|Born||July 24, 1940
|Notable work(s)||Resident Aliens
A Community of Character
The Peaceable Kingdom
|Tradition or movement||Narrative theology
|Main interests||Christian ethics
Christianity and politics
Stanley Hauerwas (born July 24, 1940) is an American theologian, ethicist, and public intellectual. Hauerwas currently teaches at Duke University, serving as the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School with a joint appointment at the Duke University School of Law. Before coming to Duke, Hauerwas was a longtime professor at the University of Notre Dame. He is considered by many to be one of the world's most influential living theologians and was named "America's Best Theologian" by Time Magazine in 2001. He was also the first American to deliver the prestigious Gifford Lectures in over forty years. His work is frequently read and debated by scholars in fields outside of religion, theology, or ethics, such as political philosophy, sociology, history, and literary theory. Hauerwas has achieved notability outside of academia as a public intellectual, even appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Though Hauerwas is most well known for his work related to Christian ethics, the relationship between Christianity and politics, and ecclesiology, Hauerwas has written widely on a diverse range of subjects, such as systematic theology, philosophical theology, political philosophy, the philosophy of social science, law, education, bioethics, and medical ethics. Hauerwas is known for his outspoken advocacy of pacifism, as well of his fierce criticism of liberal democracy, capitalism, militarism, American civil religion and both Christian fundamentalism and liberal Christianity. Among his most important contributions to modern theology are his advocacy of and work related to virtue ethics and postliberal theology.
Hauerwas's work draws from a number of theological perspectives, including Methodism, Anabaptism, Anglicanism, and Catholicism. He is commonly cited as a member of the evangelical left. Hauerwas's book, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, was named as one of the one hundred most important books on religion in the 20th century by Christianity Today. His most widely known book, however, is likely Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, which was co-written with William Willimon.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Honors
- 3 Basic theological and philosophical views
- 4 Interaction with the thought of the Niebuhrs
- 5 Views on human experimentation
- 6 Views on death and dying well
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Stanley Hauerwas was raised in Pleasant Grove, Texas, in a working-class family. He attended both Pleasant Grove High School (1954–56) and W. W. Samuell High School (1956–58). As the son of a bricklayer, Hauerwas was early on apprenticed to the craft of bricklaying under his father. The experience was extremely formative for his later life, as he himself has often compared the skill and hard work that bricklaying requires with both his own approach to theological work and the challenges of living a fully Christian life.
Hauerwas's family attended Pleasant Mound Methodist Church, where he experienced Baptism, Confirmation and Communion. At the age of 15, he presented himself for ministry at a Sunday night worship service, presuming then that he would be saved.
After leaving Pleasant Grove, Hauerwas matriculated at Southwestern University, a liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. He received a B.A. there in 1962. He was also a member of Phi Delta Theta while at Southwestern University. He went on to earn the B.D., M.A., M.Phil and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University. Upon delivering the Gifford Lectures in 2001, Hauerwas was also awarded an honorary D.D. from the University of Edinburgh.
Following his graduation from Yale University, Hauerwas taught first at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, before joining the faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 1970. He was later invited to assume a faculty position at the Divinity School of Duke University in 1983, where he currently teaches in the area of theological ethics.
Hauerwas' influences are wide-ranging, including figures as diverse as Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Howard Yoder, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michel Foucault, and William James.
In 2001 Hauerwas was also invited to give the Gifford Lectures at St. Andrews in Scotland, which were published as With the Grain of the Universe, a text in which Hauerwas argued that Karl Barth was the foremost "natural theologian" of the Gifford Lectures. Such an argument is controversial since Karl Barth is well known as an enemy of natural theology. For Hauerwas, however, Barth argued that Christian convictions about the world describe God's good creation as it is while emphasizing that such convictions cannot be understood apart from Christian witness. This, according to Hauerwas, is what makes Barth a proper natural theologian in comparison to Reinhold Niebuhr and William James, who were also featured in the lectures.
Earlier in 1997 he gave the Scottish Journal of Theology lectures at Aberdeen, published as Sanctify Them in Truth (1998).
Basic theological and philosophical views
Hauerwas has long been associated with narrative theology and postliberal theology (which are closely related but not necessarily synonymous movements). Both of these movements are attached to Yale biblical scholars Brevard Childs, Hans Frei, and George Lindbeck. Hauerwas received his theological training at Yale University during the 1960s.
