Dear England by Stephen Cottrell
The Archbishop of York presents a wonderful vision of the Christian faith
Dear England: Finding Hope, Taking Heart and Changing the World
By Stephen Cottrell
Hodder & Stoughton
Reviewed by Paul Beasley-Murray
In summary, the relatively new Archbishop of York presents a wonderful vision of the Christian faith, which in turn makes this a wonderful book for people to read who have yet to follow Jesus. It is very much a personal apologia of faith. Indeed, as Cottrell states: 'I’m writing this because I want to explain to you why I am a Christian and why I’m trying to follow the Christian way'.
The book’s strength is that it is written with a light touch for people who do not believe and do not go to church. To quote Cottrell again: 'I’m trying to convert you, but I’m going to do it by asking you to look at your own experience and the claims of the Christian faith in a fresh light. And if you end up not converted, I won’t think I’ve failed. This is your decision, and no one can make it for you. And since… God isn’t going to force your hand, I won’t try to either. But I do hope you enjoy the ride.'
To my initial surprise, Stephen Cottrell writes not only about the difference that following Jesus makes to our personal lives, but also to the way we care for others in the community. This inevitably leads into issues which some would regard as political, although at no stage does Cottrell engage in party politics. On reflection, for many younger people, this may well be a great strength. Indeed, I was so impressed that I bought copies to give to four of my grandchildren!
Baptist minister Paul Beasley-Murray was ordained in 1970. His recent book Fifty Lessons in Ministry: Reflections after Fifty Years in Ministry was published by Darton, Longman and Todd.