Stan "the Man" Hauerwas pt. 1

Ok, so Stan Hauerwas is not “the man”.  That Title is reserved for this guy. But I had Iron Man on the mind…

At any rate, I just finished up reading Hauerwas’ Peaceable Kingdom – A Primer in Christian Ethics, and whatever else you want to say about him (which I am sure Rod will), he certainly has laid fertile ground for discussion, both in my own head and with others. So with that, I wanted to give some initial impressions, albeit short ones, and see if we can get some good old fashioned dialogue going. This will be part 1, with more parts to follow. Without further ado…

First off, Hauerwas spends a great deal of time setting up the premise without which his book would be unintelligible – namely that the standard attempt of most ethicists to find a foundation for their work is a dead end. Hauerwas is post-modern to the core. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. His contention is that there is no common foundation that we can all agree with. As a result, his primary assertion becomes that we can only do ethics “with a qualifier”. In our case as Christians, we are doing “Christian” ethics.

It is at this point that many take issue with Hauerwas. Is he advocating an insular community? Is there no common ground between Christians and other worldviews? Is it an overstatement that there can never be a common starting place for human ethics?

Of course, the point that begs to be made here is that if we were able to find a common starting place for ethics, and were able to build up from there, would that ethic be, in any sense, “Christian”? If yes, why would we need Christian ethics in the first place if we can get there using logic? If no, then there must be something about Christian ethics that either can’t be reached by logic or cannot be reached from a neutral, common foundation.

What do you think about Hauerwas’ assertions? Can we do ethics all by ourselves? Should we? Or is he really just pointing out the truth that we all experience in our churches anyway?  Do we really know why we do ethics the way we do? Because the Bible tells us so?

0 thoughts on “Stan "the Man" Hauerwas pt. 1

  1. Brian LePort

    I have not read enough of Hauerwas to engage his thoughts on the matter but I have always wanted to do so. What does he mean by “Christian” ethics? Is it grounded in the teachings of Jesus, the historical church, an eschatological model? I guess that would be a helpful starting point for me.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria

      Hey Brian,

      To answer you question, Hauerwas believes that the Christian story, theology, and ethics start with God’s choices of the Israelite people and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Outside of that, Christian know no other way to peaceableness (to use his terms). I will say more in my response to Chad.

      Reply
    2. hulk54

      Brian, my take on what Hauerwas means is that every ethic is “qualified”. There is no universal ethic that we can go to. Therefore, Christians must do Christian ethics, whatever that means to them, as they can do ethics no other way and still be Christian. He would say the same applies to all of those who attempt to do ethics, each has their own qualifier. As for what Stan means by “christian” in his context, he spends the rest of the book unpacking what it means for him, which we will get to in later blogs.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Stan “The Man” Hauerwas pt. 2 « Political Jesus: Journeys in Non-Resistant Love

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