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Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony

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In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the "alien" status of Christians in today's world and offer a compelling new vision of how the Christian church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Hauerwas and Will In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the "alien" status of Christians in today's world and offer a compelling new vision of how the Christian church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Hauerwas and Willimon call for a radical new understanding of the church. By renouncing the emphasis on personal psychological categories, they offer a vision of the church as a colony, a holy nation, a people, a family standing for sharply focused values in a devalued world.


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In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the "alien" status of Christians in today's world and offer a compelling new vision of how the Christian church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Hauerwas and Will In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the "alien" status of Christians in today's world and offer a compelling new vision of how the Christian church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Hauerwas and Willimon call for a radical new understanding of the church. By renouncing the emphasis on personal psychological categories, they offer a vision of the church as a colony, a holy nation, a people, a family standing for sharply focused values in a devalued world.

30 review for Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Who doesn't love a repeated swift kick in the backside? As a loud and clear call for the Church to start acting like the Church, this book was a gem. There is a reason, it is becoming a modern ecclesial classic. Although many of the socio-political references are dated (Reagan, Iran/Contra, yuppies, etc.) the attitudes behind the critiques are not. Some of the pokes at mainline denominations are even funnier (and thus more sad) because the criticisms are still true (i.e. one mainline denomination Who doesn't love a repeated swift kick in the backside? As a loud and clear call for the Church to start acting like the Church, this book was a gem. There is a reason, it is becoming a modern ecclesial classic. Although many of the socio-political references are dated (Reagan, Iran/Contra, yuppies, etc.) the attitudes behind the critiques are not. Some of the pokes at mainline denominations are even funnier (and thus more sad) because the criticisms are still true (i.e. one mainline denomination's "peace with justice" week comes to mind). Reading it cursorly one might think that Willimon and Hauerwas are against politics, peace, and justice. They're not. They're simply fed up with a Church who takes their cues from a sinful American culture instead of allowing the Church to be the Church who takes their lead from the God who has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Crimson Sparrow

    One of the most powerful and pertinent messages this book offers is its depiction of a church narrative enslaved to the doctrines of democracy and consumerism. It paints both liberals and conservatives as two sides of the same coin, both looking to the government and her articulation of freedom, human rights, power, peace, and prosperity as method and mode of salvation. They cite Yoder’s paradigm: The “activist” church desires to transform the world in a way that makes God and Christ unimportant One of the most powerful and pertinent messages this book offers is its depiction of a church narrative enslaved to the doctrines of democracy and consumerism. It paints both liberals and conservatives as two sides of the same coin, both looking to the government and her articulation of freedom, human rights, power, peace, and prosperity as method and mode of salvation. They cite Yoder’s paradigm: The “activist” church desires to transform the world in a way that makes God and Christ unimportant and unnecessary, and the “conversionist” church is selfishly consumed with an individualistic saving of souls. Both are subjugated to the almighty nation-state and consumed by its heretical perspectives. They offer instead the narrative of a Christian colony - in the world but not of the world - following Jesus the way the disciples did, worshiping God as only they can. They describe salvation as an “adventure that is nothing less than God’s purpose for the whole world” and the church as a community “training us to fashion our lives in accordance with what is true rather than what is false” (p. 52). In this depiction, elders apprentice new followers as all members remember and articulate the invasion of God into the world, “taking the disconnected elements of our lives and pulling them together into a coherent story that means something” (p. 53). As revolutionary community members, Christians bump up against one another and the world speaking this coherent meaning in direct opposition to individualistic and "worldly" wisdom. However, the authors flail at times in their attempts to maintain the tension that is their thesis, a narrative that is neither conservative nor liberal but altogether political in an altogether different way. Their examples are poignant and helpful, but they are followed by more and more two-dimensional, straw-man arguments that venture into the very abstract conceptualizations they said they wanted to avoid. They denounce things like the helping profession, personal boundaries, and most theological and higher education, for example, as if there is no Christ there, no double-edged truth in the narratives of other disciplines confronting the idolatrous church the way the church should be confronting the world. I disagree that it is only the church who can worship, only the church who can see and speak truth, only the church who ultimately witnesses to God. The notion runs contrary to their own depiction of the intrusion of God into the world as a fundamentally relational being that created the very world with which these authors seem so intrinsically at war. It seems to elevate the church, particularly their own vague, culturally formed and influenced articulation of the church, to god-like status - which seems dangerous considering their critique of that same church! No, God has used “the world” to critique and correct his people over and over again. But this humility seems missing from the authors’ narrative.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    The first several chapters present the authors' neo-anabaptist social ethic. The last few are more focused toward ministers. This is somewhat of a "movement" book. If you buy hard into the vision the authors are selling, it's great. For outsiders, there are few takeaways.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nate D.

    Resident Aliens is a book that I found to be extremely important for the Church today. It is a book that the people around me quote often and I have quoted often, but have never sat down and read the whole thing. I am glad I finally did. I feel like I and maybe the church have been floundering at how to handle our world right now. We feel a panic to do something. We feel like a new sense of urgency to change the world before it crashes down on us. Ad we feel a bit hopeless. I find people like Ha Resident Aliens is a book that I found to be extremely important for the Church today. It is a book that the people around me quote often and I have quoted often, but have never sat down and read the whole thing. I am glad I finally did. I feel like I and maybe the church have been floundering at how to handle our world right now. We feel a panic to do something. We feel like a new sense of urgency to change the world before it crashes down on us. Ad we feel a bit hopeless. I find people like Hauerwas are important people for the church to be listening to and reading today. If I had to sum it up, I would say something like this, Don't Panic, Be the Church. Steep yourself in the Story of God and be the people of God. This is a book that is is a call to pastors and ministers to lead the people of God to be the people of God. Hauerwas and Willimon (H&W) call the church to again Follow Jesus. In today's political climate we feel an urgency to side with the right side of history politically. And do something about that. But Resident Aliens calls us to follow Jesus. This is the heart of it all. They say, "That which makes the church 'radical' and forever 'new' is not that the church tends to lean toward the left on most social issues, but rather that the church knows Jesus and the world does not." And in order to do this we need to soak in the story of God. We need to understand and breathe the ways of the beatitudes and the sermon on the mount. This needs to become our new way of life. Not to just side with the right or the left. But to live the way of the sermon on the mount. This is the way of God. Or this, "Christian community, life in the colony, is not primarily about togetherness. It is about the way of Jesus Christ with those whom he calls to himself. It is about disciplining our wants and needs in congruence with a true story, which gives us the resources to lead truthful lives. In living out the story together, togetherness happens, but only as a by-product of the main project of trying to be faithful to Jesus." H&W always emphasis that living this way cannot be done alone and must be about living in a community of people, to be that city on a hill. But it is a people who follow Jesus. One of the other challenges they put forth is in order to do this, we actually have to believe that this story we are a part of is true. Does the church actually believe in God? Do I actually believe in this God? Because if we do, it changes everything. Do I believe that this God sent Jesus to live and be God among us and eventually go to the cross? And do I believe then that because of Christ's death and resurrection, that the church can now participate in the way of Christ and ourselves live in the way of enemy, non violent love? One finally challenge i believe they give which is important. Living in the colony may not seem effective in changing the world. Non violence doesn't feel effective. Loving our enemy doesn't make sense. Living the way of the beatitudes and the sermon on the mount doesn't make sense in our world. But we have to remember that we are living in the Kingdom of God as followers of Christ. So weather we make a difference or not, we live the way of the Kingdom, not just as blind followers, but because we actually believe in this God and this Story. And we believe that one day, God will gather and make all things new. And the slaughtered lamb, Jesus, will be the one to reign.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christan Reksa

