Faith in action
"But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." James 2.18
In his assessment, former Life & Work editor, R D Kernohan, writes of John Buchan: "Theologically Buchan was a conservative liberal, though in applying his theology to social, political, and cultural concerns he was a liberal conservative." Kernohan could say all of these things about Buchan because Buchan embraced all of these things in his life, including theology. Indeed one could say that faith was Buchan's principal influence, followed by his classical education and, further behind yet still important, his political Conservatism.
John Buchan is a bright and shining example of what happens when a person gives unbridled expression to their faith and gifts, wherever that takes them. In two of his more serious books, Buchan gives an account of the lives of the Duke of Montrose and Oliver Cromwell, respectively. One suspects that the former appealed to Buchan instinctively, as a swash-buckling romantic whose convictions took him across all sorts of unlikely endeavours and shifts of loyalty. By contrast, the appeal of Cromwell is likely to have been a more reluctant respect for the discipled application of convictions, which differed from his own but which he acknowledged as being no less sincere.
If Buchan's enduring appeal has anything to teach us, it is that the integrity of life and faith not only takes one to interesting places, it compels a fairness of mind which renders it natural to appreciate the best in others - even and especially when they differ from one's own style and convictions. Contemporary social media today is having the unfortunate consequence of drawing people apart, separating us without our knowing it into silos of common interest, where we end up communicating with like-minded people we don't even know and falling out with those we would rather get along with. How we need the likes of John Buchan today or, perhaps, how we need to embrace the influences that guided Buchan - most especially that of our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.