Highlights from Recent Readings

Here is Hauerwas in The Peaceable Kingdom, in The Hauerwas Reader
“The temptation narratives are but a particularly concentrated example of how the early church understood Jesus’ life as recapitulating the life of the Lord with Israel. The baptism, the turning to Jerusalem, the cleansing of the temple, the last supper, the crucifixion and the resurrection were equally understood to be the deliberate representing of Jesus as Israel’s king-messiah. But also the calling of the twelve, the necessity of wandering throughout Israel, the signs on the sabbath, the desert feedings, and the special attention to the poor and the outcast are understoof to at once recapitulation and inccovation of the life of Israel and her relationship to God. Thus it is not surprising that the early Christians assumeed that by imitating the “Way” of Jesus they were imitating the “Way” of God himself. For the content of the kingdom, the means of citizenship, turns our to be nothing more or less than learning to imitate Jesus’ life through taking on the task of being his disciple.” (pp. 124-125)

Here he quotes John Howard Yoder; “To repent is not to feel bad but to think differently. Protestantism, and perhaps especially evangelical Protestantism, in its concern for helping every individual to make his own authentic choice in full awareness and sincerity, is in constant danger of confusing the kingdom itself with the benefits of the kingdom. If anyone repents, if anyone turns around to follow Jesus in his new way of life, this will do something for the aimlessness of his life. It will do something for his loneliness by giving him fellowship … So the Bultmanns and the Grahams whose ‘evangelism’ is to proclaim the offer of restored selfhood, liberation from anxiety and guilt, are not wrong … But all of this is not the Gospel. This is just the bonus, the wrapping paper thrown in when you buy the meat, the ‘everything’ which will be added, without our taking thought for it, if we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

“Only if our Lord is a risen Lord…can we have the confidence and the power to be a community of forgiveness. For on the basis of he resurrection we have the presumption to believe that God has made us agents in the history of the kingdom. The resurrection is not a symbol or myth through which we can interpret our individual and collective dyings and risings. Rather, the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate sign that our salvation comes only when we cease trying to interpret Jesus’ story in the light of out history, and instead we interpret ourselves in the light of his. For this is no dead Lord we follow but the living God, who, having dwelt among us as an individual, is now eternally present to us, making possible our living as forgiven agents of God’s new creation.” (pp. 136-137, bold is mine).

Hauerwas finishes the article with a rethinking of Justification and Sanctification in Kingdom terms, which I am not quite clear on, nor decided about. Nonetheless, as far as describing the nature of the Christian life, he hits the nail on the head. Discipleship is not Jesus making your history a better one, but taking you into his history and training you up in the family likeness since you now bear the name of the Father. This certainly rings some bells for me, having sat under Rev. Eric Irwin’s faithful teaching for the past 2 years.


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