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Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  915 ratings  ·  126 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 4.29  · 
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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
Drew
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent little book. Deep but not hard to read.
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
Alex Stroshine
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
...more
Dakota
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
...more
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.
Anna Tan
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, christianity
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
...more
Phil
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
Lauren
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.
Alex
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.
Matty Allan
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
very interesting, learnt a lot !
Darius
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A deceptively profound book. So much wisdom packed into so few pages
Jacob
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is less of an introduction to the Christian faith and more of a group of four essays that are written about the meaning and practice of specific integral components of the Christian life. For some, this book is a great exploration and deepening of concepts that have been lightly to moderately touched on in their local churches. The essays felt more like a "for further reading," rather than a systematic look at how these concepts exist and are practiced in themselves. The book acts as a ...more
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
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
...more
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
...more
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.
Kristi
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.
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
...more
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
...more
Janet Richards
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I know this, yet I did it anyway. Do not judge a book by it's cover or it's size. I have been reading books about basic Christian doctrine. This one appeared on a list I was using, so I ordered it. When it came, I was unimpressed. It is think, only has 4 chapters, and didn't seem that impressive. I decided to read some more substantial books first. They were good, but I was so wrong about this one.

It is a short read. And it does only cover 4 topics: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist (Communion) and Pra
...more
Sarah
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent primer on the Episcopal perspective on the sacraments. Big theological concepts are explained in ways that are simple to grasp without watering them down or sugar coating. I especially loved the teaching on baptism which I'd never heard explained in quite that way:
"Baptism is a ceremony in which we are washed, cleansed and re-created. It is also a ceremony in which we are pushed into the middle of a human situation that may hurt us, and that will not leave us untouched
...more
Ali
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
My church is using/used this book for our Lenten lunch series this year (canceled due to coronavirus). I LOVE Rowan Williams but did find this book a bit hard to get into initially. Not sure why. Maybe I was just distracted while reading it “bc I had to”. In any case I greatly enjoyed the last two chapters. This book has four chapters each on a crucial aspect of being Christian: baptism, Bible, Eucharist and prayer. I read the Eucharist and prayer chapter post pandemic so perhaps that is why I w ...more
Anthony Risson
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exploring the four rhythms of Eucharist, Prayer, Baptism and Scripture, Rowan Williams offers a blessing to the Church, and to the world. There are ways in which we can engage in these practices that invite life, distil wisdom, elucidate the generosity which is present through God and God's people.

Along with Being Disciples, this volume will be one which I will share with many others along the way. This will help us think anew and face the challenges and joys of being thrown into the mix of the
...more
June
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second year reading books by respected Christian authors on spiritual life. This one comes recommended by my sister. It is from talks given by a former Archbishop and now a teacher. I was expecting it to be full of theological terms and hard to digest. Instead it was east to read look at the basics of Christian living. I found it had good food for thought and reflection. And I definitely appreciate how each facet is reflected back to community and our role to Christ. Well worth a read ...more
Marcás
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-audio-books
Distilled but potent tonic from a master pastor-theologian. The former Archbishop sharply focuses on some of the essentials of the Christian life- Baptism, Bible, Eucharist and Prayer, as the title suggests- showing how none of them are 'merely symbolic' but point to the world as it actually is. In the New Creation. This comes across well in relation to the first three in particular and highlights the centrality of the personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Mysteries. Refreshing, as i ...more
Alex
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
We are reading this as part of an Adult Formation series at church as part of an introduction to a creedal or a catholic Christianity. It is a blessing to have the Archbishop willing to write such books to "plant the seeds" of such a vision of the faith for those who are new to the faith, or maybe encountering the vision a new.It doesn't cover much new ground for those with extended theological backgrounds, but it has been a game changer for many in our group.
Avril
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Williams writes with such beautiful clarity and simplicity. This is a quick and easy read, but it's also full of such depth that I would occasionally read a single sentence and then sit in silence for minutes at a time contemplating it. Perhaps most amazingly, Williams makes Christianity sound beautiful. I bought this book to see whether it would be helpful for teenagers and adults being baptised and confirmed, and it's definitely suitable for that.
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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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