Monday, August 5, 2013

Duke theologian: Don't fly U.S. flags in church

Stanley Hauerwas has been called the only pacifist you'd want on your side in a bar fight. That's how provocative this N.C.-based Christian theologian can be.

In a new 5-question interview with faith & culture writer Jonathan Merritt, Hauerwas -- a professor at both Duke Divinity School and Duke Law School -- talks in unequivocal terms about the Iraq War, C.S. Lewis, World War II and the difference between patriotism and Christianity.

Hauerwas' Christianity is uncompromising. He's criticized both liberals (for their support of abortion, among other things) and conservatives (for their support of wars, among other things).

Mostly, his chief concern in this short interview is that too many Americans cannot distinguish the church from America. So much so, he says, that they are flirting with the sin of idolatry.

"The deep problem is the Christian identification with America," he says. "It's an understandable confusion given our country's history. But that doesn't make it any less perverted."

He's scandalized by all the American flags waving in and around churches: "I've long said that flags being used in churches on the 4th of July is a form of betrayal. It is so because the flag represents for many a more determinative sacrifice than the sacrifice of Christ."

Here is the full interview and a 4-minute black and white video in which the bearded Hauerwas speaks, punctuated by his signature laugh, about "The System vs. the Kingdom."

-- Tim Funk