A great article was featured on the Huffington Post: “Spiritual Classics: 25 Books Every Christian Should Read.” There are some great ones that I highly concur with the HuffPost and suggest every Christian read: The Confessions of St. Augustine, The Interior Castle, The Practice of the Presence of God. These are our spiritual heritage! A lot of the church’s theology comes from these influential authors.
What I love most about this article is the inclusion of some inspiring works of fiction:
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
The Divine Comedy – Dante
Selected Poetry – Gerard Manley Hopkins
One of the reasons I love so much of classic literature is because many works have helped to shape my faith. In fact, I’ve always wanted to put together a devotional of inspirational quotes and passages about God which come from classics that are not considered “Christian fiction.” I would include a lot of the works that have helped me to understand my own Christian walk and/or have helped me understand God more: several poems by John Donne, Les Miserables, Adam Bede and Middlemarch, Jane Eyre…
I don’t believe that these author’s works are the inspired Word of God, but doesn’t the Holy Spirit work in His people? Why shouldn’t we listen to the words of other believers who had/have the Holy Spirit living in them? If we listen to our pastor, if we read Rob Bell or any other popular Christian author, if we even consult a good Christian friend… why not listen to the authors of some classics?
The Bible itself uses fiction to make spiritual points. Jesus spoke in parables. The story of Job was a well-known parable in Biblical times. It can also be argued that many parts of Genesis are fable/myth. (Admission: I do think that much of Genesis is myth, but this is not the place I want to make that argument.)
Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s fake.
On the contrary, fiction is a very powerful tool for telling and describing many beautiful truths. That’s why we love literature in the first place – because we can relate to it. Because when we read it something in us says, “Yes! That’s right! That is true.”
I don’t know if a book like that has ever been written before. I don’t know if many people would want to read it. But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. In fact, I’m sure a lot of contemporary, “secular” fiction also says insightful things about our faith and about God. I just need to find it. If you know of any, please let me know because I’d love to read it!
I think I just convinced myself that I need to write this book…. (Don’t steal my idea, please. Be nice.)