Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe~ A Christian Adventure Tale

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
Rating:  8 out of 10 stars

     Published on April 25th, 1719, Robinson Crusoe is one of the most popular and famous adventure stories of all time.  What young boy doesn't like to camp out?  And how much better it would be to live on a desert island for a while!  Most people are pretty well acquainted with the general story:  Robinson runs away from home to go to sea, sails on several voyages, is taken prisoner and enslaved by the Moors for a couple of years, escapes to  Brazil, farms for a while, then goes on another voyage that ends in his being wrecked on a desert island off the coast of South America.  But what is not always known is that this story is distinctly Christian.
     Yes, Robinson Crusoe is written from a Christian perspective, and includes many references to the Bible, trusting Christ for salvation, and the working of God in the lives of men.  Before I go any farther though, I want to point something out that is not distinctly Christian:  this book includes slavery as a perfectly normal and logical part of life.  Largely this is due to the time it was written.  Slavery was not only common, but an accepted part of life, especially in the colonies, such as Brazil.  As with racism, children should be taught that slavery is very wrong, though it was not always as physically cruel as it is generally portrayed now, but not taught that it did not exist.

     For the most part though, Robinson Crusoe is biblically correct, especially when Robinson describes his conversion in Chapter 6:  "It was not long after I set seriously to this work [reading the Bible] till I found my heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my past life.  The impression of my dream revived; and the words, “All these things have not brought thee to repentance,” ran seriously through my thoughts.  I was earnestly begging of God to give me repentance, when it happened providentially, the very day, that, reading the Scripture, I came to these words: “He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and to give remission.”  I threw down the book; and with my heart as well as my hands lifted up to heaven, in a kind of ecstasy of joy, I cried out aloud, “Jesus, thou son of David!  Jesus, thou exalted Prince and Saviour! give me repentance!”  This was the first time I could say, in the true sense of the words, that I prayed in all my life; for now I prayed with a sense of my condition, and a true Scripture view of hope, founded on the encouragement of the Word of God; and from this time, I may say, I began to hope that God would hear me.
     Now I began to construe the words mentioned above, “Call on Me, and I will deliver thee,” in a different sense from what I had ever done before; for then I had no notion of anything being called deliverance, but my being delivered from the captivity I was in; for though I was indeed at large in the place, yet the island was certainly a prison to me, and that in the worse sense in the world.  But now I learned to take it in another sense: now I looked back upon my past life with such horror, and my sins appeared so dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God but deliverance from the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort.  As for my solitary life, it was nothing.  I did not so much as pray to be delivered from it or think of it; it was all of no consideration in comparison to this.  And I add this part here, to hint to whoever shall read it, that whenever they come to a true sense of things, they will find deliverance from sin a much greater blessing than deliverance from affliction."
*(Emphasis mine.)
The above is just a snippet from Chapter 6, which describes his conversion at much greater length. 

      Although this story is very detailed, and not easy to read, it is sufficiently interesting and instructive to be well worth reading, both for children and adults.  There are several versions available on Librivox.  The one I listened to, (which I think is the best), is read by Mark F. Smith.

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