Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Presence of the Peaceable Kingdom: Shaping Christian Social Ethics from Jacques Ellul and Stanley Hauerwas
by Anderson, Peter Micah, Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2017, 285; 10274575
Abstract (Summary)

The need for holistic solutions to diverse problems presents the church with an opportunity for a social witness shaped by the gospel. As a step toward accomplishing this end, this dissertation aspires to establish a refreshed approach for understanding Christian social engagement as fundamental expressions of the character of God through the virtuous witness of the church. To begin, chapter 1 contains the introduction to the dissertation, beginning with a statement of the thesis, namely, the church embodies a prophetic social ethic in the world through presence, possibility, and place as expressions of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. Following the articulation of this thesis will be definitions of “faith,” “hope”, and “love.” A proper understanding of these terms is crucial to the dissertation, and each will be elaborated further as the project progresses. This chapter closes with an overview of the project by explaining research methodology and brief chapter summaries.

Chapter 2 begins the explanation of the proposed virtuous social ethic: presence. Drawing together particular contributions from Ellul and Hauerwas to reveal how Christian faith enacted in social ethics requires the faithful ecclesial witness of God's people in the world. The goal of this chapter is to unpack, develop, and synthesizing particular emphases from the theological ethics developed by Ellul and Hauerwas. The resulting combination strengthens each respective position to encourage healthy Christian social presence from a disciplined theology of faithful presence.

Significantly, Ellul and Hauerwas encourage Christian social witness empowered by the revelational foundations of Scripture and biblical community. As well, the enduring witness of the church in the face of social instability, coercion, and injustice remains the peaceful paradigm of Jesus Christ. Only through genuine faith granted by the sovereign choice of God is the church able to maintain a prophetic and incarnational presence in the world. This chapter concludes by developing a theology of faithful presence revealed in the disciplined faithfulness of God's holy, redeemed people.

Chapter 3 moves from presence to possibility. The first part of this chapter explores how Ellul and Hauerwas see Christian hope driving and shaping the redeemed community. That is, joining Ellul's hopeful Christian freedom with Hauerwas' eschatological ethic encourages the church to embrace a broader vision for moral action. Such a living hope drives the Christian community to seek the substantive social good shaped by the dynamic awareness of God's lordship over all creation.

Chapter 4 moves to the third part of the proposed Christian social ethic: place. Through a loving relationship with the world, the church does not neglect cultural needs nor capitulate to social pressures but practices a dynamic commitment to Christ through enacting God's love. Christian social ethics are thwarted before they begin without an effort to know and understand context.

The first part of this section examines the way Ellul and Hauerwas describe the love exemplified by the church in relationship with God and the world. Specifically, Ellul's emphasis on living in relationship with the world complements Hauerwas' commitment to truthful community and Christian presence among the sick and suffering. The second part of this chapter further unpacks the lived significance of the loving God's world. Ellul's dialectic social ethic emphasizing man's need for divine intervention, Hauerwas points to the practiced presence of Jesus as the church's path to loving social witness. As a synthesis of the first two sections of this chapter, the final section explores how the Christian living in loving relationship with the world demands a rich theology of place emphasizing personal relationship, apologetic disposition, and temporary expressions.

Chapter 5 will wrap up this study by providing review, final analysis, and areas for further study. The church has a divine responsibility to embody the goodness and character of God in the world. Yet, the church often reacts in extremes by cultural capitulation or sectarianism. In light of this, the church must develop a balanced approach to the cultivation and practice of Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love. Even more, in the face of social marginalization, the church must maintain a creative yet distinctly Christian approach to social ethics. The hope of this study is to provide a constructive analysis of proposals made by Jacques Ellul and Stanley Hauerwas in order to empower the church to rightly embody the character of God for the glory of God and the good of the world. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Liederbach, Mark
Commitee: Edgar, William, Jones, David W.
School: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Department: Department of Graduate Studies
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 78/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Ethics, Theology
Keywords: Christian ethics, Ellul, Jacques, Hauerwas, Stanley, Theology, Virtue
Publication Number: 10274575
ISBN: 9781369727944
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