Not all writing need achieve a place in the annals of literary art to be a great witness for the truth. Many an effort which can hardly be dignified as literature has been a great stimulus to the spirit. To know that when we die in faith, the works which we have done in faith, however lightly esteemed they may have been on earth, will be remembered by the Father in heaven is not only mightily comforting but true.
There is a sense in which we may speak of “relative values” in the printed word. Much of what passes today for literary art in the novel, for instance, is naturalism of the grossest kind. One reads about evil as something in which to delight; filth and unredeemed perversity are exhibited as though they were natural and right. This kind of production may be, and frequently is, couched in very arty language, but it is not responsible literature, and its final worth, so far as the barest respect for the truth is concerned, is below the level of the telephone directory.
Just an ordinary blotter bearing the imprint of a rural church but having on it a great principle or portion of God’s Word will far exceed An American Tragedy by Dreiser or Bryant’s Christless Thanatopsis in the ultimate value of its message or the influence it will have for the good.
Certainly writing does not have to be applauded by the world to bear a successful witness for Christ. Thousands of books deficient in erudition and brilliance of language have led men to heaven because they clearly presented the gospel of Christ. A tract which fulfills its function of proclaiming the Saviour’s message may lead a soul to the Lord, while a well-written novel whose vision of life is defiling and invalid may point the way to hell for countless souls. We forget ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more