1. Excellent stuff here!!  I loved your point about how our Christian fiction will be as Christian as we make it, and it has to be intentional, but it’s also fine to just focus on the quality of our craft, just like any other artist or worker in the world should as Christians.  We’re not preachers, after all – we’re writers.  We called to evangelize, because we’re Christians…but we aren’t called to any kind of special evangelism above and beyond the call to Christians who don’t write books.  “Who are you to judge another man’s servant?” is definitely the right verse for this topic.

    • I also loved this: “I find it ironic that those who write prescriptive CBA/EPCA fiction tend to be the ones who insist that we need to use Christian fiction to evangelize. I find it ironic because plastics and CBA/EPCA fiction are better suited to edify the Church than to evangelize the lost.”

      So true.

  2. Jessica says:

    Thank you for sharing. I appreciated your insights and your engagement with the topic. It really is complicated at times to define and explain, and, often, as a Christian writer, I feel as if I am torn in two directions in terms of telling a good expectations and the expectations/restrictions within the CBA market.


    But, in my opinion, the best point is that if we do it, we are to do it right. Because otherwise, we turn Christianity into a punchline and give people even more reasons to steer clear. Which is sad and unfortunate.


    Thank you again. Have a wonderful day!

  3. “If we’re going to read well-written Christian fiction, we need to eschew the CBA/EPCA model of prescriptive fiction in favor of a more realistic descriptive storytelling that accurately describes the world with all its problems, so that we can enjoy fiction that resonates with more readers and shows how the Gospel is relevant to those problems.” I agree and disagree with this in the space of a  breath. Maybe I take to task the “need to eschew,” rather than then entire statement because the CBA provides a central place for readers (or buyers) to choose “safe” materials to read.

    At the same time, I agree. It is a hard task to find quality books/novellas which appeal to my genre in the CBA. As my teenager usually says (after I search and find a CBA book she may like), “It was okay.”

    I found this quote on the ACFW forums and I have it saved to remind myself that I’m not the only one who feels this way. It’s directed towards YA, but it applies here:

    “I think the perception of today’s kids is that Christian Fiction is their great-grandmas’ reading material. We need YA that can excite youth, and most of them go to public schools. They have required reading for English that may be shocking, depending on the agenda of the teacher and/or English dept.” –  Nike Chillemi

    While I write overtly Christian in my current WIP, I see the flip side of the coin. I’ve read poorly written “this character represents Jesus” books, and I suspect I will read more in the future. This post was a fabulous read and I’ve shared it with my writers group. Nothing like a hot topic to get the synapses firing!

    • Tony Breeden says:


      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. My first novel was overtly Christian, as I mentioned. I set out to write the sort of books I would like to read. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really finding this in my local Christian bookstore, which is CBA for the most part. Bear in mind, I’m a guy. My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard [no lie]. I’m pretty easy to please, but as a fan of Firefly, LOTR, Jackie Chan, Star Wars, Sherlock Holmes and the MCU, you can imagine what sort of fiction interests me… and how precious little of it gets published by the CBA industry. Alas!

      I strongly feel that an industry dominated by CBA standards have produced and even encouraged poorer quality storytelling so long as the book is [more or less] doctrinally sound. That criticism spills over into Christian film, which holds itself to a similar standard. Not all of it. But the trend seems to be increasing. Your teens recognize the difference in quality; however, to be clear about my “eschew” comment, I’m not advocating an abandonment of appropriate material for appropriate ages. I just think the CBA standards aren’t the way to go about it.


      Tony Breeden

      • “you can imagine what sort of fiction interests me… and how precious little of it gets published by the CBA industry. Alas!”  Ah…my type of statement!

        Funny that this blog hit last week and Steve Laube has a post today about fiction proposals which mentions “unique story” hooks. He goes on to say: “The editor then said, ‘Where is the originality? They all start sounding the same.”

        I couldn’t help but think of this blog post and your points. I haven’t written something similar and haven’t been able to turn a head in my general direction because of it. I’ve been asked if I can make it more contemporary (no) or romantic (no).

        Your comment about recognizing quality? Spot on. Lord willing, more quality AND diverse books will grace the CBA.

  4. notleia says:

    On a practical level, a good evaluative question to ask is, “Does this make the story suck (or whatever your preferred synonym)?” (Bonus, it can be applied to almost every other choice you could make about writing.)

    If the evangelism slows down the pacing and/or makes your characters seem like pod-people, it’s most likely a bad decision. But if your pace was already  slow and your characters already like pod-people, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

What do you think?