Faith-Based Initiator

Performing the Faith
Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Nonviolence
Stanley Hauerwas
Brazos Press, $19.99, 252 pp.

For the past thirty years, Stanley Hauerwas has been our most prolific, provocative, and profound theological essayist. Always stimulating, sometimes exasperating, never boring, Hauerwas challenges us Christians to rethink our easy accommodations with the dominant culture.

The heart of this book is the essay "Performing Faith," co-written with Jim Fodor. Just as texts are not plays and scores are not music unless they are performed, so faith is neither subjective interpretation nor objective text. Christian faith lives, moves, and has its being in the performance called discipleship. Faith is performance.

Performing faith is not the work of individual people. Even virtuoso soloists require a performing community to train them and to sustain their work. Faith is the work of disciples, those disciplined in following Christ, however creative and inventive their performance may be. Performing the faith is not a "quantitative" thing, as if piling up performances increased faith. Rather, the more skilled we become at living in and living out the faith, the deeper and richer our faith is. And for excellent performers, be they actors, dancers, musicians, or Christians, the work plays them as much as they play the work, especially when they engage in that ecstatic improvisation that marks a brilliant performance.

The hallmark of performing the Christian faith is grace in action, as in a dance. The dance steps of faith are formed by the grace sustaining us,...

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About the Author

Terrence W. Tilley is chair of the Theology Department at Fordham University.