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Why I Believe in a Personal God [Paperback]

George Carey
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Mar 1991
Is the Universe on our side?

"My own investigations over a period of many years have given me a quiet assurance that there is a God who has given us sufficient clues in life, nature, human thought, beauty and art to satisfy the genuine inquirer that he exists, and that he has expressed himself most meaningfully in Jesus Christ.  However, you may come to a different conclusion at the end of this book and that is your right as a thinking responsible person.  All I can do is to invite you to join me in looking at the arguments again..."

Writing in a popular style but with careful reasoning, George Carey explains the traditional message of Christianity in its stark confrontation with modern unbelief and indifference.  Here is a brief, aggressive, but always warm and generous appeal to faith for modern readers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Waterbrook Press (Mar 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877889473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877889472
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.4 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,447,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Doubt and belief 1 July 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
The current Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is noted for being a scholar and theologian. The prior Archbishop, George Carey, was not heralded as an academic of the same nature (which is somewhat surprising, given that he was a professor of theology), but was nonetheless a practical theologian of some skill, as this text, `Why I Believe in a Personal God: The Credibility of Faith in a Doubting Culture', written at the beginning of Carey's tenure as Cantaur, proves.
Carey starts out by asking the big question - is it even possible for intelligent people in the modern world to believe in God, any god? Carey confesses, for the comfort of his readers, something that might be rather shocking at first glance to many - he himself never found it easy to believe in God. His life is one of faith in the face of doubt and struggle, and he shares much of this struggle and process toward God in the text. Some of the pieces that make belief in God less accessible than in previous times (perhaps) is the increasing isolation of the individual and secularisation of society. There is also the multiplicity of value systems, with no solid foundation for all of society to hold to with regard to belief in the divine.
Carey looks at science, sociology, and psychology as well as theology in developing the case first against God and then for recognition of God who remains a personal and companion God even in the face of paradox and difficult questioning.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doubt and belief... 28 Feb 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The current Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is noted for being a scholar and theologian. The prior Archbishop, George Carey, was not heralded as an academic of the same nature (which is somewhat surprising, given that he was a professor of theology), but was nonetheless a practical theologian of some skill, as this text, `Why I Believe in a Personal God: The Credibility of Faith in a Doubting Culture', written at the beginning of Carey's tenure as Cantaur, proves.
Carey starts out by asking the big question - is it even possible for intelligent people in the modern world to believe in God, any god? Carey confesses, for the comfort of his readers, something that might be rather shocking at first glance to many - he himself never found it easy to believe in God. His life is one of faith in the face of doubt and struggle, and he shares much of this struggle and process toward God in the text. Some of the pieces that make belief in God less accessible than in previous times (perhaps) is the increasing isolation of the individual and secularisation of society. There is also the multiplicity of value systems, with no solid foundation for all of society to hold to with regard to belief in the divine.
Carey looks at science, sociology, and psychology as well as theology in developing the case first against God and then for recognition of God who remains a personal and companion God even in the face of paradox and difficult questioning. Carey develops a case against secular materialism (not quite the same thing as secular humanism, but a close companion) as being too limiting and itself grounded in nothing more substantial than circular observations and reasoning; this does not in and of itself make a convincing argument for religion and faith (or Christianity in particular), but it does serve to level the playing field a bit.
Carey writes in accessible and interesting language. He doesn't give great detail about the pieces of his argument, which might disappoint the more scholarly, but this is intentional. The average reader, seeking the mind of the archbishop on matters of faith and doubt, need not concern herself or himself with all the intricacies of modern physics and psychological theory to get a reasonable grasp on Carey's line of thought.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big Questions 19 Jan 2005
By J. Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
George Carey wrote this book about two years prior to enthronement as the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury. It recaps the basic timeless Christian truths. In doing so it addresses some of the BIG QUESTIONS:

Was God needed to get the Universe started?

What is the case against the God hypothesis?

With so much wrong in the world how can there be a personal and loving God?

If God exists, how can we find him?

Carey discusses the Greek philosophical approach of trying to reason one's way to a knowledge of God. Toward the end he recommends the advantages of the Hebraic tradition of obediently following "the one who goes before" to find the Almighty. The Archbishop suggests this more practical approach of following is more fruitful. As Carey puts it : "This Jesus, we say, is worth following. He is the human face of God. Follow him and you will find God."
5.0 out of 5 stars A PROMINENT ANGLICAN CLERGYMAN POSES THE QUESTION 5 May 2012
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
George Leonard Carey (born 1935) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, a time of great change in the Anglican Communion (e.g., the ordination of women was allowed). He wrote in the Introduction to this 1989 book, "The problem is... that our Western culture has ... so robbed us of the sense of the transcendent that we are unable to give due attention to the question of God. Our world is a one-dimensional gray world bereft of mystery, awe, and wonder... I hope then that this small book... will be a help to those who thoughtfully return to the big question again: Is there a God? And if there is, how can we make contact with him?"

He admits early on that "no one these days pretends that we can prove the existence of God from logical argument." (Pg. 17) He also agrees that "even if God did not exist ... there would be reason to be moral beings. I am not advocating that if this universe is a random happening we should all behave like animals." (Pg. 67) He also admits the difficulty of the problem of evil, saying, "We respect those for whom evil forbids faith." (Pg. 74)

Turning to the "positive" case for God, he asks what is the value of sacrifice---of soldiers, for example. "The point I am making is the very futility of acts of that nature IF the values we are living by and dying for are not in some sense eternal and relate to God who gives to life rationality and meaning. Otherwise such acts are basically tragic and meaningless." (Pg. 66) Later, he urges that "the presence of moral values and human values of grace and dignity are seen by many of us as pointing beyond us to a 'Something' or 'Someone' who transcends us and calls us to a divinity we do not as yet possess. Our god-idea is the acid test of our valuation of life." (Pg. 111)

He affirms the existence of divine healing in some cases; "Yes, I could have jumped to the conclusion that the experience of healing was due to wish fulfillment, but I find that explanation, in this lady's case, far more unconvincing than that God's power was directly at work within her, restoring her to full health." (Pg. 91) He concedes, however, that "experience itself is not a conclusive argument for the existence of God... After all, there are people of other faiths or none at all who have had mystical experiences and we can't all be right!" (Pg. 99) His ultimate conclusion is that "Only in a personal relationship with the living God experienced in Jesus Christ can he be known." (Pg. 126)

These reflections---written shortly before his ascension to head the Anglican church---are of significant theological and even apologetical interest.
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