A Jagged Contention: “Christian” Literature

“But, I question whether [Christian literature] has any literary qualities peculiar to itself. The rules for writing a good passion play or a good devotional lyric are simply the rules for writing tragedy or lyric in general: success in sacred literature depends on the same qualities of structure, suspense, variety, diction, and the like which secure success in secular literature. And if we enlarge the idea of Christian Literature to include not only literature on sacred themes but all that is written by Christians for Christians to read, then, I think Christian Literature can exist only in the same sense in which Christian cookery might exist. It would be possible, and it might be edifying, to write a Christian cookery book. Such a book would exclude dishes whose preparation involves unnecessary human labour or animal suffering, and dishes excessively luxurious. That is to say, its choice of dishes would be Christian. But there could be nothing specifically Christian about the actual cooking of the dishes included. Boiling an egg is the same process whether you are a Christian or a Pagan.”

– CS Lewis, Christianity and Literature in Christian Reflections


I have heard it said that the word “Christian” is a noun, not an adjective. And yet we have Christian art, Christian movies, Christian pop music, Christian literature, Christian businesses, and even Christian blogs (ha!). How can Lewis’ insights help us think a bit more faithfully about how we use the word “Christian”?  What dangers arise when we turn “Christian” into an adjective? Also, given (in this humble blogger’s Christian opinion) the poor quality of much “Christian” entertainment, how might Christians who pursue a vocation in arts and entertainment understand the role of their faith in their craft?

Share your thoughts in the comments below