Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey”
by Terry G. Carter
Terry G. Carter is a well-known religious researcher, who
studied baptism in particular. Our research is devoted to
one of his writings “The Journal and Selected Letters
of William Carey”. In order to understand the ideas
and views of the author, it’s better to start with the
very concept of baptism. Firstly it’s a kind of Protestantism.
In many countries the word baptism has a negative meaning.
However general public tend to be uneducated in the sphere
of such kinds of religion. Due to this factor, few people
know that the very word “Baptism” is originated
from Greek word “Baptizo” and has a meaning of
christening. In this way it plays an important role in the
life of faithful person. Baptism is the second step in the
life of a Christian. The first one is person’s belief
in Christ. That’s why we consider the work of Terry
G. Carter a valuable material for wide range of readers. In
his book, Carter represents major views of a famous missionary
and Baptist William Carey. The word “baptizo”
includes the content and form of christening. It literally
means the “immersion” which symbolizes the death
of sinful life, while coming out of water means symbolizes
rise from the death. It’s a very important point which
can’t be omitted. And it is the reason why Baptists
were actually called so. A person is supposed to regenerate
spiritually by the act of christening. It is the first and
major element of Baptist believes.
Terry G. Carter devoted his work to one of the most important
and well-known activists in the whole history of baptism,
William Carey. Once he was also called “the Father of
modern Baptist Movement” and became an authority in
the circles of Baptists. Terry Carter writes about the Mission
which had a great influence on all the other protestant missions
in the period of about two centuries. Carter’s work
differs from any other books concerning William Carey. From
all the hundreds of books and stories of this kind, Carter’s
book is characterized as the most unique and unusual writing.
Apart from this, Carter’s book is much more detailed
and substantial. Many critics find his “Journal”
really profound in the way he writes chapter by chapter. His
work considers the Mission wider than any other author ever
tried to do before. It deals with different aspects of William
Carter’s activity. Actually William Carey as the Father
of modern Missionary began his activity in 1793 in India.
It was he who managed to lay the foundation of the great missionary
movement, which is vividly depicted in the word of Terry Carter.
He was later followed by David Livingston, Hudson and Mary
Tailor, Adoniram and Ann Judson and thousands of others. William
Carey is represented to the reader as a genius Christian enlightener
of the Third World. Carey was no more than a craftsman, but
he turned into a really purposeful Christian. He managed to
become a polyglot and a philologist of world-wide fame. Terry
Carter’s book is penetrated with the spirit of titanic
persistence and determination. The author represented William
Carey as a person who seemed to start his life from the very
beginning for several times. At least he spent all his life
in search of a true way. For instance, he has changed his
life views once when his titanic works were burned. He struggled
with numerous troubles; he tried to overcome all the hardships
in his life. One more suffering was that his faithful life
companion, Dorothy, was mentally disordered.
Trying to state the main points of Terry Carter’s masterpiece,
we consider it important to include some facts from the biography
of William Carey. It would make it easier to understand what
influenced his life views and life itself. He was born in
a small village 80 miles northwards London in the family of
a weaver. He was the sixth child in the family. His father
later got the position of a plasm-reader in the Anglican parish.
He also worked as a teacher in the village school. As a boy
William Carey used to read eagerly and with great pleasure.
A fateful turn in his life was his sudden illness, due to
which he was no longer able to work outdoors. As a result
he became a shoemaker’s apprentice and got acquainted
with immoral people. He began to swear and even committed
small robbery. It’s important to remind that at those
times any kind of robbery was punished extremely severely.
The “Journal” of Terry Carter doesn’t give
much detailed information concerning William Carey’s
past, but we consider it an essential element of his whole
activity. The past reveals how radically he has changed. It
proves that every person strives to certain ideals and builds
his destiny on his own.
Terry Carter depicts William Carey as a personality with dual
destiny. On the one hand he faced lots of hardships in his
life. On the other hand he was rather lucky. In spite of his
small crimes in the past, he wasn’t punished due to
some reasons; nevertheless it was a serious misdeed. He even
suffered from excruciating shame and pangs of conscience.
And he even stopped attending the church. But once he talked
to another apprentice, who persuaded him to come to his community
to confess. It brought him certain calmness, made him tranquil
and glad. “The Journal of William Carey” also
proves that he joined Calvinist congregation instead of Anglican
Church, where he soon mastered Bible and began to preach.
It certainly caused misunderstanding and sort of barrier between
his father and himself.
