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The Christian Fiction Market Reflects a Dangerous Worldview Shift

As I’m preparing for my workshop at the upcoming Orange County Christian Writers Fellowship Conference on “The Christian Speculative Fiction Writer,” I’ve been pondering what the Christian fiction market possibly reveals about our theology.

If your beliefs are reflected in what you read, what does your library say about your worldview?

Francis Schaeffer in “True Spirituality” illustrated the difference between secular and biblical worldviews by using two men, sitting in two chairs, in the same room. The room represents the universe, but both men have dramatically different perspectives on what they see. One chair is the Materialist’s, who sees only half the world – the visible world. The other is the Supernaturalist’s, who sees both halves of the world – the visible and the invisible.

  • Materialist Chair — The Visible World
  • Supernaturalist Chair — The Visible AND Invisible World

Please note that the Supernaturalist does not just see the invisible world. Unlike the Materialist, the Supernaturalist sees the complete universe, the world as it really is. So even though the Materialist may have a “complete” view of their world, and the science and stats to prove it, they are still only seeing half of the real world.

Interestingly enough, Schaeffer suggests that there’s a cultural shift occurring, that many American Christians have abandoned Supernaturalism in favor of Materialism. We’ve vacated our rightful chair. We’ve relinquished an entirely biblical worldview. So while we claim to believe in a God who performs miracles, a florid invisible world surrounding us, myriads of magnificent and horrific beings vying for our attention, and an unspeakable Paradise that awaits us, we live remarkably bland, earthbound, materialistic lives. We live in only half the world.

I wonder that this worldview shift is reflected in the Christian market.

Could the preponderance of Historicals, Romance, and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers?

It’s a lot like the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson had a hard time intellectually digesting the miracles in the Gospels, so he removed them. What was left has been called the Jefferson Bible.  It’s a Bible without miracles. Faith without the Fantastic. It’s like a spiritual condom — Belief in God, with protection against the Supernatural.

You don’t read with a spiritual condom, do you?

But perhaps even more fascinating than our shift toward Materialism, is the secular world’s shift toward Supernaturalism. If pop culture is any indication, modern man is incurably addicted to the Fantastic. We see it in our art, films, and literature. Each year, some of the most popular movies and novels contain speculative elements, whether ghosts, angels, magic, or futurism. It’s a weird reversal of roles.

While Christians are embracing Materialism, mainstream Americans are, perhaps unconsciously, moving towards Supernaturalism.

Our world is hungry for Spiritual, Supernatural themes! Having a view of the the Complete Universe, we are perfectly positioned to meet that need. But sadly, the Christian fiction market has little to offer.

We have swapped chairs.

Could the proliferation of Historicals, Romance, and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers — a shift away from a biblical worldview to something secular, sanitized, stripped of mystery, and utterly predictable?

A biblical worldview IS a “supernatural” worldview. And Christians are called to live there. We believe in angels and devils. We believe in signs and wonders. We believe in life after the grave. We believe in chariots of fire and a Man walking on water. We speak to God and are spoken to by Him. We believe that one day Jesus Christ will return to earth and set everything right. In short, We believe in a universe that is anything but “natural.”

So why isn’t that reflected in the Christian fiction market?

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{ 61 comments… add one }
  • Marcia April 21, 2012, 1:40 PM

    “Our world is hungry for Spiritual, Supernatural themes! Having a view of the the Complete Universe, we are perfectly positioned to meet that need. But sadly, the Christian fiction market has little to offer. We have swapped chairs.”

    Exactly. If we abandon ground we should be occupying, the world will come and fill it, in ways we would not choose. And what do we usually do then? Condemn, complain, and judge. We moan that the devil stole thus-and-so from us, and have no clue that the real truth is that we carelessly, foolishly, surrendered it.

    This particular swapping isn’t all that new. It’s in at least its third decade, if not more. What’s new is that people will finally talk about it, and the internet gives us much more chance to do so.

