Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life
Eerdmans, $24, 269 pp.
Stanley Hauerwas has achieved singular preeminence among theologians in the United States as a public intellectual. Writing on subjects from Christian ethics to law, pacifism, bioethics, and political philosophy, he has provided bountiful fodder for academics while managing to leave footprints in the general culture—he is surely one of very few theologians ever to appear on Oprah. Any new book bearing Hauerwas’s name is noteworthy, and the latest one doesn’t disappoint. In Approaching the End, the theologian revisits his earlier works, responding to critics while trying to write “in a different voice” and encouraging readers to “think twice about how they learned to think about how I think.” Such convoluted reflexivity signals the self-referential character of this book.
Hauerwas divides Approaching the End into three parts dealing respectively with eschatology, the church, and what he calls “the difficulty of reality.” The voice of the late Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, Hauerwas’s colleague at Notre Dame, haunts these pages. From Yoder Hauerwas learned that the establishment of Christianity as a dominant religion, beginning with Constantine, turned Christians complacent, making them forgetful of eschatology, and inclining them...