Ebook Special for Cross-Shattered Christ by Stanley Hauerwas

Today only: the ebook of Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Stanley Hauerwas is $1.99 (87% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble



“Hauerwas strips down the seven last sayings of Jesus to their barest essence, refusing to psychologize or proffer easy explanations for hard truths. For the third saying (‘Woman, behold thy son!’), he points out that the Jesus of the New Testament was nothing if not anti-family, and then launches into an utterly fascinating argument that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is presented as the ‘new Abraham’ throughout the Gospels and the Book of Hebrews. Many readers will find it refreshing to see a Protestant theologian recognize Mary’s unique role in salvation and in the church. One note of caution: although these essays are short and the entire book clocks in at right around a hundred pages, even serious readers will find that this is not a collection to be consumed in a single sitting. It would make excellent devotional reading for all of Holy Week, using each reflection for a full day’s rumination.”
Publishers Weekly

“Much-respected theologian Hauerwas . . . has written a brief but intensely observed discussion of the theological issues that subtend the last utterances of Jesus on the cross. Hauerwas’s theology and approach belong squarely in the mainstream tradition of Christian theology about Christ and redemption; many readers will gain profound insight from his deftly phrased, swiftly moving observations. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal

“A close and moving reading of each of Christ’s last sayings from the cross. . . . Don’t miss this opportunity to reflect further upon the last words of our Lord and Savior.”

In Cross-Shattered Christ, theologian Stanley Hauerwas offers a moving reflection on Jesus’s final words from the cross. This small and powerful volume is theologically poignant and steeped in humility. Hauerwas’s pithy discussion opens our ears to the language of Scripture while opening our hearts to a truer vision of God. Touching in original and surprising ways on subjects such as praying the Psalms and our need to be remembered by Jesus, Hauerwas emphasizes Christ’s humanity as well as the sheer “differentness” of God.

Ideal for personal devotion during Lent and throughout the year, Cross-Shattered Christ offers a transformative reading of Jesus’s words that goes directly to the heart of the gospel.

The Weekly Hit List: December 12, 2014

Presence and Encounter by Dr. David G. Benner was reviewed by Englewood Review of Books.

“For being a relatively short book, it is contains a deeply powerful message. Although at times what Benner writes is complicated because of some philosophical language, it is challenging nonetheless.

“Most are seeking life change, and most seek it by adding more to their lives. We are told that that if we only had this thing or went to this seminar, then we could be changed. The truth is, true transformation starts with being present and will lead us to encounter with the divine. . . .

“Presence is such a powerful idea, but most of us miss it everyday. David Benner’s book presents us with a message that we all need to hear.”

Read the entire review here.


Quick Hits:

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, was quoted extensively in “The Painful Lessons of Mars Hill” in Leadership Journal.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed in Christian Courier and on Disembodied Beard.

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter spoke at Trinity Western University.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on One Theology.


Ebook Specials:

Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values, and Wisdom by Daniel Taylor is only $1.99 (88% off) from participating retailers through December 13.

A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching by Stanley Hauerwas is only $2.99 (85% off) from participating retailers through December 15.

Every volume in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz is only $0.99 (92% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations by Frank G. Honeycutt is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

Ebook Special for A Cross-Shattered Church by Stanley Hauerwas

Now through December 15, the ebook of A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching by Stanley Hauerwas is only $2.99 (85% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble



“This exciting book of profound and often challenging sermons by Hauerwas is to be warmly welcomed, as it will enrich the life of the Church and its proclamation of the Gospel–to say nothing of revitalizing relevant Christian theology.”
Expository Times

“‘Preaching Repentance in a Time of War’–not actually a sermon but an appendix to the book–should be required reading for all American Christians. Hauerwas’s sermons, like Karl Barth’s in Deliverance to the Captives, provide an accessible path into his theology.”
Christian Century

With passion and insight, eminent theologian Stanley Hauerwas shows how the sermon is the best context for doing good theology in A Cross-Shattered Church. He writes, “I am convinced that the recovery of the sermon as the context for theological reflection is crucial if Christians are to negotiate the world in which we find ourselves.” The book includes seventeen sermons preached by Hauerwas, which he considers his best theological work. They are divided into four sections: Seeing, Saying, Living, and Events. Sermon titles cover a broad range of topics, including (among others): Believing Is Seeing, The Glory of the Trinity, The End of Sacrifice, Was It Fitting for Jesus to Die on a Cross?, Only Fear Can Drive Out Fear, The Appeal of Judas, Slavery as Salvation, To Be Made Human, and Water Is Thicker than Blood. Professors and students of theology, pastors, and those interested in what Hauerwas has to say about theology and preaching will value this work.

