Defining ‘Christian fiction’

Word Lily thoughts

My Friend Amy and Deborah have started something, I think.
Amy’s post 1
Amy’s post 2
Deborah’s post
#CFChat transcript from this week, with more chats to come (the next one is Monday at noon Central, again).
• I posted about this a week ago, too, and I’ve got notes for more.

Whenever there’s a big discussion, I always feel the need to go back to basics — to definitions, to be more specific. The discussion will be less productive and meaningful if we aren’t understanding terms they way others are using them.

Like any definition, my working definition of Christian fiction is imperfect. It’s subject to change, and it’s flawed.

When I say “Christian fiction,” I mean novels published by Christian publishing houses.

I get frustrated by this definition frequently, though. It excludes Jan Karon’s Mitford series, for example, because they’re published by Viking. And yet content-wise, that’s where the series fits, in my opinion. It also excludes most literature considered Christian classics, from C.S. Lewis to Flannery O’Connor — not to mention basically all of the Image Journal list.

And yet I stick with this definition because it’s harder to draw the line anywhere else.

How do you define Christian fiction?

The books I *most* want to read don’t fit neatly in any category. I want to read well-written, literary:
• books that are messy, like real life,
• fiction that’s thought-provoking and embodies Truth,
• stories that don’t have all the answers, that are OK with gray, that raise big questions and let mystery hang in the air.

What kinds of books do you most want to read?

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7 responses to “Defining ‘Christian fiction’

  1. I think you have a well written post here. I really enjoy Christian Fiction, and sometimes that can be defined by the publishing house. I must admit, though, that some books not published by Christian publishers have a more redemptive quality, or contain more religious symbolism than some that are released by Christian publishers. I still struggle with how to define this genre, but you have raised some good points here. Thanks for this post!

    • I totally agree, that sometimes books published by general market publishers “have a more redemptive quality, or contain more religious symbolism” than some from Christian houses.

  2. I agree too, about general markets books with strong redemptive values, but in terms of talking about what we envision Christian fiction to be, it’s easiest to talk about people who are publishing books SPECIFICALLY with Christians in mind. Therefore it really is the best place to start, I think. So I agree Hannah since the people publishing books specifically for the Christian market are the Christian publishing houses 🙂

  3. I am in awe at the posts I have read about Christian fiction. There are very few Authors that I know of that write Christian Fiction, so it’s hard for me to determine what to read at times. For a while, I read the Love Inspired series that is out. The books were short, sweet, and IMO, very in line with Christians in mind. Thanks Ladies for posting these!

  4. Interesting post, Hannah, and very timely for me. I just finished a book that an author self published that can only be categorized as Christian fiction. Look for my review later this week!

  5. Pingback: Thinking About Christian Fiction « arielkprice

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