"It is a law with us that no one shall sing a song
who cannot be the hero of his tale,
who cannot live the song he sings."

Convinced that her son's violin is a satanic snare, a stern Scottish matron casts his beloved instrument into the fire.

Accosted by a mob about to burn him in effigy for a false accusation, a gracious Scottish man wins over his accusers with humor and humility.

The former is George MacDonald's grandmother, whom he immortalized as the violin-burning grandmother in Robert Falconer. The latter is his father, with whom he had a relationship C. S. Lewis called "almost perfect." These two contrasting personalities represent the dominant forces that shaped MacDonald's theology: the Scottish Calvinism of his era and the Celtic influences of his heritage.

MacDonald wrestled deeply with their divergent perspectives of God. He came to believe that Truth is not to be found in a theological system but in a person, Jesus Christ, who calls people to follow him in all aspects of their lives. "Our business is … to live truly," he wrote. Only as we live truly "will there be a possibility of our thinking correctly." Faith is a song that must be lived as well as sung.

God of wrath, God of love

Federal Calvinism provided the early scaffolding of his faith. Rather than affirming God as the Father who loves all of humanity and who freely forgives all through Jesus Christ, Federal Calvinists believed that God's love and forgiveness had to be purchased by the payment of Christ's sufferings on the cross. God was sovereign over all things and had chosen to love only the elect. This development of Calvinist belief arose in the late 16th and 17th ...

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