Posted on: October 1st, 2011 Hauerwas on Evangelicals & “Making Christianity Up”

“Too often, American Christians think that they get to make Christianity up, but it is received.”

“As a Christian, I have no private life. That Jesus is Lord is going to make my life quite dysfunctional in relation to a good deal of American practice.”

Statements like these clarify my mind, and motivate me to press on in the same direction my pastoral ministry has been going for over a decade now. Statements like these are on offer regularly by Stanley Hauerwas, for example, here.

This is another good one, too. In this one Hauerwas states that, all too often, Evangelicals think that Christianity consists solely of the Bible and “now” … totally omitting 2000 years of history.

Wow. Having been in Tyler, TX for a year now, my mind is blown by the extent to which so many of the Christian folk around here (and these are evangelicals I am talking about) don’t even meet that deficient standard. Would that they valued the Bible!! I bet three times a week I hear a well-meaning Christian (whether they know I am a pastor or not) walk up to me and say, “God told me __________.”

“God told me to move to Tyler to start a ministry.” (That one, unsolicited, was two days ago, spoken by a complete stranger, in the park while I was pushing my three year old in a swing.)

“God told me to tell you that ________.” (This one happens about once a month, often from another Christian leader in Tyler.)

(I could go on, but I’m starting to feel kind of guilty and embarrassed.)

When it comes to theses statements I think, “OK, maybe.”

I don’t want to be a mere skeptic when talking with brothers and sisters. However, I’m pretty sure that 99% of the time this statement is based not on Scripture, not on deep intimacy with God such that one can “hear” God “speak,” but rather on self-interested emotion(alism).




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4 Responses to “Hauerwas on Evangelicals & “Making Christianity Up””

  1. Everett Lees Says:
    October 4th, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Matt I wonder if people thought Peter was working from self-interested emotionalism when he said God told me to call nothing unclean? How do we know if something is from God and not from my desire?

  2. Katie Yu Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 12:45 am

    When birthed out of saturated prayer and listening it can be a tool of the Holy Spirit to “open our hearts wide” towards each other for encouragement and knitting together of the Church in mysterious ways.

    Reminds me of “Believe Matt — you will have another daughter.” Praise be to God for His faithfulness (Ps 113:9).

    Grateful for your gifts of discernment and care-we need it.

  3. matt Says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 6:37 am


    Thanks! Three responses;

    1. Peter was an apostle; I am not.

    2. In Acts 10, God’s message was radically _opposed_ to Peter’s desire. He resisted the initial instructions; he was “inwardly perplexed” even after the vision. Most folks I talk to who hear God telling them to do something are not resistant to or perplexed by the message. On the contrary.

    3. In Acts 10 the crazy message from God is confirmed by a new redemptive historical development, kind of like a revival (Jonathan Edwards listed several objective characteristics for true revival), but way more important in the unfolding history of God’s salvation: the full inclusion of the Gentiles into the covenant along with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those Gentiles. That’s a big difference.

  4. matt Says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 6:38 am


    Yes … indeed! Thanks!

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