George MacDonald by Talbott in All Shall Be Well


Reading Talbott’s section on George MacDonald, I feel like, a few more light bulbs went off and I was able to understand, in a deep way, MacDonald’s thoughts on sin, as explained in the bible, and why God cares to rescue us from it. And how it is that God forgives us and yet still disciplines us, even threatens wrath if we willfully continue sinning.

Here’s what I came up with…

If God freely forgives us, his love keeps no record of wrongs, he forgave us while we were still hostile to him, George MacDonald asks,…then why still the wrath/discipline? He suggests that it’s not that God hasn’t forgiven us of our past - he has and he did (the beauty of the cross is that he did it while we were hostile/his enemies), but the reason we must come to him, or are in danger of wrath as if we aren’t forgiven, is because he’s concerned with our present condition (what’s going on today/where we are headed/how that sin will affect us now), that we not persist in unrepentance, but turn to Him for a changed heart, one in which he writes his Love all over it!

A real life example of this is that sometimes we have to have tough love for the people we care about because it’s in their best interest. For example, I knew a married woman that was abused. Her husband treated her badly. Her friend told her she needed to write up a record of all that he had done to her. She expressed to me that she felt like she shouldn’t because love keeps no record of wrongs. What she realized is that she had already forgiven him for what he had done in the past (terrible things, as they were, because despite all that he had done she genuinely loves him/cares about his welfare), but the reason that she was writing it down, to remember, was because it was not ok for him to continue, in the present, abusing her and he needed to be held accountable. It was out of love that she held him accountable for his actions, that were hurting her, her children, and ultimately himself.

God is the same. He can’t neglect to address what is hurting us - our separation from him, a result of our sin.He must remove that obstacle, that gets in the way of our seeking Him. He is faithful to give us what we need in order to ensure that we come to grips with what opposition to Him brings, death.He allows us to experience the consequences. And, like a parent, he has the right balance of discipline and love so that we don’t stay in opposition to Him, but come humbly realizing we were wrong, that we do need Him in our lives. Just like the prodigal son.

I can remember when I was first learning that God’s wrath might be for more than retribution, I was reading in the OT that God poured out wrath on his people. I smiled because I realized, as if for the first time, that it was because he loved them and did not want them to persist in dangerous behaviors. But that smile was nothing like the one that came after it when I read that, then, he turned around and poured out his wrath on their enemies. A lightbulb went off…He loves them too!!! What he did for his own people, he did for their enemies!!! No wonder it’s been God’s plan all along to save the Gentiles too. He never didn’t love them, even as he had chosen others to reflect his love to the nations. I’m reminded of Romans 12 that God has a plan to have mercy on all. He knows what he’s doing. We can’t complain because we know he’s good.

Hosea 5:14,15 exemplifies the way in which God works - a way that is still so foreign to most believers…

How can so many overlook that God knows exactly what he is doing and it’s for a purpose?

John 8:10-12, in light of George MacDonald’s insight that God cares about our present, comes to life as Jesus doesn’t condemn the woman because he loves her, has already forgiven her of her past. He tells her instead, “Go and sin no more”…which always use to confuse me. By golly I think MacDonald is onto something here…Jesus is concerned with her present life, not her past. What do you all think?


Very uplifting Amy, the more MacDonald comes my way, the more I like him. No wonder Lewis was such a fan, although sad that Lewis didn’t become an EU in this life. Oh and yes, I totally agree with what you’ve written too :slight_smile:

Although hard to understand sometimes, I’m confident God always knows what He is doing, and fortunately what He is doing, is always ultimately the best thing for everyone.


There are gems in each of his written sermons (oddly his spoken ones aren’t nearly so compelling; transcriptions were made for some of them and I didn’t like them nearly as much, probably due to a much stronger anti-intellectualism.) But the one you’re talking about Amy (from his sermon on “Light”, which features many other great gems in it) is one of my favorite points that I have long incorporated, and typically deploy in talking about the sin against the Holy Spirit.


That’s right on, Amy!



I feel so fortunate to be sharing this understanding and hope with all of you, that God is soooo good!!! :stuck_out_tongue:


You wouldn’t happen to have some of these transcripts would you? :smiley:


Lefein, the chapter I’m referring to from All Shall Be Well is available on this site. Sonia may know where it is. She’s the one that told me about. Other MacDonald things are also available.


I forgot to quote Jason, my mistake. ^^’

I was meaning transcripts of the spoken sermons. But that’s cool too! :slight_smile:


I bought my hardback bound copy (at the same time I got Unspoken Vols 1-3 plus the Hope of the Gospel and Miracles of our Lord duplex) from, which is one of MacD’s American publishers. (I also bought my copy of Knoch’s Concordant from them at about the same time.)

They used to make all their material available for free on their website. From what I checked this morning, that no longer seems to be the case; at least, they don’t seem to be making the links to the material obvious anymore.

(I can’t say I’m altogether surprised, since they were effectively giving away the material for free!)

The sermons were found by J. Joseph Flynn and David Edwards, culled from various Victorian newspapers, and published by Johannesen in 1996 as George MacDonald in the Pulpit: The ‘Spoken’ sermons of George MacDonald. Amazon doesn’t sell it directly, but has access to about a dozen new and used copies through independent resellers:

Eighth Day Books seems to be offering an edition of the book as well.

The title can be ordered directly from Johannesen, too, through the link I gave at the start of this comment. It’s going to cost between $40 and $50 (US dollars) plus shipping.



I too very much liked that chapter!

While I don’t read Max Lucado any more, he wrote somewhere that yes, God loves us just the way we are. But He also loves us too much to leave us that way!

Seems that perhaps Paul’s imagery of the potter doing what He will with the clay impacts this idea as well.