Though this article is written from a religious perspective, the principles discussed here apply to everyone, whether they are religious or not] In the last lesson we studied the characteristics of good writings. We did not mention the Christian faith there because there are plenty of good writings even outside the Christian fold.
Most of these writers are not Christians, and have probably little knowledge about Lord Jesus, yet both the content and way of presentation of their writings is acceptable to the Christian. However, when the Christian world-view is integrated with good writings, it makes better things best by imparting real meaning to them. This is why we are going to study this subject in some detail.
A Christian writer never looks down upon good writings that come from the pen of non Christians. On the contrary, he is only thankful that in spite of man’s sin and perversion, some people still recognize many truths that are acceptable even to a child of God. The Christian, however, knows that only a writing produced with a Christian worldview will produce a lasting change in the world. With this in his mind, he encourages every writing that is good, but at the same time he tries to get into print with the best that can ever be given to man — and that is Christian Writing. We will, therefore, discuss the subject under the following headings:
I–Christian writing defined
2–The importance and uniqueness of Christian writing.
Christian Writing Defined
“Christian writings” are not some kind of printed church sermons. Even though good Christian writings contain plenty of exhortations and explanations, they are not sermons. Further, a Christian story is not a fantasy artificially put together in which all characters ultimately get saved. True Christian writing is something beyond that, and we will define the following about it:
I–What qualifies something as a Christian writing
2–What characteristics must be seen in Christian writings
3–What results can we expect
Communication is not just transfer of words between two persons, but it also involves attitude!!
I–What Qualifies A Writing As Christian Writing: If Christian writings on any subject are different from what is produced by non Christians, it must surely exhibit some distinguishing characteristics that qualify it to be labelled as a Christian writing. A writing must fulfill several conditions before it can be classified as Christian. The minimum required qualifications are as follows:
THE WRITER MUST BE A CHRISTIAN: It is obvious that a non Christian cannot produce a Christian writing. The best he can do is to parrot Christian truths without any real understanding about what they mean. The writer must definitely be a Christian (that is, a born again person) if his writings have to qualify as Christian writing.
“Christian” means “related to Christ.” Only a person who has experienced the new life offered by Christ can author Christian writings. Works produced by nominal Christians can only be called “Christianized” writings.
THE WRITER MUST LIVE A CONSISTENT CHRISTIAN LIFE: Only the writings coming from the pen of a consistent Christian can be included in this category. If he lives an unstable, unbalanced, or unbecoming life, his writings cannot claim to be Christian. What one professes and practices must match with each other before he can claim God’s blessing and approval over his output.
The life of a consistent Christian should demonstrate a love for God and also for his neighbours. What message can he give if he does not love God ! For whom does he write if he does not show a consistent love for his neighbours !!
The writings of a “church-going” man do not automatically qualify as Christian literature. He must show consistency in his love for God as well as for man if his writings have to be considered Christian.
THE MESSAGE MUST BE CHRISTIAN: Every writing has a message or two for the reader. Sometimes it is explicit in the text, while at other times it will be implicit. There is no writing that’s free of a message. Every book, article, story, or poem, communicates some message — direct or disguised.
For a writing to qualify as Christian it is necessary that both the explicit as well as the suggested messages be Christian. The values preached by the writing, the world-view propounded by it, and the slant that it shows, must all be Christian in nature.
Human life is very complex, and one can look at it from many angles. Whatever the angle, everything ultimately reduces to just two viewpoints — the biblical or the non-biblical. A writing, whether fiction or non fiction, can qualify as Christian only if it has been written from the Christian point of view.
I must hasten to add that the “Christian viewpoint” here does not mean that the story should contain only Christian characters, having Christian names, taking place in a Christian family only. It does not mean that every writing must be loaded with Bible verses, praise the Lord and amens. The story or article does not have to preach and it does not have to be unrealistic.
What I mean is that the sum total of the story should reflect Christian values, should uphold Christian morality and ethics, and should present the Christian message in realistic ways. Further, the work as a whole, or even parts of the work, should not elevate the profane to the level of the sacred, nor degrade the sacred to a level to make it common.
IT MUST FLOW FROM THE HEART: These days many organizations around the world offer “sermon-services” for busy pastors. They will send to the subscribing pastors plenty of sermon outlines, notes, jokes, anecdotes, and even ready manuscripts so that the pastor could keep up a busy schedule of preaching without actually preparing a single sermon.
While such pastors and teachers might seem to rise to the occasion whenever they are invited to preach, their messages are as shallow as the church gong. There is a lot of oration, usually very sweet to the ears, but it has no life-changing power. It does not come out of his heart, and it doesn’t touch a single soul. The same is the case with Christian writings.
A writing can be truly called Christian only if it has flown spontaneously and naturally out of the heart of the writer. It must be a message of consolation, encouragement, or exhortation that flows out automatically because he cannot contain it within his heart. He has sat in the presence of God, has lived faithfully, has tasted the goodness of God, and cannot now keep this message of joy, hope, and encouragement to himself. Thus comes out true Christian writing.
Many Christians write articles and books that are completely technical or scientific in nature. You might wonder if this kind of “dry” subjects, not directly related to spirituals, also need a Christian prompting. The answer is, YES ! A Christian inclination can be seen even in technical writings through the objectivity, honesty, and excitement of discovery that the writer radiates. The gospel of salvation or the Christian world-view might not be readily be apparent, but it is still there. If you have a background in science, you will be able to perceive this in the writings of successful Christian science writers.
Some writings will easily admit much Christian content into it while others will not that readily lend themselves to this kind of activity. However, one thing ought to be clear to every Christian writer: his Christian attitude and convictions will somehow or other radiate from his writings. Good Christian writing is that which flows naturally and spontaneously from the heart of a believer who has enjoyed intimacy with God. This will definitely radiate a special glow.