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The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations

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I love to read Christian fiction but find that it can be a bit of a minefield. It can get off course theologically and may reflect the world more than biblical Christianity. Have you ever given recommendations on Christian fiction writers?

Great question! We all need a little mind candy now and then, but we don’t want it to be a vehicle for delivering bad theology to our brains.

First, let me sort of set the stage for what’s in my mind when I think of “Christian fiction.” Other people might have other definitions of this book genre, and that’s absolutely no problem, but, to me, Christian fiction has an overtly biblical message or theme and maybe even a blatant presentation of the gospel. When I think of “Christian fiction” I’m not thinking merely “family friendly” (a good clean story with nothing biblical in it), or a novel with a character in it who happens to attend church or be a Christian but there’s nothing else biblical in the book, or a fiction book on a non-biblical topic that’s written by someone who’s a Christian. So the books I’ll be recommending below will fit this definition of “Christian fiction.”

Next, I know the bulk of Christian fiction marketed to women is romance and Amish romance. And, in keeping with the “stick out like a sore thumb” weirdness that is Michelle Lesley, it’s not a genre (Christian or secular) I personally enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with it if you can find a good one and you like romances, but the books below aren’t romances simply because that’s not what I read. I tend toward biblical history novels and – I don’t know if there’s a particular name for this type – “real life scenario” contemporary Christian lit.

A few final points:

•I don’t hold Christian fiction to quite as high a theological standard as I do Christian non-fiction (theology, Bible studies, “Christian living” books, etc.). Some of the books below may have a few theological “cow pies” you’ll have to step around and ignore, but, for the most part they’re in line with biblical theology.

•My personal standard for recommending a biblical historical fiction book (a fictionalized account of a true Bible story, such as Lynn Austin’s and Chris Skates’ books below) is that the book has to stay true to what the Bible actually says took place including the dialogue, details, and chronology, and any of the fictionalized parts have to comply with biblical principles, theme, history, and culture of the time period.

•I haven’t checked any of these authors (as I would non-fiction Christian authors) to see where they stand on the role of women in the church, and I haven’t researched any of them to discover whether they associate with false teachers.

That said, here are a few recommendations:

Karen Kingsbury– Although her older works of fiction may not be too problematic, she is not someone I’d encourage you to read because of her recent theological trajectory.

Lynn Austin– Here’s a “book report” I wrote on Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series. I read that entire series and loved it. It was VERY good and theologically strong.

Chris Skates– Chris’ biblical historical fiction rendition of the story of Noah and his family in The Rain was a fun read.

Those are the only ones I’ve actually written about. Here are some others I’ve read and enjoyed over the years. (Quoted excerpts courtesy of Amazon.com)

Hank “The Bible Answer Man” Hannegraaff:

The Last Disciple– “As the early church begins to experience the turbulence Christ prophesied as the beginning of the last days, an enemy seeks to find John’s letter, Revelation, and destroy it. Meanwhile the early Christians must decipher it and cling to the hope it provides as they face the greatest of all persecutions.”

(Update: A few months after the original publication of this article, Hank Hannegraaff decided to join the Greek Orthodox church. Though I read and enjoyed this fictional book of his, I would no longer recommend his non-fiction work or ministry as biblically trustworthy.)

Paul Maier:

A Skeleton in God’s Closet– “Dr. Jonathan Weber, Harvard professor and biblical scholar, is looking forward to his sabbatical year on an archaeological dig in Israel. But a spectacular find that seems to be an archaeologist’s dream-come-true becomes a nightmare that many fear will be the death rattle of Christianity.”

The Constantine Codex– “While touring monasteries in Greece, Jon and his wife Shannon—a seasoned archaeologist—uncover an ancient biblical manuscript containing the lost ending of Mark and an additional book of the Bible. If proven authentic, the codex could forever change the way the world views the holy Word of God.”

Kathi Macias:

People of the Book– “Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and pursues that goal. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself.”

Joy DeKok:

Rain Dance– “What happens when a Christian woman facing a childless future and a woman seeking an abortion are waiting to see the same doctor? What if after that “chance” encounter they are unable to forget each other?”

Randy Alcorn: I’ve read and enjoyed most of Randy’s fiction books. Off the top of my head, I don’t recall any I wouldn’t recommend. Two of my favorites were:

Safely Home– “Is this the day I die? Li Quan asks himself this question daily, knowing that he might be killed for practicing his faith. American businessman Ben Fielding has no idea what his brilliant former college roommate is facing…But when they are reunited in China after twenty years, both men are shocked at what they discover about each other.”

Edge of Eternity– I would call this book a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress. “Imagine Being Pulled Into the Hereafter. While You’re Still Alive. A disillusioned business executive whose life has hit a dead-end, Nick Seagrave has lost loved ones to tragedy and his family to neglect. Now, at a point of great crisis, he unbelievably and inexplicably finds himself transported to what appears to be another world.”

Frank Peretti: Years ago, I was a big Frank Peretti fan and read most of his novels. I don’t remember any overt heresy in his work, but it’s been well over a decade since I’ve read anything by him, so that could just be my faulty memory. Most of his novels deal with spiritual warfare, so there’s the potential for some errant theology there. Read discerningly. Two of my Peretti favorites are:

This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness (a two book series)- “The small town of Ashton is the unexpected setting for an epic clash between good and evil as a Christian preacher and a news reporter unearth a plot to take over their small community, and eventually the world.”

