There are a few purists among God’s people–who are my brothers and sisters, so don’t think I’m trying to throw brickbats at them–who don’t like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or its many incarnations into film. But here we watch our favorite movie versions every Christmastide: and really, I can’t think of any piece of fiction that more faithfully teaches Bible truths concerning Christmas.
We should all watch these more attentively–in addition to always spending time in the Bible text itself. If you’re reading Scripture daily, then Christmas will come more than once a year.
Consider George C. Scott’s Scrooge: could anyone be more cold-heartedly obnoxious? Or Alistair Sim’s Scrooge in the immortal 1950 classic: he is more creatively, exuberantly nasty than the others. And don’t forget, from farther back, Reginald Owen. His Scrooge is just plain flat-out mean.
All are horrible individuals (even though they’re all meant to be the same person). Not only bad, but taking a perverse pride and pleasure in their badness. Anyone can watch these performances and feel superior. “At least I’m not that bad!”
A Christmas Carol is not about Santa Claus and shopping and presents. No, it gets to the heart of the matter, it shows us why the Son of God came down from Heaven, why the Word of God had to be made flesh. For the business at hand, then and now, was the business of Redemption.
God has made Jesus Christ to be for us, because we can attain to none of these ourselves, wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30). And what Dickens and his movie-making successors are telling us is that, if God can redeem and regenerate such a rotten, heartless, sinful soul as Scrooge, He can redeem us, too. The Holy Spirit of God can cleanse the human heart. The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6).
Want to hear some good news? We are not stuck with who we are! Or rather, who we have become, indulging sin and folly in a fallen world. We are not stuck with that at all.
For the Lord hath spoken it.
And this little story of A Christmas Carol has put it into English.