Defending Constantine: First Thoughts

Stanley Hauerwas has a review of Peter J. Leithart’s Defending Constantine: The Twilight of Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, available for free here. After reading it, it sounds like Hauerwas is being very gracious and receptive to what Leithart has to say, but it appears that Leithart has a plurality of arguments, lacking any single thesis other than that Yoder is wrong about some things relating to Constantine and war/pacifism. I own the book, and have not yet had time to read it in full, but based on my skim of the final chapter and Hauerwas’s review, I am unimpressed so far with his arguments against pacifism (or with his motive for this aspect of his book).
Continue reading “Defending Constantine: First Thoughts”

A sexual follow-up: or, On the necessity of being anti-family

The discussion of the need not to discuss sex continues apace.

I feel the need to interject something. I notice that many of the participants in this discussion of the need for non-discussion are Yoder fans and that blogging mega-star Ben Myers objects to “the unbridled theologisation of marriage and the so-called ‘family unit’.”

With those points in mind, I would humbly suggest that the conclusion we should draw from Jesus’s unmarried state, etc., is not, first of all, that he was not a participant in any erotic activity — a position that seems to maintain the normative link between sex and marriage and assume that Jesus would necessarily abide by that — but rather that “marriage and family values” are among the powers and principalities of which Jesus was “independent.” (Note also that marriage is among those things that Paul says we should use, if we must, “as if not.”)

The upshot then would not be that we should just stop talking about it and certainly not that we need to make faux-radical statements about the irrelevance of sexuality to the definition of humanity. Instead, we should take a radically anti-family stance.

(I of course await comment on what Rowan Williams would think of this before embracing it as my final position.)

Christ, History and Apocalyptic released in the U.S.

Christ, History and ApocalypticBack in the summer, I posted an announcement regarding my forthcoming book, Christ, History and Apocalyptic: The Politics of Christian Mission.   I am pleased to announce that the book has now been released in the United States through Cascade Books, in their Theopolitical Visions series. Ben Myers has graciously posted an excerpt from chapter 5 of the book entitled “John Howard Yoder: The Singularity of Jesus and the Apocalypticization of History” on his Faith and Theology blog. Should you wish to have the book ordered for your own personal or institutional libraries, U.S. readers can now purchase the book at a web discount from the publisher here.   Outside of the U.S. the book will be released at the end of this month by SCM Press as part of its Veritas series, and can currently be ordered at a discount here.

Here are the endorsements for the book as provided by Stanley Hauerwas, Graham Ward, and Nicholas M. Healy:

“A rare gift—a critic from whom you learn. Though I do not agree with all of his criticisms of my work, Kerr—drawing imaginatively and creatively on the work of Troeltsch and Barth—has rightly framed the questions central to my and Yoder’s project. We are in his debt for having done so. In this book, Kerr not only establishes himself as one of the most able readers of my and Yoder’s work, but he is clearly a theologian in his own right. We will have much to learn from in the future.”
—Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina

“This is a timely book that traverses twentieth century theology to develop a distinctive understanding of church engagement with the world. Finely executed and acutely discerning, it opens up an ecclesiology that is neither culturally accommodating nor counter-cultural. Conceiving the church as fundamentally dispossessive and missionary, Kerr announces a genuinely apocalyptic Christian politics. This is excellent theology for the up and coming generation.”
—Graham Ward, Head of the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester

“This is a really exciting book: engaging, provocative, and—above all—constructive. Kerr seeks to reaffirm the Christian claim that Jesus Christ is the Lord of history in the face of modernity’s attempts to subsume Christ into our history. In spite of the complexity of its material, this fascinating book is so remarkably clear throughout that I found it hard to put down. It should not be ignored.”
-Nicholas M. Healy, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Associate Dean, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. John’s University, Queens, New York

For those interested, I am also reposting the book description and table of contents in hiding.

Continue reading Christ, History and Apocalyptic released in the U.S.”