As we watch the Western world getting swept into political turmoil, it’s worth remembering something similar was happening in the 19th century, during which time three great Christian men left a remarkable literary legacy for the world.

The 19th century was paving the way for a new world and a new era, even while profound turbulence and transformation were taking place, much like the world today.

  1. The Industrial Revolution: The technological advancements and the shift from agrarian economies to industrialized cities transformed social structures and created new economic dynamics. This revolution led to significant urbanization, altering how people worked and lived, much like today’s digital revolution.

  2. Political Changes and Ideologies: The 19th century saw the rise of powerful ideologies like nationalism, liberalism, and Marxism. These ideologies drove the revolutions of 1848, the unification of Germany and Italy, and changes in empires and colonies. Today, globalization and the rise of digital communication have fostered new ideological struggles and political movements, reshaping national and global politics.

  3. Scientific Advancements: The Darwinian revolution challenged traditional religious views. AI and genetics challenge our ethics and concepts of humanity.

Three Christian authors during that time reflected on and responded to these changes. Their works often grappled with the challenges and uncertainties of their time, providing insights that remain relevant.

Fyodor Dostoevsky- Dostoevsky’s exploration of the human condition, particularly the nature of suffering and redemption, speaks powerfully to Christian men today. He emphasizes the necessity of faith and the possibility of transformation through suffering and grace. In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky presents a complex dialogue about faith, doubt, and reason through his characters.

Søren Kierkegaard- often hailed as the father of existentialism, was a profoundly influential 19th-century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard is best known for his philosophical work that focuses on Christian ethics, the concept of individuality, and the subjective nature of experience and existence. His approach to these topics was groundbreaking, offering a stark contrast to the then-dominant philosophies of Hegelianism and the emerging trends of naturalism and materialism.

Harriet Beecher Stowe- Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), played a significant role in shaping public opinion about slavery and the conditions of African Americans in the pre-Civil War United States. Stowe’s Christian faith deeply influenced her writing and her activism. She used her narratives to argue morally and emotionally against slavery, highlighting the Christian principles of compassion, justice, and human dignity.

Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, and Stowe were towering literary figures from the 19th century who, despite hailing from markedly different cultural and social backgrounds, shared a profound respect for Christ. Their diverse literary outputs not only reflect their deep Christian convictions but also demonstrate how faith can be explored and expressed across varying contexts. Each, through their unique lens, provided guidance and insight during a period rife with upheaval and change, offering timeless lessons that remain relevant in our current era.

Together, these authors navigated through a world experiencing rapid industrialization, significant scientific advancements, and major social upheavals—much like today’s global landscape, which is marked by vast technological growth and deep ideological divisions. Their works remind us of the importance of having a clear vision of Christ and His Kingdom, especially when addressing complex societal issues.

In our current age, where technology and ideology often seem to polarize more than unite, the lessons from Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, and Stowe are profoundly instructive. They exemplify how deep engagement with Christian faith can offer not only personal guidance but also societal leadership. As they did, today’s Christian thinkers and leaders are called to articulate and exemplify a vision of Christ’s Kingdom that speaks truth to contemporary challenges—be they moral, ethical, or spiritual.

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Jeff Hagen
President & Founder
Hill Cities, Inc.

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