Welcome to Part 3 of the Writing by Faith series for Christian authors! If you’re new to Authoring Arrowheads, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future series posts!
If you haven’t yet read Parts One and Two of the Writing by Faith series, you can do so here.
“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”-Ephesians 4:25, KJV
When we’re called to be Christian authors, we are entrusted with a sacred duty: to speak (write) the biblical truth to the world, so that others can better know Christ. By doing so, we are going against the “status quo” of the world, and, to be honest, that can be a scary task. We want to reach readers who are lost, but we also don’t want to come across like we’re trying to beat readers over the head with Christianity. So, how can Christian authors strive to offer readers quality alternatives to worldly literature that are still relatable, realistic, and God-centered?
The Truth Will Set Us Free
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”-John 8:31-32, KJV
God uses each of us in individual ways, and in doing so, calls us to fulfill tasks of varying comfort levels. While He’s calling some of us to write ultra-conservative, historical Christian fiction with low or nonexistent levels of negative content, He may be calling others like myself to tackle more gritty topics from a Christian standpoint via contemporaries, like the dark sides of anxiety, depression, or emotional abuse in relationships. Even though God calls each of us to write about different things, if we keep each manuscript Christ-centered to its core, no matter the subject, we’re still going against the world’s status quo by writing about these topics from the perspective of biblical truths.
Going back to Parts One and Two of the Writing by Faith series, we’ve established that we’re Christian authors who are writing for God’s glory and not our own. First and foremost, we should also consider this aspect when choosing what type of content to write about from a Christian perspective. I’m a firm believer that God equips us with plot bunnies or ideas that He would like us to write about; however, sometimes, our own biases can interfere with the Christian standpoint we’re writing about and misconstrue our messages.
If we claim to be Christian authors, we must strive to write biblical truths as accurately as possible without letting our own opinions, or what the world has conditioned us to think, stand in the way. Let me say that again: Even if the world says something is “right” or “cool”, if the Bible says it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
For example, an issue I’ve seen that is prevalent among modern Christians is that we often get so caught up in our political affiliations that, though we claim to be Christians, we sometimes end up spouting political opinions that don’t align with God’s word. This worldly-influenced bias can also occur when we’re writing, and we end up with manuscripts labeled “Christian” that contradict what the Bible says. So, how can we curb the instinct to write our own opinions and stick to God’s truth?
Consult the Source
I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here, but the best way to make sure our Christian manuscripts stay God-centered is to consult the source for discernment before writing, or while completing editing passes. By the source, I mean God and His Word.
It’s difficult to know what biblical truths are, and much less write about them, if we’re not familiar with what they are. Because of this, we need to read the Bible and ingrain God’s truths in our hearts. We already bombard ourselves with the world’s biases through TV shows, streaming services, and social media, so shouldn’t we dedicate some of our time to immersing ourselves in God’s word and prayer?
To get a strong foundation of what biblical truths are, I suggest reading the Bible from cover to cover. Yes, it’s a massive read. Yes, there are many straight-up boring parts (I’m looking at you, verses about the cubits for building things!). Yes, you’ll probably need to consult the interwebs for help to understand certain parts. But, all in all, I promise you you’ll have a better understanding of who God is, what the big picture of His plans for the world are, and why He gives us the commandments He does.
Talking your book ideas over with God can also provide insight and conviction on what He would like you to include in your manuscript. There have been times early on in writing novel drafts that I would write scenes that mimicked reality as a form of payback for how someone treated me in the past, but God convicted me to either rewrite those scenes or delete them from the final manuscript. The final manuscripts ended up being a lot better for it, had more spiritual significance, and I no longer had a guilty conscience.
My best advice when trying to figure out if God approves of the content or subject matter in your book is to gauge how you feel when writing about it. When you’re writing about it, does it make you feel excited, like it will make a difference in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike and nudge them closer to God, or does it make you feel mean, dirty, or like you’re betraying someone close to you? If it feels like the latter, the Holy Spirit is probably trying to tell you to reconsider and make some edits. God’s got something better in mind.
Telling the Truth with a Loving Heart
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”–1 Peter 3:15-16, KJV
Because Christian authors inherently go against the world’s status quo by spreading the truth about God to others, we are bound to face backlash for challenging the world’s views. While we’ll cover enduring the opposition in the next post in the series, let’s discuss how we can go about writing biblical truths with a loving heart.
1 Peter 3:15-16 says that we should give answers to everyone that asks for a reason for our hope (aka, Christ) in meekness and fear. Synonyms for “meekness” include humility, patience, and gentleness. Therefore, we should strive to exude the same attributes through our writing.
How to Meekly Write About Biblical Truths
This is easier said than done. If you’re like me–very opinionated and well-versed in writing out arguments to defend said opinions–you may have a tendency to brow-beat your biblical truths into your manuscripts. I’ve written scenes where characters are discussing certain things about Christian behavior and accidentally have them go off on a tangent. Sometimes, it works and those scenes make the final cut, such as the scene in The Crush where Emery and Sawyer discuss church with Rider, but for the most part, I’ve found less is more when it comes to depicting Christianity in writing.
By less is more, I don’t mean the manuscript should barely mention Christianity; instead, like the golden rule of storytelling suggests, it’s better to show than tell about it. Instead of having the characters badmouth a certain sinful behavior again and again, show within the story how the sin causes strife and consequences for the characters. Instead of narrating to the reader how a relationship with God has transformed their life, show the progression of the character’s relationship with God over the course of the story. A perfect example of this is Katie’s journey of faith throughout Jenny B. Jones’s Katie Parker Productions series.
Tone is also a vital part of writing about Christianity in both fiction and nonfiction. Whether the book really is or not, there will be readers who leave reviews complaining about how “overly righteous” or “preachy” your book is. While most people who do this aren’t open to Christianity to begin with and went into the book with a closed mind, we don’t need to dump a bottle of kerosene on the fire from Chapter One by taking on a righteous, Bible-thumping tone.
The verses above say we should spread the word of God with meekness (humility, patience, gentleness), which does not equate to depicting every single Christian in fiction as being a smug, goody-two-shoes who constantly judges or makes snotty remarks about non-Christians, or even new Christians who have messy pasts. Believe it or not, there are many books on Christian fiction shelves that do just that, and it makes my skin crawl. You don’t win someone over to your way of thinking by constantly insulting them or claiming you’re better than them.
The world already thinks lowly of Christians, that we’re self-righteous hypocrites that don’t practice what we preach. When we write books that hatefully exalt a Pharisee-esque version of Christianity, we’re living up to their status quo. Instead, my fellow Christian authors, let’s challenge their status quo. Let’s show the world what true, biblically-sound Christianity is like, and that can only be done by writing in the tone God has asked us to write in.
So, let’s go against the status quo. Let’s write the books God has called us to write.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What are your thoughts on Part 3 of the Writing by Faith series? How are you working to go against the world’s status quo with your writing? What are your suggestions for writing Christian truths with a loving heart?
Oh, and one more thing…
I have started accepting clients for editorial services for Clean and/or Christian Young Adult and Middle Grade books! If you would like more information, or are in need of an editor, please check out my Editorial Services page!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.