In the past half-century, few theologians have shaped the landscape of American belief and practice as much as Stanley Hauerwas. His work in social ethics, political theology, and ecclesiology has had a tremendous influence on the church and society. But have we understood Hauerwas’s theology, his influences, and his place among the theologians correctly?
Hauerwas is often associated—and rightly so—with the postliberal theological movement and its emphasis on a narrative interpretation of Scripture. Yet he also claims to stand within the theological tradition of Karl Barth, who strongly affirmed the priority of Jesus Christ in all matters and famously rejected Protestant liberalism. These are two rivers that seem flow in different directions.
In this volume within IVP Academic’s New Explorations in Theology (NET) series, theologian David Hunsicker offers a reevaluation of Hauerwas’s theology, arguing that he is both a postliberal and a Barthian theologian. In so doing, Hunsicker helps us to understand better both the formation and the ongoing significance of one of America's great theologians.
In mellifluous prose, Hunsicker makes the case that Hauerwas is not, as some scholars have recently charged, unconsciously an exponent of Protestant liberalism. But in making this case, Hunsicker gives us something even more valuable: a reckoning with Hauerwas’s main sources that offers a new way of understanding the history of the past century of Protestant theology in America, with Hauerwas performing Barth’s theology in a Yoderian mode in response to American idolatries. This book helps us to understand what Hauerwas’s witness has meant and means.
—Matthew Levering, James N. and Mary D. Perry Jr. Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary
Hunsicker’s book is thoroughly academic, well researched, and clearly organized. Carefully guiding his readers through his argument, he convincingly submits that Hauerwas is thoroughly Barthian in his rejection of Protestant liberalism in the American context. He effectively highlights the pragmatism of postliberal theology vis-à-vis Hauerwas’s ecclesiocentric Christology under the influence of Barth, showing his readers how Barth’s theology for the church is picked up, adapted, and applied by Hauerwas. This book is a must-read for understanding how these two important theologians affect contemporary discussions in missional ecclesiology.
—Ronald T. Michener, professor and chair, department systematic theology, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium
This is an exceptional piece of scholarship. Extremely well researched yet written in an accessible and inviting voice, it represents a real contribution to the field. While David Hunsicker admits that numerous books about Hauerwas have already been written, he is right that Hauerwas’ relationship to Barth has not been sufficiently addressed—and it matters. This book ought to be widely read by Barthians and Hauerwasians, as well as anyone interested in the landscape and contours of theology and ethics in the last century.
—Kristen Deede Johnson, professor of theology and Christian formation at Western Theological Seminary
In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
David Hunsicker (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) teaches theology at Azusa Pacific University. Previously, he served as a youth pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. He lives in Pasadena, California, with his wife, Barbara.