on 4 September 2012
There is so much I disagree over with Hauerwas, and this book contains some real howlers. Let's just get that out there. Now we can move on, because overall I just loved this.
As a preacher, it is interesting to read other preachers sermons. Of course, reading a sermon is a rather different experience from hearing one, but until relatively recently it was a common experience amongst Christians. Listening to a recording of a sermon helps communicate something of the inflections and passions of the preacher - things that can be helpful in truly `hearing' him. Reading a sermon has advantages though - providing time to stop, reflect and think. Reading sermons is not simply anachronistic. It has real value.
I read this collection of sermons as part of my normal morning devotions and (caveat in my opening sentence noted) I found them repeatedly worth stopping, reflecting and thinking on. As preaching I'm not sure how satisfied I would be with these sermons - from the perspective of the pew I would want more gospel and more exegesis - but as aids to devotion they are very helpful. Hauerwas is an engaging thinker, with a nice turn of humour and some profound insights. These sermons are littered with thoughts that I found worth pondering.
I like the way Hauerwas helps sets things around the right way, when all along we'd thought the cart was meant to be in front of the horse. For instance, in the introduction he states that, "Our task is not to explain `the meaning' of the text, but rather to show how our lives are unintelligible if Jesus Christ is not the Lord." I like that, just as I like the opening paragraph of the first sermon in the book:
"Christians are often tempted, particularly in this time called modern, to say more than we know. We are so tempted because we fear we do not believe what we say we believe. So we try to assure ourselves that we believe what we say we believe by convincing those who do not believe what we believe that they really believe what we believe once what we believe is properly explained. As a result we end up saying more than we can know because what we believe - or better, what we do - cannot be explained but only shown. The word we have been given for such a showing is "witness.""
There is much more like that.
"To be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (a species of bird that seems to me to be terminally stupid) is a formula for ongoing self-deception or, at least, false consciousness."
"Do not worry about being dead because when you are dead you will not know you are dead."
"Why are those who run medical schools able to form students to be physicians in a manner we are not able to train students in divinity schools? I think the answer is quite simple: in this day few think that an inadequately trained minister can damage their salvation, but we do believe an inadequately trained doctor may hurt us. Accordingly we often care a great deal more who our doctor is than who our priest may be."
"Paul does not think that the church has to make a difference. Rather, for Paul, Christians must learn how to live in the light of the difference Jesus has made."
"Christians are revolutionaries, but we believe the revolution has happened and we are it."
"You did not know what you were doing when you promised life-long monogamous marriage, but Christians are going to hold you to promises you made when you did not know what you were doing. That is why Christians demand that marriage be a public act: because you will need witnesses to remind you of you promises."
As I say, there are some howlers, but there is much that is worth thinking about. There was much that helped me to worship.
on 28 June 2013
I loved these sermons of Stanley Hauerwas. Every sermon is a gem and truly devotional, bringing the reader into the orbit of Jesus and God's love. The sub-title of the book is - "Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Jesus." The author does just that. In this collection of sermons preached on specific occasions it is as if you meet Stanley Hauerwas in person.
The sermon,"Was it fitting for Jesus to Die on a Cross," is one of the best I have encountered on that theme. The title of the book, "The Cross Shattered Church," attracted me initially. Each sermon is worth it's weight in gold and speaks to the human heart. Some of them I've read two or three times and on every occasion new insights have been revealed to me.
on 18 April 2012
I am glad that I am not the only preacher whose sermons are `tight': economical with words, requiring the full attention of the congregants. Nor a preacher who sticks to scripture without being an evangelical.
This collection of sermons is a master class in the art of preaching, though I note that the author claims that it is OK to quote other preachers without acknowledgement because sermons are a gift of the Spirit to the whole church. So why does the author assert his copyright at the front of this book?