It's a Bit Too Christian

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 3, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The title of my blog post this week was a comment that really took me aback a couple weeks ago. I am a published author and my first novel, Call to Arms, was released last year. Call to Arms is a story I wrote about a small church youth group where the kids seek to actually walk the Christian walk. But in the process, they clash with a satanic gang and things escalate rather quickly. I show realities about spiritual warfare and cross it with an action-packed medieval, fantasy realm that runs parallel to the main modern-day setting. Exactly how the two storylines cross is something I leave to the reader. So far the responses of those who have read the book have been beyond what I could have imagined.

However, I have had challenges getting my book into the main bookstores such as my local Barnes and Noble, Lifeway Christian Bookstore, and Family Christian Stores. Most other authors from my publisher have had no problem getting in for a book signing, but I have struggled to get anyone to talk to me, let alone help me set anything up. A friend of mine went to one of these stores to ask if they would be able to order and carry my book and the employee there told her, “Sounds intense and a bit too Christian.” Now, I want to clarify that this was an employee and not necessarily the opinion of this particular store or chain. But this statement not only left me laughing, it also brings up a very interesting trend I’m seeing today.

First, one of the things that any Christian should know is that they are a work in progress. Our purpose in living on earth, after we have been born again, regenerated, and dedicated to follow Christ, is to be made into the image of Christ. It is a gradual process of working out the sin, our selfish “old-man,” and being made more and more into the image of Christ. We see this in Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:20-24, and Hebrews 12:1-2. My point here is that none of us are ever going get to that “goal” before we die and God takes us to heaven. That is not to say we should not try or press towards that goal, because there is absolutely nothing as valuable as being closer and closer in our relationship with Christ. No one can be “too Christian” because no one can be “Christian enough.”

So why would someone say that any work is “too Christian,” let alone a person? I see a few reasons why. First, they would say “too Christian” but what they mean is “too preachy.” In any fiction novel in particular, the way I would define “too preachy” is when the author takes the reader outside the story, often through a character monologue or through narration, to tell the moral of the story. Others define it differently, but it is somewhat along these lines. People don’t like to read a fiction novel and then get preached at. They will read a non-fiction book or listen to a sermon to do that. Fiction authors should let the story do the “preaching,” because when the author does it, those are the pages most readers will either skim over or simply set the book down and not pick it up. Is my book “too preachy”? I purposefully asked my Beta-readers to check for that and so far, none of my readers have suggested it is, including readers who are not believers.

Another reason people may say it is “too Christian” is much more likely. It is because they do not understand Christianity themselves and it goes above and beyond the level they are at. We have a lot of false doctrines that are very popular these days in the church. The two big ones are the Prosperity Gospel and the Emergent Church. Prosperity Gospel in a nutshell is “believe in God so he can bless you financially so you can live your best life now with worldly riches.” Emergent Church theology in a nut shell is “God allows his Word to bend to the cultural needs, so we can actually make the Bible say whatever we want it to say.” I’ve been learning this over the last couple years, but many of the Christian publishers and bookstores are actually pushing these doctrines, in part because we (American church mentality as a whole) are more concerned about keeping the goats in the church then we are about feeding the sheep what they need fed. So the comment of “it’s too Christian” is, in this case, actually saying, “I don’t want to have to change my life and I don’t want you telling me otherwise.” Such comments stem from jealousy and/or coveting what God is doing in the life of someone who simply trusts him and obeys him. Or they stem from laziness. Some of these people may be Christian In Name Only.

I want to emphasize that I am not talking about “super Christians.” Some of my characters do get somewhat of that mentality as the story progresses, but I show the reality that the Christian life cannot be lived on one’s own strength. It is something I am still learning myself. I’ll look at a conversation I’ve had online and I’ll think back and say, “I butchered that one.” It’s because I’m still struggling to learn and master living by the Spirit and not in accordance to the flesh. That is a lot of what our Worldview Warriors posts the last few weeks have been addressing in our study of Romans. No one is ever going to get it completely right. But there is one who can: Jesus Christ. As a Christian, he lives in my heart and I am in the process of giving every area of my life over to him for him to rule and use. The person who does this will find it is not them doing it, but Jesus doing it through them.

Overall, I am still laughing at the comment that my novel is “too Christian.” I’ll take it as a complement. When I taught at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference back in May about “Writing from a Biblical Worldview,” one of the things I emphasized on was this point: “Do not compromise the message God gave you to write for the sake of a few sales.” And I am not going to do that. If it means I won’t become a New York Times Bestseller, so be it. Any sales I do get are a bonus. I do not plan to have this book be my primary income, though if I get good royalties, I’ll take it. I sought to write the message regarding spiritual warfare that I needed to write and to use the story to help people get closer to God and back into Scripture. If that is being “too Christian,” fine. I’ll be “too Christian.” Let us all be “too Christian” and let Christ be Christ in and through us.

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