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Why Christians Should Read Fiction

I recently met someone who had been raised without fiction. No Little Golden Books, no Dr. Seuss, no Little House on the Prairie, no Chronicles of Narnia…nothing. I can’t begin to imagine, but the thought makes me feel a bit hollow inside. The reason? Fiction is “not true,” therefore it violates the admonition in Colossians 3:9– “Lie not one to another…”. What a horrifyingly incorrect notion to base an entire life upon.

The opposite of fiction is non-fiction, and the difference is not in whether they convey truth, but the method by which truth is told. Both can tell the truth, and both do (unless the writer’s goal is to do otherwise, and even then, truth usually shines through somewhere). Fiction shows the truth through story, one of the most powerful lenses available. Non-fiction relates fact, usually as a linear narrative.

Of the two methods of telling truth, story is the more powerful and memorable, because it engages the emotions. Remember King David’s reaction when the prophet Nathan related the story about the poor man’s lamb, then said, “Thou art the man!” Wow. Stories are told throughout scripture because we have been created with minds designed to receive teaching in that format.

There are so many reasons Christians need to be readers, and they’ve been ably addressed in a recent Breakpoint article, Why Should Christ-Followers Read Fiction? Defending Story by author Mary DeMuth. Please visit the link and read it, if you’ve wondered about the issue. She clearly addresses most of the major reasons we need to read.

This issue is important, so that another child won’t grow up in the impoverished environment that my recent acquaintence experienced. As an adult, she’s worked hard to make up for the lack of story in her childhood, but as she said, “I realize that I’m still missing areas of important emotional understanding that I believe I’d have developed if I’d been able to empathize with characters in a book.” When you consider that one of the characteristics many psychopaths have in common is the lack of ability to empathize, it reinforces the need for reading great literature, especially in those who are commanded to “love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

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4 Responses

  1. I enjoy your daily quotes for lifelong learners. Thanks for including them. They provide wonderful “filler” for our newsletter.

  2. Kimmie says:

    Hi Janice;

    I shudder to think of a world (or childhood) with no fictional books. My favorite part of homeschool and perhaps even parenting, is reading to and with my children.

    I do ask God for wisdom and discernment as what we should read (and what we should not). We have found His hand guiding us in all such manners without a doubt. There is so much written, truly not all of it is beneficial for us to read (especially as Believer’s). I think we would be wise,as to ask God what it is that we should be focusing our reading time with.

    Thankfully, for the above mentioned woman of *no fictional books* that all those lost moments can be regained, either with her own children or alone. It is never too late to dive into reading books, whether written for children or not…and even better…

    we know God can bring her His peace into those areas she feels are still void. I pray she gives those hurts to Him, for really only He can heal what she has uncovered.

    Thanks for sharing…

    ((((((hug)))))))
    Kimmie
    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted

  3. I think the quote “he who will not read is no better off than he who cannot read” pretty much sums it up. I’ve recently been pondering the reciprocal of reading…writing. So many people are voracious readers, and yet, never lay pen to paper. What good is the accumulation of knowledge if one is not going to share it with others?

  4. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article! I am writing a paper on the topic and found that your link and some of you own writing was very helpful! (Don’t worry, I promise I will not copy ANYTHING, I give you my word a Christian woman)

    Thanks again!

    P.S.
    Your writing is great!! 🙂

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