Politics, Patriotism, and Pacifism: An Interview with Stanley Hauerwas


Named "America’s Best Theologian" by Time magazine in 2001, Stanley Hauerwas teaches at both Duke Divinity School and also Duke Law School. His book, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, was selected as one of the 100 most important books on religion of the 20th century. He's such a prominent thinker, the adjective "Hauerwasian" has been created to describe those who are influenced by his work. More than an intellectual paragon, Stanley Hauerwas is a provocateur par excellence. He is always pushing people's buttons, even once asking a medical researcher who defended experiments on fetal tissue, "What if it were discovered that fetal tissue were a delicacy? Could you eat it?" But he does this to provoke thought, not to pick fights. As a result, he's become a prominent "Christian contrarian" and respected theologian. Here, he shares bluntly--would you expect any less?--his thoughts on war, pacifism and the church’s relationship with the state.

JM: Many Christians supported the war in Iraq. My home denomination, The Southern Baptist Convention, even did so publicly. This a problem in your view, isn't it?

SH: Of course, the Christian support of war in Iraq is a problem. It’s more than a problem, it’s a sign of deep unfaithfulness.

JM: Many people attack pacifists with arguments about World War II, claiming that in some cases, war is justified and just. Do you disagree with this position? I mean, would the world have been better off if the Nazi regime had been allowed to pursue their agenda of aggression and genocide unchallenged?


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