    A provocative yet empowering account on how Christians are not meant to "change the world" as understood by both conservatives and liberals, evangelicals and progressives, but rather to live together in faithfulness through sacraments, confess, forgive, and support each other, proclaiming the Gospel through words and deeds, and stay in unity, like a colony surviving together as a resident alien in a world that does not understand God. The flow and narrative reeks of post-modernism, yet somehow i A provocative yet empowering account on how Christians are not meant to "change the world" as understood by both conservatives and liberals, evangelicals and progressives, but rather to live together in faithfulness through sacraments, confess, forgive, and support each other, proclaiming the Gospel through words and deeds, and stay in unity, like a colony surviving together as a resident alien in a world that does not understand God. The flow and narrative reeks of post-modernism, yet somehow it makes so much sense because it is true that we as people of faith tend to struggle to translate our language of faith into digestible, modern, cognitive terms. Christianity as it is should be understood through life in a fellowship, or a colony, in the form of Church, where ordinary people are empowered by Christ to be saints, supporting each other, in their weakness, yet in their clarity of minds and deeds of what it means to be Christian, to be countercultural and to live a life against what society views to be "normal". This book can be a good reminder for a lot of us who strives so hard to make Christian "relevant" or "reigning supreme" (a la Christendom) while the fact of the matter is the truth in Christianity is not meant to be "relevant" or "new". Truth is truth, that must be experienced in church as a community, and lived out against the rulers of the world who try their hardest to suppress, oppress, and co-opt those who want to live a genuine life understood through lens of Christ.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Weston Durrwachter

    This was a fantastic book, just as I initially thought it would be. Hauerwas is a great writer and provides some great thoughts on living and doing ministry in a post-Christian world. This is one of those books that I would put in a "Every book Christians must read" list. I plan to return to it regularly throughout my life and ministry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    When I loved this book, I really loved it; and when I hated it, I really hated it; either way I won't stop talking about it. Which means it is probably a commendable read for anyone trying to figure out what it means to be a Christian - or more importantly - what it means to be the church today.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    A refreshing vision of what the church should be, I recommend for any Christian to read, especially any Christian in America.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Manuel

    Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon is a book I remember reading in seminary. I remember not enjoying the book very much during those days, so I must admit that I wasn’t looking forward to revisiting it. However, once I re-read the book I was able to appreciate it much more than I remember appreciating it during seminary. It doesn’t mean that this is my favorite book by any means, but well we’ll get to that. In some ways, I have a hard time encapsulating what the message o Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon is a book I remember reading in seminary. I remember not enjoying the book very much during those days, so I must admit that I wasn’t looking forward to revisiting it. However, once I re-read the book I was able to appreciate it much more than I remember appreciating it during seminary. It doesn’t mean that this is my favorite book by any means, but well we’ll get to that. In some ways, I have a hard time encapsulating what the message of Resident Aliens is. It is a book that is about the church, primarily about how the church is called to be a unique colony within the culture and not simply another group lobbying for the support of the culture, be it government or popular opinion. Many of the examples are dated, this book was written in 1989, but the message of the book is still relevant today. For example, it talks about abortion. The authors then talk about how for many Christians the first thoughts are trying to figure out what laws need to be enacted by the government about abortion and how to go about convincing the government to take this Christian position. The problem with this, according to the authors, is that we’re ultimately relying on the government to define what is moral and ethical instead of the church. To Hauerwas and Willimon this seems to present that we believe the nations rule the world much more than we believe God rules the world. Now while I think that what the book talks about is still relevant today and that they do have insightful things to say, something about this book bothered me throughout. Part of it was that it isn’t the most well organized book. Maybe this is the result of dual authorship, but it just seems that they are a bit all over the place. They talk about the problems of democracy, individualism, the idea of Christians trying to transform culture, not having good reasons for having or not having children, seminary education and while these things are not bad, they tend to lack anything cohesive other than the idea of the Christian church as a colony. This idea of Christian colony is something that I felt they talked about, but didn’t develop the most. The best presentation of it was in the giving of what one of their churches does for confirmation. Even then I felt that they deconstructed popular ideas like transforming culture or being involved with government, and talked about how Christianity and Christian ethics are not common sense and are rather peculiar, but didn’t really show how that would work on the ground. They usually just relied on saying that the church needs to be the church, which just didn’t seem enough for me. I guess overall, I felt that Resident Aliens had some good points, but the message was just so all over the place that I had a hard time thinking about what this would actually look like. Does the fact that we are to be the church mean we shouldn’t be involved in government? They didn’t seem to say this, but then how does the church engage in politics in way that holds God as the ultimate lord? If Christian ethics are so very peculiar then how do we account for the areas of overlap within our own culture? These and other questions popped up throughout the book, it is good for a book to make you ask questions, but I felt that many of the questions were about what they were presenting, because it wasn’t always clear. The message being all over the place also made certain chapters go smoother than others. Honestly, I felt that as the book came to a close the chapters took a dive. This was primarily when they stopped focused a lot on the church and switched to focusing primarily on the pastor. The next to last chapter was by far the worst in my mind. Too much focus on a lady named Gladys, too narrow of a focus on the story of Ananias and Sapphira in regards to how to act as a pastor, and a good amount of critique on seminary education just would up looking like a jumbled mess to me. As I’ve said the book is all over the place, they have some good insights peppered throughout, but I’m not sure I’d re-read this book again. They have quotes that I’d use or ideas that I agree with, but I have a hard time knowing whether to recommend it or not. I somewhat enjoyed it, and read through it rather fast, but at the same time felt there were many shortcoming of the book too. Resident Aliens does challenge you on how you live your faith, it deconstructs a lot of how we may approach our Christian life, but I feel it puts little down as a foundation beyond the vague notion of a Christian colony.

