According to one American reader, fans raved about George MacDonald's novels as if they were "a new gospel." A huge public, she insisted, was "greedy" for more. It was not MacDonald's gospel that was new, however, but his fresh presentation of the gospel's relevance to life. MacDonald had once said, "The life, thoughts, deeds, aims, beliefs of Jesus have to be fresh expounded every age, for all the depth of eternity lies in them, and they have to be seen into more profoundly every new era of the world's spiritual history." Through his writing, he had found a way to do just that.

"Life and religion are one, or neither is anything," he insisted. Incensed by seeing professing Christians intellectually assent to Christian doctrine while still adhering to secular attitudes and patterns of life, he dedicated his ministry to demonstrating that Christian truth is at the very heart of life. Life itself is constantly trying to teach that unity. "The same God who is in us … also is all about us—inside, the Spirit; outside, the Word," he remarked, "and the two are ever trying to meet in us." That is, every aspect of the created universe and of human experience comes from God. Rightly received, all of life is a vehicle of grace.

A storyteller for the ages

Stories, MacDonald discovered, are an ideal means for showing people the sacramental character of life. A prolific writer, he composed poetry, novels, and fairy tales for both children and adults, as well as sermons, essays, and works of literary criticism—over 50 books in all. A shrewd and discerning student of his own life's experiences, both those of joy and those of grief, he portrayed the truths he discovered in his large gallery of characters. He was careful to teach nothing that ...

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