This Sunday night, I will present Session 3 in the series, “The Christian and Literature.” Sunday's message is “Shakespeare: The Gifted Observer.” The value of Shakespeare for the Christian is Shakespeare’s application of a decidedly Christian worldview in his plays.
Whether he was a Christian or not is unclear. Some scholars argue that Shakespeare was a Puritan, and others suggest he was Anglican; some put forward the idea he was Catholic while others further propose he was an unbeliever. The mystery about Shakespeare’s personal spirituality remains a mystery simply because we know very little about the man behind the works.
My case this Sunday night will not be the spirituality of Shakespeare, but the spirituality of his works. George Macdonald writes, “Truth is truth, whether it's spoken by the lips of Jesus or Balaam's donkey.” It doesn’t matter---per se---if he was a Christian or not; what Shakespeare shows us is truth. He is a keen observer of God’s creation, in particular, the human being. We have much to learn from his insights into the human experience. The events in his plays unfold in a world baptised by the Christian imagination, taking place in a universe ruled by a Sovereign God.
At the core of Shakespeare’s writing is the Bible. Out of the 66 books of the Bible books, Shakespeare quoted 57. Shakespeare also presents countless Christian themes in his plays as well as biblical allusions.
Christians should pay attention to Shakespeare, not only as the greatest English-speaking writer in Western literature, but also as the Gifted Observer of God’s world.