  10. 4 out of 5

    C. Harvey

    Inspiring. I kept thinking, how could I be a catalyst for change in a large urban Lutheran church. The examples in this book are inadequate. Makes me wonder if what is being advocated is only possible in very small congregations of like minded believers with some strong awareness of how spiritual pride can so easily corrupt the best intentions.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Longfellow

    As a layperson with limited knowledge of theological context, based on what I’ve heard Resident Aliens was a fairly important work of theology when it was published in 1989. The most surprising thing to me was the ease and speed with which I was able to finish this book. It is neither pretentious in its word choice nor in its construction of sentences, something I’ve come to expect from theology, philosophy, and literary criticism. I realize nuances are important when explaining ideas in these fi As a layperson with limited knowledge of theological context, based on what I’ve heard Resident Aliens was a fairly important work of theology when it was published in 1989. The most surprising thing to me was the ease and speed with which I was able to finish this book. It is neither pretentious in its word choice nor in its construction of sentences, something I’ve come to expect from theology, philosophy, and literary criticism. I realize nuances are important when explaining ideas in these fields, but Resident Aliens manages these explanations without frustrating a non-theologically trained audience. A few themes stuck out to me, which are more impressions than a direct translation. 1) Liberal theology (e.g. Tillich, Neibhur) is mistaken in its attempt to justify the Church to the world and in its attempt to find ways to meet the world where it stands. The Church has something unique to offer, and it doesn’t require capitulation to do so. In our efforts to be the Church to the world, we have too often aligned our message of good things--justice, service, etc.--with the world’s message of how good can and should be accomplished. This is old habit; the Constantinian period of the church (the church receiving the support of government and vice versa) lasted, after all, for centuries. But when we find ourselves in the majority, there is good reason to be skeptical, even when regarding apparently good moral stances. 2) One of the ways the Church should contrast with the culture in which it finds itself is in the prioritizing of its values. For example, individualism is sacred in most of the western world, and particularly in the US. The true Church rejects this as a positive value. Within its community, any individual’s problem is our problem. 3) The community of the Church should offer a visible contrast to the ways the world approaches problems: paralyzing xenophobia, dealing with conflict, helping those in need, serving all, making friends of strangers. The actions of church and world may at times appear to differ little, but the reasons for performing them may differ greatly. We may seek social justice, for example, not because it is fair, but because we live in God’s world, God’s kingdom, not to “make things right” but simply to live out our lives in the ways Jesus exemplified. We love everyone not because they are good or because everyone should feel noticed but because this is the world of God that Jesus described, one in which mourners are comforted, the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven, and even enemies are loved. As a book of theology, of course, the content in Resident Aliens is often theoretical, an expression of something less than a concrete image of what the Church should be. The application of these ideas is left for discerning clergy to determine for the most part, though a number of illustrations help create images of these ideals in a number of spots. In the end, it’s easy to say, Yes! This is what the Church should be, how the Church should look, but it is much more difficult to be one of the communities who paints the picture.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Howell

    The first few chapters are dynamite and the final couple chapters fade a bit. It made me wonder if Hauerwas wrote the first few chapters and Willimon wrote the last few. The punchy and provocative aspects of the first few chapters are almost completely absent in the last few chapters. There is a lot to like about the way the church is described and the encouragements for the ways the church should be a politically subversive colony of heaven. Or as I often say it at my church, an Embassy :) My ou The first few chapters are dynamite and the final couple chapters fade a bit. It made me wonder if Hauerwas wrote the first few chapters and Willimon wrote the last few. The punchy and provocative aspects of the first few chapters are almost completely absent in the last few chapters. There is a lot to like about the way the church is described and the encouragements for the ways the church should be a politically subversive colony of heaven. Or as I often say it at my church, an Embassy :) My outline: Main Thesis - The church, as those called out by God, embodies a social alternative that the world cannot on its own terms know. This social alternative is called the polis, the people of God, and the true political concern of the church. On page 15, the authors state, “this book is about a renewed sense of what it means to be Christian, more precisely, of what it means to be pastors who care for Christians, in a distinctly changed world. Chapter One The argument of this chapter is that the problem of the church today is not one of unbelief and that a fundamental change in the world has enabled the American church to regain some of its lost integrity. o The first section on learning to ask the right questions has to do with the argument that the problem of the church today is not one of unbelief. Since the Enlightenment, the questions facing the church have revolved around making the gospel credible to the modern world, but these are the wrong questions. In short, the authors argue that the Bible does not care about our modern questions and only cares about whether or not we are going to be faithful to the gospel. The theologian's job is not to make the gospel credible to the world, but to make the world credible to the gospel. o This is further described as the demise of the Constantinian worldview. By this, they mean that the church does not need some sort of Christian culture to prop it up and mold its youth. The authors believe these changes are not a death to lament, but a great opportunity to celebrate. Chapter Two This chapter suggests that the way to follow Jesus in the world today is to understand the political dilemma of how to be faithful to a strange community. o After a discussion about mixing the church with politics, they argue that the political task of Christians is to be the church rather than transform the world. They explain that the reason why the church has not had this perspective is that the American church has been stuck with Constantinian perspectives. o They explain why they believe the Niebuhr book Christ and Culture has been one of the greatest hindrances to an accurate assessment of our situation. The reason is that the world has tamed the church and the church is not focused on the right questions anymore. o They believe the church should not choose a social strategy for how they will engage the world, the church is a social strategy. The church does not need to worry about whether or not it will be in the world and instead the focus should be on how the church will be in the world, in what form and for what purpose. Chapter Three This chapter argues that the church exists today as resident aliens which is an adventurous colony in a society of unbelief. o They explain that to be a colony demands an offensive rather than a defensive posture of the church. The church must settle in, stake out a claim, build fences, and guard their turf. o To speak of the church as a colony means not a place, but a people who are on the move. o Christians are those who hear the story of salvation and are able to tell that story as their story of salvation. This is one of the great responsibilities of preachers. o The adventure of the Christian life is not to receive Christ and then be cut free from responsibilities and commitments. Instead to be the church Christ has called us to be Christians who will have a far richer range of commitments and duties. Coming to Christ is not to be set free on our own so that we can pursue the freedom to be our own person. Coming to Christ means to be set free so that we can be attached to Christ. Chapter Four This chapter aims to present the local church as the basis for Christian ethics. In other words, any ethical position by followers of Christ needs to be made credible by the church living it out. o The authors argue that many American Christians have gotten into a bad habit of acting like the church really does not matter in the ways we go about living like Christians. They describe this habit as the Constantinian habit and that it is very hard to break. o Christian ethics are therefore church-dependent. o After explaining how the Sermon on the Mount and discipleship to Jesus should be a community project, they then go on to suggest that the Christian colony is not just any kind of community. In fact, they argue that Christians should be very suspicious about the talk on the community because the natural sinful person will be drawn to the general community. Christ-like community is radically different because it brings together people from all walks of life and consists of various strangers who love one another in Christ. o Whenever people are living out together the story of Christ, then they will be put at odds with the world. Chapter Five The main idea of this chapter is that the world needs the ordinary people of the church so that the world can know what it means to be redeemed. o Ethics do not take the place of the community any more than the rules of grammar can replace the act of speaking the language. Ethics are always a secondary enterprise and is parasitic to the way people live together in a community. o The church provides models for imitation and discipleship is fundamentally a process of imitation. o Too many Americans are Kantian in their thinking of ethics because they believe that ethics are simply something to be learned through reason. Christian ethics arise out of communities who attach themselves to Christ. o The remainder of the chapter illustrates what this might look like if a church put this into practice for its confirmation process. Chapter Six This chapter focuses on pastors and encourages pastors faithfully preach God’s word so that the church will be equipped to be the colony of God’s righteousness. o The church is the bridge where the Scripture and people meet. o Biblical interpretation is more of a political and an ecclesial issue before it is an intellectual issue. o Much of the chapter is filled with illustrative conversations about what it looks like for a pastor to be successful in ministry. These conversations highlight the different perspectives pastors have from being trained in seminary versus being trained in the church through the community of Christ’s people. Chapter Seven The goal of this chapter is to empower people in the church by exciting their imaginations with what wonderful opportunities lie at the heart of the Christian ministry. o They excite the imagination by explaining how a cosmic theological rationale is needed. The gospel demands a countercultural ministry in the world. o The colony of Christ is full of resident aliens who know what is happening in the world and what to do about it. In contrast, many American Christians are working to transform the world instead of putting on the whole armor of God as they live out the gospel in the church. o They assert politics for the church are both truthful and hopeful. The main political significance of the church lies in assisting the secular state in its presumption to make a better world for its citizens, but the church is a polis of ordinary people who are living their lives based on the truth. This is why the church is both truthful and hopeful. o Unless pastors and churches embrace this view, pastors will continue to be robbed of the joy and vitality that they should have in the ministry.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dressner

