Christian fiction (CF) is a literature whose conflicts and characters centre around Biblical themes. God, sin, salvation, sacrifice, redemption, and service to others play a significant role in such literature. CF also includes fictionalized accounts of Biblical incidents, sometimes in biography format.
Christian fiction incorporates speculative fiction, historical fiction, mystery, western, romantic fiction, and various combinations of these--in short, nearly every fiction genre includes works with Christian themes. Modern Christian fiction is heavily weighted to historical romance, but this reflects trends in the broader marketplace.
As with "Christian" music, not all that is sold in Christian bookstores under this rubric is particularly Christian. Many popular authors confine their Christianity to vague spiritual references, a character who happens to be a pastor, some nondescript "God talk", visits to a church, and/or define it by the lack of explicit sex and violence. Specific mentions of the gospel are all but nonexistent in most such books, and their claim to be termed "Christian" seems tenuous. When they deal with other matters, it is frequently as the secular writer does--by reading today's issues of interest (such as feminism) into their historical context in a manner that probably casts their historical romances into the historical fantasy genre, along with such books as time-travel romance.
For its part, Christian speculative fiction (CSF) is mostly apocalyptic "end-times" literature, that is, fantasy. This genre takes the highly saymbolic and figurative events described in Daniel and Revelation, filters them through a specific eschatological theory, and attempts to actualize them in a fictional setting, often times with the goal of teaching the theory. LaHaye and Jenkins have been the most successful of these authors, selling millions of books in the "Left Behind" series. Prior to the advent of the year 2000, numerous writers made large sums forecasting assorted fictional apocalyptic events as a result of "Y2K", but with the added twist that this material was sold as non-fiction. Had they remembered that the "end-times" wrapup of the physical universe is on the Lord's timetable (not their own), and that Christ himself discouraged date setting in this connection, perhaps they would have shown more restraint. There has been no word from such authors and their publishers about refunding the money taken for these books.
In more modern times, other CSF themes have emerged. For example, Rick Sutcliffe's speculative fiction is written from a Christian point of view. It is set among several alternate worlds linked by a medium called the timestream, and involves the characters in ethical decision making. The key nexus or decision points that generate two alternate worlds where only one existed before are Biblical events, such as the crucifixion, which is known about on all the worlds, but took place on only one. Characters wrestle with sin, salvation, the problems of pain, evil, and war. Some are Christians, some are hardened sinners, others are ambiguous, at various levels of interest or maturity, or still on a spiritual journey. They learn and grow--some toward God, some away. Each book has at least one explicit Gospel presentation. For more information, click the Arjay Books link to the right.