A Community of Character
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215 pages

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Selected by Christianity Today as one of the 100 most important books on religion of the twentieth century.

Leading theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas shows how discussions of Christology and the authority of scripture involve questions about what kind of community the church must be to rightly tell the stories of God. He challenges the dominant assumption of contemporary Christian social ethics that there is a special relation between Christianity and some form of liberal democratic social system.



Publié par
Date de parution 31 janvier 1991
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780268076610
Langue English

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A Community of Character
Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic
Stanley Hauerwas
Copyright © 1981 by University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame. Indiana 46556
All Rights Reserved www.undpress.nd.edu --> Manufactured in the United States of America -->
E-ISBN 978-0-268-07661-0
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at ebooks@nd.edu The author and publisher are grateful to the following for permission to reprint: --> Theology Digest for “Jesus: The Story of the Kingdom” --> Journal of Religious Ethics for “The Church in a Divided World: The Interpretative Power of the Christian Story” --> Silver Burdett Company for “Character, Narrative, and Growth in the Christian Life” from their Toward Moral and Religious Maturity --> Paperback reprinted in 1982, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1994, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2010 --> Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data --> Hauerwas, Stanley, 1940– --> A community of character. --> 1. Christian ethics. 2. Social ethics. I. Title. --> BJ1251.H325 241 80-53072 --> ISBN 13: 978-0-268-00733-1 (cloth: alk. paper) --> ISBN 10: 0-268-00733-0 (cloth: alk. paper) --> ISBN 13: 978-0-268-00735 --> ISBN 10: 0-268-00735-7 (pbk: alk. paper) --> ISBN-13: XXX-X-XXXX-XXXX-X (electronic: e-pub) --> ISBN-13: XXX-X-XXXX-XXXX-X (electronic: mobi) --> ∞ This book was printed on acid-free paper . -->
for the constancy of their friendship and ministry
1. A Story-Formed Community: Reflections on Watership Down
2. Jesus: The Story of the Kingdom
3. The Moral Authority of Scripture: The Politics and Ethics of Remembering
4. The Church and Liberal Democracy: The Moral Limits of a Secular Polity
5. The Church in a Divided World: The Interpretative Power of the Christian Story
6. The Virtues and Our Communities: Human Nature as History
7. Character, Narrative, and Growth in the Christian Life
8. The Moral Value of the Family
9. The Family: Theological and Ethical Reflections
10. Sex in Public: Toward a Christian Ethic of Sex
11. Why Abortion Is a Religious Issue
12. Abortion: Why the Arguments Fail
Notes Index 293 -->
It is common testimony that writing is a lonely enterprise, but I have found it also requires and engenders community. I literally cannot write, and more importantly, cannot think without friends. Moreover through writing I discover friends I did not even know I had. This is not simply because writing puts me in contact with people I would not otherwise have met, but I discover others who have also thought about these matters and thus are able to teach me to understand better what I think. I know that sounds odd, since people who write supposedly know what they think, but I find my own thought illumined by the community that writing creates. If that were not the case it would indeed be hard to sustain the task, as I find thinking and writing, which may be the same thing, never gets any easier.
Therefore, I depend and place heavy demands on my friends. Some may think that I write too quickly and too much without letting my work mature, but most of what you find here has gone through many drafts that my friends have had to read and reread. For I depend on them for criticism in the hope that I will not only know what I think but be able to say what I think well.
All this is but to say I have many people to thank for helping me finish this book. I am particularly grateful to the University of Notre Dame and the Association of Theological Schools for grants that enabled me to have the time to finish writing the book. I appreciate the opportunity to deliver some of these essays as lectures at the College Theology Society, Gettysburg College, Wake Forest, Duke, University of Illinois Medical School, St. Louis University, St. Michael College, and Valparaiso. They provided me with fresh ears and criticism that often forced me to rethink and rewrite. In that respect, I also owe a debt of gratitude to my students at Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, who always seem ready to tell me where I am wrong.
