On Being Christian in America: More Liberal or Conservative Than Christian

By Stanley Hauerwas:
The nature and mission of the Church, the relationship between Church and world, the role of Scripture and tradition, the question of teaching authority (the Magisterium) within the Christian community, the connection between teaching authority and theological exploration, the meaning of doctrine and dogma--the Roman Catholic Church is working through these questions on behalf of the entire Christian community. Of course there are other Christian communities addressing these questions. Some communities, however, are not capable of that. Much of liberal Protestantism has lost the points of reference, even the vocabulary, required for deliberation and debate on such questions. Most of conservative Protestantism, especially fundamentalist Protestantism, is not aware of the questions.

[Catholics] changed when [they] came to America. By "came" I mean when Catholics took up the project of being Americans rather than Catholics who happen to live in America. For when you came to America for the first time you had to live in a culture that was based on Protestant presuppositions and habits now transformed by Enlightenment ideologies. For the first time you had to live in a society which was putatively Christian and yet in which you were not "at home." The church knew how to live in cultures that were completely foreign--in India and Japan--but how do you learn to live in America? A culture which at once looked Christian but may in fact be more foreign than China.

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