Surpassingly Great Quotes

Well, I realized that I have been reading all this amazing stuff lately, and ought to share some of it. One of the biggest blessings of doing the work of the Church is that you actually are called to study and fill your mind with the word of God and with the counsel of fellow saints throughout the ages. So I get to read a lot of stuff, a lot of which I don’t get to share. So, I am deciding to take this as my opportunity.
From my recently purchased The Hauerwas Reader:
“For even though at a popular level many continue to assume there must be a close connection between religion and morality, this is not the dominant philosophical view. Indeed, the persistence of this popular assumption on testifies how hard it is to kill certain habits of though. For the assumption that there is a strong interdependence between religion and morality is but the remains of the now lost hegemony of Christianity over Western culture. That many still assume religion is essential to motivate us to do the good is an indication, however, that no satisfactory alternative has been found to replace Christianity, as a worldview and cult, in sustaining the ethos of our civilization. We find ourselves in the odd situation in which many of our society’s moral attitudes and practices are based on Jewish and Christian beliefs that are widely thought by many to be irrelevant or false. This situation does not provide an argument for the continued viability of religious practices, but only an indication that as a culture we still have not fully faced the implications of generating a genuine secular morality.”

This reminds me of something my friend Seth Moore said earlier this quarter. We have been taking an ancient ethics course together, and were talking about discussing ethics with unbelievers. He said something like this, ‘I really like talking about ethics with people in the department because they will start saying something and I will say “wait wait wait, you can’t say that. You got that from the Bible!!”‘ What he was getting at was that these people who would wave the flag of man’s independent status in the world, claiming to be unbiased objective sovereign investigators nonetheless rely on beliefs that come directly from a Christian worldview. The point is this; they had not, (and cannot), provided an independent rationale for why such Biblical belief can be held without believing in the God revealed in the Bible.

For the enduring reader, consider what Hauerwas goes on to say:
Our culture’s persistent failure to find an adequate substitute for Christianity has presented theologians with a temptation almost impossible to resist. Even if they cannot demonstrate the truth of theological claims, they can at least show the continued necessity of religious attitudes for the maintenance of our culture. Of course these theologians think it unwise to continue to use the explicit beliefs derived from the particular historic claims associated with Christianity (and Judaism) as the basis of secular morality. Such beliefs bear the marks of being historically relative and contingent. If religion is to deserve our allegiance, so the thinking goes, it must be based on what can be agreed upon universally. Thus, theologians have sought, at least since the Enlightenment, to demonstrate that theological language can be translated into terms that are meaningful and compelling for those who do not share Christianity’s more particularistic beliefs about Jesus of Nazareth. In short, theologians have tried to show that we do not need to speak theologically in order to ‘say something theological,’ as other forms of speech are really implicitly religious. After all, hasn’t talk of God always really been but a way to talk about being human?”
(On Keeping Theological Ethics Theological, 51-52 in The Hauerwas Reader)

So it comes to be that the Church has swallow the idea that there are standards and criteria that are independent of God which can validate His existence, His word, His Character, and His call on His people to be holy. This is such a basic assumption that many of us do not recognize it in ourselves. I would argue that this is exactly where Adam and Eve sin: they trust their judgment that the fruit is good for gaining knowledge of good and evil (apart from God). Thoughts?

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One thought on “Surpassingly Great Quotes

  1. David M. Richmon says:

    You’re right, most of what people say and do, and how they argue about issues of morality, usually rely on some borrowed capitol from a Christian worldview; but I think this can be chalked up to common grace. More interesting though is Hauerwas’ epistemological starting point. While speaking on the the things you noted, Hauerwas will often, and I think rightly, conclude that not only does the world lack the necessary language to articulate its moral/ethical situation, but moreover a viable community/tradition to sustain virtuous behavior. This is why I find his ecclesiology so appealing.

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