As a novelist, I am probably biased when it comes to the answer to this question. I think fiction is a legitimate and impactful medium to convey truth. and I have written my own novels to do just that.
As a pastor, I am very concerned about the type of fiction that is being read by our Christian families, having seen how minds can be changed and influenced by what they read.
THE DANGERS OF FICTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN
Readers often think that fiction is just entertainment, but that is just not true. Fiction carries as strong and as powerful a message as any other type of medium. With that message comes real dangers to the reader.
Fiction novels can easily present to your mind and consideration concepts and messages that clearly violate the Bible and your Christian values. These messages have more of an impact on you than you think. The more you are exposed to an idea, the more you will come to accept the idea.
The more exposure you have to an idea, the more comfortable you will become with it.
The Bad Influence of Heroes
Another danger to reading fiction is the attachment you can have to the main characters. Once the you start to care about a character, you will begin to identify with the character. If the character has opinions that are anti-God, anti-Christian, or anti-religious, you will be much more susceptible to adopting those opinions yourself.
This is particularly true if the character you begin to identify with is the hero or heroine in the story. In many cases, the author will see to it that the character’s opinions and motivations are the reason for such heroics.
The Inability to Distinguish Fiction from Reality
A third danger is when the line between reality and fiction begins to blur. A child watching a Superman movie may put on a cape and jump off a roof to be like Superman—clearly, the line was blurred. Kids the world over began buying owls after watching or reading Harry Potter. In the latter case, the books and movies intentionally tried to blur the lines between reality and fiction. How many kids think witchcraft is now okay and hope they aren’t a muggle?
This blurring of lines is dangerous, particularly for children and teenagers whose minds are still developing. Some fantasy books, like the Narnia books, are Christian based and make a clear distinction between reality and fiction, but many secular works out there make no attempt to do so. They have their own agenda.
THE BENEFITS OF GOOD FICTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN
Fiction has a place in the Christian’s world. If you read your Bible at all, then you know that Jesus told fictional stories to try and convey truth. We call them parables. These parables were used to help His listeners to relate more easily to the truth He was trying to teach.
And that is the power of fiction. Through Christian fiction, we can convey truth and then relate it to you in ways that can’t otherwise be done.
Christian Fiction Can Reinforce Messages
A good Christian fiction novel will reinforce the values and morals that you hold. I’ve written several novels myself, and the purpose of those novels are to convey messages that are consistent with my values—mostly to my own children. This is done in a relatable manner that people find entertaining, but also healthy.
The Good Influence of Heroes
Take the parable of the Good Samaritan. How many parents have told that story and hoped their children would want to emulate the fictional character who went out of his way to help the fictional man who was left for dead?
Good Christian fictional novels can create a connection with you and your children that can promote emulation. This is good. Because you relate to the character, you may even strive to be like him. I recall reading Sherlock Holmes books as a boy and trying to hone my own powers of observation because I wanted to emulate that strength I saw in Holmes. This is why good fiction can be so good!
Christian Fiction Can Help Transpose Fiction into Reality
A good Christian fiction novel will encourage you to transpose the qualities and attributes you read about into real life scenarios. This was Jesus’ hope when He told His parables. He wanted His listeners to adopt into real life the values that were promoted in fictional stories.
A good novel can encourage your children to be kind, loving, generous, wary of sin, to choose friends better, and to understand life better. This is a powerful tool, and so, yes, there is a place for fiction in the library of a Christian.