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Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,102 ratings  ·  152 reviews
In this simple, beautifully written book Rowan Williams explores four essential components of the Christian life: baptism, Bible, Eucharist, and prayer. Despite huge differences in Christian thinking and practice both today and in past centuries, he says, these four basic elements have remained constant and indispensable for the majority of those who call themselves Christ ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published July 23rd 2014 by Eerdmans (first published March 20th 2014)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  1,102 ratings  ·  152 reviews

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K.J. Ramsey
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the best succinct invitation to live out the gospel of Jesus that I have ever read. I don’t say that lightly.

This book filled my heart with wonder and worship. It is brief, but its beauty has deep roots. It’s a book you need in your library and will want to savor.
Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thankful that my friend Elliot Lee recommended I read Rowan Williams. His simple yet playful thoughts are suffused with sacred depth yet not pompous. Spiritually rich and Missional.
Jul 29, 2021 added it
Simple and brilliant. Highly recommend!
Neil R. Coulter
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Being Christian is an excellent introduction to what the Christian life is meant to be like. I am amazed at the depth that Rowan Williams reaches in less than 100 pages. I appreciate how he is able to hold up the ideal of Christian living, and then point out some of the ways that Christians fall short of that, but always in a loving, caring way. His aim is not mockery or detached irony; he is committed to the idea that it is always possible to grow. Following Jesus is a journey--as Williams puts ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent little book. Deep but not hard to read.
Shawn Enright
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Yet again, an indispensable book from Williams. I enjoyed it as much as Being Disciples, and I anticipate Being Human.

Williams reminds us of what we take for granted, like baptism, the Bible, eucharist, and prayer — reenergizing them with clear, concise analysis. By the end of the book, these Christian practices have a sort of electrical hum about them. I couldn’t help but be drawn into a more careful consideration of my life as a Christian, for Williams made such practices magnetic.

This is the
Brennan Humphreys
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Really appreciate these little books from Father Williams. He's not trying to do anything on the scale of, say, Mere Christianity or Simply Christian. Rather, he approaches Christian life from his own tilt of the head. His insights on the Bible left me bright-eyed. For Rowan, Christ is the "luminous centre" of Scripture. Persistent reading, then, is a a persistent circling around the center, each go-around a hopeful attempt to move closer to the center, to realize, "oh, so that's how Christ show ...more
Guilherme Cordeiro
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply phenomenal. Rowan Williams shows his deep pastoral heart teaching the basics of the faith through four central practices, as if his reader knows nothing about them, and he wields his broad theological mind informing (and questioning) long-held beliefs about them with even-longer-held truths from the Bible and the Christian tradition. I was particularly touched by his chapter on prayer (and probably should get back to it right now). This will be my go-to introduction to Christ ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Little book of four essays suitable for Sunday School use (my tip-off: includes questions for discussion after each chapter). Much easier to follow than Williams' theological works. I found the Chapter on prayer, which includes a discussion of certain Church fathers, which is radically different from the evangelicalism I was exposed to as a child, to be the most interesting. ...more
Alex Strohschein
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-living
I've always known Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was one of the world's leading theologians, but in "Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer," he distils the fundamentals of the Christian faith as practiced and held by all believers in a brief, winsome but profound book.

Baptism brings us into the Christian community but also impels us to come alongside those who suffer and who are in need. We must be attentive when we read or hear the Bible read to us (Williams n
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Baptism is an excellent section. Interpretation of scripture section is a mixed bag. Eucharist section could have been far better.

I appreciate Rowan’s emphasis on Christian togetherness/ community. I greatly appreciate Jesus as the one who is in the muck with us as we are in “his neighborhood.”

I also appreciate a reasonable social justice position which is often lacking in more conservative theology books. Especially, Rowans emphasis on Christian togetherness in baptism, hearing of scripture, pr
Nick Jordan
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I had massive hopes for this book, it being by Rowan Williams. But my real hope was to be able to use it to read with church members (as a UMC pastor). But it's a strangely in-between book, not quite in-depth enough about anything for people equipped to read theology, but not quite shallow enough for a wide readership. ...more
Anna Tan
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity, e-books
Being Christian explores four basic elements of being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer.

