Crimson Sparrow's Reviews > Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony

Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas
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One of the most powerful and pertinent messages this book offers is its depiction of a church narrative enslaved to the doctrines of democracy and consumerism. It paints both liberals and conservatives as two sides of the same coin, both looking to the government and her articulation of freedom, human rights, power, peace, and prosperity as method and mode of salvation. They cite Yoder’s paradigm: The “activist” church desires to transform the world in a way that makes God and Christ unimportant and unnecessary, and the “conversionist” church is selfishly consumed with an individualistic saving of souls. Both are subjugated to the almighty nation-state and consumed by its heretical perspectives.

They offer instead the narrative of a Christian colony - in the world but not of the world - following Jesus the way the disciples did, worshiping God as only they can. They describe salvation as an “adventure that is nothing less than God’s purpose for the whole world” and the church as a community “training us to fashion our lives in accordance with what is true rather than what is false” (p. 52). In this depiction, elders apprentice new followers as all members remember and articulate the invasion of God into the world, “taking the disconnected elements of our lives and pulling them together into a coherent story that means something” (p. 53). As revolutionary community members, Christians bump up against one another and the world speaking this coherent meaning in direct opposition to individualistic and "worldly" wisdom.

However, the authors flail at times in their attempts to maintain the tension that is their thesis, a narrative that is neither conservative nor liberal but altogether political in an altogether different way. Their examples are poignant and helpful, but they are followed by more and more two-dimensional, straw-man arguments that venture into the very abstract conceptualizations they said they wanted to avoid. They denounce things like the helping profession, personal boundaries, and most theological and higher education, for example, as if there is no Christ there, no double-edged truth in the narratives of other disciplines confronting the idolatrous church the way the church should be confronting the world.

I disagree that it is only the church who can worship, only the church who can see and speak truth, only the church who ultimately witnesses to God. The notion runs contrary to their own depiction of the intrusion of God into the world as a fundamentally relational being that created the very world with which these authors seem so intrinsically at war. It seems to elevate the church, particularly their own vague, culturally formed and influenced articulation of the church, to god-like status - which seems dangerous considering their critique of that same church!

No, God has used “the world” to critique and correct his people over and over again. But this humility seems missing from the authors’ narrative.
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Reading Progress

March 7, 2018 – Started Reading
March 7, 2018 – Shelved
March 7, 2018 –
page 107
March 10, 2018 – Finished Reading

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