Should a Christian read novels?

feather pen, paper, inkWell, that seems to be a ‘thorny’ question.

My husband and I are blessed to belong to a church whose ministers, and sermonette givers, explain the background of the scriptures.

For example, one minister has gone into a great deal of detail explaining the many ways that Jesus Christ’s trials were illegal. (Both Jewish and Roman trials.) We thought we already knew, but there was a lot we did not know. Another minister went into great detail in ‘Imaging the Garden’ (of Eden).  The one that inspired the Apostle of John series was a Bible study by yet another of our ministers.

So why is putting that information into a novel so different?

I can only speak for myself.

But first I ask some questions?

  • How long does it take to read the story of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son?
  • How long does it take to read about David, Bathsheba and the child they lost?
  • How about Hezekiah and the challenges of his reign?

Hezekiah prays for deliverance

I can read these quickly, or with some thought… but if someone ‘fleshes them out’ into ‘real’ people, I don’t read over them unthinkingly, and I can learn from the way they handled things… once I realise they were people like we are.

There are so many examples I could give… so many books I could write (God permitting). But in reply to the question, should a Christian read novels, as a writer, all I can do is tell you why I wrote the Apostle John series. (So far, only one has been published. The others in the series are coming.)

I was inspired by the detail given in the ‘John, Bible study’. I made a great many notes. Life intruded and nothing else happened… for a while. Must have been nine months later when something happened to stir the idea to life.  (Oh, sounds like a gestation period. Never thought of it like that before.)

The notes were retrieved, and then came research to check that there was more than one source. The later life of John, the apostle started to become real.

He was real.

What was fictitious was the family he was ‘given’ in Hold the Faith.

What was real?

Did he take Mary the mother of Christ to live in Ephesus, as one tradition states, or did he go as some legends say, to Gaul, then to Britain?

In Hold the Faith, I have chosen to follow the tradition that John went to Ephesus. The Roman Catholic church has recognised Mary’s house in Ephesus and it was visited by a former Pope.

All of that aside… why the novel? Why not write a treatise?

Because that doesn’t let me show John as a person.

He was the apostle Jesus loved… but he can still be a ‘paper cut out’ – a ‘plaster saint’. It is so easy to miss lessons from Biblical characters’ lives by saying “Oh, but he talked with God’, or, in the case of John, “he walked with Jesus,” and miss the opportunity to learn a valuable ‘how to’ handle a situation.

There is much research available, and with careful sifting, the person behind the apostle can be discovered. After all, he was one of the ‘sons of thunder’… so he had to overcome just as we do.

Another reason for carefully researched Christian, historical fiction.

I learned a great deal writing it, I am still learning. It is my hope that other people will learn much from reading the novel. If nothing else, just what it was like living in those times.

Read about Hold the Faith, the novel, here… http://www.holdthefaith.net/#!books/cnec

In my view (biased perhaps) there is a place for fiction in the Christian’s life.

And I might add… long before I even dreamed of writing a novel, Lynn Austin’s Hezekiah series helped both my husband and I to better understand the challenges Hezekiah faced, and why the Assyrians were so feared.

Shalom

Susan

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