Writing a Christian Novel



I started writing my novel, "Leaves of the Fig Tree", in 1974, or thereabouts. A copy can be downloaded free of charge from the 'Short Stories' part of this website.

It is the story of an ordinary guy, Michael, growing up in an ordinary family, seeing the world change around him through innocent eyes. It is his spiritual journey, finding Jesus in a world gone mad, questioning the validity of the intellectual propositions made by all and sundry around him.  Many of those questions came from my own heart. In many ways, Michael is Albert. But Albert is also parts of other characters in the book.  When you write a novel, you become god-like, able to make things happen at will, able to weave patterns with emotions, interactions, conversations and circumstances. You can create scenarios which are ideal for expressing thoughts that can't be given substance any other way.

Initially, the book was called "Tribulation", and later "The tribulation of Michael".  I used the book of Revelation as a convenient medium for conveying many of the things I wanted to tell the church, hoping to reach people who prefer to read fiction over logical thesis. I think there is so much work still to be done to prepare the Bride for Jesus, that the suggested timeframe of the book is probably quite unrealistic, yet it was necessary in order to get the reader involved. But the spiritual message is timeless. The reason I started in the present was to have a reference point everyone can relate to, and build on it. In ten years time, I may adjust the timeframe again (as I've already done twice!).  The book has been re-written many times, not just to adjust the timeframe, but to include new things I learned about our walk with Jesus, new revelations which were important to share.

I submitted the initial version of the novel to a number of publishers, always to be rejected.  The most positive response I got was from Zondervan's, who called it a 'major novel of this kind', but regretted having no room for it in their publishing program. At least the American Publishers at that time returned my manuscript without question.  Publishers in Australia wanted submission of postage, before they would go to the trouble!

The chances of having a novel published, I was told at a writer’s seminar in 1995, are miniscule, with something like 4,000 novels being written every year in Australia alone, of which 10 make it to market.  Of the 10, 6 are by previously published authors, having at least a track record plus an agent going for them.  In Australia it is next to impossible to get an agent.  Without an agent, publishers won’t even open your manuscript! (Probably a case of not what but who you know!) Most of the lucky 10 write material that falls into a popular genre, like crime, mystery, romance, etc.  A Christian novel is not exactly an easy category to slot, making publication even harder. 

I had actually started writing a new novel called "The Bride", three or four years ago, but I abandoned that project when I decided this website was the way to go. I guess when you write a novel, you depend on the reader's ability to put all the clues together, in order to get the message across.  In this website, it is much easier to call a spade a spade. 

In the first edition, I desperately wanted to tell the world there should be only one church.  A divided bride could hardly qualify as one without spot or wrinkle.  I was trying to communicate that the basis for our unity should be that we all belong to the same divine family.  In practice, our unity is based on doctrinal agreement. Our ability to reason is limited and so our ability to comprehend the Gospel is limited. To base our unity on our ability to reason is sheer folly. Even me, telling you right now in this testimony, that something is wrong with the church is constrained by my own limited ability to reason. So I am depending on the Holy Spirit to reveal to you whether what I have to say is Truth or not.  

As side issues, I wanted to comment on environmental pollution, inspired by "The Doomsday Book" (can't remember the author, was it Taylor?), social change, inspired by Toffler's "Future Shock", and other documentary warnings about the impact of our out-of-control, consumer lifestyle on the world we live in.  The West controls most of the wealth, and globalisation is setting a trend for the rest of the world to emulate our living standard.  If the whole world lived at that standard, the earth would perish within a couple of years. And in that outrageously unbalanced distribution of wealth, the church, through the 'prosperity doctrine', is encouraging us to want even more.  Jesus is said to be coming back to 'destroy those who destroy the Earth' (Revelation 11:18).   

A lesser motivation in writing it was to lend literal plausibility to the prophecies of the book of Revelation, one of the least understood books of the Bible.

The next revision was absolutely essential, as I realised my hero, Michael, walked very much alone. Maybe subconsciously I had him walking a path parallel to my own. God didn't design us to walk alone.  It was not good for Adam to be 'alone', even though he had daily fellowship with God Himself.  Jesus sent the disciples out in twos. A major re-write was called for. The world is not waiting to see a billion Jesus clones, all walking a perfectly sinless journey by themselves. The new and most challenging expression of God will be through a multi-membered body called 'the body of Christ'.  They will express God, not by leading individually perfect lives, but by loving each other with a love having its source in the Holy Spirit.  Their perfection will come, not from being 'sinless', but by individually taking up their cross for the sake of one another, Jesus and the Gospel.

The next re-write was inspired by what was, for me, a new revelation about the nature of love.  Love must be mutual, even though we all should express it without wanting anything in return.  You cannot obey the New Commandment, to love one another, on your own.  I guess one of the most steadfast of loves is the love of a parent.  A parent will put up with things from their offspring that not even a soul-mate could get away with! And God regards us as His children, (thank God)! However, even God's love is not the type that can survive forever without being returned.  Eventually, He will destroy those who have refused to return His love.  Unrequited love cannot survive indefinitely. The very nature of love requires it to flow back and forth freely, not with account books keeping track, but never stagnant.  In the words of a Peter, Paul and Mary song called 'Such is love': "Love must flow like a river. Try to hold love back, and love will die". If love is allowed to flow freely, it will grow exponentially, until it overflows and floods its surroundings, touching and blessing everything and everyone with its abundance.

Then I got my first Personal Computer! So far, any re-writes had been accomplished using a typewriter. Cut-and-pastes were literally accomplished with a pair of scissors and a tub of glue.  Finally my novel was committed to digital memory.  And then changes became so much easier to make. Things I had attempted to do in the first version, but which didn't work very well, became so much easier to correct!  One of the things that didn't work related to Michael's recall of his life.  I tried to picture Michael, in his early twenties, remembering being born - what words would he use to describe the event?  I had opted for the simplest terminology I could find, but it didn't work. Readers just didn’t ‘get it’.  Numerous other small changes have been made since.

The last rewrite came only about two years ago, when I decided to publish it here on my website. The world had changed dramatically since the earlier versions. Notably, passenger aeroplanes deliberately crashing into the twin towers had such enormous implications, spiritually, that the book made no more sense the way it was. We are in a spiritual battle between good and evil.  The Holy Land is centre stage. The earliest promises by God to Abraham are now incredibly relevant. In addition, enormous technological advances had taken place since the last re-write, giving the book a 'dated' feel.  If we really try to absorb how much the world has changed in the last hundred years, more than tripling  its population, advancing from the industrial revolution to the cyber space revolution, six thousand years since creation starts to look like an incredibly long time.



  • When the Lord places a burden on your heart, it has to be expressed. It cannot lie there, dormant, whether people want to listen or not.
  • Our unity really should be based on belonging to God's family - all born-again Christians belong to it.   There is one church, one bride, one family. So 'church' happens wherever and whenever Christians meet.  Whilst correct doctrine is very important, disagreement should not stand in the way of our unity. True unity is more a question of personal attitude than of organisational merger.
  • The true expression of agape love is a two-way street. By its very created nature, love is mutual.  It must flow back and forth to survive.
  • The timing of the Lord is perfect. He, and He only, knows when Jesus is coming back for His bride. Only the Father is in charge of the events leading up to that momentous occasion and none of us can either speed it up or delay its arrival.