    This profound book teeters on the brink of being amazing, but occasionally falls just a little short. The "resident alien" metaphor (the church's allegiance is not first to the state, so she is a "colony" of resident aliens) is apt, insightful, and freeing. The church need not make sense to its culture nor be a partner to the state in creating a "Christendom", but rather is free to live in a way that points to God's work of redeeming and reclaiming the world. The first half of the book deals with This profound book teeters on the brink of being amazing, but occasionally falls just a little short. The "resident alien" metaphor (the church's allegiance is not first to the state, so she is a "colony" of resident aliens) is apt, insightful, and freeing. The church need not make sense to its culture nor be a partner to the state in creating a "Christendom", but rather is free to live in a way that points to God's work of redeeming and reclaiming the world. The first half of the book deals with the conceptual foundations of this understanding. It was good, but I'll admit that in some of the deeper areas I was treading water just to keep my head up. The authors seem to do a better job at critiquing various flawed paradigms than fully developing their new/true paradigm. The second part gets into discussion of how church leaders and laity could live out this "colony of resident aliens" idea, and the authors gave some fascinating examples. Here is one; a member of a church education committee voices her questions about a proposed day-care program: “That’s not true, and you know it’s not true. It is not hard for anyone in this church, for anyone in the neighborhood to put food on the table. Now there are people in this town for whom food on the table is quite a challenge, but I haven’t heard any talk about them. They wouldn't be using this day-care center. They wouldn't have a way to get their children here. This day-care center wouldn't be for them. If we’re talking about ministry to their needs, then I’m in favor of the idea. No, what we’re talking about is ministry to those for whom it has become harder every day to have two cars, a VCR, a place at the lake, or a motor home. That’s why we’re all working hard and leaving our children. I just hate to see the church buy into and encourage that value system. I hate to see the church telling these young couples that somehow their marriage will be better or their family life more fulfilling if they can only get another car, or a VCR, or some other piece of junk. Why doesn't the church be the last place courageous enough to say, ‘That’s a lie. Things don’t make a marriage or a family.’ This day-care center will encourage some of the worst aspects of our already warped values.” On the topic of pastor burnout, the authors acknowledge the usual advice of taking time off, saying no, delegating, etc., but choose to emphasize the bigger context: What pastors, as well as the laity they serve, need is a theological rationale for ministry which is so cosmic, so eschatological and therefore counter-cultural, that they are enabled to keep at Christian ministry in a world determined to live as if God were dead. Anything less misreads both the scandal of the gospel and the corruption of our culture. While some of the references are dated (written in 1989!), the questions and concerns are largely valid and much of the authors' advice has yet to be adopted by the North American church.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    Hauerwas and Willimon do a nice job articulating a vision for the church that transcends political loyalties, refusing to confuse loyalty to a political party with loyalty to Jesus Christ. In many ways, the book is an exhortation for Christians to create culture that embodies the eschatological kingdom. This entails a strong emphasis on the defining story for Christians, that of Jesus, His sacrifice, His resurrection, and His return. The community (the church)defined by this story is a community Hauerwas and Willimon do a nice job articulating a vision for the church that transcends political loyalties, refusing to confuse loyalty to a political party with loyalty to Jesus Christ. In many ways, the book is an exhortation for Christians to create culture that embodies the eschatological kingdom. This entails a strong emphasis on the defining story for Christians, that of Jesus, His sacrifice, His resurrection, and His return. The community (the church)defined by this story is a community that seeks to advance ideals that reflect what we believe to be true about the future eternal kingdom. While the book does well laying out this broad vision, there was some fuzziness around the edges that I would have liked to see sharpened, particularly in the discussion about the church as a new polis or culture, and its relationship to the current culture. The takedown of Niebuhr's faulty presupposition was provocative, but I find myself wondering how their positive vision of the church relates to the culture(s) of the world as it is now. Overall, though, I appreciated this stimulating work. I've reproduced a few quotes I liked: "It is Jesus’ story that gives content to our faith, judges any institutional embodiment of our faith, and teaches us to be suspicious of any political slogan that does not need God to make itself credible." "The church is the one political entity in our culture that is global, transnational, transcultural. Tribalism is not the church determined to serve God rather than Caesar. Tribalism is the United States of America, which sets up artificial boundaries and defends them with murderous intensity. And the tribalism of nations occurs most viciously in the absence of a church able to say and to show, in its life together, that God, not nations, rules the world." "We would like a church that again asserts that God, not nations, rules the world, that the boundaries of God’s kingdom transcend those of Caesar, and that the main political task of the church is the formation of people who see clearly the cost of discipleship and are willing to pay the price." "The Christian claim is not that we as individuals should be based in a community because life is better lived together than alone. The Christian claim is that life is better lived in the church because the church, according to our story, just happens to be true. The church is the only community formed around the truth, which is Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aurel Lazar

    Christendom is falling. Since the time of Constantine, the church has been the crutch of modern politics, influencing ethics and politics, and creating a "Christian Civilization" that has now rejected Christianity itself. In such a world, Hauerwas argues that Christianity can finally be free of the Constantinianism that has plagued it for 1700 years, and be a colony of Resident Aliens living among the people of the secular world. In my journey through attempting to understand the role of Christi Christendom is falling. Since the time of Constantine, the church has been the crutch of modern politics, influencing ethics and politics, and creating a "Christian Civilization" that has now rejected Christianity itself. In such a world, Hauerwas argues that Christianity can finally be free of the Constantinianism that has plagued it for 1700 years, and be a colony of Resident Aliens living among the people of the secular world. In my journey through attempting to understand the role of Christianity in modern day culture, I have struggled to find the bridging point between liberal and fundamentalist perspectives on Christian's role in culture, and Hauerwas presents a Communitarian argument that is not a central point between liberal and conservative, but rather an ethical framework that begins from a completely different standpoint. In Hauerwas's presentation of the role of the church in culture, I find a new hope for Christian living, and a new way to delight in the oddness of Christianity, and also its transformative power. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    Now this is a political theory I can get behind: why should Christians try to use their worldly influence to force a worldly government to force worldly people to act like Christians? Christendom is an injurious myth, and therefore the Christian's job is to be a member of the church, which is the only truly unworldly institution out there.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Glenister

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was first introduced to Stanley Hauerwas at the Society of Vineyard Scholars conference in 2015. There was a lot of excitement surrounding him, and so I had quite a big anticipation for his talk. But as I listened to his address, I got the impression that, while he and I would agree on a lot of things and would largely be in harmony with each other, we might be speaking different languages and that he might want to watch the way he uses certain words. I got the same impression with this book, a I was first introduced to Stanley Hauerwas at the Society of Vineyard Scholars conference in 2015. There was a lot of excitement surrounding him, and so I had quite a big anticipation for his talk. But as I listened to his address, I got the impression that, while he and I would agree on a lot of things and would largely be in harmony with each other, we might be speaking different languages and that he might want to watch the way he uses certain words. I got the same impression with this book, and as I read it, the way the authors used certain words got more and more annoying for me, becoming so confusing and annoying that it made it harder and harder for me to hear and receive its message. At the same time, the confusing thing is that I think that if I had a chance to hash out my problems with the authors, we'd find we largely agreed with each other...maybe. This confusion is why I feel I have to give this book a lower rating. I'd like to explain my problems in more detail, but first I want to go back to that speech by Hauerwas at the SVSC. Hauerwas has some fun things to say about denominationalism that I find very appealing and similar to my own feelings - he has written (in "Which Church? What Unity? Or, an Attempt to Say What I May Think about the Future of Christian Unity") that he is "a Congregationalist with Catholic sensibilities" and also that "I have often described my ecclesial identity to be that of a ‘high church Mennonite’ – to be sure, a descriptor originally designed to confuse my critics." Throughout Hauerwas' speech at the SVSC he repeatedly came back to the subject of non-violence, which is a strong conviction he and I both share. But here's where things get weird for me - he constantly criticized "liberalism". That's weird for me because of my own path. I grew up thinking that the phrase "Conservative Christian" is not problemmatic at all - the words went together, and you basically couldn't have one without the other, in the culture I grew up in. But later on in life, after being an apologist for the Iraq War, I began to have second thoughts on it. I couldn't make sense of why we were there any more, and in the 2008 election, when McCain kept arguing that we should stay in Iraq and Obama that we had no business being there any more (at least), that's when I started to part ways with "Conservatism". The more I began to listen to the "liberals", the more pacifist I became. So, as I listened to Hauerwas' speech, I kept hearing the voice of Inigo Montoya: "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I fully recognize the fact that the words "liberal" and "conservative" have been heavily misused in American society - but at the same time, to avoid confusion, Hauerwas should at the very least point out what it is that he means when he uses that word. At the same time, I wonder if the criticisms that Hauerwas and Willimon level at "liberalism" really are geared towards American "liberalism" and are coming from a background of complete ignorance of what it's like on the other side. For example, the authors write: Lack of church accounts for why vast portions of scripture are incomprehensible and nonsensical to many people today. Scripture falls into the hands of detached, academic interpreters, who dismiss some texts as “unrealistic” or “premodern” while reinterpreting all texts as intellectual problems rather than honoring the Bible’s own, self-proclaimed political function - namely, to produce people who are capable of recognizing the Bible as scripture. Here's the thing - coming from my "Conservative Christian" background, the hyper-literalism and unquestioningly "loyal" stance that turns the Bible into an authoritative gavel that shuts down all conversations and justifies genocide, sexism, and all kinds of damage that I am so familiar with makes me cringe when I read the above. Those so-called "detached" academics were a healing balm for me - because they actually read the genocide accounts in Joshua and acknowledged that we have a problem there! So when it sounds like Hauerwas and Willimon are encouraging people to stop seeing intellectual problems in the Bible, I don't react favorably because I think we have to see these things as problemmatic. Throughout the book, they constantly criticize "liberalism", and it really started to grate on me. Meanwhile I kept thinking "but I think that if they maybe defined what they meant by this term, we'd find more agreement." And then I came to this passage: People often ask us, Is what you are saying liberal or conservative? The question is frankly political. “Whose side are you on— the progressive, open liberal or the closed, reactionary conservative?” We admit that we are quite openly political, but not as that term is usually understood. The conservative-liberal polarity is not much help in diagnosing the situation of the church since, as presently constructed, we can see little difference between the originating positions of liberals or conservatives. Both assume that the main political significance of the church lies in assisting the secular state in its presumption to make a better world for its citizens. Which position, conservative or liberal, is most helpful in that task? They move on to state: What we want to say is, We are neither liberal nor conservative. We are hopeful. They go on to talk about how they are none of these things, and how all sides get it wrong, and they are “truthful” and “hopeful”. I get where they are coming from - but the problem I see is that this attitude isn’t realistic. To clarify: what is called “liberal politics” in America is not perfect, by any means. But to equate it with what is called “conservative politics” in America is simply not realistic - “conservatives” are completely and absolutely antithetical to Jesus in that they constantly preach a hateful attitude towards the poor (blaming all problems on them and calling them “lazy”, when the reality is that statistically those who use food stamps are harder workers than the average American, working the equivalent of two full time jobs), they are warmongers who constantly push for more money to go towards war while they cut benefits to the poor, and they constantly preach an idolization of the rich (giving tax breaks to the wealthiest while raising taxes on the poor and middle class and cutting all benefits to them). To criticize “liberal” the way the authors do constantly and then claim to be neither “liberal” nor “conservative” is just not honest of them, and it is also not hopeful - if they were truly hopeful they would give recognition to the things either side actually occasionally gets right. A constant criticism without any affirmation is not hopeful - it is crippling and results in despair. They go on from this to talk about how Seminary does not empower future pastors, but disempowers them, and we need to start empowering people. Specifically, they criticize the way that seminaries focus - in their opinion - too heavily on historical critical method. Here’s the thing - I grew up in the reality denying, cultish, circle the wagons, tribal, us vs. them version of Evangelicalism that really needs to get its ass kicked by historical criticism so it can stop living in complete denial. So I don’t share their opinion. I think that much of the American church - especially in the “Bible Belt” - really needs to go through the acid bath of historical criticism BEFORE they can begin to reconstruct. So I don’t share the author’s opinion - bring on the historical criticism, I say. So I'm really kind of disappointed to have to give this a bad review, because like I said - I think that if the authors bothered to define their terms, we'd find a lot of agreement. Also, when I heard Hauerwas at the SVSC, I really liked him. But I felt like they were so vague and ambiguous that the result was so confusing to me that I didn't know where they stood, even though I kind of do know where Hauerwas stands and think we'd agree. I think it's possible that the authors have spent so long in the world of acedemia that they don't know what's actually going on in "the real world" and what these terms mean "out there." The moral of the story is: define your terminology. I also want to make it clear that I think this book suffers from a lack of clear, precise points backed up by solid evidence As I've been saying throughout this review, I found the authors' language to be so ambiguous and confusing that I didn't know where they stood. Let me try to illustrate both my points about the ambiguity of language like "liberal" and my point about making a clear point with evidence: I'll never forget a conversation I had with a few people where we were discussing politics (and it was getting a bit heated) and a mutual friend from Germany joined in and shocked us all. He pointed out, as soon as he joined in, that what we meant by "liberal" and "conservative" was absolutely nothing like what Germans mean by these words. To illustrate, he pointed out that Germans would look at our lax gun laws that allow anyone to get whatever they want and in whatever quantity without even so much as a background check, and they would call that extremely liberal, and they would refer to preserving their strict gun control laws as conservative (meanwhile in America - who is pushing for strict gun control laws? The "liberals".). Also, Germans would look at the fact that we've got billionnaires controling our politics by donating huge chunks of money to politicians so that they can manipulate the system, and they would call our lack of laws to prevent these things extremely liberal, while their policy of limiting the amount anyone can donate and mostly funding political campaigns through public money they would refer to as conservative. I love this story because it illustrates so well how confusing the language of "liberal" and "conservative" has become, and how we've got to commit to being very careful about how we use these words. In my own view, everyone is liberal about something and towards certain groups of people, and everyone is conservative about something and towards certain groups of people - and we ought to be, because an unhealthy balance towards either side of the spectrum causes damage. So I've said all that, and it sounds really negative. But here's the thing - I liked this book. It was an effective muse for me that got me thinking about some things and got my creative juices flowing. And when I saw Hauerwas at the conference, I really liked him. So while I say these things about the book that sound really negative, I realize that I am probably not the book's intended audience. I am quite possibly being very ironic when I criticize the use of the word "liberal" because it's very possible that the authors used that word intentionally in a subversive way, in order to challenge both a conservative audience that would have been reading this book, and a liberal audience that needs to be more bold. For me - a former "Conservative Christian" who is now considered by many of his friends to be a "flaming liberal" - this type of language didn't work very well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    Hauwerwas and Willimon here prove that, when applied faithfully and honestly, Scripture is a challenging, provocative, and yet enrapturing piece of literature that demands much more than intellectual study or sentimental reading--it demands our very lives. In this book, Hauerwas and Willimon take on the issues fronting the contemporary North American church, naming them as purely political issues. They are political on the macro-scale, meaning that the Church has found its purpose in supporting Hauwerwas and Willimon here prove that, when applied faithfully and honestly, Scripture is a challenging, provocative, and yet enrapturing piece of literature that demands much more than intellectual study or sentimental reading--it demands our very lives. In this book, Hauerwas and Willimon take on the issues fronting the contemporary North American church, naming them as purely political issues. They are political on the macro-scale, meaning that the Church has found its purpose in supporting the interests of the state rather than the Kingdom of God. But they are political issues in the sense that they are related to the polis, the citizens of that state. Just as the Church has made its primary role to support the status quo of the state, it also exists in many pockets to support the self-tyrannical individuality of the citizens. The result? Yet another branch of Christendom that is slowly dying as the world around it finds solace in secularity. With such insights, the authors suggest nothing new and flashy--they simply call on Scripture to demonstrate how terribly misguided the contemporary church has become. Fortunately, they take time to carefully offer a positive alternative to the Church they gleefully deconstruct. Rather than existing to support another failed strand of Christendom, they argue, the Church should stand apart and simply do what it has always done best: ministry. Resisting simultaneously fancy theological back flips of the liberal academy and boneheaded conservatism, the authors instead offer an extreme middle that is grounded on nothing else but the story of Scripture realized through Jesus. Much of the book's second half is spent discussing the role of the pastor in a church that attempts to live faithfully as the church, but I found even these passages to be helpful as a young layperson. After all, they contend, such laypeople are the foundation of the church. We need pastors to welcome us into the story of Scripture, to rightly see the world through Christ-shaped lenses, but it is through everyday laypeople that the Gospel really gets performed. I found this book as challenging as I did refreshing. It has made me all the more eager to participate in my local church, with a newfound understanding of what makes the local church so important to my walk of faith.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roland Clark

    In 1951 an American theologian by the name of H. Richard Niebuhr wrote a book called Christ and Culture, which quickly became the definitive guide to how Christians should relate to the world. Christians generally approach the world in one of five different ways, Niebuhr said, the best of which was 'Christ Transforming Culture'. Hauerwas and Williamson summarize Niebuhr's approach as being one in which the Church 'neither capitulated to culture nor irresponsibly detached itself from the culture. In 1951 an American theologian by the name of H. Richard Niebuhr wrote a book called Christ and Culture, which quickly became the definitive guide to how Christians should relate to the world. Christians generally approach the world in one of five different ways, Niebuhr said, the best of which was 'Christ Transforming Culture'. Hauerwas and Williamson summarize Niebuhr's approach as being one in which the Church 'neither capitulated to culture nor irresponsibly detached itself from the culture. The transforms church busied itself with making America a better place in which to live, transforming society into something of which Jesus might approve'. Niebuhr's approach carried the day, that is, until Hauerwas and Willimon produced the first edition of Resident Aliens in 1989. As Hauerwas points out in the Afterword to the 25th Anniversary edition, this deceptively simple little book shifted Niebuhr's paradigm from one about creation and redemption, and made it about the Church and the world. Whether you agree with them or not, their approach produced a breathtaking seachange in terms of how Christians relate to secular culture, and to politics in particular. Read my full review here: https://wordsbecamebooks.com/2017/02/...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This is a very necessary book. Even decades later, much of it rings true. Stanley and Will did an amazing job at helping me to envision the church as a colony, settled among nations with foreign goals. Strangers in a strange land. But I don't think they painted a portrait that was entirely counter cultural. We must live IN the world, and we can do that without becoming a part of it. The colonial imagery provides an excellent framework for how we continue to be image bearers among a world given o This is a very necessary book. Even decades later, much of it rings true. Stanley and Will did an amazing job at helping me to envision the church as a colony, settled among nations with foreign goals. Strangers in a strange land. But I don't think they painted a portrait that was entirely counter cultural. We must live IN the world, and we can do that without becoming a part of it. The colonial imagery provides an excellent framework for how we continue to be image bearers among a world given over to mammon. With loyalties divided among national cultures, corporations, and religious denominations - little room seems left over for the kingdom. I read the 25th anniversary edition and have to agree with Will's comments in the preface about regrets - specifically where he said "I wish we hand't spent so much time early in the book doing battle with academics of the past (many of whom are dead and unread today) - not too exciting a beginning for our theological broadside." If you're a layperson in this colony like me, don't allow yourself to be deterred by the academic argumentative essay-like form early in the book. Once past that, I ended up highlighting almost constantly, trying to save rich metaphors and practical examples for future reference.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul Batz

    This is a surprisingly quick book to read from Hauerwas and Willimon. It is easily accessible (though certain examples are slightly outdated) but also deeply challenging. Essentially, the authors call the church to be the church. They are highly critical of the Constantinian approach which has prevented the church from being anything more a service to and a reinforcement of the empire/nation and its own agenda. Instead, Hauerwas and Willimon propose a vision of the church that sees itself as a p This is a surprisingly quick book to read from Hauerwas and Willimon. It is easily accessible (though certain examples are slightly outdated) but also deeply challenging. Essentially, the authors call the church to be the church. They are highly critical of the Constantinian approach which has prevented the church from being anything more a service to and a reinforcement of the empire/nation and its own agenda. Instead, Hauerwas and Willimon propose a vision of the church that sees itself as a peculiar colony, set apart in its ways from the existing powers that be. The authors use a variety of examples to express their positions which was helpful. I particularly appreciated their section called "Empowerment for Ministry," which touches on the state of higher theology education (161-67). They helpfully criticize the historical-critical method and argue that seminarians are being equipped to argue and discuss with one another within the context of the academy as opposed to being equipped to serve faithfully in the church. I am sure I'll read this book again in the future as I think about ministry and peculiar role of the church must play in God's world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Goldsmith

    Haurwas & Willimon say Christian community, life in the 'colony', is not primarily about togetherness. It is about the way of Jesus Christ with those whom he calls to himself. It is about disciplining our wants and needs in congruence with a true story, which gives us the resources to lead truthful lives. In living out the story together, togetherness happens, b ut only as a by-product of the main project of trying to be faithful to Jesus. This nugget, almost half-way through the books reall Haurwas & Willimon say Christian community, life in the 'colony', is not primarily about togetherness. It is about the way of Jesus Christ with those whom he calls to himself. It is about disciplining our wants and needs in congruence with a true story, which gives us the resources to lead truthful lives. In living out the story together, togetherness happens, b ut only as a by-product of the main project of trying to be faithful to Jesus. This nugget, almost half-way through the books really summarises what this 25+yr old book is all about. Their argument is that as a culture, the church has assumed a "Constantinian" mindset that feels that the church and culture are working together. While they believe that the church will work for the good of the community, Haurwas and Willimon want the church to reclaim the reality that "the good" that we speak of is one that is defined by God, through the work of his Son, Jesus. If we don't recognise that the Christian 'colony' has a different frame of reference, we're only ever chasing after a societal ideal that is divorced from any meaningful Christian foundation. Quarter of a century old, but still a worthy book to read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Nehila

    Completely delusional The authors compare clergy to being used like prostitutes. They must live a very sheltered life where issues like the need for affordable childcare are wickedly promoting non Christian values like single parent households or both parents working. They preach poverty while themselves living lives of privilege. They can’t even agree with themselves. Not sure if the run on sentences and use of specialized vocabulary add to the confusion. I was told by my pastor that the forwar Completely delusional The authors compare clergy to being used like prostitutes. They must live a very sheltered life where issues like the need for affordable childcare are wickedly promoting non Christian values like single parent households or both parents working. They preach poverty while themselves living lives of privilege. They can’t even agree with themselves. Not sure if the run on sentences and use of specialized vocabulary add to the confusion. I was told by my pastor that the forward was supposed to be sarcastic. During which they criticize the episcopal church and Obama administration. If you want to know why people are leaving the church look to the chapter on how clergy are so abused. How dare people expect someone that’s called by God to help them in times of need?!?! They talk about the world vs Christ a lot. No. It’s the world vs church. I’ve yet to see in the New Testament where it says you need a theology degree to be called. This book is elitist crap.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    Hauerwas and Willimon were not seeking to make friends when they wrote this book! Such is the role of prophets. This book, in my mind, is a series of truth bombs about how the church has lost its way, and can regain its authenticity by resolutely being itself. It argues against the church selling out to the culture both theologically, politically, and also in ministry, arguing instead for recapturing a Christ-centred and virtue driven understanding of the Christian life. Hauerwas and Willimon ha Hauerwas and Willimon were not seeking to make friends when they wrote this book! Such is the role of prophets. This book, in my mind, is a series of truth bombs about how the church has lost its way, and can regain its authenticity by resolutely being itself. It argues against the church selling out to the culture both theologically, politically, and also in ministry, arguing instead for recapturing a Christ-centred and virtue driven understanding of the Christian life. Hauerwas and Willimon have a gift at taking deep conversations about theology and philosophical ethics, and showing where the rubber hits the proverbial road. There stories of different churches and their insights into the ills of modern ministry mean this book is a treasure trove of ministry wisdom. I think this is the book that should be read by every deacons board.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Derek Winterburn

    This must have been a real wake up call in 1989 when it was first published, and still packs a punch. Hauerwas and Wilimon are intensely critical of the way of the American church colludes with its national culture. Their fears seem to have come true. This book has a strong message and it is well written with many punchy phrases. Thirty years later in Britain some of the particular issues seem far away but the authors call to living as exiles is still as radical. I fear that simply following the This must have been a real wake up call in 1989 when it was first published, and still packs a punch. Hauerwas and Wilimon are intensely critical of the way of the American church colludes with its national culture. Their fears seem to have come true. This book has a strong message and it is well written with many punchy phrases. Thirty years later in Britain some of the particular issues seem far away but the authors call to living as exiles is still as radical. I fear that simply following their call in our secular age would lead to churches emptying and no one else is asking to come in to replace those for whom the challenge to authentically follow Christ is too much. We need to be wiser than that, but still here the summons to Resident Aliens.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kaia

    This book is definitely still relevant today, although I'd hope that there'd be a bit of re-examining about the violence implied in the colony analogy. I especially appreciated the clarity with with the authors confront Christians (of any political inclination) to stop idolizing the power of the state. Our hope is in the Kingdom of God and it is our job is to be the church ~ not to compromise with politics to make some improvements in the System, but to be the prophets of an entirely different s This book is definitely still relevant today, although I'd hope that there'd be a bit of re-examining about the violence implied in the colony analogy. I especially appreciated the clarity with with the authors confront Christians (of any political inclination) to stop idolizing the power of the state. Our hope is in the Kingdom of God and it is our job is to be the church ~ not to compromise with politics to make some improvements in the System, but to be the prophets of an entirely different system which is the Kingdom of God where the poor of spirit, the hungry, and the persecuted are blessed. Where we live by nonviolence not (primarily) because it is effective but because that is how Jesus is. Also has a great interpretation of the story of Ananias and Saphira.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I somehow got through a Biblical Studies degree at a Christian college and an M.A. from a seminary with reading only one small essay from Hauerwas. Though I had never read any of his works, I felt like I already knew most of his ideas from references to his work in other works. Though this book was published in 1989, it could have easily been written in 2019 (if you update the references to the Soviet Union, AIDS epidemic, etc.). Hauerwas and Willimon argue that the age of Constantine is dead and I somehow got through a Biblical Studies degree at a Christian college and an M.A. from a seminary with reading only one small essay from Hauerwas. Though I had never read any of his works, I felt like I already knew most of his ideas from references to his work in other works. Though this book was published in 1989, it could have easily been written in 2019 (if you update the references to the Soviet Union, AIDS epidemic, etc.). Hauerwas and Willimon argue that the age of Constantine is dead and there is no Christendom. Churches should be living as resident aliens in a sinful culture but both the right and left are still operating under the rules of Constantine and trying to make the State legislate and enforce their respective interpretations of morality.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Rawls

    I don't normally give 5 star ratings but this book I believe hits at the heart of how Christian's should see themselves and act within the American culture. If your tired of Christiandom and ready to simply be a disciple of Jesus this is a book for you. If you are content with a false narrative where Christians need to align themselves along political lines of left and right than you can find other books. Hauerwas and Willimon do a great job of showing that the church is most effective when it s I don't normally give 5 star ratings but this book I believe hits at the heart of how Christian's should see themselves and act within the American culture. If your tired of Christiandom and ready to simply be a disciple of Jesus this is a book for you. If you are content with a false narrative where Christians need to align themselves along political lines of left and right than you can find other books. Hauerwas and Willimon do a great job of showing that the church is most effective when it sees itself as an alien colony within any given culture. This book is a must read for those who are ready to reexamine what the church should look like according to scripture.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chloé Bennett

    This is a really good book for people looking for something to spark a discussion of evangelism. Hauerwas challenges readers to self-examination without feeling as if they have been attacked or condemned, but rather have been encouraged to see the ways in which we can grow as the body of Christ and more fully inhabit a vision of the church founded on its biblical establishment. With a focus on what "effectiveness" looks like for a Christian community, the text develops a theory of evangelism fou This is a really good book for people looking for something to spark a discussion of evangelism. Hauerwas challenges readers to self-examination without feeling as if they have been attacked or condemned, but rather have been encouraged to see the ways in which we can grow as the body of Christ and more fully inhabit a vision of the church founded on its biblical establishment. With a focus on what "effectiveness" looks like for a Christian community, the text develops a theory of evangelism founded on being the Body of Christ. It was a really refreshing take from the theories of evangelism that focus on forcing an opinion or a way of life that is rule-centered rather than Christ-centered.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nithin Thompson

    While this book is dated there a lot of interesting ideas of what it means to live as a citizen of Gods kingdom in the world. Especially after looking at some of the things happening in places like Charlottesville it's so important that we live in this world and are called to engage right here and right now, but also to bring the healing hand of Shalom to the places we've been placed in.

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