What Makes a Great Christian Novel?


Sarah Arthur, a writer and speaker, is one of the preliminary fiction judges for CT’s annual book awards. She put a list together of what she’s looking for as she wades through the potential finalists, and it’s a good reminder for any of us working to write a novel. (Read the list here.)

Early on in the piece she makes an important disclaimer:

I’m one of those grumpy English majors who walks into a Christian bookstore and wants to know why Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities or Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment or Anne Tyler’s Saint Maybe aren’t on the shelves. As authors of faith, we stand in a long literary tradition that did not start with Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and is not limited to the Christian Booksellers Association. It goes much further back and reaches much farther out. This is how the good news of the gospel works.

This idea is one I’ve heard N.D. Wilson point out—that Christians have zero reason to be embarrassed about the art the Church has put into the world over the centuries, and I would argue that some, if not most, of the greatest novelists of our age have been Christians. I would add Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, The Lord of the Rings, Till We Have Faces, and The Book of the Dun Cow to the list.

What else?

Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.


  1. Andrew Peterson