With a little bit of time up my sleeve due to sleeplessness, I took the time to read the following January 2010 post (by Halden Doerge) and the long string of comments, most particularly those by Nate Kerr, Charlie Collier, Stephen Keating, Dan Barber, and D. Stephen Long.
Here’s the opening section of Halden’s post:
“In the final chapter of With the Grain of the Universe, [Stanley] Hauerwas reaches something of an apogee in stating his view of the importance of the church’s witness in relation to the truthfulness of the Christian message:
Does the truth of Christian convictions depend on the faithfulness of the church and, if so, how do we determine what would constitute faithfulness? Am I suggesting that the ability of the church to be or not to be nonviolent is constitutive for understanding what it might meant [sic] to claim that that Christian convictions are true? Do I think the truthfulness of Christian witness is compromised when Christians accept the practices of the “culture of death” — abortion, suicide, capital punishment, and war?
Yes! On every count the answer is “Yes.” (Hauerwas, p. 231)
Meditate long and hard on what’s being said here. As far as I can tell Hauerwas is saying outright that the truth of Christianity, the truth of the gospel depends on the church’s own faithfulness. This, to me seems like a crazy statement. Its one thing to say that we have no way to talk about the gospel’s truth apart from listening to witnesses (whether they be apostolic witnesses, historical witness, or ecclesial witnesses). But it is quite another to say that the truth of the gospel depends on us being nonviolent…”
Read the rest of Halden’s post (and the comments) here.
To quote one of those who left a comment, I find [the Hauerwas quote, above] “not only unobjectionable but most certainly correct”.
And out of interest, the excerpt Halden quotes above (from the chapter titled The Necessity of Witness), continues (immediately) with Hauerwas further suggesting:
"Moreover, if I am right there is a way to respond to the challenge that the argument is hopelessly circular. Christian's betray the grammar of the Christian faith when we try to answer the charge of circularity by divorcing what we believe from the way our beliefs are embdedded in our lives and, more important, from the way our lives are embedded in the church. In short I am suggesting that Christians in modernity have lost the ability to answer questions about the truthfulness of what we believe because we have accepted beliefs about the world that presuppose that God does not matter. The problem for Christians and non-Christians alike is the Christian inability to live in a way that enables us to articulate what difference it makes that we are or are not Christian..." [italics, mine - Paul].
And he goes on, reminding me that pulling texts out of their context from within a much more complex and nuanced arument, and indeed much more complex and nuanced corpus of work risky, but then that's one of the blessings and curses of blogging.
And then I slept…