Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The significance of Christ’s life is emphasized in Taylor’s retelling of biblical events. In discourses on those events, meditations, and prayers, Taylor explains to readers the meaning of Christ’s words and deeds and expresses the religious devotion that is the basis of Christian faith. He is motivated by dual purposes: to preach the holy principles of Christianity in his discourses and meditations and to provide an ideal example of the Christian life.

Christ’s divinity is the central focus of the narrative. The miracles Christ performed underscore his holiness, and his suffering in his last days evoke sorrow, pity, and admiration. Taylor sees the events as conclusive evidence that Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection fulfilled earlier prophecies and verified his divinity. Although Christ’s human fate was decided by political and theological forces of the time, Taylor makes it clear that Christ was predestined to suffer as he did according to God’s plan and that his life is universally significant. Out of the events that spanned just over thirty years, but especially the final three years of Jesus’ life, there arose a Christian church that continued, in Taylor’s day, to guide the faithful Christian through a life of purity and devotion to everlasting life.

Accepting without question the orthodoxy of his church, Taylor does not directly address the question of whether salvation is achieved by faith or by works, but his emphasis on moral purity, as in the case of Mary in his narrative, suggests that he believed the first duty of the Christian is to have unquestioning faith, obey Christ’s teachings, and hence be assured of God’s forgiveness. Indeed, the portrait of Mary at the beginning of the narrative could stand as an ideal example of Christian devotion: complete faith combined with moral purity. In the broadest sense, Jesus’ life and teachings give scriptural guidance to all Christians in striving for moral purity.