Fare Well In Christ
(price at publication of review)
Reviewed September 2005; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2005
This is a new edition of Vanstone's third book, which appeared in 1997. Readers of his other volumes - Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense (1979), and The Stature of Waiting (1982) - waited (!) fifteen years for his last word.
The message is perhaps less closely defined than in the earlier works, but there is a central theme - 'grace'. The opening chapter lays the foundation by tracing 'grace' from its Sanskrit origin through Greek and Latin to its English manifestation as 'grace' - something gladly given, gratefully received.
We move on to consider the power of stories, in particular the gospels, in the transmitting of grace, and the sign of the cross when even stories fail.
Chapter 3, 'The Grace of Jesus Christ', reminds us that Jesus' call to repentance was not a summons to placate the wrath of God, but a grace calling for responding generosity and joy. Chapter 4, 'The Ministry of Grace', is a study of grace in the life of Jesus' followers then and now. Chapter 5 in which Vanstone bids the reader fare well follows grace through the realm of story into the ultimate destination of mystery.
It has to be said that this is not a book for 'the young man in a hurry'. It is to be read a page or two at a time. Many of the author's own stories are from war service or from his experience as a curate - stories of a young man, but living in a vanished world, and written in the familiar endearingly pedantic Vanstone style. If you missed Fare Well in Christ first time round, here is an opportunity. Here is good, solid, Anglican nourishment.
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