Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

One of Hauerwas’s central themes in With the Grain of the Universe is the responsibility of Christians to renounce the standards of the world when examining their own philosophy. The truth of modern theology is not proved by natural reason but lies in the church’s witness in the world. The relationship between divine and human is created by the revealed nature of God rather than by human intellectual thought.

A major goal in Hauerwas’s work is to provide an account of modern theology that provides guidance but does not rest on modernist assumptions. It should reframe the discourse so that scientific processes are left to science, rather than theology.

Hauerwas feels that a central crisis facing modern Christians is how to accommodate the fact that they live in a world that has different demands than the ones facing the original audience of the Bible and to resist the urge to give into the “forces of modernity” that favor actual sensory, measurable results over transcendent knowledge. This effort is not simply an intellectual effort but one that also must be lived out in the course of one’s political existence.

Before we can turn to examining how we know to believe in God, Hauerwas asserts, we must be able to assert that we believe in him. Natural theology subverts the actual purpose of theology and turns it to measuring belief rather than actually believing. The responsibility of the church in the modern world is not to justify itself with endeavors like natural theology, but rather to provide moral and spiritual guidance for its congregation in a movement that allows them to acknowledge a connection with God that is centered in the heart rather than the mind.