Stanley Hauerwas (PhD, Yale University) is chair in theological ethics at the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He previously taught at Duke University. He is the author of numerous books, including Cross-Shattered Christ, A Cross-Shattered Church, War and the American Difference, and Matthew in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible.

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 25:14-30:

No parable has been more misused than Jesus’s parable of the talents. Once any parable is abstracted from Jesus proclamation of the kingdom, once any parable is divorced from its apocalyptic context, misreading is inevitable.

Speculation begins, for example, about how much a talent might be or whether the master’s observation that the money could have been put in a bank might mean that Jesus approves of taking interest. Speculative uses of the parable have even been employed to justify economic practices that are antithetical to Jesus’s clear judgment that we cannot serve God and mammon.

Jesus is not using this parable to recommend that we should work hard, make all we can, to give all we can. Rather, the parable is a clear judgment against those who think they deserve what they have earned, as well as those who do not know how precious is the gift they have been given.

The slaves have not earned their five, two, and one talents. They have been given those talents. In the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1–9), Jesus had indicated that those called to the kingdom would produce different yields. Those differences should not be the basis for envy and jealousy, because our differences are gifts given in service to one another.

So are the talents given to the slaves of the man going on a journey. It is not unfair that the slaves were given different amounts. Rather, what is crucial is how they regarded what they had been given. Jesus makes clear in this parable that we can do only what we have been given.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 25:1-13:

In order to introduce the parable of the ten bridesmaids, Jesus uses the familiar formula, “The kingdom of heaven will be like this,” only this time he says, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this.” “Then” signals that he is telling the disciples how they must learn to live in the light of his death and resurrection.

Ten bridesmaids took their lamps to wait for the bridegroom. Five were wise and took with them extra oil for their lamps. Five were foolish and did not prepare ahead. The bridegroom was delayed, and the bridesmaids understandably became drowsy and went to sleep.

But late in the night the shout went out: “Look! Here is the bridegroom!” The bridesmaids arose and trimmed their lamps, but the foolish bridesmaids’ lamps had run out of oil. They asked the five who had brought extra oil to share their oil but they were denied because if they shared their oil it would mean that none of them would have light by the time the bridegroom arrived.

The foolish bridesmaids went to buy extra oil, but by the time they returned the bridegroom had come, the wedding banquet had begun, and the door was shut. The bridesmaids asked that the door be opened, but the bridegroom refused, saying that he did not know them. Jesus admonishes the disciples that they should “keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The parable of the bridesmaids, therefore, is at once an invitation to a celebration and a judgment against those who are unprepared. The wise bridesmaids rightly celebrate with the delayed groom because they had prepared for a long night of waiting.

The bridegroom arrived at an unexpected time. The foolish bridesmaids failed to understand that in a time when you are unsure of the time you are in it is all the more important to do what you have been taught to do. In the dark you must keep the lamps ready even if they are not able to overcome the darkness.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 22:15-22:

[The Pharisees] ask Jesus whether he thinks it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor. It is a clever question that is meant to put Jesus in an impossible position. If Jesus says that taxes should not be paid, it would make him a rebel against Rome. If he says that taxes should be paid, he will appear to be on the side of the Herodians, collaborators with Rome, and he will not be a credible prophet.

Jesus is not taken in by their flattery, not only recognizing them as hypocrites but naming them as such. He refuses to respond directly to their question but instead asks them to show the coin used for the tax. Rome, it seems, not only required a tax, but wanted the tax paid in Roman coinage.

Those who sought, like the devil, to entrap him brought the required coin to him. He asked them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered that it was the image of the emperor’s head. Jesus then told them that they should give to God the things that are God’s and to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s. When they heard this answer, they were amazed and left him.

Unfortunately, through much of Christian history, Christians have not been amazed by this answer. Rather, they have assumed that they know what Jesus meant when he said we are to give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and to God what is God’s. It is assumed that Christians are a people of a double loyalty to God and the state. Christians are told that they should never let their loyalty to the state qualify their loyalty to God, but they never seem clear when and if such a conflict might actually happen.

