The people of the synod who know Stanley Hauerwas through his writing and speaking, including his recent appearance in the series “Refreshing the Hearts of the Saints,” will appreciate historian Gregory Singleton’s critique of Hauerwas as celebrity, theologian, and reviver. Singleton locates Hauerwas among the admonishers, those Christians ancient and modern whose style of discourse has been to speak “the truth that needs to be heard but seems to be resolutely avoided.” Singleton puts Christian admonishment in historical context and sees Hauerwas as a reviver of the admonishing style in a culture where it has been politely ignored because it is considered impolite. Methodist Hauerwas draws from Catholic, Mennonite, and Neo-Thomist wells. “In his work these three factors work together as the tradition that forms our characters, and the characters thus formed can find expression through Christian community.” Hauerwas has, writes Singleton, “consistently stated that his major concern is with establishing and maintaining moral discourse within that community.”
Frank Senn has written in these pages about both same-sex issues and the responsibilities of bishops. Now, in his column, he observes that an agenda is being laid before the church for its deliberation, which includes “the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of candidates living in ‘committed same-sex relationships’.” Senn asserts that advocates who are asking that a long-standing consensus in the church be abandoned are pushing this agenda and they are “well organized, adequately financed, and politically astute, and so far there is no organized opposition.” Writing as a busy parish pastor, he looks to the Presiding Bishop and to the Synod Bishop because it belongs to their office “to guard the faith of the faithful and to uphold the moral tradition by which we try to live in obedience to God’s law.”
In our second pair of articles we move from moral discourse to evangelism, a step that should be short and natural. Your editor for this issue reviews Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission. I have tried to express my appreciation for the questions the author seeks to answer and my admiration of the energy devoted to evangelism and Christian formation in Warren’s Baptist megachurch community while, at the same time, being forthright about my sense that the community lacks fullness in its sacramental practice. I suggest that Lutherans and Evangelicals could learn much from each other in the right kind of dialogue.
Finally, we are pleased to reprint a reflection on “Promise for a New Day,” the 2002 theme for the ELCA under the ongoing theme “Making Christ Known.” Theodore W. “Ted” Schroeder underlies his theses about “promise” and “a new day” with biblical citations, making the document a superb vehicle for adult study. “The biblical record,” says Schroeder, “sees a promise as something fundamental to God’s action toward and on behalf of people.” We who live in the promise and hope that the promised Messiah offers “…face the future eager to get on with the task to ‘make Christ known,’ because in him we have received that sure promise that offers hope for a new day—this day and every day into God’s future.”
Wayne R. Cowell
for the Editorial Council