When asked to list important secular Christian writers of the 20th century, people tend to cite names such as GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien. One name that probably won’t feature is John Buchan. Yet this omission is regrettable, for Buchan was one of the most prolific and widely read British Christian authors of the 20th century and, more importantly, he is an author whose works still have much to teach Christians in today.
Buchan is best known today as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps, but there was so much more to his life than writing this one book. Born in Scotland in 1875 in relatively humble circumstances as the son of a Free Church of Scotland minister, Buchan was a journalist, historian, biographer, novelist, poet, historian, lawyer and politician who died in office. as Governor General of Canada in 1940.
As her most recent biographer, her granddaughter Ursula Buchan, explains in her book Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps – A Biography of John Buchan, Buchan was a devout Christian whose “Christian faith was the foundation of his understanding of the cosmos and the motivation for his way of life.”
Because his Christian faith shaped the way Buchan viewed the world, it is also reflected in his writings and, as I have noted, the result is that his works have important lessons to teach Christians today. today.
Today, proponents of “critical theory” argue that good and evil are invented by politically powerful groups in order to sustain their domination over others. Buchan, however, stands in the Christian tradition of moral realism. In his writings he teaches us that good and bad, right and wrong, are not mere human political inventions, but have an objective existence, and that human beings must take the right side in the battle that confronts them. opposite.
Today, it is widely accepted that the course of history is either a complete accident or determined entirely by human activity. Buchan teaches us, on the other hand, that what happens in history is the result of the providential action of God. However, this does not mean that human beings have no role to play. Their role is to trust in God and to participate in his providential activity by carrying out the tasks he entrusts to them.
As the American Walter Blenkiron says in Buchan’s novel Greenmantle, “I believe in an all-wise and beneficent Providence, but you have to trust it and give it a chance. It’s not about Is God’s activity or human activity, but of God’s activity and human activity as the right answer to that.
For Buchan, the form of this appropriate response is determined by the moral teaching found in the Bible and the mainstream Christian tradition, and everyone has the choice to behave in a way that is consistent with this teaching, or not to do so. To do. .
Today we live in a world…