March 07, 2014

The Need to be Controversial by Ramona Heikel

Although we may want our writing to make a big hit with our readers and touch many hearts and lives, I get suspicious when Christian books are welcomed with open arms by the general society.

I actually cringe when I see the New York Times Bestseller List feature a book that was written with the intent of drawing readers to Christ, and start to wonder how it got so popular. I’ll definitely read the book to find how closely it stays to the message of the Gospel.

Bear with me while I work through some logic.

The narrow road is considered the path to life in the Bible, and the wide road is considered the way of destruction. The way I think of narrow and wide roads is that a life lived on the narrow road must go against the grain of society, the same way that life on the wide road would be accepted by society.

On the other hand, if living life by Christian principles does not cause friction and controversy, I question if that life is authentically lived by faith in the savior of humankind.

If a majority of people in our society follow a path, it now becomes the wide road. So if a book is a secular best-seller, could the principles in the book be authentically Christian? Do you know of any cases—aside from the saying that the Bible is the bestselling book of all time—where a truly God-inspired book has been a best-seller?

To me this should make us prepared to be controversial in our writing, and to count controversy as a blessing for the furtherance of the Kingdom.

I’d love to know what you think.

Posted by Ramona


  1. Hi Ramona,

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

    Now, at the risk of being 'controversial' I would have to disagree that being on the New York Times Bestseller list must make a 'Christian' book suspect.

    Aren't we trying to reach the masses with truth? Perhaps the salt is actually beginning to permeate our society and starting to make people sit up and take notice.

    I would say that's a good thing.

    I can give you two strong believing authors I admire and appreciate their work -- both have had their books on the NYT bestsellers lists... and I believe they are wonderfully touching the lives of many people, believers and ones still seeking included, with the truth of the gospel.

    I give you Ann Voskamp and her book, One Thousand Gifts, which was on the NYT list for 60 weeks. Her book is full of Good News. I think that kind of exposure means people outside the church walls are also being reached.

    And one of my favourite fiction authors is Jan Karon, whose Mitford series often hit the New York Bestsellers list. I would say her writings draw me closer to Him every time I read how Episcopalian priest Father Tim struggles with things I have struggled with and how God shows him truth that set him free.

    It is my prayer that more godly writers, who speak truth in love, in whatever genre they write, will hit those NYT bestsellers lists. And make a wild difference in our society.

    I hope you don't mind my words, Ramona... these are my thoughts on the subject.

    Many blessings and thanks again for raising this topic for us to explore.

    Blog Moderator

  2. Because we all know I don't like controversy, perhaps all I can say to your great, thought-provoking post, Ramona, is that if God wants a book to become a best-seller then it will be!

    Both the books (and series) that Brenda has mentioned are some of my favourites. And it truly is amazing how they can speak to the heart - believers and non, alike. I know this firsthand [about Ann's book, at least!] Thanks for getting us thinking, Ramona! :)

  3. I was also going to mention Jan Karon's Mitford series- wonderful books which I read over and over again and, as Brenda noted, which were on the New York Times Bestsellers list! I am encouraged by these works and motivated to present Christ in my writing in a powerful way which can influence not only my world, but even the world around us which does not always share the same views. Thank you for bringing up this subject, Ramona- food for thought! :)
    Kathy Hoffman

  4. Thank you for being so brave, Ramona in asking for our opinion. While I agree that often the popular things of this world are not godly, there are more efficient filters of truth. I would search a person's writing with these questions in mind: do they point to humanity as fallen and sinful? Do they state the need for a saviour? Do they point to Jesus ONLY as the way, the truth, and the life? Do they affirm the resurrection of Christ? And do they share the belief of our resurrection to eternal life with Jesus only because of his shed blood, and resurrection? There are many new age books infiltrating the church. We need to be careful.
    Whether fiction or non, truth must be upheld.
    P.s. Another best seller was/is C.S. Lewis and his chronicles of Narnia. Superb allegories of Jesus our Saviour.

    Pam Mytroen

  5. It's been my experience that popular books teach aberrant doctrines. Otherwise they wouldn't appeal to unbelievers. One example is Your Best Life Now. The lot of Christians is to take up our crosses and to follow Christ. The health and wealth preachers fly in the face of biblical teaching by suggesting that we can create our own success. The heavenly Father is the one we must trust in, not our own faith-filled words. We aren't to trust in New Age ideas but in the inspired word of God.

    I was once in a cultic church which taught that sort of blasphemy. The elders continually condemned me for lacking the faith to be healed of my poor sight. I became so angry that I left and turned my back on God for 9 years. Some wounded souls never come back to the faith once delivered by the saints. This shows me that the ones promoting health and wealth theology are the Devil's helpers.

    Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews and you'll see that most of the saints weren't healthy and wealthy. Many suffered scorn and persecution. Some even died ignoble deaths for their trust in God. Who do the Word Fath crowd think they are by demanding prosperity from God? Most Christians suffer from persecution and poverty simply for daring to proclaim Christ. Our western society has turned believers into the crowd in John chapter 6. They came for what they could get, not for who Christ was. So it is today in evangelical circles.

  6. Wonderful feedback from all of you--the dialogue is most appreciated!


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