Since we have finished the five scenes of Stave 2, this is a good place to talk about what A Christmas Carol is and what it isn’t. First, A Christmas Carol is like a morality play. We see Good and Evil, and we see the Ghosts’ attempt to transform Evil into Good: I’ll let you decide if the first Ghost did his job or not. It is also a picture of the realities of life and all its variance.
Again, the goal of the Ghosts (and Marley) is to reform Scrooge. Marley doesn’t want him to end up like he ended up (a subtle nod to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, but this time someone is able to come back). But reformation in Dickens’s tale simply means changing from greedy to generous, from gloomy to joyful. We will know if the Ghosts are successful if we can see an outward change in Scrooge’s behavior, whatever the reason for this change.
What A Christmas Carol is not is a portrayal of the Gospel. As much as I enjoy A Christmas Carol—and I’ve read it numerous times and it still holds charm for me in the same way as It’s Wonderful Life does—we must not mistake Dickens’s story for the Gospel, nor must we mistake what happens (or doesn’t happen) to Scrooge as a sign that he has had a Spiritual transformation. He may be undergoing a spiritual experience, but it is devoid of Christ.
That’s not Dickens’s point (there is debate among his biographers as to whether Dickens was actually a believer). What Dickens does well, though, is highlight the need for justice in this world and what the lack of justice looks like in the lives of people who suffer. It is up to us as believers to take his accurate assessment of life and decide how Jesus living through us should intervene when we see the same injustices that Dickens portrays for us.
For intervention is what the gospel is all about. It is what THE Christmas story is all about: God intervening in the lives of men through the person of Jesus Christ, according to his promise, for the purpose of blessing the nations. So we read Dickens not for the right methods necessarily, but we read Dickens to help us see our own world better so that we can be like our Savior and intervene in the injustices of the world for the glory of God.