Dr. Joseph Scrivner posted this article on his Facebook today, and it was something that resonated deeply with me and discusses some of the things I have written about, particularly in the “In defense of theology” post, so I thought I would pass it along. It’s called “The Surprise of Being a Christian” by Stanley Hauerwas on his book Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir, which is also now next on my reading list.
The Article: “The Surprise of Being a Christian”
I became a theologian because I could not “get saved.” I was raised in an evangelical Methodist church. Evangelical meant that though you had been baptized and made a member of the church on Sunday morning, you still had to be “saved” on Sunday night. I wanted to be saved but I did not think you should fake it. So finally sometime in my middle teens, while we were singing during the altar call “I Surrender All” for the twenty-fifth time, I surrendered. That is, I dedicated my life to the Lord assuming that if God was not going to save me, I could put God in my debt by going into the ministry. That has never happened, but it did put me on the road to college.
By the time I had got to college, I had begun to read and had decided that most of what Christians believed could not be credible. So I became a philosophy major at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. It was by reading philosophy that I discovered that I did not know enough about Christianity to know if it was true or not. So I went to Yale Divinity School not to study for the ministry but to find out if the stuff was true. God help me, I fell in love with theology, and in particular the theology of Karl Barth. I have now spent a lifetime thinking about God.