Stanley Hauerwas continues his long-time screed against the American church as “too American.” What do you think? Does he go too far here? Not far enough? What is the value and what are the dangers of such categorical critique?
Truth in advertising: (1) I certainly recognize the syndrome he describes; (2) I deny that the church in America has entirely lost its mission, selling its spiritual heritage for a mess of nationalist pottage; (3) I feel Hauerwas’s sweeping critique is excessive and counterproductive. It stands to discourage American Christians and deter us from participating in our churches more than it helps us to participate well.
Feel free to call me out on this. I’m always ready to learn and be corrected.
Number 1. I think it’s laughable that today we believe we have the “right” for the pursuit of happiness. It’s a nice wish, just not realistic nor is it one of God’s promises. But I’m not a scholar nor academic. Just a plain worn & torn Christian 🙂
After thinking about this post for some time, and after seeing what Glenn Beck plans to do (an expose on Jim Wallis), I have to say, I agree with Hauerwas. He is right.When Tony Perkins says that social justice is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” that’s my cue that the American church is constantinian at the core.
Check the link:
Rod, I do understand that there are problems in the church, and that Hauerwas diagnoses a number of them acutely. What I object to is the totalizing nature of his rhetoric. Unfortunately, you seem to have fallen into the same trap. You take Tony Perkins to be evidence that the entire American church is “constantinian at the core.” But many Christian leaders quoted in the article you link express a much more Christian understanding of social justice. I’m sure Tony Perkins would be flattered to know he represents the entire American church. I just don’t happen to think that he does.
I am not saying that Tony Perkins represents the entire American church. I am just agreeing with much of the accuracy of his statements.
I have my criticisms for Hauerwas, including, when he discusses “the church,” and what it should be doing, I always find myself asking “which church?” and under “whose terms?”
I think that the church in the US, whether black or white or w.e, is ambiguously both imperialist and anti-colonial at the same time. Its just that the worst side of US american christianity gets ignored much of the time.
Death of the Patient? Hmmm…I can’t help but think that sometimes like ashes from the Phoenix or like the cycle of the seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring) that we go through, that life comes from death. Then again, no one really ever likes the prophetic voice, its too painful.
Truer words . . . Yes, the prophetic voice is painful. But when it acts as a firehose rather than a surgeon’s knife, then I can’t help but think that this sort of pain is not helpful to heal our disease. Rather we will all just end up drenched and bruised; then (if we’re still conscious) we’ll get up, dry out, and go on doing what we’re doing.