Jesus requests the coin, minted to pay the tax, to be given to him. He does not possess the coin. He does not carry the coin, quite possibly because the coin carries the image of Caesar. Jesus’s question is meant to remind those who carry the coin of the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exod. 20:4–5).

Jesus’s answer that the things of God are to be given to God and not to the emperor is a reminder to those who produced the coin that the very possession of the coin makes them idolaters. Jesus is not recommending in his response to the Pharisees that we learn to live with divided loyalties, but rather he is saying that all the idolatrous coins should be sent back to Caesar, where they belong.

Just as Jesus knows no distinction between politics and religion, neither does he know any distinction between politics, economics, and the worship of God. Those who have asked him whether they should pay taxes to the emperor are revealed to be the emperor’s faithful servants by the money they possess.

That God and the emperor cannot both be served is, moreover, not solved. For many, this account of Jesus’s claim that we are to give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and to God what is God’s creates an insoluble problem because they do not see how followers of Jesus can then live in the world as we know it. But to recognize that we have an insoluble problem is to begin to follow Jesus.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 22:1-14:

A king gives a wedding banquet for his son, sending his slaves to call on those who had been invited, but they would not come. He sent other slaves to tell them that a great banquet has been prepared. But those invited made light of the invitation and went about their daily business. Some even seized the king’s slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops to destroy the murderers and burn their city.

Again he sent his slaves into the street, gathering all who were found there, both the good and the bad, and the wedding hall was filled. When the king came to see the guests, one man was not wearing a wedding robe. The king asked him, “friend”—the same address of the owner of the vineyard to those first hired—how did you get in without  a wedding robe? The man was speechless.

The king had the attendants bind him and throw him into outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus concludes that “many are called, but few are chosen.”

This parable reprises Matthew’s gospel. Jesus has come to feed us. He has fed the five thousand and the four thousand. The kingdom is about food and, in particular, food for the poor. But the food given by Jesus is not only to feed the hungry but to stage a banquet.

This is a feast of God’s abundance. Yet many seem to think that they have all they need and refuse to take the time to attend the king’s banquet. They act as if they need no king, consumed as they are by their daily lives. Some, insulted by the persistence of the king’s invitation, even kill his slaves. Jesus, just as he had in the parable of the wicked tenants, suggests that the way the king’s slaves were treated is the way that Israel had treated God’s prophets.

This is an extraordinary parable that makes for uneasy reading for those who want Jesus to underwrite a general critique of elites in the name of creating a community of unconditional acceptance. To be sure, just as the previous parables had been, this parable is meant to make those in power and the well-off uncomfortable. Most of us, particularly in the commercial republics of modernity, refuse to recognize that we are ruled by tyrants or, worse, that we have become tyrants of our own lives.

We believe that we are our own lords, doing what we desire, but our desires make us unable to recognize those who rule us. We have no time for banquets prepared by the Father to celebrate Jesus’s making the church his bride. We have no time for the celebration of that great thanksgiving feast in which we are “living members” of the king’s “Son our Savior Jesus Christ” (Book of Common Prayer 1979, 365). Such a people are right to be challenged by God’s hospitality to those who must live in the streets.

Yet this parable also makes clear that those who come to the banquet from the streets are expected to be clothed by the virtues bestowed on them through their baptism. If the church is to be a people capable of hospitality, it will also have to be a community of holiness. Jesus expects those called to his kingdom to bear fruit (Matt. 21:43). He has made clear in the Beatitudes how those called to his kingdom will appear.

To be poor and outcast may well put one in a good position to respond to Jesus’s proclamation of the kingdom, but Jesus expects the poor and downcast to live lives worthy of the Lamb who will be slain. Only a people so formed will be able to resist emperors, who always claim to rule us as our benefactors.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 21:23-32:

There is no place one might go to know with certainty that Jesus is who he says he is. To know that Jesus is the Son of God requires that we take up his cross and follow him. Having taken up the cross, Christians discover they have no fear of the truth, no matter from where it might come.

Jesus is not through with the chief priests and elders. Indeed he is just getting started. We have seen him use parables to instruct his disciples to understand the character of the kingdom of heaven. Faced with the chief priests and scribes, he uses the parables to help them see the challenge he presents to their rule.

He asks them to consider (“what do you think?”) a man with a vineyard who had two sons. He asked the first son to work in the vineyard, who declined, only to later change his mind and go to the vineyard. The father went to the second son with the same request, and this son readily agreed, but did not go to the vineyard.

