Stanley Hauerwas will make you mad

Posted: March 17, 2010 by limabean03 in Christian Theology, Christianity, Contemporary Theology, Current Issues, Discipleship, The Christian Life
Tags: , , , , , ,

I found this over at Kendall’s blog and thought it worth putting up.  Hauerwas is a brilliant Christian theologian and ethicist who at times can be quite controversial.  The question and answers below are taken from an interview with the St. Petersburg times in 2007.  The questions are in bold, Hauerwas’ answers are in normal typefont.  Some of what he says will no doubt make you uncomfortable, some of it might even make you mad.  The important thing to do is to be able to articulate why you, as a Christian under the revelation of the Bible, might disagree with him.  Or if you find yourself enthusiastically agreeing with Hauerwas, equally important is that you able to say why you, as a Christian under the revelation of the Bible, might agree with him.  This method moves us out of the realm of emotion and into the realm of thought, and hopefully into a more robust Christian discourse. 

Why are you considered controversial?
Because I tell Christians that they ought to do what they say. They ought to forgive their enemies. There isn’t an asterisk in the Sermon on the Mount that says, “Unless they are Arabs.”

How should Christians make their mark on society?

By telling the truth. I think that one of the problems has been that Christians have often accepted the speech habits that characterize general assumptions about America that have not done us any good in terms of how we should be witnessing to what we think is true. (For example, to say) I think Jesus is Lord, but that is just my personal opinion.

What should Christians be doing?

The first task of the church is to be the church, because only when you do that do you have the ability to be a witness to the wider society. It is only when you worship God that you are then able to say what is true. Most Americans think that everyone believes in God. The God most Americans believe in is not the God of Jesus Christ. (For instance) Christians can’t assume that it’s okay to be in the military.

The title of your lecture is intriguing: “Why No One Wants to Die in America.” What does that mean?
It means that we live in a society that’s in deep death denial. Assuming that most Christians live like other people, thinking they can get out of life alive. It’s not going to happen. People care more about who their doctor is today than who their priest or minister is. Most Christians live lives of practical atheism. … Atheism isn’t explicitly a denial of God, it’s to live in a way that God does not matter.

  1. Thanks for posting this. Hauerwas is steadily working his way up in priority on my reading list. He keeps on popping in just about every book I’m reading lately. Two of the most interesting books that I’ve read this year were written by students of Hauerwas: “Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire” by William T. Cavanaugh and “The Limits of Liberal Democracy: Politics and Religion at the End of Modernity” by Scott H. Moore. Both of them have inherited Hauerwas’s knack for evaluating the assumptions (particularly assumptions about human flourishing) that shape our questions, and therefore shape where we look for answers and what types of answers we can recognize.

  2. limabean03 says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve not read the book by Moore, however I did thoroughly enjoy “Being Consumed” and continue to enjoy many of Cavanaugh’s works. Cavanaugh (as you may know) is part of a Anglo-Catholic movement in England called “Radical Orthodoxy”. Radical Orthodoxy and Hauerwas seem to be a pretty good fit (though they do diverge on a number of issues), though I haven’t seen them enter into any formal dialogue yet. It would be interesting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s