Theological fiction is fictional writing which shapes people's attitudes towards theological beliefs. It is typically instructional or exploratory rather than descriptive, and it engages specifically with the theoretical ideas which underlie and shape typical responses to religion. Theological fiction, as a concept, is used by both theists and atheists, such as in fictional pantheons and cultures in theological fantasy literature.
The subject matter of theological novels often overlaps with philosophical novels, particularly when it deals with issues from natural theology (also called philosophy of religion). For example, Roger Olsen notes that the problem of evil is a feature of some significant theological fiction.
Theological fiction also overlaps with religious fiction or Christian novels (also called inspirational fiction), especially when dealing with complex ideas such as redemption, salvation and predestination, which have a direct bearing on attitudes towards religious practices. Some authors try to distinguish a theological novel as one which denotes a more idea driven plot, rather than a novel which is about people who happen to be interacting with religion, but the distinction often proves difficult to sustain when ideas and actions are closely interwoven, each influencing the other.
Examples of the genre (also called novellae) include:
Examples of theological long fiction include:
Individual stories can be linked in series to constitute a composite novel or a short story cycle, where a group of stories interact to convey a richer or fuller story than any of the single elements can.
Examples of linked series of theological fiction include: