The Table Video

Stanley Hauerwas & Evan Rosa

Christian Political Life

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Divinity and Law, Duke Divinity School
CCT Director / Editor of The Table / Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Biola University
June 2, 2017

Stanley Hauerwas distinguishes the politics of Jesus from the politics of America.

Transcript:

So, when you compare American politics to Christian politics, where do we start?

Well, we start by Christians telling one another the truth. To sustain our lives in communities in which we know that death is always a possibility.

How baptism should shape the Christian community to be a people who know that death is real, is absolutely one of the resources that makes Christians a polity that is quite distinctive from the general American polity.

There’s an anxiety that America will cease to be a Christian nation.

Stanley: I hope so. [laughs] I hope so. The idea that we are a Christian nation is extraordinarily destructive one.

How so?

Well, one, it assumes we know what we mean when we say democracy and Christianity and democracy are seen as wedded at the hip. So, that means that Christians in America can go kill other people in other parts of the world because they’re not democrats.

And I think how we can convince Christians in America that, just something very basic, as Christians, we have a problem with war. Let’s start there. Christians have a problem with war. I mean, I’m a Pacifist, but I’m ready to take just warriors on and say, you know, you think you’ve got a problem with war. Where did the Christians get the idea that it was just okay to be in the armies?

And you point out, and this brings us a little bit back to love as well, but Christianity is a political religion. The ministry of Jesus can be considered as a politics of Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus wasn’t accepted. If Christianity was all about love you say, then why was Jesus rejected?

Right, it’s like before He got nailed to the cross, He should’ve said, “I think there’s been a failure in communication.” [laughs]

How can you kill someone and just say we all love one another? Rome knew what it was doing.

That it was subversive?

That it was subversive because we didn’t under see the thing that our Caesar and the God the things that are God. Caesar wants it all. God has it all.

It is therefore, Jesus is a politic and it is a politic of the formation of a people who live by nonresistant love across time by establishing ways of surviving in a violent world by being nonviolent, which is a very dangerous way to be.

Evan: It is.

But that’s our politics.

Evan: It is. Yeah.

Stanley: It is one that I’ve tried to help us recover over the last 50 years.

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