I’ve begun reading more about Stanley Hauerwas in my attempts to find theologians who are influential and brilliant, yet challenge the status quo with their own lives and thinking. One thing I really appreciate about Hauerwas that he focuses on theology that is useful for communities of faith – he is writing practical theology whether he’d say that about himself or not. What he has to say about the formation of theology pertains, I think, to blogging and using wikis within the church.
In “The Hauerwas Reader” William Cavanaugh writes that we may be waiting a really long time for a seminal work by Hauerwas where he spells out his entire Christian theology. The reason is because Hauerwas believes that this kind of thinking presumes to know something the church itself doesn’t know. For Hauerwas, Theology and ethics take place within the local context of a given faith community and is always on the move. Because this is one of his main focuses (the church as its own polis) he typically spends his time writing short essays about specific ethical and pastoral issues, including medical ethics, interpretation of scripture, war, abortion, homosexuality, and the church in the political world.
What can be learned from Hauerwas at this point is that theology is not static, in fact, much of the harm and struggle our churches deal with today comes when we aggressively (and unnecessarily) cling old theologies that no longer work and don’t speak to our conditions today. Theology is just a science about God, as our world, language and culture change we learn new/different ways to talk about and understand God – fresh ways to express our faithfulness come with each new morning.
This is why I think its great to have people in their local faith communities writing theology as one who is participating in their local church. Wikis present an equally wonderful opportunity for people to participate together in writing from their particular situations, with their communities, and about issues that their groups face. I hope to see a rise in church blogs and wikis where the entire community is encouraged to participate together in the life of thinking about issues that face us as people of faith.