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Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony
 
 

Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony [Kindle Edition]

Stanley Hauerwas , William H. Willimon
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the "alien" status of Christians in today's world and offer a compelling new vision of how the Christian church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world. Hauerwas and Willimon call for a radical new understanding of the church. By renouncing the emphasis on personal psychological categories, they offer a vision of the church as a colony, a holy nation, a people, a family standing for sharply focused values in a devalued world.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 398 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0687361591
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press; 1 edition (1 Aug 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055PTGLO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #198,351 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Resident Aliens" came out in 1989 and continues to be a controversial bestseller among church leaders. The authors argue that the days of "Christendom" are over--Western culture no longer looks on the church as an important prop or support to its values, and will no longer subsidize the church in any way, viz. soccer games and open malls on Sunday morning. And, this is a good thing! At last the church has the opportunity to recapture its role as described in scripture: a colony of "resident aliens" in a foreign country, demonstrating in word and deed that God is God indeed. For church folks who grew up in the 1950's and earlier, this book is a tough pill to swallow. But it points the way toward a revived church with a crucial mission to the world as we begin the "post-Christendom" millenium.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how to be a pre-constintinian 16 Mar 2003
By JLW
Format:Paperback
This book was so helpful for my book group at church. We were able to explain why is it that the church in this country is really not that important, establishment notwithstanding, and why it shouldn't be, either. We also diswcovered that living the life of faith is something that must be done in community with other people of faith, and can't be lived alone. I found this book life changing, and would recommend it to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An important read. 13 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has been around for some years but I only came across it by following up one of the many quotes from it that others have used. It is worth reading in full even if the context is a text written for a North American readership. Every chapter makes very obvious points, but yes, indeed, we are 'resident aliens' in a secular world.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book 28 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I choose this rating as I have not yet read this book and felt it was unfair to give it any other rating
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more plastic Jesus 22 Mar 2002
By Kerry Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"What we call 'church' is too often a gathering of strangers who see the church as yet another 'helping institution' to gratify further their individual desires." (p. 138) So say Hauerwas and Willimon in this profoundly disturbing, profoundly liberating book. Their general thesis is that the church has lost its bearings because it's forgotten its Jesus-centered tradition. Rather than dwelling within that tradition, realizing that the church's mission is to build community that exemplifies the Kingdom and the Kingdom's values, Christians too frequently accommodate to the world in order to make their beliefs acceptable. In doing whatever they can to ameliorate the "scandal" of the gospel so as not to offend anyone, they betray the Kingdom and their tradition--and God.
This is a disconcerting challenge to those of us who try to be Christians. Even if one doesn't completely agree with Hauerwas and Willimon--in fact, even if one outright disagrees with them--their message deserves serious consideration. In grappling with the thorny question of how to live in the world without being of the world--that is, how to be "resident aliens"--they force us to reconsider our commitment to the good news.
One of the more interesting aspects of the book is a theme that Hauerwas has discussed in several of his other books: ethics is primarily a way of seeing the world rather than an objective, rational enterprise. All ethical systems presuppose a view of reality (even the ones that claim to be rational), and this means that in order to get to the heart of a particular ethics, one must examine the tradition from which it comes. Hauerwas and Willimon use this model to argue that Christian ethics, which is based on the eschatological tradition outlined in the Sermon on the Mount, simply can't accommodate ethical principles generated in nongospel traditions. Attempts to do so are misguided.
Read this book. It will upset you, as it has upset me. But it's a good upset.
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shockingly candid and timely book, even 10 years later 13 Dec 2000
By Robert Knetsch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book has me hooked on Stanley Hauerwas. I have heard of him and his unusual approach to theological ethics and I thought I'd read this book as my professor recommended it to me.
I was startled to find that he had a whole new way of looking at things that I never really quite thought of as lucidly as he and Willimon have. Not only does he highly criticize the church for continually buying in to a Constantinian view of the church, he even critiques such great Theologians as Neibuhr! When someone does that, they either are supremely misinformed or have something very thoughtful to say, and, indeed this book does the latter.
Resident Aliens will make you see the church in a whole new light. Members of congregations and pastors alike must read this book as I think it would impact you ministry for God more than any other "seeker friendly" or "purpose-driven" book could possibly do. It particularly is a book that both uplifts and criticized the role of a pastor in a church.
While often bleak, Hauerwas and Willimon are brutally honest in the church impotence in BEING the church and instead has often simply become little different than a club where people come to get their "needs" met. The colony image, while not perfect, is challenging as it highlights our need to care for one another, to be, as Rodney Clapp says, "A Peculiar People", and to have our ethics driven by a biblical community, not a national idea of "rights" and "liberties".
If I could suggest a book to read for Christians this year, this would be it! Unfortunately, this book has been out for years and I do not see that it has had the impact that it should have. When the full weight of the reality of the post-Christian society we live in in the West hits us, books like this will be our saving grace. Either that, or we compromise until we become indistinguishable from the people around us.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful critique but inadequate solution... 16 Mar 2009
By Chad Oberholtzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found myself personally resonating with several of Hauerwas and Willimon's concerns in "Resident Aliens" about how American Christians tend to think. Hauerwas and Willimon rightly point out that it is absurd to expect a world no longer saturated with Christian language and assumptions to act like Christians. And it is insufficient to rest our hope in the restoration of Christendom, as they perceive that this longstanding era of church-state partnership (whether explicit or implicit) is seriously waning (now much more so than when they wrote RA in 1989).

