Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hauerwasian Insights for College Freshmen

Ages ago, I had the pleasure of taking an ethics course under Professor Stanley Hauerwas at the Divinity School. I also had the opportunity to chat with him a few times during my soujourn at Duke during that long lost forgotten time. The current issue of First Things (November 2010) includes an inciteful essay from Professor Hauerwas entited: Go With God: An open letter to young Christians on their way to college. I urge everyone to read it (whether a college/university student or not; whether young or old). Below is a brief snippet.

Don’t underestimate how much the Church needs your mind. Remember your Bible-study class? Christians read Isaiah’s prophecy of a suffering servant as pointing to Christ. That seems obvious, but it’s not; or at least it wasn’t obvious to the Ethiopian eunuch to whom the Lord sent Philip to explain things. Christ is written everywhere, not only in the prophecies of the Old Testament but also in the pages of history and in the book of nature. The Church has been explaining, interpreting, and illuminating ever since it began. It takes an educated mind to do the Church’s work of thinking about and interpreting the world in light of Christ. Physics, sociology, French literary theory: All these and more—in fact, everything you study in college—is bathed in the light of Christ. It takes the eyes of faith to see that light, and it takes an educated mind to understand and articulate it.

There’s another dimension to the call of intellectual work. In the First Letter of Peter we read, “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (3:15). Not everybody believes. In fact, the contemporary American secular university is largely a place of unbelief. Thus, the Church has a job to do: to explain why belief in the risen Lord actually makes sense. There’s no one formula, no one argument, so don’t imagine you will find the magic defense against all objections. You can, however, offer the reasonable defense Peter asks for. You may at least make someone think twice before he rejects the risen Lord.
Read the entire piece here.

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