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No more plastic Jesus, March 22, 2002

In this bold and visionary book, two leading Christian thinkers explore the alien status of Christians in today's world. A provocative Christian assessment of culture and ministry for people who know that something is wrong.
"What we call 'church' is too often a gathering of strangers who see the church as yet another 'helping institution' to gratify further their individual desires." (p. 138) So say Hauerwas and Willimon in this profoundly disturbing, profoundly liberating book. Their general thesis is that the church has lost its bearings because it's forgotten its Jesus-centered tradition. Rather than dwelling within that tradition, realizing that the church's mission is to build community that exemplifies the Kingdom and the Kingdom's values, Christians too frequently accommodate to the world in order to make their beliefs acceptable. In doing whatever they can to ameliorate the "scandal" of the gospel so as not to offend anyone, they betray the Kingdom and their tradition--and God.

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"What we call 'church' is too often a gathering of strangers who see the church as yet another 'helping institution' to gratify further their individual desires." (p. 138) So say Hauerwas and Willimon in this profoundly disturbing, profoundly liberating book. Their general thesis is that the church has lost its bearings because it's forgotten its Jesus-centered tradition. Rather than dwelling within that tradition, realizing that the church's mission is to build community that exemplifies the Kingdom and the Kingdom's values, Christians too frequently accommodate to the world in order to make their beliefs acceptable. In doing whatever they can to ameliorate the "scandal" of the gospel so as not to offend anyone, they betray the Kingdom and their tradition--and God.
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"Resident Aliens" came out in 1989 and continues to be a controversial bestseller among church leaders. The authors argue that the days of "Christendom" are over--Western culture no longer looks on the church as an important prop or support to its values, and will no longer subsidize the church in any way, viz. soccer games and open malls on Sunday morning. And, this is a good thing! At last the church has the opportunity to recapture its role as described in scripture: a colony of "resident aliens" in a foreign country, demonstrating in word and deed that God is God indeed. For church folks who grew up in the 1950's and earlier, this book is a tough pill to swallow. But it points the way toward a revived church with a crucial mission to the world as we begin the "post-Christendom" millenium.
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This book has me hooked on Stanley Hauerwas. I have heard of him and his unusual approach to theological ethics and I thought I'd read this book as my professor recommended it to me.
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