‘Being Christian’ is an ideal short book on the main themes of Christian life, Baptism, Bible, Eucharist and Prayer. It is written in a lucid style that draws deeply from considerable learning, and a life spent teaching and practising the Christian faith, and provided leadership in the worldwide Anglican communion.
As such it is a great read for everyone from the jaded Christian long on the road of Faith, to the sceptic exploring Christian thought, to those newer to the faith who are looking for an accessible and compelling introduction to the most vital areas of its practice, which would include those taking ‘communion classes’ for admission to the full Eucharist.
With Baptism Rowan Williams explores what it means to be immersed in God and Jesus and what he has done, to be fully swamped and immersed with it, and to come up again into the world with what it means to live a baptised life.
In his section on the Bible the writer guards against a simplistic literalism or anxiety of the historical veracity of the detail, to stress that what God wants to do with the scriptures is ask us ‘where are you in these stories? What would you do in these situations?’ And he also encourages us to read the Old Testament in the light of the New, and how the Old has reached its fulfilment with the new.
On the Eucharist Professor Williams explains what it means to take Holy Communion, and where in scripture it has its roots, and what it meant to Jesus and his first followers, and how Jesus used meals and hospitality to help usher in the Kingdom, and how Communion continues that process. He stresses how the Eucharist is an invitation by God to be at his table, He wants to be with us, to abide with us, and what that means for how we see our fellow Christians or fellow people.
On Prayer he stresses the centrality of the Lords Prayer, and some work on early Christian teachers on the Lords Prayer and what it means to prayer.
As someone who struggles with their faith, and a frequently jaded member of the Anglican Church, I found the book enlivening and refreshing, and there was a lot that was new and useful to me.
Whether you are sceptic or believer, new or old to the faith, I cannot commend this bright, sharp and focussed work highly enough