The Theology of George MacDonald
The Child Against the Vampire of Fundamentalism
John R. de Jong
George MacDonald (1824-1905) was writing at a time of Evangelical unease. In a society ravaged by Asiatic cholera, numbed by levels of infant mortality, and fearful of revolution and the toxicity of industry (to name but a few of the many challenges), the "gospel" proclaiming eternal damnation for unbelievers was hardly good news; rather, Christianity was increasingly viewed as the source of bad news and a tool of state oppression. MacDonald agreed: in his view, the church had become a vampire sucking the blood of her children instead of offering them eucharistic life. In contrast, like Christ, MacDonald brings before us a child. Although at first sight a familiar Romantic incarnation, in MacDonald's theology "the child" becomes an unlikely icon challenging the vampire's kingdom--a challenge reaching beyond the confines of Evangelicalism, confronting the foundations of much of Western theology. This meticulously-researched study exploring MacDonald's work--especially his "realist" and fantasy novels--in the light of its Victorian context is of more than historical interest. His incisive critique of church and empire have particular relevance today in light of the growing and troubling alliance between fundamentalist expressions of church and intolerant, right-wing politics. This volume considers MacDonald's radical solution to religious vampirism; becoming children.