The following is excerpted from Kevin Swanson, Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West:
Raised in a faithful Christian home with the very best of Christian nurture, Robert Louis Stevenson rebelled against his parents soon after his entrance into Edinburgh University. He formed a club on campus which incorporated the rule: “Ignore everything that our parents taught us.” (Iain Murray, The Undercover Revolution, p. 12)
When his father learned of his son’s rebellious path, he lamented in a letter, “You have rendered my whole life a failure!”
In turn, Robert mocked his father’s concern in a letter to a friend:
“It was really pathetic to hear my father praying pointedly for me today at family worship and to think the poor man’s supplications were addressed to nothing better able to hear and answer than the chandelier.” (Iain Murray)
The spirit of rebellion is palpable and acute in these words, heartbreaking to any parent who values commitment to family relationships and generational faith.
It is probable that Stevenson’s broken relationship with his father had something to do with his falling away from the Christian faith. His father poured out his concerns to his son in another letter:
“A poor end for all my tenderness. . . I have made all my life to suit you. . . I have worked for you and gone out of my way for you. . . and the end of it is that I find you in opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ. . . I find everything gone. . . I would ten times sooner have seen you lying in your grave than that you should be shaking the faith of other young men.” (Iain Murray).
Robert Louis Stevenson’s story is important because it was a paradigmatic example of apostasy for hundreds of millions of young men and young women who came after him. This sort of radical rebellion is somewhat unique to the modern age. Before the humanist renaissance swept through Europe, the old Scottish Culdean church maintained strong generational continuity in the faith. According to ancient records, some of these Culdean churches were led by pastors from the same family line for twenty generations in a row(John Jamieson, An Historical Account of the Ancient Culdees of Iona, 1811, p. 32).
With the apostasy rate as high as 80- 90% today, continuity in the faith is a rare commodity. In Stevenson’s day however, his family members would have been stunned by the news that he hated his father and his father’s faith after so many generations of covenantal faithfulness. ...
Stevenson’s adventure stories have enthralled millions of readers over the years. As with most of the “greats” of his era, he was careful to cloak his apostasy in his writings so as not to offend those who retained some respect for the Christian heritage.
This report on Robert Louis Stevenson is excerpted from Kevin Swanson, Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West.
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