Friday, October 24, 2008

Neuhaus on Hauerwas and the Church

First Things' On the Square has Fr Neuhaus at his best discussing the nature of the Church. Consider these excerpts:

It follows that to speak of Christ and culture is to speak also of the Church and culture. Within this society, or any society, the Church is a distinct society. The word Church is from the Greek ekklesia, which means a gathering of the people who are called out. In theology, the subject of the Church is called ecclesiology. Some Christian traditions—the Orthodox and Catholic, for instance—have a full-orbed ecclesiology, an understanding of the Church through time that encompasses continuity with the apostles, councils, martyrs, saints, and authoritative teachers, all inseparably bound by a sacramental communio that is nothing less than communion with Christ through time.

American Babylon is our culture. It is not the culture of our choice, although, given the other cultures on offer, it may be the culture we would choose if we had a choice. It is certainly the culture in which we have been chosen and for which we have a measure of responsibility. The irrepressible human aspiration toward the transcendent, toward that which at the core of our being we know to be our destined home, takes many different forms. That aspiration is our religion, whether or not we call it by the name of a religion. The aspiration may be stifled or misplaced, but it cannot be denied; at least it cannot be denied for long. When, as Augustine teaches, our loves and loyalties are rightly ordered, we recognize that the only satisfactory alternative to Babylon is the City of God. At least this is how Christians see the matter.

By the bye, the article is related to Fr Neuhaus's current project, a book to be entitled American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile. I have a feeling it will be a must read book!

The whole article is available here.

PS Deep in the mysty recesses of time, I had an ethics class with Professor Hauerwas. On that basis, I encourage you that if you ever have the opportunity to attend a lecture by the Professor, do so. He has that kind of quirky passion usually only found in Old Testament professors (think Father Paul Tarazi) and is quite entertaining as well as thought provoking.

1 comment:

Joe said...


Thanks for posting this and I love the title of Fr. Neuhaus' book. I'll be sure to get a copy when it comes out. I do think that the task for Christians today is to come to terms with the fact that we are a post-Christendom world and that secular society is, probably, here to stay. Another good book is Charles Taylor's "A Secular Age."