Well, the answer to that lies with what is a Christian novel?
According to our friends at the Wikipedia, this is what defines a Christian Novel: A Christian novel is one that expounds and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both, also seen in the Bible, or which deals with Christian themes in a positive way.
OK, according to that definition, it’s a possible maybe.
Let’s dig deeper. Here’s some of the things we might encounter that define a Christian novel.
- Accepts the truthful authority of the Bible
- Addresses dilemmas through faith in Jesus
- Believes that Jesus died and rose for sins of all people
- Avoids writing about certain taboos
So, how does Will and company measure up? Not everyone in Will’s universe accepts the truthful authority of the Bible. But from Will’s perspective, he does, though he might admit that there’s much he’s trying to sort out. An example is the creation. He knows from Genesis the story of creation. As a scientist, he knows the evidence, etc. He has a view that works for him, but he’s careful about sharing it. It doesn’t contradict the Bible. It’s just something he had to work out to so it works for him.
Addresses dilemmas through faith in Jesus. That it does. Problem is the dilemmas Will Diaz faces are often times not that simple to resolve. Will often times finds himself walking in a world that isn’t always black and white but weird shapes of gray. His biggest dilemmas are caused by trying to come to grips with the things he has to do. For instance, showing love to his fellow man. Will tries to do this, but there are places he falls on his face. An example is a dope pusher. He has zero use for a pusher and puts hired killers ahead of them in his pecking order. Hired killers are in it for the money. Pushers do it for money which also kills people, but have disconnect when it comes to what happens to their customers. From his perspective, at least the hired killer is being honest about his motivations.
Want another? Killing. While we establish in the first three books that he has killed people in warfare, he has a problem with killing people now. None of that issue stems from his religious beliefs, but the wounds life has inflicted on his him. His thinking is that nowhere in the Bible does it say I have to die on request. In that respect, he identifies closely with the Judges and King David.
The teachings of Christ do form the structure he operates within. They make him a strong leader, a good cop, and a good husband and father. He also tends to show mercy when he thinks it might make a difference. That last word might give an insight into him. He tries to salvage those he can, but others he won’t lift a finger for. I reckon he’s a bit judgmental, which is a bit of character flaw.
While this isn’t exactly a flaw, he will occasionally drink a beer. He doesn’t make a habit of it, nor will he allow himself to get falling down drunk. Worse, his wife plays in a country-western band that often times plays saloons. And two of the men he associates with own saloons.
I’m not sure where that puts him in standing with most people, but there he is.
So while he has a great Christian witness, some people would think he falls on his face in some places of his walk. In short, a flawed human being who might not see the chinks in his own armor.
He has no qualms with the idea that Christ died and rose again from the dead. His only problem is that what seems so common sense to him, isn’t accepted by others. He shares the Gospel and his testimonies often with friends. Some receive it readily. Others look at him like he’s grown two heads. The biggest regret he has is so many didn’t listen. He hasn’t realized that his job isn’t to save anyone. His job is to tell people about Christ and try to grow them in that direction.
The biggest reason the book may fail as a Christian novel is avoiding taboo topics. Will works in a fallen world. As he puts it, “My job is to fight a thing that’s out to destroy the world, and try to keep my sanity while doing it.” That thing is responsible for much misery in the world, and Will is eyeball to eyeball with it. He finds himself jailing drug pushers, and then has to deal with the results of justice. (“We sent daddy to jail. Now how are his kids going to eat?”) He deals with spousal abuse, sex trafficking (not so much actual vice, but more the kidnapping or forcing people into it), narcotics and the occasional homicide. His battleground is the homes, bars, strip clubs, and back streets of the world. These battlefields are rarely found in Christian novels.
So from the definition above and it’s criteria, the Lawman series are not Christian novels.
So what are they then?
They’re about a man doing his very best to survive in a very tough world. He’s up against incredible things that could easily destroy him, and he needs the guidelines that Christianity provides to deal with it all. And he won’t hesitate to pray, and he puts on what we call “The Armor of God.” That’s what makes it possible for him to confront the evil in the world and overcome it. He admits that Jesus saved him not only from his sins, but saved his sanity and gave him a life worth living. He’ll be the first to admit that he isn’t perfect, that he drops the ball a lot of times, but that he’s a work in progress.
And it has a ton of Christian themes. The battle of Good vs. Evil arches over it. It has to do with healing from the hurts of the past. It looks into the supernatural realm. It’s about wanting to quit in the face of overwhelming odds, and about putting life together after life has crushed you. It’s about rejoicing in the day.
And it’s about hope, and love.
Somehow, I think marketing it just got harder.