Hauerwas writes of narrative as "the necessary grammar of Christian convictions" in that Christian claims are inextricably linked to what God has done in history and to the ongoing story of God's people as they move through time. This sense of a "hypertemporal God" Hauerwas claims to have gotten from John Howard Yoder, who impressed upon him the need of always locating God's actions in the "timeliness" of the created order as witnessed by the Bible. He has explained this understanding of a people (i.e., church) constituted by their ongoing story with God in terms of a pointed and oft-repeated aphorism:
My claim, so offensive to some, that the first task of the church is to make the world the world, not to make the world more just, is a correlative of this theological metaphysics. The world simply cannot be narrated - the world cannot have a story - unless a people exist who make the world the world. That is an eschatological claim that presupposes we know there was a beginning only because we have seen the end ... [C]reation names God's continuing action, God's unrelenting desire for us to want to be loved by that love manifest in Christ's life, death, and resurrection.
As indicated in the quotation above, Hauerwas believes that the strong distinction between the church and the world is a necessary mark of the Christian life. He collaborated with William H. Willimon (now a bishop in the United Methodist Church) in 1989 to offer an accessible version of his vision of the Christian life in the book Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony. This understanding of the church is based on both his narrative and postliberal approach to theology, as well as his reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein's understanding of language and language games.
Hauerwas is also known as an ardent critic of liberal democracy. In recent years, however, Hauerwas has become conversant with the tradition of radical democracy. In 2007 collaborated on a book on the subject with political theorist and ethicst Romand Coles entitled Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christian.
Interaction with the thought of the Niebuhrs
Hauerwas's theological views may be best illuminated by his engagement with the work of Reinhold Niebuhr and H. Richard Niebuhr, often considered two of the most influential American theologians of the 20th century. Hauerwas frequently discusses the work of both Niebuhr brothers, mentioning them in some form in most of his books. Reinhold was also one of the primary subjects of Hauerwas' 2000-2001 Gifford Lectures, which were later republished in book form under the title With the Grain of the Universe.
In the early years of his career Hauerwas was deeply influenced by the work of both brothers. However, later, primarily as a result of encountering the work of John Howard Yoder, he came to disagree with fundamental elements of their theology, while continuing to affirm other elements of their work that he finds important.
While many believe that the Niebuhrs' advocacy of Christian realism represents a rejection of liberal Christianity, Hauerwas argues that the brothers actually belong to that theological tradition. For him, while they both placed a strong emphasis on the sinfulness of humanity (which stood in stark contrast to most liberal thinkers), he believes that the Niebuhrs based their theologies on the presuppositions of secular philosophy rather than those of Christianity, thus placing them in the liberal tradition of modern Christian thought. In particular, Hauerwas argues that Reinhold was deeply influenced by William James, with Niebuhr accepting a pragmatist epistemology. (It should be noted that some of Reinhold Niebuhr's supporters, perhaps most notably Gabriel Fackre, argue that Hauerwas is wrong on this point and that during Niebuhr's career his theology evolved to being strongly neo-orthodox rather than liberal.)
For Hauerwas, the Niebuhrs are important figures in part because the flaws in their thinking represent the same flaws which are endemic to much of modern Christianity, with the Church often being shaped more by the culture of liberal democracy than the message of Jesus. In Hauerwas' view, this has led the Church (and Christians in general) to compromise their values and place too much faith in secular political ideologies, often leading to a misplaced passion for political power. This represents the thesis of Hauerwas in his most popular book, Resident Aliens (which was co-written by William Willimon). In the book, Hauerwas and Willimon argue that the Church's accommodation to secular culture has led to tragedies like the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Hauerwas, therefore, believes that the Niebuhrs' thinking is subject to the same flaws as Jerry Falwell, with Hauerwas and Willimon stating that "few books have been a greater hindrance to an accurate assessment of [the Church's] situation" than H. Richard's famous book Christ and Culture. Thus according to Hauerwas, while they may have disagreed when it comes to policy, both the Niebuhrs and Falwell fell prey to the notion Christians have a duty to use the political process as a means to enact "Christian" legislation or pursue justice.
