Tag Archives | Stanley Hauerwas

Resident Aliens | Stanley Hauerwas & William H. Willimon

The cover of Hauerwas and Willimon's Resident AliensFirst Century Philippi was a colony of Rome. It was the place where grizzled Roman soldiers would settle when their warfare was over. Consider it a mini Rome—a place where Roman law and values reigned. It was to the Christians in this Roman colony that Paul wrote, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20 NRSV). In the same way that Roman citizens embodied Roman values in Philippi, heavenly citizens are called to embody heavenly values while in the colonies on earth.

Resident Aliens is a fiery book. In it, Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon describe a tragic situation: the colony of heaven is starting to look like the kingdoms of this world! Rather than being different, the church tries to fit in. In contrast to this capitulation, the goal of Hauerwas and Willimon is

to empower people in the church by exciting their imaginations to see what wonderful opportunities lie at the heart of Christian ministry—once the integrity of the church is reclaimed. (144)

The world has changed. Christendom has fallen. Rather than mourn, Christians can view this as a blessing. The church is no longer church-by-default. It must, once again, be the colony of heaven.


Hauerwas, Stanley and William H. Willimon. Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989.

The Peaceable Kingdom | Stanley Hauerwas

The cover of Hauerwas' The Peaceable KingdomWe often think of Christian ethics in response to a concrete problem. Did that politician abuse his power when he dated that intern? Is it ethical for a rape victim to have an abortion? Is it permissible to lie in order to serve the greater good? Where can we go to find the resources to answer these questions?

Many Christians, especially of evangelical stripe, go to the Bible—Hauerwas goes to church. It’s not that Hauerwas doesn’t value scripture, but he knows that scripture was written by and formed within the church. Scripture is best read together, within the context of the church. It is in the community of the baptized that believers grow in virtue. It is in the church that Christians learn their place in God’s story and have their imaginations freed to think truly and ethically.

The entire book centres around chapter 5, “Jesus: The Presence of the Peaceable Kingdom” (72-95). The story of Jesus (not Christological reflection) is “meant not only to display [Jesus’] life, but to train us to situate our lives in relation to that life” (74). The life of Jesus is characterized by nonviolent love.

Thus to be like Jesus is to join him in the journey through which we are trained to be a people claiming citizenship in God’s kingdom of nonviolent love—a love that would overcome the powers of this world, not through coercion and force, but through the power of this one man’s death. (76)

The church embodies an alternate reality—true to reality. The church the place where nonviolent love reigns and thus bears witness to the world that Christ is present. (Or at least it should be thus. Violence and disunity threaten the witness of the church to its core.)

When it’s time to make difficult moral and ethical decisions, we will have been apprenticed by the church into the life of Christ and will have become the sort of people capable of making those hard choices.


Hauerwas, Stanley. The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002 (1983).

I “Just” Pray | Stanley Hauerwas

Most “spontaneous prayers” turn out, upon analysis, to be anything but spontaneous. Too often they conform to formulaic patterns that include ugly phrases such as, “Lord, we just ask you …” Such phrases are gestures of false humility, suggesting that God should give us what we want because what we want is not all that much. I pray that God will save us from that “just.”

—Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 255.

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