Saturday, January 5, 2019

Writing To a Non-Christian World

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect I Peter 3:15 (NIV)

A few years ago, I was sitting at the lunch table at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. This is one of my favorite places because I usually get there early and I never know who will join me. But I can expect that they love writing.

A retired missionary doctor joined our table, his face as long as the walk back to our rooms. I can only guess that his memoir had just met with some less than desired criticism.

He lamented that we were no longer interested in apologetics.

I wanted to ask him when he had last walked through a Lifeway store.

But on the way up the hill, the finger I’d pointed turned to me. Who were the current apologists doing battle for the faith? My answers of C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity), Josh McDowell (Evidence That Demands a Verdict), and Lee Strobel (The Case for Christianity), all though classics, left a lot to be desired when looking for something contemporary. 

Imagine my joy when my wife brought home Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace, published in 2017.

Here, I feel like I need to take a step back. 

Apologetics is being able to defend the basics of your faith.

I can already see the arms crossing, stern countenances, and head shaking. The Bible said it, my mama told me, or our church believes . . .

Ever tried using that on your friend or your child when they come to you with a question? You’re forced to get silent in a hurry.

J. Warner Wallace was an atheist and a homicide detective. He used his skills in making cases for trials to investigate the truth of the gospel. Then, like has happened many times in the past and the present, God showed up.

Wallace, in his book, challenges us to take our faith into the world. Often, we hear something on the news or TV, and we want to shut the doors and close the windows. It scares us and we feel like we are all alone. And if we go out, what we believe will be showed to be false.
  • First, like Elijah in I Kings 19, we are not alone. God has a lot of other followers and activity going on, they just may not show up on TV. Although, it’s amazing how much his works are on TV when you look for them.
  • Second, when you believe the truth, you don’t have to worry about someone disproving it. Just make sure it is God’s truth you believe, not a good saying.

Wallace tells about an atheist on YouTube who makes videos to teach others how to talk Christians out of their faiths. He instructs them to get us to not consider the evidence, but the way we evaluate truth.

Because we can get tripped up when we only know what our parents or our preachers say. But our main weapon is, the truth is the truth.

We need to realize that Christ isn’t just real and important to our lives in church on Sundays, but He’s just as present at school, work, or in our homes throughout the week.

Forensic Faith shows that we are called to take our faith into the world. (Sound familiar?) To do that effectively, we have to know what our listeners/readers believe and what is the truth (not just what we think).

Well, Tim. All this is sweet, but what does it have to do with writing?

I just completed my latest first draft. After taking a breath, I want to go back through and make sure my message, my theme gets across. It’s nice to tell a story, but it seems wasteful not to also give a message that is helpful to my readers. (I like to think my audience will be plural).

To me, the most important message I can give in our world today is one of hope. We hear so much negativity, see so much anger, and face so many hurdles or trials: that we need to hear that there is hope.

And I know the only source of true hope is in Jesus.

But a lot of people are tired of hearing this message from people who don’t seem to live it themselves. Or they’ve heard the message from people who use it for their own agendas. I read where a good man who is trying to live his faith was described as homophobic and backward thinking.

How can I share the message in a way that is honest and the reader will be open to hearing without being stuck on preconceived biases? How can I use my characters to show that even when things aren’t going well (I write mystery/suspense) you don’t have to go through it alone or for no reason?

Forensic Faith provides helpful information and advice to help you make a bridge to get your message to your readers.

I like how the book closes. Wallace talks about the importance of sheepdogs. He says that in a police officer’s mind, “the world is filled with potential victims (sheep) and perilous victimizers (wolves). Police officers stand in the gap; we’re the thin blue line separating the sheep from the wolves. We are sheepdogs.”

Our world and our churches, and our families, need people who can defend Christ’s teachings without becoming offensive. Join with me in trying harder to become one in this new year.

I would love to read your comments below. And, can you recommend any other current writers who write apologetics?


Tim Suddeth has been published in Guideposts’ The Joy of Christmas and on He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He is a member of ACFW and Cross n Pens. Tim’s lives in Greenville, SC with his wife, Vickie, and his happy 19-year-old autistic son, Madison. Visit Tim at and on Facebook and Twitter. He can be also reached at


  1. Great perspective Mr. Tim. Sort of aligns with my strong belief that our greatest testimony to God is the manner in which we live our lives. I can only speak for myself, but I hope that all my writing is to non-Christians; for my goal is to change that, for His glory. God's blessings my friend.

  2. Great job, Tim, and exactly my sentiments on my writing fiction! I've often said to others, that I am not going through all the hard work trying to write good novels just for great sales--although that is a definite goal. Nor am I writing novels to have a great story adventure people will hate to put down.That, too, is a goal. But I am writing novels that I might be able to share a nugget of God's truth through story that will impact my readers lives in some way with God's love, His goodness, and Truth. The premise that demonstrates this for my latest historical romance completed ms is "Love, forgiveness and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences when God is invited into the equation." The pitch for this novel further illustrates this: "Marisol Valentin flees to the New World after murdering a Spanish nobleman who molested her only to realize no one but God can turn good out of evil."
    Blessings on your writing, Tim, and Happy New Year!
    Elva Cobb Martin

    1. Thanks Elva. Sometimes we tend to look down on marketing as being less than Christian. But isnt a well read story more productive than one no one knows about? Keep writing.

  3. Well said, Tim! I applaud you and look forward to reading your work! Write on!

  4. Tim, this is a great post. Very insightful and inspiring. (And I ordered that book, too!).