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Canterbury Letters to the Future

Canterbury Letters to the Future

by George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury
Published by Kingsway Publications
ISBN 0 85476 287 6

What a great idea! This educated, thinking, Christian leader, with his own grandchildren in mind, has written an easy-to-read book making sure that the tenants of his faith that are important to him are passed on to the future generation. His style is not preaching or a lecture mode, but more like grandfather's letters. Quite naturally, he includes notes as to conferences he's going off to speak at, or what he heard at ones he attended. He quotes from a book or movie, and hopes they still are enjoying this author or film. Or sometimes he hopes this future generation has discovered solutions to problems from his day.

He shows respect to the future as thinking people, who may have changes in culture and in thinking, so he explains very simply and thoroughly such things as the ways to think about God, what God is like as Creator, and the great importance of having a two-way relationship with Him, as with a parent.

I must say; I was rather amused when I saw that this archbishop believes the teaching of evolution over many millions and billions of years. I've always believed only the Biblical account in Genesis and thought those who accepted the theory of evolution were rejecting God as Creator. This man however, seems to have no trouble respecting God as the maker of all things and attributing evolution as His method of doing so.

In fact, the further I read, the more I had to agree with all his letter-messages. His theology is sound and evangelical, and quite articulate. In only ten letters Carey covers the basics about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the trinity, and what to expect after this life.

Not only does he cover the basics, he developes how to find out about Jesus, how He related to his contemporaries, and - he does an interesting thing in covering Jesus' resurrection first, and then his crucifixion. His point is that the resurrection is the most important event of all, and gives meaning to the crucifixion. Jesus' disciples had not understood the reason for His death on the cross until after his resurrection and appearances to them. Paul and the other new testament writers all emphasis the importance of Christ's resurrection to anyone's salvation.

Christ's crucifixion is not treated lightly by any means, but I found this juxapostion a refreshing perspective, and it fit with all I know of the Bible.

Never before have I seen grace defined as generosity, but I liked this.

Talking about an insight from Martin Luther, he summarizes his teaching; "It was simply this: we need to keep fast hold of the truth that we can't earn our way into heaven, because we are not capable of keeping to the contract. So, instead, we get there by God's generosity - 'grace' is the word. and that grace, generosity, is expressed through the love and self-expenditure Jesus shows in his dying. All we have to do - but it's a big step - is to trust that generosity."

The whole chapter on the Holy Spirit is excellent. I'll just give you one more quote about the trinity disclosing themselves to us as one. "The linear view of the work of God (as Father creating, then Son saving, then Spirit inspiring or sanctifying) could tempt us to a view of what is technically known as the 'divine economy' (the work of creation and salvation) in which each of the Persons of the Godhead "take their turn". In fact what understanding God as Trinity does for us is help us recognize that in each mighty act of God there is no division of Person, but all are equally involved."

Now isn't that true? In our effort to understand the trinity, we've disected the Godhead to the point where we lose the more profound truth. It's all of God that deals with us. With such generosity and love too!

This is not a big, heavy book, so don't just lay it aside until your children and grandchildren are grown up - read it for yourself first.

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Ruth Marlene Friesen

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