Mohler: When you look at American Christianity in general, and American Evangelicalism in particular, you appear to see a church that is looking less and less like the church.
Hauerwas: That’s true. I have great admiration for evangelicals for no other reason than they just bring such great energy to the faith and I admire that. But one of the great problems of Evangelical life in America is evangelicals think they have a relationship with God that they go to church to have expressed but church is a secondary phenomenon to their personal relationship and I think that’s to get it exactly backwards: that the Christian faith is a mediated faith. It only comes through the witness of others as embodied in the church. So I should never trust my presumption that I know what my relationship with God is separate from how that is expressed through words and sacrament in the church. So evangelicals, I’m afraid, often times, with what appears to be very conservative religious convictions, make the church a secondary phenomenon to their assumed faith and I think that’s making it very hard to maintain disciplined congregations.
Hauerwas: I think evangelicalism is destined to die of its own success and it will go the way of mainstream Protestantism because it depends far too much on charismatic pastors, and charisma will only take you so far. Evangelicalism is constantly under the burden of re-inventing the wheel and you just get tired. For example, I’m a big advocate of Morning Prayer. I love Morning Prayer. We do the same thing every morning. We don’t have to make it up. We know we’re going to say these prayers. We know we’re going to join in reading of the psalm. We’re going to have these Scripture readings. I mean, there’s much to be said for Christianity as repetition and I think evangelicalism doesn’t have enough repetition in a way that will form Christians to survive in a world that constantly tempts us to always think we have to do something new.
more great quotes from SH:
I tell my [seminary] students for example…They should never have the Christian funeral in a funeral home. It is to be in the church. And they should never marry someone off the street. And they say well if we try to do that, they will just go to the church down the street and be buried in a funeral home or to marry people off the street. And I say “yeah, but that’s why they’re a bad church and you’ll be a good one!” We won’t have many members. So that’s the way I think that it works, namely that the consumer gets to consume the kind of faith they want.
... Hagel made the comment at one time, “Christians arose in the morning and said their prayers. Now they read the newspaper.” …But I think that the fundamental habits of the faith have been in decline and that leaves us with insufficient resources to sustain our lives as Christians in a world in which we find ourselves.
The first thing we need to do is confess our sin; that we have pridefully tried to make our faith a faith that suits us, and, in particular, underwrite the American experiment as central to the Christian faith.
The church will be leaner and meaner and that will be a very good thing. I think that we will discover how much we need one another for survival and that is a very good thing.
... to younger evangelicals:
“We need you, so you must acquaint yourself with the great literature of our culture, which is a Christian literature, in a way that you become articulate for the world in which we find ourselves so that we will not lose our ability to be people of substance in a world filled with superficiality.”
How to live in light of the end of all things?
Be a person of joy because you are God’s good creature who was created for the glory of God which is joy.