Carole Whang Schutter
Victoria Christopher Murray

Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author. Never having lost the dream to write, she answered the call when the “bug” hit her in 1997. Victoria originally self-published her first story; however, in 2000, Time Warner republished Temptation. Life changed as she made numerous best-seller lists and remained there for nine consecutive months. To top that, in 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature. Joy; Truth Be Told; Grown Folks Business; A Sin and A Shame; The Ex Files; and Too Little, Too Late followed on the same path. In 2008, Victoria’s first novels in her Christian fiction teen series—The Divine Divas—were published.

What Is Christian Fiction?

What is Christian fiction? These four words are a major topic of conversation in literary circles. Throughout the country all kinds of discussions and debates, magazine articles and workshop panels are attempting to answer this question.

If you ask twenty readers for their definition, you will get thirty different answers. And don’t even think about asking an author whose work has been labeled (often by others) as Christian fiction because certainly, whatever that author writes is Christian fiction to him or her.

But as one who has been writing in this genre (not by choice, but by heart) for over twelve years, I say there should be very few guidelines to writing Christian fiction.

I know, that’s a shocker! But here’s the thing, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands us to tell others the good news and make disciples for the kingdom, teaching them to observe all the things that Christ has commanded of us. That is the Great Commission; that is our mission. That’s it! I’ve searched that Scripture and there are no other instructions, no specific directives on exactly how we should do this. Sounds to me like Jesus was saying, “Just. Do. It!”

The Scripture talks about reaching the nations. By definition that would be reaching out to millions, all kinds, with all types of differences. So, to bring others to Christ, we would have to reach people in different ways. Obviously, it cannot always be done through the spoken word. People are not limited only by distance, for many live across the street from a church but would never take a single step into a sanctuary to hear a sermon. Contact cannot always be made through television or movies because many will not watch anything Christ-centered. And not all can be reached through music because, again, many run the other way when they hear the word gospel.

But even with all of these obstacles, we know for sure that someone has been impacted, someone has heard the gospel, and someone has come to Christ—all because of a sermon, a movie, or even a song. This shows that although there is only one way to God the Father, there are many roads leading to Christ.

The same is true of the written word. Just like the different roads, there are different roads in fiction. If we’re going to reach

people, if we’re going to speak to the nations, we have to do it using their language. No one would attempt to spread the gospel to someone who speaks Spanish by preaching to her in French. So, why would novels be any different? Why should the words on a page be limited and pleasing to only a few?

Yet there are Christians who believe there is only one way to write Christian fiction. I often find myself on the bad end of a holier-than-thou reader’s rant telling me that I am nothing more than a heathen because of the stories I write. I am always shocked by this kind of reader’s limitations. Never do they consider that although the book may not have been for her because of where she is in her walk, my story may have reached others—hundreds of others.

I’m even convinced that a Christian book could have explicit sex, and maybe—dare I say—even a few curse words. Because if the central message is all about Christ, isn’t that the point? The author has to speak the language of the people he or she is trying to reach, the ones who truly need to hear the message of Jesus Christ. To preach the gospel, the author and the reader have to connect!

The truth is not every book is for everyone, and one book may lead just one person to Christ. But God wants that one. Remember the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18? Jesus teaches about rejoicing for the one found sheep over the ninety-nine who did not go astray. One book—even with a few explicit sex scenes and a couple of cuss words—might reach that one woman who recognizes herself inside of that character. Right in the middle of that scene, a reader could be driven to her knees . . . and Christ will meet her right there, right between those pages. And you had better believe a celebration commences in heaven—all because of one.

So now, after all that, I will seek to answer the opening question: What is Christian fiction? Is it a book based just on biblical characters? No! Is it a book that only the saved would want to read? No! Is it a story lacking scenes that may make one blush? No!

Christian fiction is any story that satisfies the Great Commission; if it plants the seed, if it draws one closer to Christ in any manner, it is Christian fiction to me!