Deciding to label a book as Christian is an act of faith. Put simply, we don’t know the heart of an author for certain. The act of putting together letters into words, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters and books is an art of construction. It’s deciding at every turn what rightfully come next. For some writers, that decision will be made by the manner of book being written. For others, there will be an artistic or narrative sensibility. But, with a Christian book, each word choice is a joint decision between the author and God. Anything found in a Christian book should uphold God, the Gospel, the Church, and the followers of Jesus.
Now we hit a road bump: there is no way of knowing the mind of God. We have clues as to the character of God. Clues themselves written down, handed from generation to generation, and bound as a collection of sixty-six books called the Holy Bible. And we read those clues and draw conclusions from them. We read ‘Love thy neighbour’, and so conclude we must show kindness to those we encounter. But those clues are not always clear, and when we are presented with language that can seem opaque, difficult, figurative or out of kilter, the conclusions we draw will begin to vary wildly. We are only human. Each reader brings their own story to a book, and as we read the Bible we too bring our own experiences of the world to its pages. The inherent differences between each other, and thus our Biblical readings, has created rifts down the line. A history of bifurcations that begin as seeds of disagreement which grew into denominations. And so now we have a wide spectrum within Christianity, which is ultimately for the better. There is one God, but we were created many. It’s in our nature to be individual beings, with independent thoughts and unique experiences. But those differences can at times be incredibly stark.
This takes us back to the question, ‘What makes a book Christian?’
Within Christianity, we are so varied that on occasion it has led individuals to be sceptical of the faith of those wildly different. And that voice is not to be shouted down, just as it is best not to shout at all. We cannot know the faith of an author, but we have their words. Words that we can measure against basic tenets of Christianity. But, naturally, we are not able to read every book we sell. We labour in as much a continual act of faith as yourself. Our publishers pride themselves on bringing Christian voices to the world, and we work with them to help make that happen. We have faith in them.
A Christian book raises Christianity, rather than tear it down. Its author believes in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whether in nourishment of the good or pruning of the problematic, Christian books exist to further your faith. Through fictional escape that upholds Christian ideal, Bible studies the deepen your understanding of the Biblical text, guides for living as a Christian and everything else in-between, Christian books are there as much a part of the author’s journey of faith as they are of yours.
So, whenever you see a book that appears at odds with what you believe, be encouraged that a slightly different faith is no less genuine, no less in love with God, and no less desirous of seeing God’s love and kingdom on earth.
July 18th, 2018 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon