Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Stanley Hawerwas - On Retirement, Citizenship, and the Church of the Future

Learning to Love the Enemy [Stanley Hauerwas]

Published on Jun 7, 2016. Jesus' teaching in Matthew 18 is central for Christians coming
to love the enemy. Particularly important is that we never forget that God is the enemy
we most fear. To be confronted and to confront those that we have wronged and have
wronged us one of the central practices for Christians to practice neighbor love.

Nothing to lose: YDS alum Stanley Hauerwas on retirement, citizenship, and the church of the future

by Ray Waddle
January 6, 2015

“The work of theology is never done. That is very good news. The work of theology can never be done alone. That is even better news.” - Stanley Hauerwas

Now that Stanley Hauerwas ’65 B.D., ’67 M.A., ’68 M.Phil., ’68 Ph.D. has reached emeritus status at Duke Divinity School, his idea of retirement is to work on three books, preach regularly, and take up a (part-time) post as chair of theological ethics with the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy at University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Stanley Hauerwas“I can’t figure out how to be retired,” says Hauerwas, who officially retired at Duke in 2013 after 29 years of teaching there. “If I’m retired, why do I have so many deadlines? The reason is, I can’t say no to people. I need to learn to say no!”

At age 74, Hauerwas is still writing and speaking, still thinking about the meaning of church in contemporary times—still doing the work of a theologian and public intellectual known for far-ranging ideas and a mischievous spirit. One of his forthcoming books, The Work of Theology (Eerdmans), explores matters such as “how to write a theological sentence” and “how to be theologically ironic.” Another is The Difference Christ Makes (Cascade Books), which includes lectures delivered on the occasion of Hauerwas’s 2013 retirement, and his response. The lecturers included YDS’s Gilbert L. Stark professor of Christian Ethics and academic dean, Jennifer Herdt.

The trouble with modern education

“Being a Christian has not, and does not, come naturally or easy for me,” he once wrote in an essay posted at ABC’s Religion and Ethics website. “I take that to be a good thing because I am sure that to be a Christian requires training that lasts a lifetime.”

His thoughts about the state of the faith today continue undeterred. In today’s intellectual and economic climate, it becomes clearer to him that churchgoing and Christian identity are getting harder for millions to sustain. The daily habits of postmodern experience make it more challenging to fit the Christian story into one’s life.

“The growth of churches in the 1950s and 60s looks now like a kind of mirage,” he says. “People thought we were doing OK. Because of the momentum of the civil rights movement, people thought church was providing a good witness here or there. Now people are increasingly aware that we’re in trouble. Charles Taylor had it right in The Secular Age: In earlier times it was virtually impossible for people in the West not to believe in God, but now many find it easy or unavoidable.”

One of the problems is the nature of modern education, he says. In The State of the University (Blackwell, 2007) and elsewhere, Hauerwas has argued that the sidelining of theology in a liberal arts education degrades the liberal arts’ contribution to public life. The pursuit of the knowledge of God should be part of the overall academic pursuit of knowledge. Theological inquiry should take its place as a vital tool in the aims of education—the formation of individuals who bring imagination, skepticism, perspective, humility, and critical thinking to the work of citizenship, democratic reform, and economic justice.

He says the marginalized place of theology in turn domesticates theological conversation, damaging the confidence of educated churchgoers, who now often lack a vigorous idea of why they believe or how their belief can speak to the times.

“It’s not clear to me these days, for instance, what it means to be a citizen,” he says. “It would be helpful to the discussion if Christians worried more about it. I think citizenship ought to be about the obligations we have to each other here in this historical, geographic setting.”

An alternative to our unfaithfulness

Hauerwas believes the church of the future will be a leaner, smaller, but more committed “colony,” and that will be no bad thing. The much-reported decline of Christian influence and power should give churches a new liberation from culture captivity, a freedom to speak the truth.

