What Makes Christian Books “Christian”–and Does It Matter?

What is the identifying mark of Christian books/writing? This is a question I’ve asked a lot of people, not just writers and other professionals in the industry but also readers, since they’re the ones who make choices about which books to buy–or not. The answers have been varied.

I’ve heard things like, “The book needs to present the Gospel”; “There should be no cussing or excessive violence and definitely no sex or nudity”; “There should be a clear message of transformation due to Christ coming in to someone’s life.”

These are all valid statements, but I wonder if one particular scripture verse doesn’t give us a bit clearer set of guidelines while still allowing for individual preferences and personalities. Ephesians 4:s9 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

I love that, don’t you? For me, as a writer of Christian fiction and nonfiction, I receive clear boundaries and direction:

1) Don’t write anything corrupt

2) Look for ways to edify (build up) my readers

3) Seek to impart grace to those who read/hear what I write

Aren’t those simple and yet helpful points to follow when defining Christian writing? But what about if you’re a reader and not a writer? Can these three basic directives help you choose not only what you might want to read yourself but also what you would recommend to others? I believe they would, but I’d love to hear what you think. Are these three points helpful to you? If so, in what ways? Do you have other suggestions to add to this brief list? And does it matter? If so, why?

Happy reading, fellow lovers of words!

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About alandkathi66

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, married to my junior/senior high school sweetheart, Al. I am the author of 40 books, with several more in process. I enjoy speaking and teaching at writers' conferences and women's events, and I am passionate about supporting the persecuted Church and fighting human trafficking. I also serve as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions for Elk Lake Publishing. My most recent releases are The Singing Quilt (March 2014); The 40-Day Devotional Challenge (January 2014); The Doctor's Christmas Quilt (October 2013).
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6 Responses to What Makes Christian Books “Christian”–and Does It Matter?

  1. Marianne says:

    i totally agree with your thoughts. (just an aside note, that Martin Whitbread of Living Books Inc. says…Christian means to be born again, and since books can’t do that, they must be family value books…)

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  2. Good point, Marianne! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Blessings!

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  3. Lynn McMonigal says:

    Thank you for sharing that verse, Kathi. (Ephesians 4:29) Not room here to go into detail, but there is something happening within my family that has me really hurting. I’ve been thinking about putting my thoughts on paper and posting them on my blog. What I want to say, though, would not be at all helpful in anyway, other than to ignite a HUGE fire storm and most likely cause more division within the family. I am so glad that God led me to read this post before I did something very, very foolish.

    So maybe that is what makes a story a “Christian” story. It’s something that leads the reader to examine his or her heart, to be sure thoughts and actions are in line with Christ’s teachings. I’ll admit that not every book I read is a so-called Christian book. But what I look for in a book is one where there is no foul language and no explicit sex. Both of those are things that turn me off a book right away. Even if I am really engrossed in the story line, I will stop reading as soon as the language or sex offends me. Life is too short to waste on offensive material!

    Lynn

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  4. Wow. Powerful, Lynn! Thanks so much for humbly and openly sharing your heart with us. Praying for resolution to that problem in your family!

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  5. Maureen Lang says:

    Great reminder of what we aspire to do as writers, Kathi! Thanks for your post. As both a reader and a writer, when a story teaches me a bit about God as well as the human condition, I come away refreshed. On the other hand, when I see a movie or read something that has no insight (if it just goes after a one-dimensional reaction) I feel like I’ve just wasted some time. Entertainment is great, but is so much better when there is another layer to it.

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