There were a lot of things George MacDonald helped me with when I first encountered him in college. One of the things I was starting to struggle with, mightily so, was with certain visions of God that regulated particular theories of salvation.
For example, I was struggling with images of a wrathful and bloodthirsty God. That the God I was called upon to worship could only be appeased by the spilling of blood. What sort of God was that? The whole vision seemed pagan to me. And that's what I concluded, that most of contemporary Christianity is just Paganism 2.0.
MacDonald helped me forward. He gave me the confidence to replace those pagan notions of god with the God of Jesus Christ. Last week I told you I was reading back through MacDonald's novel Donal Grant. It was passages like this one from Donal Grant that proved so helpful to me:
"...in Jesus Christ I see the very God I want. I want a father like him..." [said Donal to lady Arctura,] "...No other than the God exactly like Christ can be the true God. It is a doctrine of devils that Jesus died to save us from our father. There is no safety, no good, no gladness, no purity, but with the Father, his father, and our father, his God and our God."
"But God hates sin and pushes it!" [exclaimed lady Arctura.]
"It would be terrible if he did not. All hatred of sin is love to the sinner. Do you think Jesus came to deliver us from the punishment of our sins? He would not have moved a step for that. The horrible thing is being bad, and all punishment is help to deliver us from that, nor will punishment cease til we have ceased to be bad. God will have us good, and Jesus works out the will of his father. Where is the refuge of the child who fears his father? Is it in the farthest corner of the room? Is it down in the dungeon of the castle, my lady?"
"No, no!" cried lady Arctura, "--in his father's arms!"
"There!" said Donal, and was silent.