In this essay Stanley Hauerwas reflects on his life's work by responding to the critical contributions found in the essays of this volume. Rather than trying to defend a “position,” Hauerwas takes this opportunity to offer further insight into how he sees his work to be driven by theology, insofar as his ethical reflection cannot be extricated from Christological considerations. It is this Christological center that allows him to avoid making a false separation between the person and work of Jesus (...) Christ. For Hauerwas, only in maintaining its Christological center can Christian “ethics” be understood in continuity with the practices of the church, including the practice of Christian speech. Without this continuity, “ethics” fails to be theological. (shrink)
In this book, controversial and world-renowned theologian, Stanley Hauerwas, tackles the issue of theology being sidelined as a necessary discipline in the modern university. It is an attempt to reclaim the knowledge of God as just that – knowledge. Questions why theology is no longer considered a necessary subject in the modern university, and explores the role it should play in the development of our “knowledge” Considers how theology is often excluded from the knowledges of the modern university because these (...) are constituted by an understanding of time necessary to make economic and state realities seem inevitable Argues that it is precisely this difference that makes Christian theology an essential resource for the university to achieve its task - that is, to form people who are able to imagine a different world through critical and disciplined reflection Challenges the domesticated character of much recent theology by suggesting how prayer and the love of the poor are essential practices that should shape the theological task Converses with figures as diverse as Luigi Giussani, David Burrell, Stanley Fish, Wendell Berry, Jeff Stout, Rowan Williams and Sheldon Wolin Published in the new and prestigious Illuminations series. (shrink)
By focusing on questions concerning what kind of training graduate students in theology and ethics and religious ethics should receive, I try to initiate a conversation we need to have about the kind of work the JRE should foster.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a remarkable change took place in advanced theological education in the United States: the study of Christian ethics (and other theological studies as well) moved quite rapidly from seminaries into graduate programs at religiously unaffiliated universities. The birth of the "Journal of Religious Ethics" should be understood in the context of this wider shift. The consequences of this migration have been, on the whole, regrettable. In universities, styles of analysis and metaethical issues have (...) been elevated into subject matter, impoverishing Christian moral reflection, but the principal loss has been the loss of the church itself - that set of practices necessary to make ethical reflection intelligible for Christians. (shrink)
The question of the relation of my work to that of Martin Luther King Jr. cannot be resolved with the theoretical tools Christopher Beem brings to the task. Stanley Fish has written that "those who detach King's words from the history that produced them erase the fact of that history from the slate, and they do so, paradoxically, in order to prevent that history from being truly and deeply altered." The vice of liberalism is not selfishness so much as (...) a forgetfulness that spreads like a blight from the habit of abstraction. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered his people, his savior, and his church, and he called the rest of us to share those memories. Therein lay his strength. (shrink)
This essay traces Gustafson's understanding of the methodological significance of history and time for theological ethics. I argue that Gustafson qualifies his original thoroughgoing historicist perspective in the interest of developing a natural theology and ethics. His continuing emphasis on a historical perspective, I suggest, is best understood by attending to his recommendation that the theologian's task is best captured by the image of the "participant.".
Recognition of the narrative character of Christian convictions for the formation of the character of community and individuals is crucial for understanding how such convictions can be said to be true or false. In particular the truth of Christian convictions is revealed by their power to form and sustain a community capable of witnessing to the God of heaven and earth in a divided and violent world. The ethics of such a community contrasts sharply with those moral theories that ignore (...) or deny the narrative nature of morality by seeking to free ethics from the traditions of historic communities. The recognition of the narrative quality of moral reflection does not destroy the possibility of moral confrontation between different sets of convictions. The church serves the world best by providing categories of interpretation that help us understand the often tragic but hopeful character of our existence. (shrink)
The author maintains that virtue and obligation are interdependent notions, neither of which is capable of either being understood or put into practice without the other. He argues that William Frankena's treatment of these concepts obscures this relationship, both because it gives primacy to an ethics of obligation and because it consists in examination of an artificial model of a "pure" theory of virtue. The author also considers the implication of this relationship for the question of the relation (...) of morality and religion. (shrink)
Albert Speer's life offers a paradigm of self-deception, and his autobiography serves to illustrate Fingarette's account of self-deception as a persistent failure to spell out our engagements in the world. Using both Speer and Fingarette, we show how self-deception becomes our lot as the stories we adopt to shape our lives cover up what is destructive in our activity. Had Speer not settled for the neutral label of "architect," he might have found a story substantive enough to allow him to (...) recognize the implications of his engagements with Hitler's Reich. This side of Auschwitz we require a story which allows us to appropriate our own capacities for evil and yet empowers us to go on. (shrink)
Objecting to a restrictive view of morality that limits moral philosophy and religious ethics to what can be logically displayed, this essay seeks to expand our understanding of morality in a way that permits one to account for intentionality in the moral life. It claims that religion makes a contribution to our moral behavior beyond that of motivating one to be moral. The author argues that a right understanding of the relationship of thought and action is essential if we (...) are correctly to understand the relationship of religion and morality. He concludes that "story" and principles have interdependent roles to play in the full variety of our moral life. (shrink)