Thursday, October 29, 2015

Christian, Non-Christian or Anti-Christian

Christian, Non-Christian or Anti-Christian--what kind of book was that?

I don't know about you, but I get frustrated with labels. Too often, it seems to me, people misuse them. And misused labels are like walls that box people in--or out. So, for what it's worth, here's my take.

Christian writing is Christ-focused writing designed to either lead people to faith, help people of faith, bless people of faith, and/or entertain people of faith. It can be theological texts, Christian-living self-help guides, or even ‘safe’ fiction. Sometimes it’s straight forward, sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s message-driven and jargon-laden. The tone of Christian writing depends on the audience targeted, and the skill of the writer. It’s pretty easy to identify, though. Publishers, and especially self-publishers, design titles and covers that stand out, and mark their books as “Christian.” That’s not always the case, but it’s common enough that most people could pick out a Christian book just by looking at its cover.

Non-Christian books do not openly address faith issues. They may still contain a strong moral thread, the battle of good vs evil, or tales of redemption and healing, because these are part of our basic human condition. Non-Christian books may contain Christian characters. They may present issues of faith as they impact life. But for the most part they don’t try to spread the Gospel message. Many Christians write books that fall into the category and sadly, some are condemned for it. Rather than accepting the merits and validity of this kind of writing, some Christian brothers and sisters accuse these writers of abandoning their calling, or even their faith.

Anti-Christian writing seeks to tear down Christ. Notice I didn’t say it seeks to tear down the Christian message, Christian teaching, or the Christian church. Anti-Christian writing is clearly focused on Jesus. It seeks to belittle and abuse Him. True, God’s people can be tarred with the same brush as Jesus in anti-Christian writing, but that’s a side-effect, not the purpose in this kind of writing. Too often we Christians mistake writing that challenges our message, our lifestyle and/or our churches for anti-Christian. We forget God used prophets of old to speak out against God’s people, and their wrong practices. So we gather in protest, we boycott, we slander, we label such writers as dangerous and thus, I wonder if we ourselves don’t become the dangerous ones. 

Jayne E. Self writes Christian books, but admits, more often than not she prefers to read non-Christian ones.


  1. Thanks for this clarification, Jayne. It's important to know what we're talking about (or against as the case may be) so we don't judge wrongly. I've read a lot of wonderful non-Christian books by both Christian and non-Christian authors.

    1. Hi Jan. One of my favourite authors, Hannah Hurnard (Hind's Feet on High Places) wrote about how important it is for Christians to remain open to read what others write. It doesn't mean we embrace philosophies and beliefs that contradict our own, simply that we strive to understand. She said we become richer for it. I've always tried to remember that.

  2. A good point, Jayne. The prophets spoke out strongly against the mistakes God's people made. What can look like tearing down may contain the seeds of valid criticism, but it's easier to judge the messenger than hear the message. I'm reading an excellent series on John Fischer's blog, there was a post particularly relevant to this-

  3. Hi Autumn, Thanks for sharing John Fisher's blog. Good thoughts to ponder.