In All Things Goodness: A Christian Vision for the Twenty-First Century
Keshgegian, Flora A., Anglican Theological Review
In All Things Goodness: A Christian Vision for the Twenty-First Century. By Gertrude Lebans. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 2003. 137pp. $18.95 CDN (paper).
In her most recent book, In all Things Goodness: A Christian Vision for the Twenty-First Century, Gertrude Lebans attempts to relate Christian ideas and practice to current social trends, including the findings of contemporary science. Lebans's goal is to offer a perspective on Christianity that makes sense to contemporary persons in their struggles. In so doing, she challenges some traditional ideas and puts forth new interpretations. For example, Lebans argues that God is not immutable, but ever-changing, as is all of creation. The story of the creation and fall is to be read not as an indictment of humanity's sinfulness, but as a story of growth and becoming. Though drawing on contemporary ideas, there are also echoes in Lebans's work of such classical thinkers as Irenaeus and Julian of Norwich, who affirmed the incarnated goodness of humanity and the educative puipose of suffering.
Lebans embraces goodness, which she defines as a "quality of being," an aspect of existence, rather than an ethical judgment. Goodness is the origin and goal of creation made in God's image. Because change is at the heart of existence and all is in the process of becoming, goodness is not yet complete or whole. Therefore, human existence is characterized by a number of existential dynamics: wisdom emerges from change, wholeness from suffering, compassion from repentance. These are all held together in one seemingly paradoxical pattern. Consistent with her view of a "fortunate fall," the phenomena that might plague humanity are also the source of growth and movement toward divine completion. …