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Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony [Paperback]

By Stanley M. Hauerwas (Author), Hauerwas (Author) & William H. Willimon (Author)
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Item description for Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony by Stanley M. Hauerwas, Hauerwas & William H. Willimon...

In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the alien status of Christians in today's world. A provocative Christian assessment of culture and ministry for people who know that something is wrong.

Publishers 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.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Abingdon Press
Pages   175
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 5.26" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.51 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 1989
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687361591  
ISBN13  9780687361595  

Availability  0 units.

More About Stanley M. Hauerwas, Hauerwas & William H. Willimon

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stanley Hauerwas is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at the Divinity School of Duke University. He is the author of many books, including A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic (University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), which was selected by Christianity Today as one of the 100 most important books on religion of the twentieth century.

Stanley M. Hauerwas currently resides in the state of North Carolina. Stanley M. Hauerwas was born in 1940.

Stanley M. Hauerwas has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Radical Traditions S

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Administration
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Inspirational

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Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony?

Never once mentions the nation's best know resident alien Christians.  Oct 3, 2006
In Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon suggest the theory that "the church is a colony, an island of one culture in the middle of another." (p 12)

Their thesis reflects the apostle Paul's second letter to the Corinthians when he paraphrases Isaiah 52:11, "`Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord. `And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you.'" (2 Corinthians 6:17)

In many ways Resident Aliens reads almost like two different books. The first half of the book is where the authors introduce their basic premise - of the church as a colony standing apart and independent from the world around it.

As they propose the problems with the current Church, and explain how and why it should be a different Church, Hauerwas and Willimon can't be accused of subtlety in their arguments or of acknowledging the nuisances of the real world. (I recognize that Hauerwas and Willimon are critical of Church leaders who seemingly compromise their faith to accommodate the "real world," but in their general indictments, Hauerwas and Willimon fail to recognize or acknowledge the real exceptions to their rules.)

Where they focus nearly exclusively on the Church as a body, they fail to see that the body is comprised of very different, independent parts.

Hauerwas and Willimon point accusing fingers at churches that support the government, so-called Constantinian churches, "we believe both the conservative and liberal church, the so-called private and public church, are basically accommodationist (that is, Constantinian) in their social ethic," they write. "Both assume wrongly that the American Church's primary social task is to underwrite American democracy." (p 31)

While this may be true for their own diocese-driven denominations, with their hierarchies and lack of congregational independence, their argument, indeed their entire thesis, fails to recognize that the "Church" in the Unites States includes such a diverse cross section of Christians as to render their point dangerously close to mute.

Their assumption that the U.S. Christian's assumption of the church's roll in American democracy would come as quit a shock to the 200,000 Amish in the United States, the tens of thousands of Religious Society of Friends, (Quakers), or even the 35,000 who attend celebrity minister Joel Osteen's independent Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, each weekend.

According to the book cover, they call for a "radical new understanding of the church," but they completely and utterly fail to see that the logical step of their argument is the very Baptist idea of congregationalism, and the autonomy of each congregation.

Hauerwas and Willimon look to the Church to be separate from society and independent from Government, to be "resident aliens," but completely ignore those Christians who already are. They ignore the more than a million American Christians in independent churches and denominations who are each small islands in the secular world without a human hierarchy telling them what Church is.

Even the mega-churches like Osteen's Lakewood Church, have in many ways reached the sort of alien status advocated in the book - with biblical-based programs, missions and independent support seven days a week.

The later chapters of Resident Aliens offer fewer generalities and more anecdotes and examples. But just as Hauerwas and Willimon offer no real distinction between the Church as a Christian body and individual congregations and denominations who already are living as resident aliens, they fail to recognize a difference between Pastors, Ministers, and Preachers, using the very different job titles interchangeably. A Church may have a good managing minister, for example, but they may need to hire a minister of visitation and membership who offers pastoral care.

Ironically, with their "provocative Christian assessment of culture and ministry," (as the book cover proclaims), Hauerwas and Willimon are in their own way resident aliens in the Church. In their circles, the Church may need reform, but millions of Christians in the United States are already living the Christian life Hauerwas and Willimon propose. An American Amish family would certainly feel like "resident aliens," for example. And yet Hauerwas and Willimon manage to write an entire book about resident aliens, and never once mention the nation's best know resident alien Christians.

Because Hauerwas and Willimon seem to only see their own community, they seemingly fail to see that there are others in their own communities. Where Hauerwas and Willimon see Constantinian Christians, those same Christians may see Hauerwas and Willimon as ersatz Christians in desperate need of a real believers' baptism.
Great intro to Hauerwas' thought  Jul 21, 2005
The theology outlined and the methods of pastoral care and response are stunning. If the church allows itsself to be faithful to its calling (as they insist that it must) the world would be changed!

If you've never read anything by Hauerwas, I'd say that this is as good of a place as any to start. It mixes theology with pastoral care and allows you to process through what the authors are saying with case studies and examples that make a lot of sense. It's not necessarily the best resource for an advanced seminarian, but then again, it seems to be written primarily for a lay-level audiences and for pastors.
Good book, but where is the Bible???  Nov 3, 2004
This book by Hauerwas and Willimon give a provocative treatment on what the church really is. Their view is that the church is a colony of believers in the midst of a world of sin, corruption, and destruction. I found this book to be quite interesting and thought provoking. It is not a book that appeals to Christians who like to have a "country club" view of the church where it is a place where one can fulfill one's selfish emotional and spiritual needs. I appreciate the view expounded by the authors that the church is a place where we are to be a light to the sin darkened world. Christians--evangelical or liberal--will find this view refreshing since it emphasizes the corporate aspect of the church and its theocentric rather than anthrocentric viewpoint. I also liked the authors' perspective on how their understanding of the church affects ministry. One idea that caught my attention is their view that if a pastor becomes very popular in a short period of time, then he has failed in his duty to the church (and how so true that is!). Overall, I liked the way the authors tried to push the truth that the church is there not for ourselves but for God and the world. Despite these positive points, there was a couple of negatives. Firstly, I found their view of the church highly politicized. It felt like I was reading some treatise on Christian politics many times. Though they do not side with conservatism or liberalism (politically or theologically) they do seem to push the idea that "pacifism" is the overarching theme in our ethics. However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes states, there is a time for war (3:8). (Though Hauerwas and Willimon do not promote this, it seems that modern pacifist "Christian" theologians`seem to give the "okay" to war against right-wing fascist countries that supports the rich but turn around and say it is "not okay" to wage war against communistic/socialist countries that support peasants and workers--a view which I find very hypocritical. Christians are to condemn ANY government that oppresses people--whether the victims are poor or rich.) Secondly, I found that the authors use very little Scripture to back up their points. And those few Scripture citations that they do give are just thrown out as prooftexts. Despite those problems, this book is an useful resource for those who want to understand what the church is about from a postliberal marginally evangelical viewpoint.
An Earth-Shattering Book  Aug 12, 2004
When I read this book it literally helped turn my world upside down (or may I should say right side up). In this fascinating and provocative work, Hauerwas and Willimon issue a startling call for the church to take seriously its vocation as the church. The main social ethical task of the church, as Hauerwas and Willimon point out is for the church to be the church rather than to transform the world. Hauerwas and Willimon briliantly critique both the conservative and liberal churches in that they both privatize religion and neglect the inherently political nature of the gospel. As an alternative to either form of accomodation of the church to culture, Hauwerwas and Willimon argue that the church must return to its calling as the confessing church that is committed to allegiance to Christ and his peaceable kingdom over against all other lords (be they capitalism, democracy, or more simply, America).

Hauerwas and Willimon show very clearly the eschatological context presupposed by the New Testament as normative for Christian ethics. On this basis the critique the failed project of Christendom on the basis of its falsely over-realized eschatology. Thus, they argue for an ethic grounded in the Christian narrative, centered on the cross and ressurrection of Christ as the criterion of Christian ethics.

Thus, they reject liberalism and its attempt to translate Christian ethics into categories that can be "reasonable" to all people. When the particularity of the cross and the Christian story is understood, it becomes clear that those who reject Christ as the meaning of history cannot possibly live according the vision of the world set forth in Christ. For them it is "reasonable" to kill of false and contrived borders, whereas for Christians it makes all the sense in the world to love one's enemies and refuse to kill them since Christ has called us to reconcilliation and witness to his peaceable kingdom.

There is certainly much more in this book than I have described. It is a viatally important book for the church to read and reckon with today. The rampant accomadation of the chruch to the hegemonic powers of the United States is an affront to Christ and the church must come to see that for us "there is another king, Jesus." (Acts 17:7)
Too Hot to Handle  Mar 30, 2004
As a young college student, many years ago, I first came into contact with "Christ and Culture" by H. Richard Niebuhr and :The Cultural Subversion of the Biblical Faith" by James D. Smart. These contacts launched me into the most difficult journey of my Christian life, separating my faith from my culture.

Resident Aliens helped me continue this journey. It doesn't really pick up where Niebuhr left off. It is more truthful to say this book reacts against Niebuhr. But, still I would give all three of these books 5 stars, because they helped to form me.

WARNING: Hauerwas and Willimon make strong statements about becoming swept up in the culture of this world. Their statements do not play well in our current cultural climate. For instance, on page 35 the authors quote Alasdair MacIntyre, "Dying for this state, . . . is like being asked to die for the telephone company"

As you can tell from this quote, this book will be challenging to read, but you could sure get people made at you if you used the wrong quote at the wrong time!


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