A Feature Review of
Hauerwas: A (Very) Critical Introduction
Reviewed by Jordan Daniel Wood
Many of us have benefited from the provocative, incisively critical work of theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas. Here Roman Catholic theologian Nicolas Healy offers a critique no less provocative: Hauerwas’s program to promote the visible distinctiveness of the Church and its practices lacks what is most distinctive about Christianity – its theology (9-10, 16).
Such a sweeping critique need not indicate Healy’s failure to appreciate Hauerwas’s work. Healy makes a helpful distinction between a thinker’s “agenda” and “argument,” which together constitute one’s “project” (4). One’s agenda comprises the changes one desires to see in the Church and its life. One’s argument is how one attempts to present and persuade others to adopt that agenda. While Healy agrees with much of Hauerwas’s “agenda,” he takes issue with Hauerwas’s “argument” in three major areas: methodology, social theory, and theology (6). These weaknesses “undermine” Hauerwas’s agenda and demonstrate that “his argument needs considerable revision” (9).