It's easy to think that, after being in church for years, you know everything there is to know about these things. Yet the fact remains that often what we think we know might not always be the full picture. Williams explores these four elements, drawing from the Bible as well as hundreds of years of Biblical and theological scholarship, bringing fresh new perspective. Well, maybe not fresh, but lo
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent introduction to Anglican Christianity, designed as a small-group reading project, complete with discussion questions. Written by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, now the Master of Magdalene College at Oxford, this book takes many of Rowan William's themes in his more intense theology and makes them much more easily accessible for the lay Christian reader. What comes out is a combination of the theological acumen of Rowan Williams and his strong pastoral sense. They are b ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, offers up four short essays on different aspects of Christian life. Each essay can be read separately, which I recommend. They’re short but dense and worth mulling over. I read these over a period of several weeks, so maybe this is just the most recent being in my head, but I found the final essay on prayer particularly strong. Even for those who are not Christian, Williams’s book is worth a read. Highly recommended.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lovely, short and to the point introduction into considering the fundamental basics of the Christian faith. In many ways, if taken seriously and if one reflects on William’s words, it should serve as a manner by which to begin comprehending the glaciers that are the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Casey Taylor
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Solid book overall. I have some questions on his chapter about the Bible but it's a good reflection on basic Christian practices. Maybe not for new Christians or those that don't read but good. ...more
Matty Allan
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
very interesting, learnt a lot !
Evan Vossman
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I would’ve loved to have this book when I first became a Christian. It was impactful and helpful for me even now. A great resource!
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A deceptively profound book. So much wisdom packed into so few pages
Robert D. Cornwall
What does it mean to be a Christian? Rowan Williams, the former Arch-bishop of Canterbury, seeks to answer that question with this brief book -- only 84 pages long -- by focusing our attention on Baptism, the Bible, the Eucharist, and Prayer. These are the essential elements -- the aspects of the Christian faith that mark one as a Christian. One begins the journey in baptism (as an Anglican infant baptism figures here, but whenever the sacrament takes places, the reflections are pertinent). Ther ...more
Adam Shields
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: This is a series of four holy week lectures that were turned into a book. It is short and I listened to an audiobook (but not the actual recording of the lectures.) Williams does a good job of addressing these four practices at the heart of Christianity without being too cliche or without completely reinterpreting the practices into something they are not. Bible is really about how we hear from God, but it should be read corporately. Baptisms is about how we enter into fellowship w ...more
Shaun Brown
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Great little popular level book by Rowan Williams on the Christian life. It includes four chapters, one on each of the four things mentioned in the subtitle (baptism, Bible, Eucharist, prayer). While written at a popular level, Williams engages Scripture, historic Christian sources, and contemporary issues insightfully (as he always does).
While I am from a believers baptism tradition (and feel most comfortable there), I particularly appreciated Williams' chapter on baptism. There he brought up a
Jaclyn Mason
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like the simplicity of this book. It's only 84 pages long and therefore one can be tempted to rush through it. Yet reading it slowly and pondering the fundamental truths of baptism, bible, communion and prayer was profoundly rewarding.

My favourite quote was found in the communion section. He wrote, "we take Holy Communion not because we are doing well, but because we are doing badly. Not because we have arrived, but because we are travelling. Not because we are right, but because we are confu
Roy Howard
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rowan William's gift is to write so well for so many different readers. This is an elegantly written brief book on the essentials of the Christian life. Williams go straight to heart of Christian faith and practice discussing baptism, bible, eucharist and prayer. The chapters were originally presentations for groups of seekers. We will use this book for our 2015 Lenten series. ...more
Profound and concise. Williams shares his insights into four key aspects of the Christian life: baptism, the Bible, the Eucharist, and prayer. I wanted to mark this one up, mull over sentences, and reflect on the text further; this is definitely a book that is worth being read twice.
Adam Lorenz
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Concise, inviting, and encouraging.

If you have wondered why I have been drawn into the Anglican stream of Christian thought, look no further than these 80+ pages by the former Archbishop.
Richard  Bruce
Jun 04, 2021 rated it liked it
This book was interesting. The author writes very well and you can almost hear his calming voice resonating from the pages. It explained the titled four areas of Christianity very well and posed some interesting ideas and concepts. However throughout the book I just had a feeling it was like the author was trying to make excuses up for outdated beliefs. Let me first say I was christened a Christian, I believe Jesus existed in some way and i believe in God. However I am not a practicing Christian ...more
Dave Courtney
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and simple treaties on the essential components that give Christianity its expressive and defined presence.

Takes a world (Christianity) that is rife with conflict and disagreement, and attempts to pare it back to what Christianity "has" been about in history, and how we can use that as the framework through which to understand our current climate. All with the purpose of bringing the Christian community together.

Tackling components that have literally divided and shaped entire denomi
Donald R
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I grew up Evangelical, did college at a Calvinist school and filled my deconstructionalist years while abroad with critical Biblical scholarship and early church history. Coming back to the US, I landed in an Episcopalian church and this book was on the menu for their Thursday theology class. Not wanting to miss how these folks conceived the notion of "being Christian", I picked it up and readily devoured it.

This was a breath of fresh air and a call to a practice of faith that is compatible wit
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Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, is an Anglican bishop, poet, and theologian. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from December 2002-2012, and is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and Chancellor of the University of South Wales.

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“the new humanity that is created around Jesus is not a humanity that is always going to be successful and in control of things, but a humanity that can reach out its hand from the depths of chaos, to be touched by the hand of God.” 6 likes
“Christians will be found in the neighbourhood of Jesus – but Jesus is found in the neighbourhood of human confusion and suffering, defencelessly alongside those in need. If being baptized is being led to where Jesus is, then being baptized is being led towards the chaos and the neediness of a humanity that has forgotten its own destiny.” 4 likes
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