“Once you’ve got nothing to lose, hell, you’re free! You no longer have to keep your language hidden in your back pocket. I think God is giving us the next step, helping us discover that the secular way isn’t enough. It won’t sustain life.”

The church’s witness and practices remain central. The discipline of prayer, the love of the poor, and the gospel power of friendship with God and others are direct challenges to the spirit of the age, including rationalistic abstractions that lead to violence.

He offered this definition of church in a 2014 interview with “Thinking in Public”

“That through Jesus Christ, very God and very man, we gentiles have been made part of the promise to Israel, that we will be witnesses to God’s good care of God’s creation through the creation of a people who once were no people, that the world can see there is an alternative to our violence. There is an alternative to our deceptions. There is an alternative to our unfaithfulness to one another through the creation of something called church. That’s salvation.”

Theology moves in many directions

Retirement finds him reading a customary range of authors and subjects—novelists David Foster Wallace and Marilynn Robinson, theologian Herbert McCabe, a recent book by Timothy Chappell called Knowing What To Do: Imagination, Virtue, and Platonism in Ethics.

“My reading has always been gregarious and unplanned – I read what people tell me to read,” he says.

Amazon link
Asked about his YDS days, Hauerwas says he retains a lasting image of professor Robert L. Calhoun standing in class lecturing about the history of doctrine, shortly before Calhoun’s retirement. A much-beloved teacher of historical theology, Calhoun (1896-1983) taught at Yale from 1923 to 1965. Hauerwas has great enthusiasm for Scripture, Creed, Theology: Lectures on the History of Christian Doctrine in the First Centuries (Cascade, 2011), the book that gathers Calhoun’s lectures on the subject.

“George Lindbeck dedicated much energy to compiling his lectures and editing the book, and he wrote a terrific introduction. I think every YDS student should read it,” he says.

Even a brief chat with Stanley Hauerwas on the subject of theology moves in many directions – economics, citizenship, friendship, fiction, imperialism, and the elusive nature of God.

Amazon link
“I love the quote from theologian Robert Jensen: ‘God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt.’ The critical word is ‘whoever.’ The identity of God is something we don’t know and can’t know. It’s exciting to me that we can’t know all the things God does or is capable of doing or even what God is. It’s idolatry to think we do know. A lot of people think they do know and a lot of the time the result is violence.”

The author of more than 40 books, Hauerwas addresses his restlessly diverse interests in an essay he wrote for YDS’s Reflections journal in 2013, the Fall issue. Titled, How to (Not) Retire Theologically, the essay won the Associated Church Press’s Award of Excellence for best theological article that year. It will appear in his new book The Work of Theology.
Book Description
A "how-to" book on theology from a world-renowned theologian.
In this book Stanley Hauerwas returns to the basics of "doing" theology. Revisiting some of his earliest philosophical and theological views to better understand and clarify what he has said before, Hauerwas explores how theological reflection can be understood as an exercise in practical reason.
Hauerwas includes chapters on a wide array of topics, including "How I Think I Learned to Think Theologically," "How the Holy Spirit Works," "How to Write a Theological Sentence," and "How to Be Theologically Funny." In a postscript he responds to Nicholas Healy's recent book Hauerwas: A (Very) Critical Introduction.
"What we believe as Christians," says Hauerwas, "is quite basic and even simple. But because it is so basic, we can lose any sense of the extraordinary nature of Christian beliefs and practices." In discussing the work of theology, Hauerwas seeks to recover that "sense of the oddness of what we believe as Christians."
In the essay he writes: “That I cannot stop doing theology given the way I have done it also accounts for the range of my work. I confess when I think about the diverse topics I have addressed it not only makes me tired but it elicits in me a sense of embarrassment. I am not smart enough to know what needs to be known in order to address questions that range from the nature of personal identity to the ethics of war. But I have a stake in both of those topics, and many more, if I am to do the work I take to be the work of theology.”

He concludes: “The work of theology is never done. That is very good news. The work of theology can never be done alone. That is even better news.”