Terry Carter’s book draws reader’s attention to
the whole 40 years of his career as an English Baptist, which
certainly deserves thorough discussion. Carter himself admits
that the “Journal and Letters” should be read
together with William Carey’s biography in order to
follow the chronological order and to understand the sequence
of events better. “Journal” contains indispensable
information as a supplemental material to the biography. As
it was already mentioned, Carey began his career from a Mission
to India. It was exactly at that time that he started to write
a Journal. The major Carter’s writings about it need
no interpretation. However some of them are hard to understand
without certain knowledge of Carey’s biography. The
journal contains only few years of his activity in India.
It reveals his efforts to overcome hardships and sufferings,
along with certain cultural shock between England and India.
The letters were written during the next years of his Mission,
which covers much longer period of nearly 30 years. In his
letters Carey reveals the influence of his mission on the
society and government. Along with this, he managed to show
his own ideas and philosophy more clearly. In such a way Terry
Carter’s summary became a considerable contribution
into the literature [John H. Barnhill, 2003].
On the other hand Terry Carter not only presented valuable
material about the most important personality in the whole
Missionary history, but also made certain links to biographical
facts which were already known. In the first place he managed
to enrich the historical and religious literature with new
details. In some letters William Carey tends to speak a bit
haughty, but nevertheless quite fair. Through all his writings
the main idea is clearly seen by a thorough reader. He tries
to persuade people that it is important to seek for the truth
during the whole life. He emphasizes that as long as there
are people walking in the dark and unwilling to know the truth,
there is a necessity for preachers and missionaries. There
are people who rebel against beliefs and don’t honor
God. His writings were mainly intended exactly for such people
in order to help them to find right way in life.
William Carey himself seems to have found his true way. But
in spite of this he faced many hardships in life. It is necessary
to say about his life companion Dorothy. William Carey got
acquainted with this poor illiterate girl, who was older than
him and also belonged to the dissident church. They soon got
married and Dorothy learned reading and writing. They used
to live and poverty, trying to make both ends meet and to
scrape for living as hard they could. However money earned
from preaching was not enough to provide a decent living.
Their daughter died very soon, William caught a serious disease
and nearly lost his job and the whole family suffered greatly.
Dorothy couldn’t resist the stress and became mentally
sick. This fact from his biography justifies his further activity.
At this time he changed his life views once more and became
a Baptist. One more turn in his life actually saved his family.
From this time on he passionately started to learn different
sciences: ancient and modern languages, history, geography,
biblical investigations and just reading pious books. May
be his affection in learning later influenced his decision
to write journal and letters during his Mission. We find it
important to admit that his knowledge of different sciences
also formed his personal life views. Though he used to be
a representative of lower class, he managed to become educated
enough to express his radical views. Terry Carter made a summary
of his writings as a supplement to his biography. Carter’s
thorough investigation became a masterpiece among all writings
of this kind. It shows Carey’s activity as a preacher,
and reveals his necessity to help other people. For this reason
he decided to go abroad. His memoirs remind those of captain
Kuk to some extent.
The book clearly shows the doubtless nobility of Carey’s
actions. Though he also had to sacrifice the lives of his
wife and small children, he didn’t give up and continued
his work. His journal tells of absolutely insulting attitude
to missionaries and beliefs. But in spite of numerous barriers,
William Carey managed to spread Christianity in India, as
well as in the South Asia. Owing the influence of William
Carey, missionary became the main duty of Christian church.
William Carey’s Mission attracted attention of many
researchers. Terry Carter however was the only one, who managed
to create a detailed summary of the whole missionary activity.
William Carey went through numerous sufferings during the
forty years of his missionary word; nevertheless he demonstrated
endurance, persistence, patience and firm determination to
succeed in his work [Richard J. Foster].
I know how to word. I can resist all difficulties. I achieved
much and for this I’m much indebt to my personal qualities
On the whole “The Journal and Selected Letters of William
Carey by Terry G. Carter” proved to be a nice example
of how a usual person may show unlimited faith to God, abilities
to overcome life hardships. His writing gives an example of
passionate work for the sake of personal life views. The book
brought Terry Carter world fame. And at the same time it attracted
attention to the great missionary William Carey. The book
reveals the necessity to live in harmony with God and to seek
for the truth all the time.
Terry G. Carter (2000) The Journal and Selected Letters of
William Carey: Georgia, Smyth and Helwys Publishing.
The Baptist Studies Bulletin (2003) A monthly Emagazine, Bridging
Baptists Yesterday and Today,
November Vol.2 No. 11. http://www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies/Bulletin/Nov03ARC.htm