As in my past work I have unashamedly made use of my colleagues at Notre Dame. But then what are friends for if you cannot use them? Rev. David Burrell has continued to bear the brunt of this burden. I have been thinking with him so long I am no longer sure where his ideas begin and mine end. Moreover, he has served as chairman of the Department of Theology at Notre Dame for nine years, making possible a rich intellectual context for me and my colleagues. In spite of considerable administrative burdens, he has never failed to find the time to help me think and write better. I am deeply in his debt.
Thomas Shaffer, now professor at Washington and Lee Law School, has continually provided valuable criticism and insights. I am particularly grateful to Dr. David Solomon of the Notre Dame Philosophy Department, as he has saved me from many egregious philosophical errors. Even though he never fails to respect the primacy of my theological agenda, my disinterest in pursuing certain philosophical problems must pain him. I particularly appreciate, therefore, his continued willingness to make me a better philosopher. Others to whom I owe much are Dr. Peri Arnold, Dr. Robert Wilken, Rev. James Burtchaell, Rev. Enda McDonagh, and, of course, Dr. John Howard Yoder.
My debts, however, reach far beyond Notre Dame. Dr. James Childress has been my good friend and critic for almost eighteen years. That he has been so is a testimony to his patience and kindness. James Gustafson, Paul Ramsey, James McClendon, Charles Reynolds, David Smith, Richard Bondi, Fred Carney, William May, and Rev. Richard Neuhaus continue to be crucial conversation partners. Thomas Ogletree and Gene Outka have helped me immensely, not only by their taking the time to write critiques of my work, but through long conversations about the nature and task of Christian ethics. The debt I owe Alasdair MacIntyre is apparent on almost every page of this book, but I cannot let this opportunity pass without indicating my gratitude for his criticism and encouragement. Dr. Mary Jo Weaver has been a constant friend and critic whose Catholic sensibilities have often helped me appreciate what I would otherwise not see at all.
I have the good fortune to have a publisher and editor, James Langford, who not only provides invaluable suggestions about the form and style of my work, but also about the substance. I deeply appreciate his encouragement and support. I am also indebted to Ann Rice, of the Notre Dame Press, for her patience and skill in making this text read better than I can write.
In that respect, the reader also owes a large debt of gratitude to my wife. One of the unhappy effects of the women’s movement has been the hesitancy of men to thank their wives for help with their work as well as the general assistance we each need for sustaining a family. I thank God that neither Anne nor I feel the need to apologize for our love and dependence on one another. Finally, I wish to thank my son Adam for his relish for life and his unflagging enthusiasm to get on with the adventure.
1. The Central Contention
Though this book touches on many issues it is dominated by one concern: to reassert the social significance of the church as a distinct society with an integrity peculiar to itself. My wish is that this book might help Christians rediscover that their most important social task is nothing less than to be a community capable of hearing the story of God we find in the scripture and living in a manner that is faithful to that story. The church is too often justified by believers, and tolerated by nonbelievers, as a potential agent for justice or some other good effect. In contrast, I contend that the only reason for being Christian (which may well have results that in a society’s terms seem less than “good”) is because Christian convictions are true; and the only reason for participation in the church is that it is the community that pledges to form its life by that truth.
The subtitle used here, “Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic,” denotes no new emphasis or direction in my work, but indicates my continuing interest in examining what it means to claim that Christian convictions are true. Indeed, I have been uneasy with the description of my work as “ethics,” especially if ethics denotes a discipline separate from theology. I understand myself as a theologian and my work as theology proper. I have accepted the current academic designation of “ethics” only because as a theologian I am convinced that the intelligibility and truthfulness of Christian convictions reside in their practical force. Thus this book ranges from rather abstruse issues in christology to a discussion about why we should have children. I am convinced that such matters are interrelated and that the truthfulness of Christian convictions resides in understanding how they are related.
The justification for calling this book “social ethics” is that I wish to show why any consideration of the truth of Christian convictions cannot be divorced from the kind of community the church is and should be. Though much of the book involves a running critique of liberal political a

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