Jesus asked the chief priests and elders which did the father’s will. They were, of course, forced to answer that it was the first.

Jesus draws for them the unmistakable conclusion, that they are the second son who has failed to do the father’s will. Therefore, the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before them because the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John’s proclamation that the kingdom had drawn near and recognized that they must repent.

The tax collectors and prostitutes had their lives changed, and so they—but not the chief priests and elders—believed in John.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 16:21-28:

Jesus tells his disciples that if they are to follow him they must take up their cross. If they seek to save their lives using the means the world offers to insure their existence, then their lives will be lost. Rather, they must be willing to lose their lives “for my sake” if they are to find life. Jesus is not telling his disciples that if they learn to live unselfishly they will live more satisfying lives. Rather, he says that any sacrifices they make must be done for his sake. The crosses they bear must be ones determined by his cross.

What Jesus asks of his disciples makes no sense if Jesus is not who he says he is. You do not ask those who follow you to follow you to a cross unless you are the Son of God. You do not ask your brothers and sisters to contemplate the death of those they love if you are not the Messiah. You do not make Peter the rock on whom the church is built if you are not the one who has inaugurated the new age. But Jesus is all this and more, requiring his disciples to live lives not determined by death.

Yet what Jesus asks of his disciples is not new. From the time he calls them to follow him they were beginning to lose their lives. At this dramatic moment at Caesarea Philippi, however, Jesus makes clear to them what has been the case from the beginning. He has led them through the cities and villages of Israel, but now he will turn toward Jerusalem to face those who conspire to kill him. He clearly indicates the journey on which they are about to embark. He does not coerce them to follow him. They follow him willingly but they will abandon him at the end.

Jesus concludes this extraordinary exchange with his disciples with a clear statement of the apocalyptic character of the time in which they stand. The Son of Man, the just judge who alone has the right to judge, has come. Jesus will face and endure death, but his death is judgment on the world constituted by the fear of death. This is no delayed kingdom, but rather the kingdom has come. This is the recreation of time that requires a reinterpretation of all time.

That some standing before Jesus will not taste death before they see the Son of Man come is the confirmation of Matthew’s claim at the beginning of the gospel that this is the “beginning” of the new age. We, therefore, rightly claim, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 16:13-20:

Beginning in Matt. 11, Matthew has us follow Jesus through the cities and land of Israel, making us witnesses to Jesus’s healings, miracles, teaching, and the controversies that his work produces. We now come to the climax of that part of our journey with Jesus as he enters the district of Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi, as its name suggests, is a city on the border between Israel and the Gentile world. It is here that Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

The disciples respond by stating some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. These responses have the common presumption, a presumption that is not clearly wrong, that Jesus stands in the prophetic tradition. His disciples, therefore, report the opinions of those who are part of the traditions of Israel. It is particularly interesting that some identify him with Jeremiah, for soon he will turn toward Jerusalem, expressing the same sorrow that Jeremiah enacted as the prophet of Jerusalem’s destruction.

Jesus receives the disciples’ reports, but then asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Some worry that when Jesus uses the identification “Son of Man,” as he does when he first asks the disciples who people say that he is, he is referring to the Son of Man in the third person. Yet Jesus’s subsequent question to the disciples leaves no doubt that when he asks about the Son of Man he is asking about himself. Jesus’s question is, moreover, directed at the disciples because they are the ones he has called, they are the ones to whom he has explained the parables, and they are the ones who have seen him still the waves and walk on water. Simon answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

The disciples had identified Jesus as the Son of God as he returned to their boat with Simon, but now for the first time a disciple recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah, the one Israel long expected, the one who alone has the power to free Israel from its enemies. Jesus commends Simon, the son of Jonah, who recognizes that he is the Messiah—a king, but one not easily recognized. Jesus declares Simon, like those described in the Beatitudes, “blessed.”

At his baptism the voice from heaven identified Jesus as “my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). At this time, the voice of the Son declares that Peter is blessed because flesh and blood could not reveal to him that Jesus is the Messiah, but only his Father in heaven. Simon knows what he does only because it has been revealed to him. It is important, however, that Peter’s knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah not be used to develop a general theory of revelation. Simon does not learn that Jesus is the Messiah by some intuitive or mystical mode of knowing. Rather, Simon learns that Jesus is the Messiah because he obeyed Jesus’s command to be his disciple.

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.