If you like to read fiction, and you like to read poetic fiction, then I think you’d like George MacDonald. He was born in 1824, and he died in 1905.
He was a Christian, although his theological views were controversial (and still are by those who hold views similar to his today). Basically, MacDonald did not believe in an eternal hell. He believed that if one does go to hell, it is just to burn the remaining sin out of him, and once that is accomplished he is redeemed.
Or: “MacDonald was convinced that God does not punish except to amend, and that the sole end of His greatest anger is the amelioration of the guilty. As the doctor uses fire and steel in certain deep-seated diseases, so God may use hell-fire if necessary to heal the hardened sinner. MacDonald declared, ‘I believe that no hell will be lacking which would help the just mercy of God to redeem his children.’ MacDonald posed the rhetorical question, ‘When we say that God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of Him is groundless?’ He replied, ‘No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more. … The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear.'”~from Wikipedia.
MacDonald also did not believe Christ bore the punishment of our sins on Himself (God’s wrath), but rather he believed that Christ simply died to enable us to overcome our sin. MacDonald believed: “The problem was not the need to appease a wrathful God but the disease of cosmic evil itself.”~Wikipedia. Which is true, but it’s only half true–according to the Bible Christ dies for our sins to (a) be punished by the Father in our place [Romans 3:23-26]; [Isaiah 53:10], and (b) to give us a new nature–one capable of overcoming sin by the power of the Holy Spirit [John 3]. Also the Bible makes it clear that hell is eternal [Matthew 25:46]; [Revelation 14:11].
But I don’t want to write about theology! Nor do I want to recommend MacDonald’s theology. I do want to recommend his novels.
Some quotes form his novels:
“There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection.”
“As you grow ready for it, somewhere or other you will find what is needful for you in a book.”
“Whose work is it but your own to open your eyes? But indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool out of you that you will know yourself for one, and begin to be wise.”
“People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn’t seen some of it.”
“It is when people do wrong things wilfully that they are the more likely to do them again.”
“The best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is — not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself.”
George MacDonald was also a huge influence on C S Lewis– “I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.”~Lewis.
On first reading MacDonald, Lewis said: “What it actually did to me was to convert, even to baptise … my imagination.”~Lewis
So yeah, if you like to read fiction then give MacDonald a try!
Here are a couple of his novels in PDF…