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Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief Hardcover – June 1, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Hardcover, June 1, 2007
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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this thematic group of reflections based on the ancient creeds of Christendom, the 104th archbishop of Canterbury once again demonstrates his stature as a scholar with a deep concern for the spiritual welfare of contemporary believers. Author of Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love, and a former professor of divinity at Cambridge University, Williams here investigates the great themes of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, from creation to crucifixion, sin to resurrection. But while he does not evade examining the doctrines undergirding these early church confessions, his purpose is to support his central argument: when we do not know whom to trust or where to turn, we can have complete confidence in the reliability of a loving God. "At the heart of the desperate suffering there is in the world," writes Williams, "suffering we can do nothing to resolve or remove for good, there is an indestructible energy making for love." At times sober, but rarely inaccessible, the learned archbishop brings a restrained passion to these meditations that will make them more available to readers seeking pastoral guidance along with their theology. (June)
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'Dr Williams, careful neither to put off the beginner with a forbidding demandingness nor to blunt the definitiveness of Christianity's description of the plight of the human race and the salvation it is offered, achieves a remarkable degress of success ... What follows, lucid, warm, never intimidating - a sea, as was long ago said of Christianity itself, shallow enough for children to paddle in, deep enough for the wise to swim in - could not have been written without, behind it, decades of theological and philosophical study ... The David Jones paintings reproduced in Tokens of Trust are subtle and beautiful ... a neat and nicely printed hardback, is a bargain.' -- Lucy Beckett Times Literary Supplement 'This book is likely to become a classic of devotion for our time.' The Reader 'This book is full of quotable quotes about the faith we profess; complex theology is unpacked gently and carefully, back-tracking frequently to address the reader's possible mental interactions with "what about?" It would be a valuable help for beginners in the faith as well as a refresher for those who are older. The illustrations and photographs enhance its presentation and its message'. -- Maureen CSF Franciscan 'This book interprets the two main creeds of Christianity, but it is not about who had the numbers at Nicea. If you wonder how anything surprising, deep or original can still be said about the creeds, then this is the book for you.We read Rowan Williams for the surprises. Then for the deth of his teaching and the originality of his views'. The Melbourne Anglican 'This is a slim, beautifully produced and utterly readable book. It is the taking questions and objections to Christianity seriously, the honest tussling with difficult issues and the implications of belief for a whole way of life, that make me think the book would be ideal for someone who was either confirmed or seriously questioning about Christianity. But it is equally a book for those who have long experience of the faith.' -- Sister Judith Fairacres Chronicle 'This would make an excellent book to recommend to someone curious about Christian belief, or to use as a textbook for a confirmation course, or for all those who want to know the deepest theological convictions of the current Archbishop of Canterbury ... It is attractive, affordable and a delight to read.' -- Robert MacSwain --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; First U.S. Edition edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664232132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664232139
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate - in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought - at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study - philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics - as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral - leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is based on Rowan Williams' talks in Canterbury Cathedral during Holy Week 2005 and is an introduction to Christianity focusing on six major themes - trusting in God, creation, Jesus, suffering, the church and life after death. These themes are considered with reference to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed alongside reflections on historical characters such as St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and modern people and events.

The book doesn't presuppose significant knowledge about Christianity but the writing style is rather wordy and feels a little more academic than usual in books aimed for this market. It isn't the usual checklist of basic Christian beliefs but is instead a well-written and interesting approach in discussing the trustworthy and unchanging love of God and how we begin to live in the light of this knowledge.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1943 CS Lewis transcribed some talks he gave on the BBC radio into a book called Mere Christianity. What Lewis had in mind was to set forth not what any particular denomination believed, but the essence of faith common to nearly all Christians in all times and places. Since then other writers have made similar efforts to distill the gospel. John Stott's Basic Christianity (1961), The Heart of Christianity (2004) by Marcus Borg, and NT Wright's Simply Christian (2006) all come to mind.

The latest and one of the best efforts at explaining the basic tenets of Christian faith comes from no less than the Welshman Rowan Williams (b. 1950). After lecturing at Cambridge University, at the remarkably young age of thirty-six Williams was appointed the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. In 2003 he became the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the 100 million-member Anglican church. Considered by many to be one of the most important English-speaking theologians, Williams is also a noted poet. He speaks or reads eight languages. Suffice it to say that any book by Williams is a model of intellectual rigor, cultural relevance, Biblical fidelity, and pastoral care.

This book is an expanded version of a series of talks that Williams gave at Canterbury Cathedral before Easter 2005. The text is written in an informal style and intended for a general readership. As he says in his introduction, he takes nothing for granted (eg, any knowledge of the Bible). The entire book has only twelve footnotes (although numerous references to poetry, history, film, music, etc.). To explain the basics of the faith Williams follows the Apostles' Creed and, when needed to expand and expound, the Nicene Creed.
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Format: Hardcover
This year, my church had a Lenten study on the Nicene Creed. The discussion was lively. As the weeks went on, it seemed to me that there were at least two different approaches to the Nicene Creed: one that was analytical and logical, and another that was more meditative and poetic. I would summarize the first approach as wondering, "how much of the Creed can I say without crossing my fingers behind my back?" and the second approach as wondering, "God is big, I'm not, it's a mystery, so why couldn't this be true?" Full disclosure here: I fall into the second set.

The experience of this study inspired me to go back and reread Tokens of Trust, a book on Christian belief by Rowan Williams. Dr. Williams is the current Archbishop of Canterbury, and his speeches and his writings can be rather dense. But this book is based on a series of talks presented in Canterbury Cathedral during Holy Week, 2005, so the content is fairly accessible.

Dr. Williams' book fits neither of the two approaches I described above. He uses the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed to structure his book, discussing God, creation, Jesus, and so on, but his approach considers the very word "belief" as meaning something other than pure intellectual assent. He points out that the words "I believe in one God" might remind us of questions like "Do you believe in ghosts?" or UFO's, or the Loch Ness monster, but that isn't what they originally meant or should mean to us. The meaning is closer to what I mean when I say I believe in my husband. I have confidence in him. I trust him. For Dr. Williams, the Creed is "a series of statements about where I find the anchorage of my life, where I find solid ground, home."

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Based on talks given at Canterbury Cathedral in the weeks before Easter,2005, this beautifully written primer on Christianity by Archbishop Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Church of England and 100,000,000 Anglicans worldwide, should be read by anyone interested in the marvellous questions presented: What does it mean to believe in God? Can God be almighty amidst so much evil and disaster? What is the purpose of the church? What does it mean to follow Christ in today's fragmented world?
Once one accepts that God is good and can be trusted, then thought, action and prayer start to make sense. The author discusses statements about belief that were forged in the first three hundred years of the church's history: the creeds. He also examines the records of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
This is a book to be sipped slowly, reflected upon, discussed. Archbishop Williams shows and shares with the reader what it means to put our hands into the hands of God, "into a darkness that is God's welcoming touch."
A little gem.
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