    Back in the 90s, I wrote a “supernatural” WFH novel for a big Christian publisher. A number of people were writing for this series, which was published under a pen name. The biggest rule was this: Anything supernatural in the book had to be explained in the natural by the end of the story. I kid you not. The “weird goings-on” could only SEEM supernatural. There had to be a perfectly natural explanation given in the end. I’m sure the rationale was that we weren’t to be suggesting demon activity (these were kids’ books), but the irony was so sad, and I really question whether anybody saw that irony.

    I love the mainstream’s current emphasis on the supernatural. People have been created to need the supernatural, and they’ll get it somewhere. God is trying to tell us something. If only the whole church would wake up to the opportunity. It’s going to take the people who are in a position to effect the change (publish the work), and the potential buyers, both. But so many people are so busy shaking their fingers at this and that, and unfortunately they stop there.

  • Skadi meic Beorh April 29, 2012, 8:20 AM

    Even before my wife became a Christian, meaning before she was baptized in water and the Spirit, she tried with great difficulty to read these watered-down “Christian” historical/period works, and was disheartened by them, ultimately losing interest in Victorian Christians with their parlor parties. This is a serious problem, and I do agree that these are the result of a radical shift in theology. Instead of seeing the full universe with all of its entities, seen and unseen, as we should, and as the Bible teaches us is proper Judeo-Christianity, we run and hide whenever wiccans or asatru gothi or faery-seekers open their mouths about the invisible worlds surrounding us. We, as Christians, should be in the forefront, teaching all of them. They should not be trying to teach us.

  • Elissa Gobert, Hall June 30, 2012, 1:47 AM

    I was looking for information that would help direct me as to how to market my book on my supernatural life that I live for well over twenty years and I ran across your site. It was very insightful and the reply from the other was very helpful thank you all.
    Hi my name is Elissa Gobert, Hall and I have been experiencing many supernatural episodes the scope is endless this has been going on for well over twenty years. I tried to publish my book over twenty years and I was told by the “Vintage Press” that they were not interested in my book. However less than ten years later “Touch by an Angel “became a series.
    Today I have started telling it in my blog; http://www.alive3.blog.com I have an enormous amount of information detailing events where God Almighty allowed be to experience by his power and it all started happening shortly after I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior but I also added;”You will need to prove to me that you are who you say you are because I am not just going to imitate “Church people” and if you are real I am your forever.
    It was shortly after I said those words well over twenty years ago that HE began taking me on the most mind boggling, thought provoking, high pursuit chasing, reading His word and learning His ways almost without ceasing, I am hunger for Him and totally driven because I am in awe capture by His Love for; always looking for him to take me on the next lesson in his power and wonder as I have adjusted my life style to accommodate Him as a yielding vessel, a solder waiting for instructions from him.
    I realize I am blessed and highly favored and I am grateful and grateful to be used but I am in disobedience because I have not finished my book so other faith may increase and draw them back home to their creator where they are safe, protected and provided for.
    My blog address is http://www.alive3.blog.com the title of my blog is; “My supernatural life experiences since I believed” and the subtitle is; Out of body travel through portals, visions, dreams, seeing, hearing and feeling in the spirit super naturally for almost two decades and every word is true.

  • B. Warren Hill April 1, 2014, 2:27 PM

    I have a question. Why is no one accessing Amazon Kindle Books. I have found tons of Christian Sci Fi there. I plan to publish an exciting new book call “Blazing of the Light” due out in May 2014. Contains moocho Sci Fi in a period set 700 years from now. Plenty of supernatual elements like angels, demons and standard Sci Fi themes like Time travel. Couple of new ideas never thought of. I don’t intend to go the Christian Book Store route. Ebooks are the best way to go!

  • Wendy December 7, 2014, 3:45 PM

    I believe Christians got their ideas all backwards. Christians and Atheists and Agnostics can only be aware of one world and that is the material world we are in. So the idea that Christians can transcend to another world is incorrect. Not to say a person having faith or praying is untrue, but that only occurs in our own environment and we don’t know what goes on in the heavens.

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