Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Jordon points to a Time article on Stanley Hauerwas:

Hauerwas has been a thorn in the side of what he takes to be Christian complacency for more than 30 years. For him, the message of Jesus was a radical one to which Christians, for the most part, have never been fully faithful. Christians, he believes, are called to be a pilgrim people who will always find themselves in one political community or another but who are never defined completely by it. Thus, as the body of Christ on Earth, Christians must be a "sign of contradiction," to borrow a term from Pope John Paul II, a moral theologian much admired by the very Anabaptist Methodist Hauerwas...

...If Hauerwas' rough speech and pointed views are taken as scandalous within academic society, he believes that what really scandalizes the so-called wisdom of the world is the message of the cross. If Christians really faced up to the facts of Jesus' story, they would be shocked. It is a radical tale: God revealed himself in inauspicious circumstances — in a provincial backwater of the Roman Empire and among a beleaguered people, the Israelites. Through his ministry and death, Jesus offered humankind a radical vision of forgiveness and freedom from revenge. To a world obsessed with power, that is outrageous. An omnipotent God incarnate who relinquishes his power and dies an ignominious death in order that human beings might "have life and have it more abundantly"? Whoever heard of such a thing?

A God who embraces powerlessness unto death is a message the world will never accept, says Hauerwas. Yet, he argues, it is that message the Christian is bid to take to all nations. If you were to ask Hauerwas to define himself by a single word, once he got Texan out of the way, he would probably say disciple and add that anyone who uses the word "better damn well mean it."

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