Hauerwas Book Explores World's End

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A new book by Duke Divinity School Professor Stanley Hauerwas explores the value of eschatological reflection—reflection on the ultimate destiny of humankind and the world—for helping the church negotiate the contemporary world. The three-part book, “Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflection on Church, Politics, and Life,” was published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. in November.

Hauerwas, the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law, addresses his understanding of the eschatological character of the Christian faith in Part One, titled "Theological Matters."

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. For Hauerwas “end” has a double meaning—both a chronological end and an end in the sense of an 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. He explores questions such as: What does an eschatological approach to life tell us about how to understand suffering? How do we form habits of virtue? and How do we die?

“If we are to be human, we are in the business of learning to die,” Hauerwas states. “That, in short, is what this book is about. That is what Christianity is about. It is my hope, therefore, that those who are not Christian might find some of the reflections in this book ‘useful.’ For it is my deepest conviction that Christianity is training in how to be human. What Christians have to say should therefore be interesting to those who do not share our faith. But it is equally true that we Christians will have much to learn from those who are not so identified.”