There are also some books that would fall under the category of Christian fiction which I would strongly recommend against:

The Shack (or any other book) by William Paul Young: While I mentioned that I don’t hold Christian fiction to as high a theological standard as Christian non-fiction, I definitely don’t recommend any Christian fiction fraught with blatant heresy or whose main goal is to teach heresy, and that’s what Young himself has stated is one of the objectives of this book (although he doesn’t consider his views heresy). The movie based on this book releases next month (March 2017). Here are some resources that will explain the theological problems in The Shack in more detail.

Inappropriate/Unbiblical Content: In an effort, I guess, to be cutting edge, cool, or gritty, there are novels marketed under the Christian fiction genre which contain profanity, graphic sex scenes, and glorification of other sinful behavior. I would not recommend those books regardless of the reason these types of things are included in the book.

Girl “Porn”: This is really more about what’s going on in the reader’s heart than the book itself. It’s been said that romance novels can be a form of literary “pornography” for women. I mentioned graphic sex scenes above, but I would also caution women away from non-graphic Christian romances if they cause you to create an idol in your heart of the “ideal” man that no real life man can measure up to. If you’re married, read a lot of romances, and find yourself increasingly dissatisfied (in any way) with your husband because he can’t hold a candle to the leading men in the books you’re reading, you need to put those books down and walk away from them. That’s coveting.

False Teacher Fiction: There are a few false teachers who have branched out into the fiction genre. Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer have both recently released novels, T.D. Jakes has written some fiction, and I believe there are a few others. Even though these books may be fiction and might not even contain any false doctrine, I could not, in good conscience recommend a fiction book that could serve as a “gateway drug” to their non-fiction books.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

16 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations”

  1. I don’t personally read a lot of Christian fiction, but I have read Francine Rivers and enjoy her quite a bit. I don’t think she’s come out with anything in quite a few years which may be why didn’t make your list. Do you have any thoughts on her one way or another?

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      1. I would highly recommend to your readers Francine Rivers’ book titled Redeeming Love (a retelling of Hosea and Gomer set in the 1800’s) – very good!

        She also wrote the Mark of the Lion trilogy that is set in Rome following the destruction of the Jewish temple (historical fiction is a favorite of mine).

        Finally, she wrote 5 novellas (short novels), one each on the women in the lineage of Christ, and another 5 on male biblical figures. Again, historical fiction, but she does an excellent job bringing the characters to life based on what Jewish customs were at the time while adhering to what is told in Scripture. She’s written more, but these are some of her best, imo.

        I haven’t read one of her books in so long, I think I’ll break one out! Thanks for your blog!

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  2. I really enjoy Dee Henderson’s books. All of her books feature Christian characters who live their lives as Christians, imperfect maybe, but trying to get closer to God. Her O’Malley series is about a group of orphans who become a family. They all go into helping professions (doctor, paramedic, firefighter, hostage negotiator, cop, FBI agent, etc.). The first book starts with the doctor already a Christian, and she evangelizes to her family, one by one. They are so very good, and I have enjoyed rereading them. All of her books, while mature, are clean, and any “gritty” details aren’t too gritty (dealing with a serial killer, an arsonist, etc.). She also has a series that features soldiers.

    I also love Jan Karon’s Mitford books. They’re about life in the small town of Mitford, featuring Father Tim, an episcopal priest. They are wonderful to read, clean, wholesome, funny, and well-written.

    Neither author is in-your-face about Christianity. Instead, the characters live out their lives as Christians. I hope these are helpful.

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  3. I would like to recommend MiMi Q. Atkins she has a fiction book coming out on valentine’s day this year called 3627. She already has a few nonfiction out as welll. Check her books out. .

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  4. I respectfully disagree on Frank Peretti. His interpretation of spiritual warfare has given impetus to the NAR teachings on demons having authority over geographic regions. With NAR teachings on the rise, I question whether it’s wise to recommend his books right now.

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  5. I recently read “The Betrayal” by Douglas Bond, a fictionalized history of the life of John Calvin – excellent! Ray Comfort from Living Waters Ministry/Way of the Master has writing some historical fiction that always includes clear gospel presentations. (He was my role model for writing with a purpose.) I let my daughters read the mystery series “Mysteries of Sparrow Island” published by Guideposts. No gospel presentations but characters active in church body, and no murders.
    Thanks, Michelle, for your warnings about romance books and guarding our hearts towards our husband (or future husband expectations).

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  6. I know this book is non fiction . But am unable to get to my home resources . A Bible study is about to begin at the church I am attending while on vacation . Draw the circle. By Mark Batterson . I am not going but does someone have any info on it as I have it at my home and it was pretty negative . Thanks for the help . 😊 Patty

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  7. Hello Michelle –
    Thanks for your informative website. Any thoughts on the fictional works of Bodie and Brock Thoene? I love their work – especially the series starting with First Light. Also their books on World War II and the foundation of Israel as a nation. Thanks! Ruth

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