In his book The Peaceable Kingdom Hauerwas offers commentary on two classic essays written by the Niebuhrs for The Christian Century on the subject of the Conflict in Manchuria. In the first essay, entitled "The Grace of Doing Nothing", H. Richard argues that humans are self-interested and egoistic and that Christians, because they are subject to these same flaws, should remain non-violent even in a time of war. In his essay in response, entitled "Must We Do Nothing?", Reinhold argues that Christians must have a self-awareness about their own sinfulness and self-intrestedness, but must sometimes use force to protect the certain ideals and people. In his commentary Hauerwas acknowledges that both brothers make important points, but critiques Reinhold's view, ultimately agreeing with H. Richard.
Views on human experimentation
Deontological and utilitarian thought
The basic utilitarian rationalization for research on human beings is the ends justify the means. This means that any sort of research on a human being is justified by the possibility of successfully saving others. For example, all cancer research would be justified by the possibility of finding a cure for cancer, which would inevitably save the life of many others. The utilitarian argument focuses on the greatest good for the greatest amount of people or the greater good. Under the utilitarian justification it is a person's duty to sacrifice himself or herself if it would save others as long as the individual person's societal worth is less than the combined societal worth of the others. Therefore, if either a doctor or a homeless person must die to save the lives of many others, the homeless person must sacrifice himself since he is worth less to society than the doctor.
The Deontological argument against research on human beings is that persons are an ends in themselves. This means we cannot use people for any purpose. The Deontological argument relies on the belief that we should treat others as we would like to be so treated. Say someone was suffering from a terminal illness and they are likely to die shortly. Under deontology, research cannot be done on this person even if it means saving the lives of millions. Deontology focuses on keeping your principle at all times no matter the situation.
Understanding of experimentation
Hauerwas finds these two moral theories very limiting because they are quandary ethics, cases that rely on extreme situations. He believes that there needs to be a third reasoning that falls somewhere in between these two. He believes that the basic doctor-patient relationship should be built on trust and caring. This characterizes him as more of deontological thinker; however, he does believe in research on human beings. Hauerwas’s perspective is that there needs to be a middle ground between these two perspectives. The patient becomes dehumanized through research; however, without this research there would be little medical improvement. Hauerwas therefore believes this middle ground should focus on caring for the patient instead of curing. With this, Hauerwas believes we do not have the moral understanding to handle current medicine.
As mentioned above, Hauerwas believes that the moral issue of experimentation on humans cannot be answered from a utilitarianism versus deontological perspective. He believes that society lacks a cohesive understanding of the notions of “the good of mankind” and “the rights of the individual.” Only when this issue is solved can society come to a conclusive decision on how science should be used to serve humans needs. Therapeutic and nontherapeutic experimentation on humans are differentiated by the intent of the procedure. Therapeutic experimentation is meant to help the patient with their current needs, while nontherapeutic experimentation has no intention of helping the patient, but to collect research for the benefit of future patients. The issue becomes: should medical progress be helping the current patient or the future patient? Stanley Hauerwas believes society has no consensus of the meanings of health and illness, which contributes to the issue of how patients should be treated. Only when society comes to a universal understanding of these issues can the moral dilemma of experimentation on humans be resolved.
Hauerwas finds little justification for human experimentation through informed consent. He argues that a patient’s understanding of an experimental procedure will never approach that of his or her physician. He questions even the possibility of a patient reaching a state of “informed consent.” He further believes that if individuals reach such a state of “informed consent”, this does not mean individuals should consent, or fully understand the meaning of their consent. “For persons can misuse themselves even if they do so voluntarily and with full knowledge.” Individuals consenting to experimentation through the justification of the human good, turn themselves into objects for the use of the experimentation. The issue is further complicated for Hauerwas as to whom should be considered for medical experimentation. The use of prisoners only proliferates social stereotypes and denigration. He believes that informed consent is necessary for human experimentation, but it does not provide justification for our willingness to submit and participate in experimentation.
Language of rights
Hauerwas finds the language of “rights” to be disturbing as it assumes that people relate to others as strangers, and lends even the understanding of the family to that of a contractual society. He argues that being part of a family, however, is not a voluntary undertaking. As such, when one is part of a family, the kinds of responsibilities each member holds are in relation to each other. Hauerwas finds that as a parent, you have a duty to your children, not just because you brought them into existence, but because the role of parent is to ensure the children are brought up in a way that is conducive to the community’s values. Thus, the issue with “rights” language is that it attempts to prevent maltreatment of individuals to the point of exclusion of familial and communal responsibility. Hauerwas’s bottom line is that there can be no real society if its members only relate in terms of noninterference. The language of rights destroys society because we regard people as strangers instead of assuming the responsibility towards them as family and members of the community that we share.
