Douglas, a former minister, wrote Magnificent Obsession to update Christian principles for a generation that considers itself too objective, too scientific, and too modern to accept Christianity couched in traditional religious rites and observances. By selecting the medical profession for his setting, he brings the religious debate into an arena known for its practicality and usefulness to humanity, as well as into one in which scientific principles are recognized over superstitions or sentimental concerns. His protagonists are shown to be modern scientists, skeptical and grounded in common sense. Only after being shown evidence of the pragmatic results of applying Christian principles are the protagonists convinced that the teachings of Jesus have value. Moreover, these teachings are demonstrated to deliver substantial, tangible benefits to those who practice them to provide motivation for those who wonder what is in it for themselves.
The New Testament source for Hudson’s “secret formula” is described in the novel but never actually quoted, obliging readers to find it themselves. The buildup of suspense is designed to bring readers to the Bible, where they must read and search for the “secret formula,” thereby becoming more acquainted with the teachings of Christ as they discover the key to personal power. The secrecy emphasized in the novel adds excitement and a feeling of adventure for readers who might otherwise pass over...
(The entire section is 426 words.)