The conversation later veers down this charming path, as the Pulitzer Prize winning Christian so casually explains to the secular interviewer on a nationally distributed podcast that John Calvin is "… cool in a lot of ways. If you read his sermons on the 10 Commandments," Robinson explains, "they're absolutely beautiful, profoundly humane interpretations of things that many people find forbidding." She continues, talking about how Calvin situated sacred and human experience "in the mind and in perception," and about how she feels indebted to the 16th century reformer for his understanding of, "… the givenness of everything."

From Robinson, throughout the whole of the conversation, there's not a syllable of defensiveness; there's no awkwardness, no need to shy away from anything she believes. And from Lanpher, there's only respect for a great writer.

More than 1,600 years ago, Augustine argued that Christians not only had a right to employ "the art of rhetoric," but also the obligation. Though sometimes skeptical of literature, he recognized that Christians, should they abandon the field, left it open to "those who expounded falsehood." Browse the shelves at the nearby Borders, and his words ring true.

"Christian fiction"—the books we find in the back of the bookstore—often edify and inspire us. And just as we need composers to create hymns, the church needs writers—novelists and theologians alike—to build up the body, to enhance our worship, to delight us with stories that exemplify the truths of the Christian faith. Still—it may be time to confess that we've left literature in the hands of those who have no hope to offer. It might be time to reconsider our neighbors and their need to make sense of the world; their need for books, poems, and short stories that probe life's mystery, that offer hope without flinching from the Fall's consequences, that don't—by their sentimentality—mock our true state, or the price that was paid for the world's redemption.

Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith. He is also the author of two novels, Safe at Home (March 2008) and Crossing the Lines (June 2009), both published by David C. Cook Publishers.
This article originally appeared at byFaithOnline. Used with permission.

Original publication date: January 13, 2010