Views on death and dying well
Hauerwas believes that there is a difference between the concept of death and the criteria for death. The concept of death “involves a philosophical judgment of a significant change that has happened in a person” and therefore “is a correlative of what one takes to be the necessary condition of human life, e.g., … the potential for consciousness”. The criteria of death, however, are “those empirical measurements that can be made to determine whether a person is dead, such as cessation of respiration or a flat EEG”. Thus, brain death is a criterion of death that may serve “as a symbol of when it is time to die”. A person must not delay death so long that it no longer possible to die a good death.
On the subject of suicide, Hauerwas challenges the claim that autonomous suicide is morally acceptable, but also wants to distinguish himself from the position that denies rational suicide. He believes that suicide can be and often is a rational decision of an “autonomous” agent, but does not agree with the notion that it is justified. He contends that suicide as an institution must be considered morally doubtful, as the life that we are given should be considered a gift bestowed upon us by God. To many, the term "rational suicide" is based on the assumption that the decision to live or die depends on whether life has a meaning or purpose. Hauerwas, however, contends that the reason we should live on, is because our lives are not ours, and as such, reminds us that there is a commitment to keep on living. Yet, while there may be times in our lives where suicide may seem rational, mere existence allows us to enjoy certain joys, such as helping another, or healing the sick, that should be enough to sustain our commitment to living.
According to Hauerwas, a “good death is a death that we can prepare for through living because we are able to see that death is but a necessary correlative to a good life." A long life may give a person more of a chance to have a good death because he may be able to get himself morally in line during that time period, but it is also possible to die well quickly if you have lived morally. A good death also requires that the death be morally in proportion with the way one lived and was sustained, and occurs in a way that allows those caring for us to see that they are sustaining us.
Hauerwas is a prolific writer. Many of his books are collections of essays; some are structured monographs.
Books by Hauerwas
- Vision and Virtue: Essays in Christian Ethical Reflection (1974)
- Character and the Christian Life: A Study in Theological Ethics (1975)
- Truthfulness and Tragedy: Further Investigations into Christian Ethics (with Richard Bondi and David Burrell) (1977)
- Responsibility for Devalued Persons: Ethical Interactions Between Society, Family, and the Retarded (1982)
- The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics (1983) ISBN 0-268-01554-6
- Revisions: Changing Perspectives in Moral Philosophy (with Alasdair MacIntyre) (1983)
- Should War Be Eliminated? Philosophical and Theological Investigations (1984)
- Against the Nations: War and Survival in a Liberal Society (1985) ISBN 0-86683-957-7
- Suffering Presence: Theological Reflections on Medicine, the Mentally Handicapped, and the Church (1986)
- Christian Existence Today: Essays on Church, World, and Living in Between (1988)
- Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (with William Willimon) (1989) ISBN 0-687-36159-1
- Naming the Silence: God, Medicine and the Problem of Suffering (1990)
- A Community of Character: Toward A Constructive Christian Social Ethic (1991) ISBN 0-268-00735-7
- After Christendom: How the Church Is to Behave If Freedom, Justice, and a Christian Nation Are Bad Ideas (1991) ISBN 0-687-00929-4
- Schooling Christians: Holy Experiments in American Education (with John Westerhoff) (1992)
- Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America (1993) ISBN 0-687-31678-2
- Character and the Christian Life: A Study in Theological Ethics (1994)
- God, Medicine, and Suffering (1994)
- Theology Without Foundations: Religious Practice and the Future of Theological Truth (with Nancey Murphy and Mark Nation) (1994)
- Dispatches from the Front: Theological Engagements with the Secular (1994)
- In Good Company: The Church as Polis (1995)
- Where Resident Aliens Live (with William Willimon) (1996)
- Christians Among the Virtues: Theological Conversations with Ancient and Modern Ethics (with Charles Pinches) (1997)
- Wilderness Wanderings: Probing Twentieth Century Theology and Philosophy (1997)
- Sanctify Them in Truth: Holiness Exemplified (1998)
- Prayers Plainly Spoken (1999)
- The Truth About God: The Ten Commandments in Christian Life (with William Willimon) (1999)
- A Better Hope: Resources for a Church Confronting Capitalism, Democracy and Postmodernity (2000)
- The Hauerwas Reader (2001) ISBN 0-8223-2691-4
