Book Reviews

The Undercover Revolution by Iain Murray

The Undercover Revolution reveals how fiction changed Britain. Prior to Charles Darwin’s embellished fictions, the English people were serious readers of the Holy Scriptures. His On the Origin of Species presented a fictional theory of evolution that had been already postulated by many ancient Greek philosophers. After its publication, the gullible of England and beyond believed his fiction as truth. Fiction and fantasy have adversely impacted the civilized world ever since. While fiction is not inherently evil, its contamination has not only permeated cheap romance novels, but also some classics of English literature.

Particularly, Murray investigates the lives and writings of two notable authors whose works are considered classics by many: Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Hardy. In their youth, both seemed to be very promising Christian believers. Stevenson had a godly nurse that carefully instructed him in the Holy Scriptures and the Shorter Catechism. Thus, his first production as a young writer was a book defending and praising the Scottish Covenanters; however, a year after that publication Stevenson left his affluent, sheltered Presbyterian home for Edinburgh University. Tragically, he fell in with an ungodly crowd and began frequenting pubs, getting drunk, and reading immoral literature. By his own admission, his depravity included “frequenting the lowest order of prostitutes.” His life was duplicitous because he tried to outwardly clean up his life when he went home for visits. But one day his father found something he had written and after questioning him, learned that he no longer believed in Christianity.

Similarly, Thomas Hardy was considered by many to be “the most eminent figure in English literature.” His mother was deeply attracted to the powerful ministry of Rev. Henry Moule, vicar of Fordington. Teenaged Thomas was also a faithful attendant upon the vicar’s preaching. He developed a close friendship with one of the vicar’s sons, and that friendship included regular reading together of the Greek New Testament. The 1859 Revival in that district had a tremendous impact upon young Hardy. He “threw aside” Homer and Virgil and gave himself to daily hours of Scripture study. He also admired the strict thoroughness of some of his intimate Baptist friends. Hardy professed to love the crucified Savior, and his meditations of April 17,1861 emphasized, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8).

Something happened that began a pathway to Hardy’s apostasy. As some of his godly friends relocated to other parts of the world for their careers, they continued corresponding with Thomas. They encouraged him to go on in his walk with the Lord, but gradually he fell away. Hardy confessed autobiographically that he “lapsed from his Greek New Testament back again to the pagan writers.” He soon became enamored with the skeptics, even admiring Thomas Huxley and his agnosticism. He came to believe that only a Christ-rejecting philosophy can define reality.

Tragically, both Stevenson and Hardy lost whatever temporary faith in God they had and endeavored to be their own “god.” They worshipped themselves and lived for themselves, thereby making themselves, their women and their wives all very miserable. Such is the pitiful condition of sinners without God and without hope in the world. Not only did they spread misery to their closest relations, but they wanted to destroy Biblical Christianity along with H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, and others like them. They believed that their grossly immoral writings were better for the world than the moral virtues taught in the Bible. Through this well-documented, historical investigation of these authors, Iain Murray has performed a great service to the Lord, the Church, and to the world, giving us some reasons for the deepening apostasy that exists in the year 2020.

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By Myron Mooney

Rev. Myron Mooney is minister of Trinity FPC, Trinity AL.