Monday, October 09, 2006

Re-reading Resident Aliens

There is a community group that has gathered this past summer to read writers connected with The Ekklesia Project. We read D. Brent Laytham's book God Is Not... and now tonight we begin Stanley Hauerwas' and Wil Wilimon's Resident Aliens. This book is probably one of the most formative books I read in seminary (and in a pastoral care class! can you believe it??!?!). I am probably reading it for my fourth time now.

Just reading through the first chapter today, and I couldn't help but share a few quotes from the pages.

Tertullian was right--Christians are not naturally born in places like Greenville or anywhere else. Christians are intentionally made by an adventuresome church, which has again learned to ask the right questions to which Christ alone supplies the answers. (p. 19)

In Jesus we meet not a presentation of basic ideas about God, world, and humanity, but an invitation to join up, to become part of a movement, a people. By the very act of our modern theological attempts at translation, we have unconsciously distorted the gospel and transformed it into something it never claimed to be--ideas abstracted from Jesus, rather than Jesus with his people. (p. 21)

Right living is more the challenge than right thinking. The challenge is not the intellectual one but the political one--the creation of a new people who have aligned themselves with the seismic shift that has occured in the world since Christ. (p. 24)

The project, begun at the time of Constantine, to enable Christians to share power without being a problem for the powerful had reached its most impressive fruition. If Caesar can get Christians there to swallow the "Ultimate Solution," and Christians here to embrace the bomb, there is no limit to what we will not do for the modern world. Alas, in leaning over to speak to the modern world, we had fallen in. We had lost the theological resources to resist, lost the resources even to see that there was something worth missing. (p. 27)

That which makes the church "radical" and forever "new" is not that the church tends to lean toward the left on most social issues, but rather that the church knows Jesus whereas the world does not. (p. 28)

We cannot understand the world until we are transformed into persons who can use the language of faith to describe the world right. Everyone does not already konw what we mean when we speak of prayer. Everyone does not already believe that he or she is a sinner. We must be taught that we sin. That is, we must be transformed by a vision of a God who is righteous and just, who judges us on the basis of something more significant than merely what feels right for us. (p. 28)

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