- With the Grain of the Universe: The Church's Witness and Natural Theology (2001) ISBN 1-58743-016-9
- Dissent from the Homeland: Essays after September 11 (2002) (Co-Editor with Frank Lentricchia)
- Growing Old in Christ (2003)
- The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics (with Samuel Wells) (2004)
- Performing the Faith: Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Non-Violence (2004) ISBN 1-58743-076-2
- The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder (co-edited with Chris Huebner and Harry Huebner) (2005)
- The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God (2007)
- Matthew (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) (2007)
- Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations between a Radical Democrat and a Christian (with Romand Coles) (2007)
- Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (with Jean Vanier) (2008)
- A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching (2009)
- Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir (2010)
- Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words (2011)
- Working with Words: On Learning to Speak Christian (2011)
- War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity (2011)
- Without Apology: Sermons for Christ's Church (2013)
- Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflection on Church, Politics, and Life (2013)
- Series co-editor (with Peter Ochs) of Radical Traditions: Theology in a Postcritical Key, published by Westview Press/Harper Collins and SCM Press/Eerdmans
- Series co-editor (with Peter Ochs and Ibrahim Moosa) of Encountering Traditions, published by Stanford University Press.
Books about Hauerwas
- The Church as Polis: From Political Theology to Theological Politics as Exemplified by Jurgen Moltmann and Stanley Hauerwas by Arne Rasmussen (1986)
- The Ecclesiology of Stanley Hauerwas: A Christian Theology of Liberation by John Bromilow Thompson (2003)
- Critical Reflections on Stanley Hauerwas' Theology of Disability: Disabling Society, Enabling Theology by John Swinton (2005)
- God, Truth, and Witness: Engaging Stanley Hauerwas edited by L. Gregory Jones, Reinhard Hutter, and C. Rosalee Velloso Ewell (2005)
- Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic: Conversations with George Lindbeck, David Burrell, and Stanley Hauerwas by John Wright (2012)
- "Stanley Hauerwas | Duke Divinity School". Retrieved 20 November 2012.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), 17-20.
- Hauerwas, Hannah's Child, 27-33.
- Hauerwas writes in his 2010 autobiography, "My father understood that the world was changing; and therefore he hever wanted me to follow him into bricklaying. Yet the training I received left an indelible mark on everything I do." (Hannah's Child, 36)
- Stanley Hauerwas, The Hauerwas Reader, ed. John Berkman, Michael G. Cartwright (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), p.19.
- Prior to the formation of the United Methodist Church in 1968, Southwestern University was affiliated with its predecessor body, the Methodist Church.
- Hauerwas, Hannah's Child, 95.
- Hauerwas, Hannah's Child, 173
- Hauerwas, Hannah's Child, passim.
- Jean Bethke Elshtain, "Theologian: Christian Contrarian", Time Magazine online edition, 17 September 2001. Available at: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1000859,00.html
- With the Grain of the Universe (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2001), 142.
- Hauerwas, Hannah's Child, 158.
- Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989)
- Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, Resident Aliens: A Provocative Christian Assessment of Culture and Ministry for People Who Know That Something is Wrong (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989), 31-40
- Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 135-141.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Suffering Presence: Theological Reflections on Medicine, the Mentally Handicapped, and the Church (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986), 119.
- Hauerwas, Suffering Presence, p89.
- Hauerwas, Suffering Presence, p98.
- "Peter Ochs to Give K. Brooke Anderson Lecture, "Peace through Intimacy: Friendship among the Children of Abraham"". Brown University. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
- "Peter Ochs". University of Virginia. 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Stanley Hauerwas|
- Wunderkammer Magazine Interview, 2010
- Interview with Hauerwas, 2004
- Interview with Hauerwas, 2008
- Hauerwas biography at Duke
- Stanley Hauerwas Online: Unofficial Internet Archive
- Stanley Hauerwas Reading Room at Tyndale Seminary
- Stanley Hauerwas: The Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Modern Western Theology
- A few articles and one audio lecture by Hauerwas at Jesus Radicals
- A Guide to the published writings of Stanley Hauerwas