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  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
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    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
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    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
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    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
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Entries in Hauerwas (7)

Tuesday
Feb182014

Faith matters: intelligibly unintelligible

I am reading Stanley Hauerwas' Approaching the end: Eschatological reflections on Church, Politics and Life. It comes highly recommend.  I found the following quote so helpful in thinking about the 'shape' of my own faith.

For I take it to be crucial that Christians must live in such a manner that their lives are unintelligible if the God we worship in Jesus Christ does not exist.

 

- Stanley Hauerwas, Approaching the end (p.67).

Indeed, the character of our lives, not our confessions, but our very lives, must seem strange to a world that is so obsessed with power, wealth, class and fame.  The way of the Christ follower must seem nonsensical to those who do not understand the God whom we love and know.  Of course it makes sense to us only because we know God and have experienced God's grace and power that transforms life, brings wholeness and motivates our reason for being who and how we are in the world.

If our lives, and the expression of our lives (our homes, our bank accounts, our Churches) resemble too closely to conventions of our time we need to take stock and ask whether we have not given in to one of the many false God's of the age.  We should be different, since God's nature and ways are different.  But our difference should not be a reason for division, but rather a call to real life, a call to full life, a call to move closer to the life giver.

Sunday
Oct202013

Faith and Reason

I love theology. I love theology in this sense, that is, theology as an attempt to know something about God and God's nature and will.

There are few theologians that I love as much as Stanley Hauerwas. Here's one more reason why I love his theology:

[The claim] that some think theological claims must be grounded in empirical proofs is based on the assumption that there is an essential tension between faith and reason. Even Christian theologians have sometimes underwritten the assumption that the faith of Christians cannot be rationally defended. However, the very presumption that reason is one thing and faith is another betrays a distorted view of reason. What Christians believe is not a “take it or leave it” choice, but rather an ongoing claim that all that is exists by God’s good grace. The working out of that claim is never finished.

- Stanely Hauerwas

Via @irregulartheology.

Saturday
Dec012012

Should we have the right to read the Bible?

I was deeply challenged by the quote below from Stanley Hauerwas:

Most North American Christians assume that they have a right, if not an obligation, to read the Bible. I challenge that assumption. No task is more important than for the Church to take the Bible out of the hands of individual Christians in North America. Let us no longer give the Bible to all children when they enter the third grade or whenever their assumed rise to Christian maturity is marked, such as eighth-grade commencements. Let us rather tell them and their parents that they are possessed by habits far too corrupt for them to be encouraged to read the Bible on their own.

North American Christians are trained to believe that they are capable of reading the Bible without spiritual and moral transformation. They read the Bible not as Christians, not as a people set apart, but as democratic citizens who think their “common sense” is sufficient for “understanding” the Scripture. They feel no need to stand under the authority of a truthful community to be told how to read. Instead they assume that they have all the “religious experience” necessary to know what the Bible is about. As a result the Bible inherently becomes the ideology for a politics quite different from the politics of the Church.

Note, it is not an issue of whether the Bible should be read politically, but an issue of which politics should determine our reading as Christians. All reading is embedded in a politics, and avoiding politics is not something for which we can or should strive.

Stanley Hauerwas, Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America (via lukexvx)


At first I was shocked when I read this quote - of course it applies as much to South Africa as it does to North America - and, I am passionate about getting people to read the Biblical text!

But, then as I thought about it I began to wonder, what does it mean to allow people to have access to this powerful text when all we do is overpower it with our own ideas, our need to support our ideologies, and our misuse of the text to abuse others. To use the Bible in this way is more harmful than good. It disregards the God who gives us this book of love, wisdom, and challenge.

Perhaps if the Bible were more scarce, if the text was seen to be precious, we would treat it in that way! We would listen to the text, rather than choose its words to express our own thoughts.

I agree with Hauerwas' sentiments, perhaps there are better ways to recapture a respect for the text and reeducate readers of the text?

Sunday
Sep042011

All Christians are missionaries

I like this!

