The Sermon on the Mount was not designed to cultivate right attitudes but to form a visible people of God.
When United Methodists Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon urge Christians to take the Sermon on the Mount seriously as a model for the church, they represent a new trend in mainline Protestantism. On page 13, Charles Scriven discusses that trend in “The Reformation Radicals Ride Again.” Here, an excerpt from Resident Aliens, Hauerwas and Willimon’s new book, gives CT readers a chance to sample an emerging mainline theology of church.
It would be difficult for us to open a discussion of Christian ethics in a more questionable way than to cite someone who, to many mainline, moderate-to-liberal church people like us Methodists, is anathema—Jerry Falwell. We cite Falwell not to support his agenda, but to suggest that the fundamental issue of Christian ethics is not whether we shall be conservative or liberal, but whether we shall be faithful to the church’s peculiar vision of what it means to live and act as disciples. To our minds, there is not much difference between Jerry Falwell’s ethical agenda and that of the American Protestant Mainline. Whether they think of themselves as liberal or conservative, American Christians have fallen into the bad habit of acting as if the church really does not matter as we go about trying to live like Christians.
Not long ago, on one of his television broadcasts, Jerry Falwell did something typical—he asked for money. He was pleading for funds for his “Save a Baby Homes.” According to Falwell, his organization is establishing homes, all over the nation, where a young woman who decides to continue a difficult pregnancy may receive ...1
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