George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles

Incarnation, Doubt, and Reenchantment

Hansen Lectureship Series

by Timothy Larsen

George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles
paperback
  • Length: 150 pages
  • Published: November 2018
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-5373-1
  • Item Code: 5373
  • Case Quantity: 64

The Bible is full of miracles. Yet how do we make sense of them today? And where might we see miracles in our own lives?

In this installment of the Hansen Lectureship series, historian and theologian Timothy Larsen considers the legacy of George MacDonald, the Victorian Scottish author and minister who is best known for his pioneering fantasy literature, which influenced authors such as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, and Madeleine L'Engle.

Larsen explores how, throughout his life and writings, MacDonald sought to counteract skepticism, unbelief, naturalism, and materialism and to herald instead the reality of the miraculous, the supernatural, the wondrous, and the realm of the spirit.

The Hansen Lectureship series offers accessible and insightful reflections by Wheaton College faculty members on the transformative work of the Wade Center authors.

"Rarely, if ever, does a theologian grasp the essentials of luminaries such as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, and Madeleine L'Engle. But here, in this exquisitely argued, beautifully crafted, and elegantly written thesis, Timothy Larsen offers a beguiling meditation on incarnation, doubt, and reenchantment. With his careful and nuanced focus on George MacDonald, Timothy Larsen has produced a poised, sumptuous, and sublime theological essay—worthy, indeed, of Lewis, Chesterton, Tolkien, L'Engle, and MacDonald. This is Christian apologetics at its best and from one of the finest public intellectuals writing in our time."

Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church, Oxford

"It is hard to imagine a better pairing of author and subject than George MacDonald, one of the essential Victorians and one of the deepest of Christian writers, and Timothy Larsen, one of our very finest historians. This book is truly a joy to read."

Alan Jacobs, distinguished professor of humanities in the honors program, Baylor University

"In a Victorian religious culture saturated with religious preoccupations and moral anxieties, George MacDonald stands out as a relatively neglected author whose work nonetheless pays careful attention to the intersection of religion and literature. Tim Larsen brilliantly opens up MacDonald's imaginative writing as well as his sermons and essays to demonstrate how closely he followed contemporary interest in Christian doctrine and the challenges it faced in his day. No one who knows Larsen's work will be surprised at this: with wit, knowledge, and an acute critical intelligence, Larsen picks out again and again the ways in which MacDonald's fiction illustrated or experimented with controverted points of Christian doctrine, yet still functioned as good, readable fiction. A series of other interlocutors comment insightfully on Larsen's chapters and open up further seams of interpretation. For anyone interested in Victorian religious history and literary culture, this is a gem of a book."

Jeremy Morris, master of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge

"Victorian writer George MacDonald was a powerful influence on later authors such as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, and Madeleine L'Engle. In this fine collection of lectures, scholar Timothy Larsen provides an essential context to MacDonald's life and thought, and indeed to the religious history of the nineteenth century. With his acute literary and theological insights, Larsen's book is a readable and perceptive guide to one of the great Christian thinkers."

Philip Jenkins, Baylor University

"Larsen has an original, interesting, stimulating, and even at times, controversial take on George MacDonald and his work."

Stephen Prickett, regius professor emeritus of English, University of Glasgow, president of the George MacDonald Society

"Drawing widely on George MacDonald's novels, stories, poems, and sermons, Larsen boldly presents him to us in all of his heterodoxical orthodoxy. Here is a fiery Scotsman with a capacious faith and vision who could find Christ in the most unlikely of places."

Louis Markos, professor in English and scholar in residence, Houston Baptist University, author of On the Shoulders of Hobbits

"In this gem of a book, Timothy Larsen uses the delightful and moving writings of George MacDonald to open surprising new vistas on the religious world of Victorian Britain. I recommend it highly."

Thomas S. Kidd, distinguished professor of history, Baylor University

"These lectures are steeped in a scholarly acquaintance with George MacDonald's writings. Their accessible style aims at bringing MacDonald's theological insights on such ever-pressing matters as religious doubt and the purpose of human suffering to a wider Christian audience."

Elisabeth Jay, professor emerita, Oxford Brookes University
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CONTENTS

Introduction to the Hansen Lectureship Series (Walter Hansen)
1. George MacDonald in the Age of the Incarnation
Response: Jim Beitler
2. George MacDonald and the Crisis of Doubt
Response: Richard Gibson
3. George MacDonald and the Reenchantment of the World
Response: Jill Peláez Baumgaertner
Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index

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Timothy Larsen (PhD, University of Stirling) is McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, and he has been a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of several books, including George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles, John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life, The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith, A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians, and Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England.

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