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?
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Reading Hauerwas is like walking in on a family argument. You don’t always know when and how the fight started, but you can’t take your eyes off it, you’re galvanized by the energy in the room, you suddenly find the fight is about things you’ve always been troubled by—and you sure as hell will stay rooted to the spot until you see how the argument comes out. Stanley Hauerwas writes unputdownable theology—because he believes in a God who will never put us down until it’s clear how our story comes out.
—Samuel Wells, visiting professor, King’s College London
This book represents the mature thought of one of the most creative and insightful thinkers of our time. Here we see Hauerwas grappling with the difficulties caused by the positions his obedience to Jesus Christ has compelled him to take. Those who think they already know what Hauerwas has to say should read this book and rediscover the restless Hauerwas, whose thought is always straining forward to what lies ahead.
—William Cavanaugh, professor of theology, DePaul University
Readers of Approaching the End will not find Hauerwas’ ‘last word’ on any of the topics that he has addressed in his many books. Rather, he offers readers wise and provocative first words about topics in Christian eschatology that invite further engagement. First-time Hauerwas readers are likely to be surprised to encounter the unstinting rigor of a Christian theologian who dares to think about last things while looking squarely at the prospect of his own death. Longtime readers will be struck that Hauerwas continues to challenge us to rethink what it means for Christians to affirm that ‘God is making all things new.’
—Michael Cartwright, dean for ecumenical and interfaith programs, University of Indianapolis
Once again the master brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old—I shall return to these essays with gratitude for their grace and insight.
—Fergus Kerr, honorary fellow, University of Edinburgh