Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, Part 7

“I think this is an apt description of my work, but I also think that the ‘wholly different Christianity’ I represent is in deep continuity with Christianity past and present that is found in the everyday lives of Christian people. You do not get to make Christianity up, and I have no desire to be original. If I represent a wholly different Christianity, I do so only because I have found a way to help us recognize as Christians what extraordinary things we say when we worship God” (135).

“What many people usually find hard to understand, or at least what strikes them as unusual, is how I combine what I hope is a profound commitment to fundamental Christian convictions with a socially radical ethic. At bottom, the convictions involve the claim that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. If he is not fully both, then we Christians are clearly idolaters. A socially radical ethic follows from this theological conviction because our worship of Jesus is itself a politics through which a world is created that would not exist if Jesus were not raised from the dead. Basic to such politics is the refusal of a violence that many assume is a ‘given’ for any responsible account of the world” (136).

“I have come to think that the challenge confronting Christians is not that we do not believe what we say, though that can be a problem, but that what we say we believe does not seem to make any difference for either the church or the world” (159).

I find the desire of some to dichotomize orthodoxy and a commitment to social action extremely problematic. This split that occurred within protestantism at the turn of the twentieth century as the fundamentalist/modernist controversy was in full swing between evangelism and social gospel is completely bunk and has harmed the church and her mission. That's one of the reasons I find Hauerwas' work so appealing. He takes the radical implications of the gospel seriously without dropping an emphasis on Christian orthodoxy and the church as worshiping community. We need to also make sure that what we say we believe makes a difference in our lives, rather than acting as though what we say on Sunday mornings has absolutely nothing to do with our lives the rest of the week.

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