Monday, May 10, 2010

Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, Part 11

“We not only go to church, but I try to be a church theologian.  I am not interested in what I believe.  I am not even sure what I believe.  I am much more interested in what the church believes” (254). 

“I do not trust prayer to spontaneity.  Most ‘spontaneous prayers’ turn out, upon analysis, to be anything but spontaneous.  Too often they conform to formulaic patterns that include ugly phrases such as, ‘Lord, we just ask you . . .’  Such phrases are gestures of false humility, suggesting that God should give us what we want because what we want is not all that much.  I pray that God will save us from that ‘just’” (255).

I greatly appreciate Hauerwas' emphasis on being a "church theologian."  As religion and theology are increasingly associated with university departments, theology has (unfortunately) been seen as a discipline disassociated from the church (especially in traditions like my own in which there is a distrust of "theology").  The contemporary church needs figures like Hauerwas whose theology stems from the context of the church.

 Part of that emphasis upon a church context means an emphasis upon the theological content in prayer.  In my own tradition, prayer is generally extemporaneous and their is a skepticism of reading prayers because it is seen as ritualistic or insincere.  I, however, find greater value in prayers of the church found in documents like the Book of Common Prayer, in which believers have, over the centuries, thought deeply about what content should be in various prayers, refining them when necessary.  I hope, in my own teaching and ministry, to help members of Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, to better understand the value in reading prayers, rather than leaving prayer up to spontaneity.


  1. You may be interested in this:

    Cheers, brother.