Christians are missionaries by necessity because all that we are and do only makes sense if what we are and do is done in the name of Jesus.

Stanley Hauerwas, Working With Words (via invisibleforeigner)

Thursday
Mar312011

The body of Christ

I'm reading Hauerwas, Yoder and Cavanaugh...

The task of the church in the temporal is to embody what Christ has already accomplished in history by remembering his broken and victorious body. Christ’s victory is already won, and the Kingdom is to have transformative effects on Christian practice in history. The task of the church is to live as if this is the case, until Christ comes again and fully consummates his reign.
— William T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist(via @invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog.

And it is good...

I would suggest that you follow invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog. It has been such a great blessing to me to read the quotes, thoughts and ideas on it, many of which you will see on my blog. Thanks!

Saturday
Jan222011

On War and American Christianity

“If I am close to being right about the place of war for sustaining the American difference I find that as a Christian I wish America as a nation was more “secular” and the Christianity of America was less American. Put differently I wish America was more like Europe. For I fear the Christianity of America, a Christianity that from a European perspective seems vital, is not capable of being a political challenge to what is done in the name of the American difference. In short, the great difficulty is how to keep America, in the proper sense, secular.”

 

Stanley Hauerwas, War and the American Difference (via invisibleforeigner)

A powerful quote indeed.  I met Stanley Hauerwas when I was doing some teaching at Duke in 2005.  He is a remarkable man - I am currently reading his autobiography 'Hannah's child: a theologians memoir'.  Wonderfully encouraging and very 'real'.  I mean it is real in the sense that it tells the story of someone who came to be a theologian by living an authentic life with courage, and writing and thinking what he believed.

The quote above is deeply challenging to me.  I have often wondered whether a life lived in Christ demands radical pacifism.  Does living under the authority of Jesus, the 'Prince of Peace', demand that we should be peacemakers to the exclusion of participating in any form of violence?  Does it mean that we should not defend ourselves, or come to the aid of others (particularly those who are defenseless)?

As a South African I underwent military training - it was compulsory for all males at the time.  It was a deeply challenging time for me.  I struggled with many aspects of the 'formation' required for military service.

When I read Hauerwas I am convinced that war is not the answer to difficult and complex problems.  It is powerful to achieve one's aims quickly.  However, it is most often the poorer persons in society who become the casualties in achieving the ideologies of the wealthy and the powerful.

Well, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday
Jul042007

Getting into the theological journey of a lifetime! You could never be the same again.

A friend of mine (zoob) emailed me this morning to ask for some advice about getting into Stanley Hauerwas. I thought I would post my response here. Once again, I would suggest that you cannot be a serious contemporary theologian without reading some Hauerwas! Come on, engage me on this!

Thanks for the mail. Wow, you are in for a spectacular ride!!! I would suggest that you simply cannot get by without getting yourself a copy of the 'Hauerwas Reader' Check out Angus' review here There is also a direct link from his post to order it from Kalahari. This book has a representative selection of his own essays and chapters from books, so it will give you a superb insight into his theology... In particular you should read the chapter in it which is entitled something like "Why gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group)"... I don't have my book here with me in the office to give you the exact title. However he makes an incredibly creative argument for pacifism based on sexual orientation and US's hunger for war! Incredible!!!

Hauerwas is a MIND BEND! He will revolutionize your theology in a way you have not yet thought possible.

Another exceptional read is his Gifford lecture series called "With the grain of the Universe" (SCM Press, 2001). I would also suggest some reading for Easter, "The cross shattered Christ" (2007).

A fourth book to read is his 'festschrift' called "God truth and witness: Engaging Stanley Hauerwas" - Neville wrote a chapter in the book!!! How incredle is that!? In this chapter he relates Hauerwas ethics (and his notion of community and expression of his eclessiology) to what is happening in the Church in South Africa. An incredible read - it was the first time that I actually began to want to Barth by the way! Up to this point I had been a firm Kung and Rahner person.

If anyone else has some suggestions to make here (Wessel, Angus, Neville?) please post a comment. Blessings, D.