Summary of Chapter Two – Bible
In Christian theology, we believe that God reveals himself to us through his inspired written word, “The Bible”. In this paper, I summarise how Rowan Williams describes how the Bible reveals God’s word.
Williams introduction explains how the Bible was not always readily available and in fact not many churches or people had access to scripture. People would copy or memorise parts of the Bible to read or have read to them during worship. Williams describes the different genres of scripture and illustrates how these different genres need to be understood. Williams highlights that genre of scripture is changing as we read, he says, “As soon as you think you know what the Bible is, you turn the page and it turns into something different”.
In scripture, we see how people reacted to God’s word, their actions were both good and evil. As Christians today reading these stories, we need to remind ourselves that God is not saying these actions are good or evil he is asking us to look at them and decide who we are in these actions. Jesus would use parables to explain what God was telling us and how it all fits together in the bigger picture of God’s revelation, rather than focusing on the detail. Just as Jesus taught in parables Williams invites us to look at all scripture as parables or metaphor from God, and how both the Old and the New Testaments relate together asking, who you are in this story.
As Christians Williams puts Christ at the centre and stresses that “As Christians read the Bible, the story converges on Jesus”. In reading the New Testament we experience God through his word and above all through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Word of God made flesh. As Jesus used scripture in his ministry to help us understand who God is and who he is Williams explains that we read the Bible and hear the Bible as a community of believers with Christ at the centre showing us who God is.
This paper summarises the main points I could glean from the reading with a focus on scripture as the inspired word of God with Christ at the centre.
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Chapter Three – Eucharist
In this chapter Williams explores where the Eucharist fits in our relationship to the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, and each other, and is summarised as follows.
In the opening paragraphs of this chapter, Williams has Jesus welcoming everyone to the table and encouraging everyone to welcome him to their table. Drawing out in his followers this new way of being and sharing, Williams uses the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector to emphasise that all are welcome and all are encouraged to welcome each other in return. Jesus is shown doing this not only before his death, but also after his death as if nothing has changed. Williams asserts that “Holy Communion makes no sense at all if you do not believe in the resurrection”.
Williams brings us back to that event in the Gospel of Luke on the night before his death, where Jesus takes the bread and wine and giving thanks (εὐχαριστία) says to his disciples this is what is going to happen to me, take this, my body and blood, and eat and drink and through it my body and blood becomes your body and blood. Instead of the crucifixion being a tragedy it becomes a sign of God’s mercy, as Williams writes, “God the giver is present, and our reaction is shaped by this. That is why to take seriously what is going on in the Holy Eucharist is to take seriously the whole material order in the world”.
The outcome from this “First Supper” is what we as Christians and Williams describes as that journey along with Baptism on a “Sacramental Path”, a journey all will follow. Williams points out that there is an element of the sombre and calls us through the Eucharist to repentance and newness of life, requesting our company at the table. Williams further describes to us how by this invitation to the table we are being recreated by the transforming of the Holy Spirit the third person of the Trinity. In finishing this chapter Williams writes, “When we gather as God’s guest at God’s table the Church becomes what it is meant to be”.
In this paper, I have summarised chapter three of Williams book, where Jesus is calling us to the table through which we are forgiven and transformed in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Williams, R. (2014). Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer. London, SPCK. 25
Williams, Being Christian. 34
Williams, Being Christian. 45
Williams, Being Christian. 49
Williams, Being Christian. 58