Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life

Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life

Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life

Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life

Synopsis

In this book Stanley Hauerwas explores the significance of eschatological reflection for helping the church negotiate the contemporary world.

In Part One, "Theological Matters," Hauerwas directly addresses his understanding of the eschatological character of the Christian faith. In Part Two, "Church and Politics," he deals with the political reality of the church in light of the end, addressing such issues as the divided character of the church, the imperative of Christian unity, and the necessary practice of sacrifice. End, for Hauerwas, has a double meaning -- both chronological end and end in the sense of "aim" or "goal."

In Part Three, "Life and Death," Hauerwas moves from theology and the church as a whole to focusing on how individual Christians should live in light of eschatology. What does an eschatological approach to life tell us about how to understand suffering, how to form habits of virtue, and how to die?

Excerpt

I have been teaching for forty- five years. That is what I understand myself to be — a teacher. I suspect that is not how those external to Notre Dame and Duke think of me. I suspect I am thought of as a person who “writes a lot” and/or holds views about what it means to be a Christian that are not widely shared. Given my track record, that I am so regarded by many is quite understandable, but I hope that is not who I am. I hope I am first and foremost a teacher.

I am soon to retire. If I have any regret about retirement it is that I will miss interaction with graduate students. I am not sure how many dissertations I have directed. I am sure I do not want to know how many dissertations I have directed. To know how many would only make me tired. What I do know is that the trust students have put in me has been a gift. I have learned from every dissertation I have directed. It would, I suspect, be a fascinating investigation to show the difference students have made for how I think and what I have written over time.

To teach means you must be taught. I have never liked sentiments that suggest teachers learn more from their students than students learn from their teachers. of course, everything depends on what you think you are “learning.” I think teachers should know more than students about the subject they are teaching. the “more” they should know is not necessarily “information,” but rather judgments that depend on years of close reading. Teachers can and certainly do learn from students, but that does not mean they cease being teachers.

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