Friday, April 30, 2010

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, Part 3

“Before Yale, in college, I had become convinced that one of the decisive challenges concerning the truthfulness of Christianity was the failure of Christians to stand against the Shoah. I do not remember how I came to that conclusion, but I think reading Nietzshce had convinced me that how Christians lived surely must be crucial for understanding how, if at all, what Christians say they believe might be considered true. That Christians not only had prepared the ground for the Shoah through centuries of persecution, but also had conspired in the murder of the Jews, I took as a decisive indicator that Christianity did not meet the demands for truthfulness.

“It therefore came as quite a shock to me to discover in Julian Hartt’s systematic theology course at Yale that Barth had seen more clearly than most the perversion of National Socialism. I was not prepared for the idea that Christianity itself might harbor such a critical lens about affairs in the world” (51).

“I read as much Kierkegaard as I could get my hands on. I was sure Kierkegaard was right to put the stress on the ‘how’ of faith as necessary for understanding the ‘what.’ Put differently, I was learning from Holmer’s account of Kierkegaard (as well as from Hartt) that theology is best understood as a form of practical reason. Moreover, I learned from Kierkegaard that the truth of practical reason is Christ, and thus practical reason cannot be constrained by the accommodated form of the church identified with Christendom” (53).

“I suspect that learning the limits of pluralist politics may have prepared me to read John Howard Yoder” (57).

Speaking of his relationship with James Gustafson, Hauerwas says, “Our theologies differ, of course, but that our theologies differ, and that we each care about the difference, reflects our common commitment to the difference theology should make” (58).

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