A complete change of subject: evangelical fiction

A complete change of subject: evangelical fiction October 23, 2011

Over the years I’ve heard many people who love novels decry the lack of good, popular fiction written from an evangelical Christian perspective.  There have been some (in the last few years) written from a generic Christian perspective: Gilead and Peace Like a River come to mind as excellent examples.

But what popular novels have been written by evangelical Christians that reflect an evangelical worldview AND are well-written?

Well, of course, The Shack comes to mind.  What else?

I’m a fan of John Grisham novels; I’ve read or listened to all of them and seen all the movies based on them.  While Grisham is himself a Christian and perhaps even an evangelical, his books don’t explicitly work from that perspective.  I can detect Christian themes in them (especially justice), but they are not what I’m asking about here.  (One exception to that may be The Testament which revolves around a Christian missionary in the Amazon jungles of South America.)

Recently I was looking for something new by Grisham and came across a reference to his latest novel The Litigators (due out this week!).  But buried in and among the references to Grisham’s many novels I saw one to a book by an author I’ve never heard of–Joshua Graham.  (Look at the list of books by Grisham at Amazon.com and you’ll see one by Graham in the middle of them!  I’m not sure how that happened.)

The book by Graham is entitled Beyond Justice and it comes highly recommended by many readers and is inexpensive.  The plot sounded a lot like Grisham’s books.  I had just purchased my Kindle and Beyond Justice is only $3.95 (for a 400 plus page book!) so I downloaded it and read it on my trip to California.  I did not know it is explicitly evangelical (even “Third Wave!”) when I purchased it.  If I had known that I might not have bothered; my experiences of trying to read novels by evangelicals have been mostly disappointing.

Beyond Justice is different.  It’s gritty, raw, realistic–about crime and punishment and injustice and justice.  Graham doesn’t shy away from the language and behaviors one would encounter in a justice system dealing with murder.  I couldn’t stop reading it.  It may not be great literature or even as good as Grisham’s stuff (although I think it’s not far from it), but it is to date the best explicitly evangelical novel I have read.  And there’s no rosy ending one might expect, even though the ending is very satisfying.

Beyond justice is about sin, redemption and forgiveness.  It’s also about spiritual warfare (but not the Frank Peretti kind!).  IF you like novels about crime and justice (like Grisham’s) you will like Beyond Justice UNLESS explicitly evangelical Christian themes and events and behaviors (e.g., prayer) bother you.

What are your favorite novels written from explicitly evangelical Christian perspectives with evangelical themes?  Stick to ones that are either in print or easily accessible (e.g., from a local library).  Put your recommendations here and say a little about why you are recommending them.

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