There’s no doubt that well-written books can change our lives. Sometimes, they can help us to see life from a different perspective. Those books can open up our eyes to what it might be like to have struggles and successes that we’ve never experienced. They can promote sympathy and understanding. Similarly, other books can remind us that we’re not alone in the problems we’re facing, the joys we cherish and the dreams we’re working towards.
But as much as books can have a powerful impact on our lives, faith can have one that’s even more profound. It can give us purpose, which helps us to make the world a better place. It can give us strength to endure hardships and to pursue dreams. Opening our eyes to the truth, it can lead us to gratitude, goodness, peace, hope and love.
So, it’s not surprising that books rooted in faith can have a tremendous effect on us. Christian nonfiction can help us to better understand The Bible, values, principles of our faith and much more. Many of these books introduce us to role models who have made great sacrifices and changed lives in the process. Christian fiction can also inspire us in beautiful ways.
Over the years, many talented Christian authors have delighted, uplifted and inspired people by focusing on a specific genre within either fiction or nonfiction. Others, however, have embraced a genre or two (or more) of fiction and nonfiction as well. They’ve enhanced the lives of their readers by sharing their faith through their multi-faceted work. Here are just seven of those authors that have shared their gifts in such a way.
Clive Staples Lewis is one of the most well-known, widely-read Christian authors of the 20th and 21st centuries. The popularity of his books hasn’t waned since the Irish-born author passed away at age 64 in 1963. In addition to being a highly-acclaimed author of fiction and non-fiction books, he served as Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University and Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. Although he became an atheist when he was a teenager, C.S. Lewis returned to Christianity when he was in his early 30s – partly due to encouragement from his good friend and equally-accomplished author J.R.R. Tolkien.
His most popular books continue to be The Chronicles of Narnia series. The series includes “The Chronicles of Narnia – The Magician’s Nephew;” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe;” “The Horse and his Boy;” “Prince Caspian;” “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader;” “The Silver Chair;” and “The Last Battle.” The epic fantasy series has also been adapted into many films, TV movies and television series throughout the years. But while he’s best known for his fiction, he also wrote several bestselling non-fiction titles. They include “Mere Christianity,” a compilation of the author’s WWII BBC talks on Christianity and his return to faith, “A Grief Observed,” in which he wrote about a personal tragedy he went through and “The Problem of Pain,” a reflection on why God allows those He loves to experience pain.
Admired by other Christian literary greats, such as C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a prolific British writer in the early 20th Century. But while his writing included novels, poetry, essays, columns, short stories and plays, he was also an ardent lay Catholic theologian, apologist and philosopher. With humor and paradox, he frequently debated other writers and philosophers, and he gave many radio talks for the BBC. Although as a young man he became temporarily fascinated with the occult, his wife led him back to Christianity.
The Father Brown mysteries, which feature a Catholic priest who’s an amateur sleuth, are among his most popular works of fiction. They’ve been adapted into films and television series. “The Man Who Was Thursday,” a metaphysical thriller, is one of his most popular novels. Among his non-fiction books, three that delve into his views as a Christian apologist are “Heretics,” “Orthodoxy” and “The Everlasting Man.” He was also well known for his biographies of Charles Dickens, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi.
William E. Barrett
William Edmund Barrett once said, “A good novel is the biography of an imaginary person – and when the biography is completed, the person is no longer imaginary; he is as real as his creator.” Born in 1900, the American author – who passed away in 1986 – wrote several of those fictional “biographies” with warmth, tenderness and faith. Although the Catholic author’s many novels and more than 200 short stories aren’t as well known as the work of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, his work is still enjoyed and praised by many.
Even though he’s primarily remembered for his novels, Barrett also wrote some non-fiction books. Reflecting his love for his faith, two of them were biographies of notable Catholics. The subject of one was Pope Paul VI, and the subject of the other was Fr. Edward Galvin, the founder of the Columban Fathers. One of his most popular novels is “Lilies of the Field.” The story of a black veteran who helps a group of white German refugee nuns to build a chapel was adapted into a film that featured an Oscar-winning performance by Sidney Poitier. Two of his other novels built around Catholic characters that were adapted into films are “The Left Hand of God” and “The Wine and the Music.”
The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Catherine Marshall wrote many inspiring faith-based books. After her first husband, Peter Marshall, a famous Scottish preacher who was Chaplain of the United States Senate, passed away in 1949, the 35-year-old widow and single mom to their nine-year-old son began compiling and editing her late husband’s sermons. Shortly after, she wrote “A Man Called Peter,” the bestselling book about her late husband that launched her career as an author. She went on to write many inspirational faith-based books that have been enjoyed by readers throughout the world.
In addition to “A Man Called Peter,” her non-fiction books include “To Live Again,” “Adventures in Prayer: How to Reach for God’s Helping Hand” and “Meeting God at Every Turn.” Her most popular novel is “Christy,” which was inspired by her mother’s experience teaching impoverished children in Appalachia. A television series was based on the book, and a Christian book award – The Christy Awards – is named after the novel.
A minister and prolific author of the 20th century as well as the 21st century, Max Lucado writes inspirational non-fiction and fiction books that provide millions of readers with hope based on Christian teachings and values. He also strives to empower readers with courage via the words of Jesus. For instance, in “The Applause of Heaven,” one of his earliest non-fiction books, he wrote, “Could you use some courage? Are you backing down more than you are standing up? If so, let the Master lead you up the mountain again. Let him remind you why you should ‘fear not.’ Listen to the time Jesus scattered the butterflies out of the stomachs of his nervous disciples and see if his words help you.”
In addition to “The Applause of Heaven,” the bestselling author’s non-fiction books include “Because of Bethlehem: Love is Born, Hope is Here,” “Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World,” “Fearless” and “You are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God’s Presence and Power.” His novels and novellas include “The Christmas Candle,” which was adapted into a film, “Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café” and “Christmas Stories: Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manger and the Birth of Hope.”
Like Max Lucado, Thomas Dexter Jakes is a prolific bestselling author of nonfiction and fiction, and he’s also a minister who inspires people throughout the world. The founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational Christian megachurch based in Texas, his books aim to bring people closer to God and to help them lead a purposeful life. In his non-fiction book “Maximize the Moment: God’s Action Plan for Your Life,” he wrote, “Each day is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to Him.”
Although he is best known for his non-fiction books, he has also written inspirational Christian novels. The novels include “The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times,” “Not Easily Broken” and “Woman, Thou Art Loosed!” The latter two have been adapted into films. His non-fiction work includes “Soar!: Build Your Vision from the Ground Up,” “Healing the Wounds of the Past,” “Crushing: God Turns Pressure into Power” and “When Women Pray: 10 Women of The Bible Who Changed the World through Prayer.”
If we’re looking for riveting fantasy books written from the perspective of a Christian, we can read books by legendary authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien. Likewise, if we’re seeking wholesome romance novels from a prolific Christian author, we can turn to novels by people like Francine Rivers. And if we’re looking for non-fiction books to help us find healing and help in God’s Word, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Rick Warren are all pastors that have authored such books. But it’s equally satisfying to read books by an author who has one foot in the land of imagination, one in the land of reality and a soul in the Kingdom of God.