Dr Davies introduces us to 11 of his own Christian heroes, unpacking their personal struggles, failings and successes, and at the same time explaining their Christian beliefs.
The heart of his thesis relates to his definition of grace as a part of God's general goodness, the rain that falls on the just and the unjust. He amusingly quotes Lord Bowen:
The rain it falleth on the just
And on the unjust fella;
But more upon the just because
The unjust stole the just's umbrella.
An important part of Davies’ theory is that God's light is reflected through the acceptance and presence of holiness or grace in a person, but that grace itself does nothing to change the person's temperament. The ‘saints’ he describes were difficult people to live with and often struggled with their faith.
Some of Davies’ choices of subject seem idiosyncratic to me and may be of less interest to others too, except for the particular personality problems they present. The author did not set out to explore issues of spirituality and psychiatry, as addressed by other contemporary authors, but his analysis of the development of personality and faith will read well enough alongside those other titles for the interested psychiatrist.
I note that Dr Davies has published widely on related topics and perhaps his intended audience is primarily a Christian one. He reveals flashes of insight into his own character, beliefs and deep faith, which at times sits uncomfortably alongside his historical documentary style. Will non-Christians find the text accessible and informative? Inevitably, some pre-existing knowledge is assumed, but each chapter does stand on its own and Dr Davies’ erudite descriptions and analysis of the characters of well-known authors such as C. S. Lewis or John Bunyan will be enlightening to all.