The Table Video

Stanley Hauerwas

Theology from the Bottom Up - Stanley Hauerwas' Theological Method

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Divinity and Law, Duke Divinity School
June 2, 2017

Stanley Hauerwas shares how he’s tried to craft his theology not primarily for academics but for the church.


Looking at your work, looking at your theology, looking at your ethics, not to separate those things, you think of them as part and parcel. But you do this work, it seems, from the bottom up. You observe narrative and story, you talk about the importance of the particulars in developing a broader theological perspective.

I’ve always tried to resist theology becoming written primarily for other theologians. So I’ve tried to work in a manner that my primary audience are laypeople like myself, ministers, and to show what I think are some of the serious intellectual challenges before the church today. That has met, I’ve tried at once to write some of what I do at a very high academic level.

I don’t like the language of popularization. I think the distinction between the academically serious and what’s popular is a false distinction, because theological language is the language of the church, and therefore I try to write at a very fundamental level that makes contact with what I think every Christian struggles with.

In your memoir, you say you write to find out what you believe.

Hauerwas: Right. And then by the end of that memoir you say, what a surprise, I’m a Christian.

laughs: I’m a Christian, right. It is a big surprise to me, I’m not,

Why? Why is it a surprise?

Because I’m not, it doesn’t come natural to me. I’m very pleased that God has made friends make me a Christian, so that’s given me a wonderful life.

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