Theologizing the State: What Hauerwas Could Have Learned From Yoder

in International Journal of Public Theology
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This article compares John Howard Yoder’s understanding of the state with that of his putative heir, Stanley Hauerwas. Special attention is given to Yoder’s understanding of the state as a power, a perspective not taken up by Hauerwas. Eberhard Jüngel’s critique of theologies that demonize the state is brought to bear on Hauerwas’ phantasmal conception of the state. After a brief discussion of William Cavanaugh’s similar impressions of the modern state, the article proposes a rapprochement with non-Christian thinkers in line with Hauerwas’ recent moves toward ‘radical democracy’.

Theologizing the State: What Hauerwas Could Have Learned From Yoder

in International Journal of Public Theology

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References

4

PratherChrist Power and Mammon pp. 93–4.

5

Ibid. p. 91 (original italics).

7

YoderDiscipleship as Political Responsibility p. 35.

9

YoderThe Original Revolution p. 40.

10

YoderThe Christian Witness to the State p. 59.

11

YoderDiscipleship as Political Responsibility pp. 40–41. ‘Governing authority’ is Geddert’s translation of ‘Obrigkeit’ in the German original (see ibid. pp. 33–43).

18

See HauerwasAfter Christendom pp. 64–6.

19

Ibid. p. 34; HauerwasWilderness Wanderings p. 57. This latter is especially interesting as Giddens shares the page with John Milbank a figure partially responsible for Hauerwas’ critique of the social sciences.

21

Ibid. p. 243 n. 31.

24

HauerwasAgainst the Nations p. 196. Hauerwas concedes in conversation that he has similarly never been satisfied with monopoly-of-violence definitions of the state; however talk of the state is always accompanied by talk of violence in Hauerwas’ writings. His initial dissatisfaction has good company with Jüngel following Barth in insisting that violence and its threat are of the state’s opus alienum not its opus proprium. (see Eberhard Jüngel Christ Justice and Peace: Toward a Theology of the State in Dialogue with the Barmen Declaration trans. Alan Torrance and D. Bruce Hamilll (Edinburgh: t & t Clark 1992) p. 83).

26

See HauerwasAfter Christendom p. 68; Hauerwas ‘The Servant Community’ in Berkman and Cartwright eds The Hauerwas Reader pp. 388–391; Stanley Hauerwas ‘A Christian Critique of Christian America’ in Berkman and Cartwright eds The Hauerwas Reader pp. 459–80 at p. 469; Hauerwas A Better Hope pp. 26–7; Stanley Hauerwas ‘Letter of April 16 2007’ in Hauerwas and Coles Christianity Democracy and the Radical Ordinary pp. 103–12 at p. 106.

27

See HauerwasThe Christian Witness to the State p. 37.

28

See ibid. pp. 40 and 59.

29

Ibid. p. 15.

30

JüngelChrist Justice and Peace p. 64.

31

Karl Barth‘Rechtfertigung und Recht’Theologische Studien104 (Zürich: evz-Verlag 1970) 5–48 at 27 (original italics).

32

JüngelChrist Justice and Peace p. 61 (original italics).

33

See ibid. p. 64.

34

Ibid. pp. 66 71 and 73.

35

Ibid. p. 72. See also YoderThe Christian Witness to the State pp. 12 and 59.

36

JüngelChrist Justice and Peace p. 61 (original italics).

41

Ibid. p. 105.

44

HauerwasAgainst the Nations p. 130.

49

John Bowlin‘Just Democracy, Just Church: Hauerwas and Coles on Radical Democracy and Christianity’Scottish Journal of Theology64:1 (2011) 80–95 at 87–88.

50

Ibid.89–90.

51

Stanley Hauerwas‘What is Radical about the Ordinary?’ Scottish Journal of Theology64:1 (2011) 96–99 at 98.

53

E. B. WhiteThe Second Tree from the Corner (New York: Harper and Sons1989) p. 132.

54

Ibid. pp. 104–5.

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