Discovering George MacDonald

C.S. Lewis is my favorite author. He has played major role in my own theological, philosophical, and spiritual development. As I have read more and more Lewis, and more and more about Lewis, I learned of the man Lewis called his own spiritual “master.” His “master’s” name was George MacDonald.

MacDonald was raised in a Christian home which, according to Lewis, seemed to be Calvinist in their theology. What I have discovered about MacDonald that I am coming to appreciate is his own journey of escaping  for his Calvinist upbringing. Lewis describes his understanding of MacDonald’s journey in Lewis own anthology of MacDonald’s work. I, too, have escaped from the stranglehold of dogmatic, certain Calvinism. For MacDonald the focal point became simply Jesus. Lewis wrote about him that no other writer seems more continually close to Christ Himself (Lewis, George MacDonald: An Anthology, XXXV). As I have been reading through Lewis’ anthology of MacDonald’s works, I find myself agreeing with Lewis’ opinion of MacDonald. I’m discovering in MacDonald a wisdom and love for God that is uncommon.

Throughout Lewis’ anthology of MacDonald, I have highlighted, underlined, and dog-eared many, many items. If I were to go through and comment on every meaningful statement, I’d most definitely be breaking copyright law. Here’s one, though, I read recently:

The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from the consequences of our sins is a false, mean, low notion. . . . Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; he was called Jesus because He should save His people from their sins. (Lewis. Anthology, 105)

A common gospel presentation today certainly emphasizes Jesus’ work on the cross securing salvation for those who repent. But, from what exactly does Jesus save us? In today’s popular view, I believe one might get the impression we are saved from an angry, vengeful God who is will torture forever those who don’t turn to him. Did Jesus come to save us from God? Or, did Jesus save us from alienation in hell? Was the life, ministry, message, healings, death and resurrection of Jesus really for the purpose of getting us out of hell? If that were the case, why all the life, ministry, message, healings? Those must have served a greater purpose?

I think they do. The death of Jesus is the culmination of Jesus’ entire life.

I think Jesus’ life, ministry, message, and healings point to the fact Jesus came to rescue us from our sins and their affects. His very life shows us an infinitely better way. His way is holiness, truth, justice, and mercy. His way has no outcasts. The poor are supported and raised. The proud are humbled. All humanity finds themselves equal in their neediness, and more important all humanity is equally loved.

Maybe, too, that’s why the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is something so basic, so necessary, and so real. All people need food, and food is the means through which Jesus proclaims himself. He is the true need of every human heart. He is the food our souls were made to feast upon.

Jesus came to do more than satisfy the Law’s demand. Jesus came to open our eyes to our destructive ways of rebellion. Through word and deed Jesus demonstrated the better way of holiness and faith in the Lord. Jesus showed how love, grace, and humility are powers hate, power, vengeance, and pride could never hope to equal.

In short, Jesus saved us from our sins not only by giving his life for us, but giving hope to us.




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