the death of my brother, at times when I have been more cold than hot in my faith these books have cajoled, nudged or full on shoved me back on the path. They have reminded me that Heaven is coming; that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made and completely loved by the God of the universe and most importantly they have shown me that no matter what, we are never, ever alone.

I don’t mean to ever suggest or imply I wasn’t reading scripture all this time too, I have been. I’m merely suggesting that done well, this genre is magnificent. 

I’d love to know why you read Christian fiction and if you have a favorite author or genre? Do please leave a comment. 

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5 thoughts on “Why Christian Fiction?

  1. Toni says:

    When I discovered Christian fiction I devoured all I could fine. I’ve read Karen Witemyer, Kim Vogel Swayer, Lauraine Snelling, Tamara Alexandar, Dani Pettry, Lynette Eason, Ronie Kendig, Irene Hannon, Dee Henderson, Neta Jackson, Becky Wade, and I could go on all day. I’m so thankful for fiction that entertains and points to God.

    Like

    • Deborah Hackett says:

      Hi Donna, thanks for the question. I have a shocking confession – I only read one FR book so far and while I liked it, it didn’t rock my world. I tried another and found myself not engaging with it.

      However, I am going to try again with my book club. I deliberately chose one so I’d be forced to work harder on reading her. Not being well versed in her work has always felt like a glaring omission but there were so many others I felt my attention grabbed by.

      Do you have a favorite you could recommend?
      Deborahx

      Like

  2. Megan Hamsher says:

    Oh, so many reasons to read, and plenty for Christian fiction.
    For one, there’s no language or detailed sex scenes.
    There’s a “faith challenge” … sometimes really easy to find, others “sneak it in”.
    Tend to connect to characters.
    Always that one unexpected person who gives wise advice!
    LOTS of different genres, so there’s a book to fit just about every mood…. sometimes heavy, sometimes light, sometimes funny, sometimes relaxing…..
    Always learning something (I tend to hang out in Civil War and WWII in particular)
    Always leave feeling full after reading Amish books … lol
    Makes one appreciate what one has and realize that, “hey, my life isn’t so bad after all!”
    Way to escape my present world….

    As for favorites ….
    Christian historical fiction
    Tricia Goyer, Sarah Sundin,
    Judith Pella, Janette Oke, Mary Ellis, Judith Miller,
    Lynn Austin,
    Cara Putnam, Rick Barry
    Don Brown – Destiny, Pacific Rim series (first 2 books so far)
    Michael Phillips isn’t recent, but I love most of his books!
    Kristy Cambron
    Love-Inspired Historical (sad that they are stopping it soon)

    Armed Forces/FBI/Law Enforcement combined w/ suspense/romance
    Irene Hannon, Dee Henderson, Susan Paige Davis,
    Don Brown (Navy in particular)

    “Small Town” Feel (
    Mitford series by Jan Karon,
    Christy by Catherine Marshall,
    Harmony series by Philip Gulley,
    Joan Medlicott
    Dearest Dorothy (Welcome to Partonville) series by Charlene Baumbaugh

    Relationships/Romance/Family/Friends
    Colleen Coble, Karen Kingsbury, Denise Hunter, Sally John, Gary Small, Joan Medlicott
    Love-Inspired Romance

    Biblical
    Tessa Afshar, Mesu Andrews
    Larry Huntspringer’s The Fisherman
    Pontius Pilate, Flames of Rome by Paul Maier
    Acts of Faith series by Janette Oke & Davis Bunn
    Connliyn Cossette & Angela Hunt are on my list to read, but haven’t read yet

    Amish
    Beverly Lewis
    Shelley Shepard Gray
    Tricia Goyer, Sherry Gore

    Guideposts-Published Series
    (although I’ve only read most of 2 series so far –
    Home to Heather Creek & Miracles of Marble Cove)

    Christian Mystery series (haven’t read yet, though!)
    Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries by by Philip R. Craig
    Cruise Ship Cozy Mysteries by Hope Callaghan

    Christian Suspense
    Terri Blackstock
    Love-Inspired Suspense (espically the K-9 Unit series!)

    Christian Crime Dramas
    Christy Barritt
    Susan Sleeman
    Bugman series by Tim Downs

    I still haven’t read any medical to date, but Harry Kraus, Richard Marbry, and Candace Calvert are always on the recommendations list….. someday I’ll try!

    Christmas Books:
    A Christmas Journey; Christmas series by Donna VanLiere
    Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Sarah Sundin, and Cara Putnam
    Holiday Defenders (Love-Inspired Suspense) by Debby Guisti, Susan Sleeman, & Jodie Bailey
    Blue and Grey Christmas Joan Medlicott

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  3. Gene Brode, Jr. says:

    Hi Deborah,

    Good topic. I have always been into short stories in the literary genre, and for some reason Christian authors are even more sparse there. I’ve discovered a couple of authors in a collection called The Best Christian Short Stories here https://www.amazon.com/Best-Christian-Short-Stories/dp/1595540776/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505273197&sr=1-1&keywords=best+christian+short+stories
    A couple of the stories have some language, but the style is what I’m after. I can’t find much else out there. So I end up just reading non-Christian short fiction and weed out the good from the bad.

    Liked by 1 person

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