Rowan Williams’ Four Essentials for Being ‘Christian’


Rowan Williams always seemed to attract controversy when he led the worldwide Anglican communion as Archbishop of Canterbury. He spoke out against his own government twice. He tried to hold together a church splintering over teachings on homosexuality while his personal views seem more aligned with the minority. He even got the infamous atheist Richard Dawkins to admit he was only "6.9 percent out of seven" certain God doesn't exist. After his retirement in 2012, Williams sought out a less controversial existence. His newest book, "Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer," attempts to avoid scandal by simply discussing what Williams believes are the four essentials to following Jesus. Here we discuss baptist, the Bible, gay marriage, and whether he is creating another standard for judging who is and isn't a Christian.

RNS: You've written a book on "being Christian." Is this one more measuring stick for people to determine who's in and who's out or is there more here than meets the eye?

RW: No agenda about who’s in and who’s out; the book began simply as a series of talks in Canterbury Cathedral for anyone interested in exploring the basic components of Christian practice as it’s usually understood. A resource, I hope, but not an examination paper.

RNS: You open with baptism, noting that "people are formally brought into the Christian community by being dipped in water or having water poured over them" but then you go on to say that the word "baptism" originally just meant "dipping." Is there a single acceptable way for Christians to baptize?