They suggest that it is insufficient for the church to merely be an institution that tries to make the world a better place. And they find it to be equally unsatisfying for the church to simply try to minimize the discomfort that church-goers and would-be Christians experience in this individualistically-driven and materialistically-obsessed culture. They propose that the way for the church to be a Christian colony in a world that does not know God is to simply "be the church."

It is in this solution phase that Hauerwas and Willimon left me seriously wanting more. They are quite adept at picking apart a host of operating systems and philosophical constructs that many of us use to envision the church, ultimately to the detriment of the work of the church. But when they move into their proposed alternative (which they seemed to attempt at multiple points throughout the book), I was left in a world of abstraction. They kept returning to the idea that the church needs to be the church (without expecting the non-church world to function like the church). And as much as I embrace this general concept, they did very little to help me understand or picture what that means from their vantage point. The most concrete idea that appeared in several places was the suggestion that the church out to be a place of complete (and sometimes brutal) honesty. And as much as I agree, I do not think that being mere truth-speakers is a sufficiently holistic expression of following Christ upon which to base the church. I don't know what they think the church should be.

As a prospective pastor (and therefore, targeted audience for this book), I wanted to know how they recommend that pastors lead a church as a Christian colony? They seem to value preaching, but they are very critical of all of the ways that we have been taught to communicate from the pulpit (careful biblical exegesis, relevance, etc.) other than story-telling. They do not seem to think that pastors should have a vision and try to lead the congregation towards that vision, at least not coming out of seminary ripe with bad ideas of ecclesiology. They do not seem to think that pastors should respond to the needs of their congregants, as these people are saturated with individualistic and consumeristic dogma. They do not seem to think that pastors should care about ministering to a world in need, as social justice is just another reflection of the world's solution system.

To their credit, Hauerwas and Willimon actually manage to come across as relatively even-handed critics, in the sense that they seem to utterly disdain everything and everyone not named Karl Barth. (They are especially critical of anyone named Neibuhr.) But I found their sweeping negativity to be increasingly unhelpful as the book progressed. As accurate as their critiques may be, I found their work to be seriously lacking on the solution side of their thesis and much less poignant than it might have otherwise been had they more intentionally and specifically described what life in the Christian colony should actually look like. Maybe the picture of their hope for the church was painted in the midst of their abstract language, but I struggled to see that painting with any clarity.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ground-breaking reappraisal of the post-Christendom church 10 Aug 1999
By Steve Harvester - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Resident Aliens" came out in 1989 and continues to be a controversial bestseller among church leaders. The authors argue that the days of "Christendom" are over--Western culture no longer looks on the church as an important prop or support to its values, and will no longer subsidize the church in any way, viz. soccer games and open malls on Sunday morning. And, this is a good thing! At last the church has the opportunity to recapture its role as described in scripture: a colony of "resident aliens" in a foreign country, demonstrating in word and deed that God is God indeed. For church folks who grew up in the 1950's and earlier, this book is a tough pill to swallow. But it points the way toward a revived church with a crucial mission to the world as we begin the "post-Christendom" millenium.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An agenda-setting work for the contemporary church 31 May 2000
By Victor McCracken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hauerwas and Willimon offer a stunningly adept diagnosis for mainline churches and a prophetic warning for evangelicals. Like the evening sun, Christendom is setting in the west, and in this dusk the church has a new opportunity to reclaim the marginal identity God granted it in the first place. If you are a big fan of the Christian Coalition, this book will trouble you. If you believe that church and state go neatly hand in hand, this book will trouble you. If you are searching for perspective on how the church--for the sake of "relevance"--may lose itself in the prevailing culture, this book will be a welcome addition to your library.
Ten years after its publication, RESIDENT ALIENS remains a valuable conversation partner for the church. The task remains for church leaders to enflesh the practical ramifications of the work in Christian community. Ultimately, the success of Hauerwas' and Willimon's work will be judged by that end.
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