Review by CRAIG THOMPSON
Rowan Williams’ Being Christian is a great introduction to the basics, and the not-so-basics, of Christian faith.
Fundamental to Williams’ account of the Christian life is our being given a new human identity in the humanity of Jesus. Christian discipleship is a growing into Jesus’ own experience of God and the world.
Williams explores this new identity in relation to the themes of baptism, Bible, Eucharist and prayer. Baptism is explored as a restoration to what it is to be truly human, the recovery of a human identity forgotten or overlaid with other identities.
The Bible is explored as a document converging on Jesus, and is read because Christians expect to be addressed by God. In the Eucharist, God the Giver receives us as guests, desiring our company. Here we are called to honest repentance and to imitate God’s own openness in inviting others to join God’s feast of life.
The essence of prayer is in allowing the prayers of Jesus himself to become our own. Prayer springs from the presence of Christ in us, and so is as much a changing of ourselves as it is our expression of our desire for change in the wider world.
Williams is well-known as a scholar of the highest intellectual calibre. He has a sometimes challenging writing style, yet this little book is straightforward and accessible – so far as the gospel can be said to be either straightforward or accessible!
Being Christian could be read in a few hours but is filled with insight and pithy little statements on Christian life and practice which will exercise readers for much longer. A set of questions for reflection are provided at the end of each chapter to encourage readers to dig deeper into the material, making the book well-suited to small study groups or as a tool for church councils to reflect on the source and meaning of their congregations’ life in Christ.
SPCK Publishing RRP: $13.95