Monday, June 1, 2009

Hekyll & Jekyll

(Photos by Neil Cullan McKinlay)
I’ve been (re)visiting some of the old classics and not so old classics. I entertained myself by reading Sir Walter Scott’s “Rob Roy.” The book was nearly finished before Rob Roy made an entrance proper! I lapped-up George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” after which I sat in my room and read his “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. I must admit that that one had me looking over my shoulder as I read it!

Next, I paid Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) a visit. I’ve just finished reading his “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” and look forward to reading about pirates and parrots in his “Treasure Island.”

However, about Jekyll and Hyde…

Is Mr Hyde simply Dr Jekyll regressing to some supposed less evolved stage as at least one commentator alleges? Or, like Hyde’s heavy walking-cane, is not Stevenson writing about our old nature trying to rain down death-blows upon our new nature – as per Romans chapter 7?

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:21-25.

Stevenson was a gentleman well-dressed in Bible attire. Scriptural allusions come by the beaker full in his writings as he betrays his Calvinist parentage on page after page. Therefore Hyde may resemble this or that wild animal, but this does not Stevenson an Evolutionist make! any more than it does the arch anti-Evolutionist Jesus Christ when He compared some people to a “brood of vipers”, “serpents”, “bulls of Bashan”, “dogs”, “lions” etc. (see eg, Psa. 22:12-16; Matt. 23:33), – (by “Evolutionist” we have in mind the frog to prince belief-system).

Indeed the Bible says that all human beings “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” Romans 1:18b. In other words we inwardly “hold down” or “keep a lid on” the truth of who God is and who we really are, ie, the image (albeit the distorted image) of God. Of course, the Good News is that God by His grace alone saves people by His Son’s cross and regenerates and converts them (see eg, Eph. 2:8-10).

But here’s the rub: For the Christian there’s a residue of sin that remains, a “Mr Hyde” if you will lurking around in those dark recesses of our hearts and minds. Dr Henry Jekyll was in many ways the regenerated man, ie, the Christian, dragging around with him the foul- and death-smelling carcass of “Mr Hyde.” By drinking the poisoned potion he was lowering Dr Jekyll into his grave while “resurrecting”, ie, digging up the body snatcher Mr Hyde – Yes, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

The late great Calvinist Christian Apologist Cornelius Van Til showed us the philosophical and spiritual advantage that we Christians have over non-Christians. Van Til taught us to address “Dr Jekyll” when speaking to “Mr Hyde.” You see it is not only the Christian who has a Jekyll and Hyde wrestling-match going on within, so also does the non-Christian.

The non-Christian carries Adam around with him in his innermost being, ie, try as he might he cannot completely get rid of his pre-Fall Adamic nature. For even though fallen man, like Jekyll’s face after he drinks the bubbling potion distorting his former image by his sin, the former image remains within. Otherwise Scripture would not continue to call fallen man the image of God (see eg, Gen. 1:26; 5:1; 9:6; James 3:9). Thus the Christian knows that the non-Christian is simply lying, ie, "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” when he denies God and His grace as revealed in His written Word.

The Holy Spirit works with the Word, the Gospel, when Christians involve themselves in the ministry of the salvation of others. Therefore Mr Hyde’s days on this earth are clearly numbered. Which is to say that if he does not repent and believe in the Gospel he will perish, for “the wrath of God abides on him” John 3:36b. But, “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Thus all is not lost for the murderous Mr Hydes of this world who repent and believe the Gospel! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Yes, revisiting the classics no doubt has its own rewards. However, Sir Walter Scott when he was dying asked Lockhart to read to him. Lockhart asked which book? “There is but one book!” replied Scott.

1 comment:

  1. Gaelic and Lallans versions of Stevenson's "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" and "Kidnapped" are now available as graphic novels: