While this essay may seem somewhat self-serving, my intent is a larger point than it being about me, so please hang in there if you will. I began writing novels before I knew the Lord. My first book wasn’t all that good, but it was therapeutic and cathartic, as it enabled me to express and let go of feelings I had built up in the course of an unpleasant divorce. At that time, I wrote because I liked to read and also thought I could add to the suspense and thriller genres.
Fast forward a number of years. I had stopped writing due to the busyness of life. Then God got ahold of me. Still busy, but in my salvation, I determined to follow hard after the Lord. Being born again through the blood of Jesus wasn’t something I took lightly. I’m one of those who came to know God through fear (of being left behind!) and have had to experience His love in order to bring balance to my faith and witness.
About six years ago through God’s providence, I began writing again and quickly transitioned back to the long form of the novel, which works best for me. Because I now had a Christian perspective, everything I wrote, by necessity, had to reflect the nature of my faith and, more importantly, have a redemptive purpose to give glory to God. Additionally, since I’d gotten saved through reading the Left Behind series, I had a passion for the prophetic and for end-times scenarios. Thus, my writing gravitated toward bringing forth my Christian worldview through a Biblically prophetic and eschatological lens.
My quest to know God and to understand His ways more deeply has led me into interesting research. I continue to read a lot and also listen to much teaching on YouTube. In my meanderings, I was introduced to fallen angels and some of the more interesting, unusual passages in the Bible, such as the Genesis 6:1-4 account of the sons of God cohabiting with human women and creating Nephilim offspring. All this brought me to writing Alien Revelation, which deals with these ideas in a fictional, present-day narrative.
Upon the book’s release, to my surprise, I was contacted by a fellow who wanted to review the book for his Christian website. Reviews—good ones obviously—are very helpful to a writer, so I agreed. I didn’t know anything about Peter Younghusband and his review website: https://perspectivebypeter.com/ but once he told me he liked the book very much and was giving it a positive review, I naturally wanted to learn more about his process.
Even more surprising in this episode was Peter giving the novel the Christian Redemptive Fiction award. What was that? It turns out that Peter teams up with David Bergsland, who maintains the http://radiqx.com/ website. Their desire is to advocate for Christian fiction that truly gets to the heart of our faith. In their deliberations about this, they realized that too many stories that have a Christian label are really only that on the surface. They don’t reflect the depth of faith, nor do they portray the intense spiritual battle that we face. Peter and David realized that as we near the return of Jesus, this spiritual warfare is increasing, as the Bible has so plainly stated that it will. To encourage Christian writers to more accurately portray these concepts, David wrote a guide called A Spiritual System for Rating Books: https://indd.adobe.com/view/8e4a7c49-2393-4b74-a52a-c2b6fedfa0e9?red=a. Through the guidelines outlined in this booklet, Peter and David seek to highlight the work of Christian authors that meet their stringent criteria.
Now, I won’t get into the rating system used; you can read that for yourself. The real issue here is how we as faith-filled believers who enjoy reading have been lulled into thinking that Christian fiction need not reflect the depth of faith as we know it, nor the realities of spiritual warfare, nor the intensity of the times as we approach the Rapture. By reviewing fictional books that provide deeper insights into these areas and awarding those authors who bring these things forth, Peter and David hope to increase the quality of what we read in this Christian genre. I have no doubt that had they been reviewing and awarding when This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti came out, that book would have earned their highest acclaim.
I think there’s great value in that. For one, it’s an acknowledgment to authors that what they write can have significant impact. If we show in our fictional context that our faith matters, to ourselves and to others—as we read these accounts—hopefully our desire to grow closer to the Lord will increase. For readers to see that books don’t have to be secular to tell a good story is also quite important. Christians don’t have to settle for books that omit God or denigrate Him. One of the first strong Christian women I knew was an actress and director. She taught me that we shouldn’t let the world take up all the oxygen in the arts, that Christians can and should reclaim that space to the glory of God. That’s what Peter and David hope to do in their efforts of awarding Christian authors who dive into and adhere to these deeper elements of our faith.
What I realized in reading David’s spiritual rating booklet and receiving the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for Alien Revelation and now subsequently for my novel, The Tattooed Cat, is that what they seek is exactly what I try to convey in my writing. I want that depth and reality. I want to portray the challenges many face in their walk with Christ, or even before as they struggle to come to faith. I want to demonstrate that spiritual warfare is real and intense, yet that we, as our fictional characters do, can overcome because Jesus overcame first.
Good Christian fiction has the potential to lead people to faith in Christ. I know that because of my personal experience with Left Behind. Through the reviews and awards that Peter and David bring to the table, good Christian fiction can also prepare us for the battles ahead as this world grows increasingly lawless and dark. The bottom line is that good Christian fiction can help us move toward deeper faith as we look up and await Jesus’ return.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and serves as Missions Director at his church. He is also a prolific author. His Whirlwind Series is comprised of three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. All these books are also contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for two novels: The Tattooed Cat and Alien Revelation. His intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can reach him via his website at www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page at https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube page – look for the fish symbol.