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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 April 2006, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Archbishop rejects mystery mania
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams
The Gospel is human words backed by divine energy, says Dr Williams
Conspiracy theories or the discovery of ancient texts will not weaken the Gospel, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in his Easter Sunday sermon.

The Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci Code foster a sense of mystery, but the Easter message lives in Christian experience, Dr Rowan Williams said.

Many Christians are putting their lives at risk for their faith, he added.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Of York Dr John Sentamu has baptised four adults in a pool outside a York church.

Seventeen others were also confirmed in the service, aired on Radio 4.

Dr Rowan Williams said in his sermon at Canterbury Cathedral that the truth of the Resurrection is strengthened by Christian experience across the globe.

Life or death

"The Bible is not the authorised code of a society managed by priests and preachers for their private purposes, but the set of human words through which the call of God is still uniquely immediate to human beings today; human words with divine energy behind them."

"There are places in our world where conversion to Christianity is literally a matter of putting your life on the line.

"We have all been following the story of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan and we know that his story is not unique," he says - referring to the Afghan who was threatened with death for converting to Christianity.

Archbishop John Sentamu
Dr Sentamu baptised four people in York on Easter Sunday

"We can say with absolute certainty that whatever the Gospel means in circumstances like that, it isn't a cover-up for the sake of the powerful."

He urged believers at Easter to "strip away the accumulated lumber of 2,000 years of rather uneven Christian witness and try to let the event be present in its first, disturbing, immediacy."

The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and has been made into a film starring Tom Hanks.

It alleges the Church suppressed the "truth" that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene, and this bloodline was the real Holy Grail.

The Gospel of Judas, a papyrus document from the 3rd or 4th Century AD, casts the fallen disciple as a benevolent figure, helping Jesus to save mankind.

In York, Archbishop Sentamu stood knee deep in water and immersed four adults outside the church of St Michael-le-Belfrey.

The four members of the congregation were greeted with applause and cheers from the 300-strong crowd before being offered towels when they emerged from the inflatable pool.

Archbishop of Canterbury delivers his Easter sermon

Worshippers take outdoor baptism
16 Apr 06 |  North Yorkshire
Not so secret gospels
07 Apr 06 |  Magazine

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