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The Value of The Post-Modern Christian Author

by

R. Alan Woods San Diego: Rhema Rising Press Copyright 2007

Words are tools and as such, they give expression to our reasoned thoughts. Word s are either spoken or written. A writer should and most often does take into ac count their audience before they chose a topic and a thesis- the perspective thr ough which an opinion is made and an approach to presenting a focused point-of-v iew. A Christian Author, as I intend its meaning to be, is someone who writes on a v ariety of topics, either Biblical or extra-Biblical, from a uniquely Christian p erspective that emanates from its subsequent mind-set in presenting a highly focus ed and specialized point-of-view that is intended primarily for an audience that i s holy (sic) Christian in its worldview. For Christians, understanding The Faith requires the reading of the Bible both devotionally and expositorially which seems to justify the admonition of the apostl e Paul who said ...[You] should study the Word of God to show yourself to be appr oved of God. For a Christian to become an author there are two primary disciplines to mas ter. The first is theology, which emanates from the body of the canon of scriptu re. The second is- if English is the predominate language of their audience- Eng lish composition in the specialized context of expository and creative writing. The Christian author has fulfilled a need not fully met by pastor/teachers. Pastor/teachers have limits because of the constrictive nature of the expository techniques they train in seminary to master that utilize the two main interpret ive analytical tools of hermeneutics and exegesis. A more analogous and appropri ate description would be to describe them as pastor/interpreters. The typical pa stor/interpreter also has some additional constraints as well- Time. He has but sixty minutes allotted on any given Sunday to cover a Biblical topic taken from scripture and can only traverse a limited amount of territory and of that ground not much below the topsoil. It would take a week of Sundays to exhaust a topic on just one chapter in the Bible! The Christian author is not limited to just the interpretation of scripture per say, but is free to synthesize from it practical applications by filtering t hem through a uniquely Christian world-view and the subsequent mind-set which allo ws freedom to then write on a variety of extra-Biblical topics. One can then illus trate these focused topics to be applicable where the rubber-meets-the-road in a Christians daily life.

The publishing industry has more than responded to the needs expressed by th e Christian community and it has uniquely focused post-modern world-view. This p henomenon has created a cottage industry which consists of a milieu of specialty C hristian publishing houses who only publish and market books that are written by Christian authors. Publishers who have been traditionally secular heretofore in t he context of the subject matter, world-view, and content contained within the b ooks they have published have also responded to this felt need in the market pla ce, and the subsequent specialized market trend this need has produced by devel oping spin-off companies that cater to this very market. It is exactly this manifested need that has been born out of necessity that the Christian community of the postmodern church has expressed. It has given rise to the phenomena of the Christian author and has effectively legitimized their f unction while concurrently establishing it as a unique and needed ministry for a ll Christians. The Christian community is hungry for the knowledge, understanding, and wisd om that a menu of such a rich variety offers to them and from which they can mak e selections that will satiate that hunger. The Christian Author has become a fi ve star gourmet chef on a global scale to Christians and the corporate expressio ns of their spiritual communities. The old English adage first coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his p lay Richelieu- The pen is mightier than the sword- expresses aptly the power the w ritten word has to inform the minds and change the hearts of men. John F. Desmon d in his book Walker Percys Search for Community says, The gift of language has been linked to the gift of Logos and the sacramental gift of life, the Eucharist (p. 105). If this is true, then do Christian Authors mediate as ministers the Words of Life through that which they write? Percy Walker seems to think so when J. Robert Baker says of his theosemiotic , Human community becomes the sacrament of Gods presence manifested in the inter-s ubjectivity created by the triadic use of language (p. 117). Although I have atte mpted to make it clear what I mean when I use the term Christian author, I said in my critical review of Bakers article, Mr. Baker does a much better job, and Bake r does this by choosing to review the work of two writers who epitomize the defi nition of that terminology. OConnor and Walker as perfect examples of the Christi an author illustrate that their understanding of Theology and their Christian li fe experiences informed their work (Woods, p. 3, 3p). James McClendons thesis in his book Biography as Theology: how life stories can remake todays theology speaks directly to Christian life experiences as a means of informing our understanding of Theology or the Canon of Scripture as it relates to practical applications o f Spiritual Truths where the-rubber-meets-the-road in our daily life as believer s. In their Book The Teaching Minister Williamson and Allen said, For in addition to instruction in Christian doctrine per- se, the congregation needs instruction in the content of the Bible (and in how to interpret the Bible), on the meaning of personal and social experience in the light of the gospel, as well as approp riate moral beliefs and behavior (p. 83). Their thesis is that pastors need to be come more than just expositors or interpreters of scripture. They need to become teachers in the truer sense of the term as it relates to the pragmatic applicatio n of scriptural truth. Williamson and Allen contend that this is necessary in th e postmodern world where relevance is crucial in communicating understanding tha t will lead to wisdom for the believer. In Wilson and Nolls book The Best Christian Writing 2006 and McCurrys scholarly article Best Christian Writing 2006, is ample evidence that Christian authors are n ot limited to Biblical subjects but have an infinite number of extra-Biblical to pics from which to chose.

In Daniel Radishs article The Good Book Business, he has it made clear that the marketers and publishers of Christian oriented books such as the Bible and life application books are as informed as any secular publishing house in publishing, promoting, and distributing a Christian authors manuscript. Kristen Holm and Don Prues in their book Writers Market, 1997 can tell you whe re and how to sell what you write. Rick Frishman and Robyn Spitzman in their boo k Author 101 will direct you to the bestselling book publishers. Ann Byle in her b ook The Making of a Christian Bestseller provides insider information on how to se cure the best Christian publisher for your book. The earliest examples of Christian fiction are the Psuedapigraphal writings of the second century and most likely, some of the Intertestamental works contai ned within the Old Testament Apocrypha. In the mid twentieth century, emerge two Christian literary giants- J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who wrote both work s of fiction and non-fiction. In the mid 1970s, Hal Lindseys book The Late Great Pl anet Earth had a phenomenal success and was read by tens of millions of Christian s as well as non-believers. Pastor Rick Warrens book The Purpose Driven Life has to date sold more than eighty millions copies in sixteen different languages world wide. The Christian Author is a unique and necessary phenomenon of the postmodern Church.

* Read: R. Alan Woods : The Sanctification of Humanity En-Godded by Christ: In the Christian Worldview s of Flannery O Connor and Percy Walker at : http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150211931644247