Friday, May 11, 2012
DEFINITIVELY Defining Christian Fiction
If you go to college and take a class on women's literature, you will read books written by women. If you take one on African-American literature, you will read books written by African-Americans. If you take a course on Gay and Lesbian literature, the books you will read have Gay and/or Lesbian authors. Latino literature, Latino authors, Jewish literature, Jewish authors, Asian literature, Asian authors, and so on down the line.
So: Christian fiction is fiction written by Christians. That's easy enough--- and it's something those outside the Christian community can figure out without a net.
Except for the bit 'what is a Christian?' My proposed definition is that a Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. Specifically one that is following Jesus Christ right now, not one that went to Sunday School 13 times at age seven and hasn't been near a church, Bible or rosary since.
Since there are, sadly, atheist Marxists who claim to know about some Marxist revolutionary Jesus, we need to say a bit about the Jesus we Christians follow. He is the Jesus spoken of in the proto-creed of 1 Cor. 15:3-5: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures, and that he was see of Cephas, and of the twelve." (KJV translation)
So, yes, this broadens Christian fiction to include the majority of those who call themselves followers of Jesus, including Catholics, Lutherans, Mormons, liberal Christians, and excluding only those who believe in some other Jesus, such as the Marxist atheist Jesus, and the non-resurrected mere-human Jesus who was just a good morals teacher.
This does not mean that all of this broadly-defined Christian fiction will be welcome at every Evangelical publishing house. By the same token, there are books by women which will never be found at a women's book store because of lack of feminist content. Publishers and booksellers are free to develop their own, narrower categories. Readers of Christian fiction will also have their own selection criteria.
Where the definition matters is for things like lists of Christian fiction in certain genres, or things like the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. When we are using the broad definition of Christian fiction, we use the word 'Christian'. If what we really mean is Evangelical fiction or Catholic fiction or LDS (Mormon) fiction, we should indicate that plainly.
So that is my definitive definition of Christian fiction. What do you think about it?