Stewart’s book contains essays on famous American literature and it’s relationship to Christian beliefs and ideals. This is an interesting, thought provoking book on the subject. Stewart says that the most Christian thing about a piece of writing is the doctrine of Original Sin. By that standard, Huckleberry Finn is a Christian piece of writing because it portrays and satirizes human depravity.
My own example is the sort of thing one often found in the past: In the little country town of Plainville, the Baptist church desperately needs a new roof. The people are able to raise a small part of it. There is a rich man who lives in the mansion on the hilltop. Everyone thinks he is mean and selfish. At the last minute, he forks over the money. Isn’t that great? People aren’t so bad after all.
But is it? Of course if that, which gives people a warm fuzzy feeling, were true, we really wouldn’t need a Savior. My moral of the story is “If you don’t understand the bad news about humanity, You will never understand the Good News about God.” A good illustration of this is the doctrine of Total Depravity. This term has a tendency to turn people off, but it is a really profound analysis. Imagine that you have 100 glasses filled with pure water. You place a drop of black ink in the first one, two drops in the second and so on till you reach the last one with one hundred drops. Significantly the phenomenom of the Brownian Movement will cause each glass to become permeated with the ink.
Total Depravity doesn’t mean that everybody is as bad as they can be, but that sin permeates our lives. Paradoxically, the drunk lying in the gutter may be more aware that he has a sin problem than Joe Schmoe who is by a loose standard, a pretty good guy, better than Machine gun Kelly. The loose standard is the problem here. Yes, most people aren’t Jack the Ripper or Hitler but we have all sinned. It only takes one sin to make a sinner. Who has only sinned once? Socrates remarked that “Every man when he is born is pursued by two runners, Death and dishonor. Dishonor is ever the swifter of the two.”
John True hears a drowning man call for help. He immediately dives into the resevoir, swims to him, pulls him out, click, click, the cameras get it and his picture appears on the cover of every paper in the state. This is a good deed but was it not motivated in part by some element of wishing for the approbation of the crowd? Maybe. God knows. Form and fashion, outward show to the world, pride and vanity motivate people more than we like to admit. Good Christian writing can plumb the depths of a particular person and also show God’s work of redemption.