Apologetics Advice from George MacDonald

Those who are familiar with C.S. Lewis (and who in the area of apologetics is not familiar with C.S. Lewis) may know that one of his favorite authors was George MacDonald. In fact, George MacDonald serves as the guide to heaven in The Great Divorce. Recently, I started reading a collection of three of MacDonald's novels entitled The Parish Papers. I understand why Lewis appreciated MacDonald because I wasn't even thirty pages in when I came across a nugget of wisdom on how to approach apologetics. 

In chapter four of the first novel, A Quiet Neighborhood, the protagonist, a pastor to a small church, runs across a carpenter who doubts that God may not have created the earth because it is so flawed. The pastor makes a point by referencing a coffin that the carpenter is constructing that the coffin is not well made either -- at least, not until the carpenter has actually finished the coffin. Something that is being made but not yet completed will naturally not work as well as the finished product. Likewise, the pastor then makes the point that God is in the process of making the world, and so it is wrong to say that God has created a defective product when He hasn't finished his labor. (Personally, I think it is more accurate to say that God is in the process of re-making the world after we broke it, but that's nitpicking). 

After the conversation, MacDonald makes the following point through the eyes of the Pastor -- a point that apologists should well take to heart. 


It is a principle of mine never to push anything over the edge. When I am successful in any argument, my one dread is of humiliating my opponent. When a man reasons for victory and not for the truth in the other soul, he has just one ally -- the devil. The defeat of the intellect is not the object of fighting with the sword of the Spirit, but rather the acceptance of the heart.  

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