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HAUERWAS'S WITH THE GRAIN OF THE UNIVERSE AND THE BARTHIAN OUTLOOK: A Few Observations

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

This article has two main divisions, the first consisting in parts 1–3, the second in parts 4–8. The purpose of the first division is to assess Hauerwas's contentions regarding what he takes to be serious debilities in modern theological culture. The objects of Hauerwas's criticism are: (1) natural theology; (2) reason as it is represented in the structure of the modern university and in the “Enlightenment Project”; and (3) liberal Protestantism—the latter particularly as it turns up, by his account, in Reinhold Niebuhr's theology. The article will offer a defense of natural theology and an alternative approach to Niebuhr's theology while showing how Hauerwas's contentions concerning these two matters are mistaken. Parts 4–8 are theological studies. These studies concentrate on selected though main aspects of Hauerwas's outlook. Part 4 concerns a problematic implication of the notion, mainly from Barth, of divinity's humanity; Part 5 a note of difficulty from William James about the idea of the theistic God and its pertinence to the Barthian or Hauerwasian God; Part 6 the relation between belief and witness; Part 7 theology's discourse and analogy; Part 8 the Barthian-Hauerwasian theology as a metaphysics. Part 1, concerning natural theology, stands over both divisions. These observations are not in the main intended as textual studies, though in certain passages the analysis is closely attentive to Hauerwas's text. Also, the paper does not offer the sort of account that would come from a historian, intellectual biographer, or social or cultural analyst or critic. Its focus is philosophical-theological criticism.

Keywords: Barth; Hauerwas; Reinhold Niebuhr; natural theology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9795.2007.00295.x

Affiliations: DePauw University

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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