Remembering the legacy of important Christian authors that delighted and challenged previous generations.
Award-winning historical author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons, speaking of world and life events through the lens of history. She champions the battle against oppression, celebrating the freedom found only in Christ.
More than one of Cathy’s historical novels have referenced classic literary works. In fact, her latest novel—Until We Find Home (Tyndale House)—features guest appearances from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis.
In this essay exclusively written for FamilyFiction, Cathy highlights the importance of reclaiming the legacy of Christian fiction classics—some of which are at risk of being forgotten by modern readers.
RELATED LINK: Historical Q&A: Cathy Gohlke (Until We Find Home)
My life has been changed through stories—especially the parables and stories of Jesus and of writers who, divinely inspired, penned on parchment the very breath of God.
I never worry that the Bible, essential and timeless, will go out of print or vogue—it’s by far the bestselling book of all time.
But I’m concerned that new generations will miss some of the stories—spiritual building blocks and bridges—that have encouraged and pointed my parents’ and grandparents’ generations—as well as my own—to the Bible. Novels that taught us, changed us, helped us on our journey to the cross—books too good to be forgotten.
We tend to think of Christian fiction as a relatively new literary phenomenon. We’ve all read Catherine Marshall’s beloved Christy (1967)—probably even seen the movie or serial adaptation, and who doesn’t know Francine Rivers’ life-changing Redeeming Love (1991)? It continues to rank high on bestseller lists. Those books are regarded as classics, and they are…wonderful, life-building, enduring works of fiction…jewels in the crown.
But there are others, lesser known today. Sometimes the language, the style, even the length of these books create obstacles for modern-day readers, but I wonder if it’s also that the books are no longer sitting on end caps of the aisles in brick-and-mortar stores, or that they’re simply lost in the plethora of new releases claiming ad space in the short “shelf life” of books online in our twenty-first century. If no one tells us about these life-changing reads, how will we know? How will our children and grandchildren know?
That’s the motivating force behind highlighting classic Christian novels, their authors, characters, or story premises in my books.
For example, the Christian’s life journey—its purposes and pitfalls, its keys to eternal success—painted in longtime bestseller The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), by John Bunyan, is featured in Promise Me This (2012), my Titanic-through-WWII love story that pictures Christ’s sacrificial love for us and our response to that unmerited gift.
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