Toward An Apocalyptic Peace Church: Christian Pacifism After Hauerwas

Ry O. Siggelkow

The Conrad Grebel Review 31, no. 3 (Fall 2013)


If Jeffrey Stout is right in claiming that Stanley Hauerwas is “surely the most prolific and influential theologian now working in the United States,”[2] then a theological evaluation of his work is important, even necessary. Hauerwas’s influence can be discerned in many facets of contemporary theology: in the continued prominence of the category of virtue in both Protestant theological ethics and Catholic moral theology, in the basic commitments of postliberalism, and in central aspects of Radical Orthodoxy. Less often noted is his influence on a generation of Mennonite theologians.[3] Other than Hauerwas’s Mennonite students, however, many of the above movements do not share his commitment to pacifism. Or, at the very least, it is not a key component of these movements. This fact when considered by itself may be judged as merely incidental, but one cannot be blamed for second-guessing this judgment when the author of a recent book with the title Just War as Christian Discipleship claims that Hauerwas has been “particularly influential in the initiation” of his project.[4] This essay intends to be an exercise in this sort of second-guessing. My point is not to engage in the long-standing debates between just war theorists and pacifists[5] but to examine and offer a critique of the theology that shapes Hauerwas’s pacifism, in order to clear the ground for alternative theological options and to gesture at a new direction for how we might think the church’s peace witness after Hauerwas. In the first section of this essay I argue that while John Howard Yoder may have been the original impetus for Hauerwas’s intellectual conversion to pacifism, the constructive theological account of pacifism that Hauerwas has since been developing may owe more to the insights he has gleaned from reading Alasdair MacIntyre and John Milbank.[6] I contend that it is MacIntyre’s understanding of tradition and practice, and Milbank’s construal of peace as ontologically basic to the created order, that provide the framework for Hauerwas’s “onto-ecclesiological” pacifism.

By onto-ecclesiology, I mean the attempt to ground the church theologically in terms of its metaphysical correspondence to the reality of Being. Formally, what I mean by this term is not unlike what Martin Heidegger decried as “onto-theology,” namely the mode of thinking characteristic of western metaphysics that seeks to represent “the Being of beings”—the “totality of beings as such”—as ontologically grounded in and supremely manifested by a “supreme, all-founding being,” namely theion, or “God.”[7] The main difference in this context is that Hauerwas has replaced theion with ekklesia. Indeed, it is the church’s being—objectively given in its liturgical practices and institutional life—that is the “supreme manifestation” and the “all-founding” logos of the totality of beings as such. Onto-ecclesiology thus names simultaneously the ontologization of the church (the church understood as “the Being of beings”) and the ecclesiologization of being (“Being” in its highest and fullest sense, and meaning, for Hauerwas, is “being-in-the-church”). The upshot is that the being of the church is seen as embodying and performing in its institutional life, its habits and practices, that which corresponds to the “ontology of peace” that Milbank finds at the heart of the created order. From this point of view, and on this basis, we can fully come to understand what Hauerwas means when he says that “the church is what the world can be.”[8]

Once we grasp Hauerwas’s onto-ecclesiological framework we can better understand the deeply problematic character of his pacifism. For if the church is the embodiment of that “peace” which is identical to the ontological reality of the created order, then not only is “peace” rendered a predicate of what the church essentially is in its concrete form, but the work of the church becomes centrally preoccupied with preserving and maintaining—policing—the borders of its community. If the peace to which Christian pacifists witness is reducible to the perdurance of a specific cultural form, then the church’s mission to the world becomes a species of ecclesial propaganda.[9] In such a framework, the peace to which the church is committed cannot help but function self-reflexively, in that its witness of peace becomes nothing other than a witness to its own life in which peace is an essential quality. Such an account not only misrepresents the “peace” to which the church witnesses, theologically; it misrepresents the violence that the world names, biblically.

Not only is Hauerwas not yet a pacifist, as Daniel Bell has provocatively suggested,[10] but the onto-ecclesiology on which his pacifism is based betrays the violence attending what Yoder called “Constantinianism.” The church’s mission in Hauerwas’s account, while ostensibly nonviolent, is driven by the ultimate goal of subsuming or “engulfing” the world into its own “habitable culture.” Once this onto-ecclesiology basis is laid bare, we can make better sense of what is often dismissed as Hauerwas’s penchant for hyperbole, namely his claim to be a “theocrat”[11] and his admission that his work implies a “lingering longing” for Christendom.[12]

Given these concerns and critiques, the question prompting the constructive section of this essay is: What does a theology of Christian pacifism look like after Hauerwas?  While only gesturing at a constructive alternative, I will insist that Christian pacifism today—perhaps especially pacifism of a Mennonite or Anabaptist stripe—must decisively break with Hauerwas’s onto-ecclesiology. By way of an alternative I will seek to re-situate “peace” and “violence” and “church” and “world” within the conceptuality of Pauline apocalyptic. From that perspective I argue against Hauerwas that “peace” is not what is secured through the propagation, inculturation, and habituation into the culture and peaceable ontology which the church names, but is the event by which God overthrows the violent powers of Sin and Death in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Drawing on the work of J. Louis Martyn, I argue that peace, from Paul’s perspective, is not an ontological production of “the church” or “the world” but an operation of God’s action in Christ to liberate creation from enslavement to the stoicheia tou kosmou (“the elements of the cosmos”).


Contextualizing Hauerwas’s Theology and Pacifism

While Yoder deeply influences Hauerwas’s pacifism, it is crucial to contextualize Hauerwas’s theology in order to discern how Hauerwas’s appropriation of MacIntyre and Milbank marks a significant departure from Yoder. This is important both for “unhinging” Yoder from Hauerwas and for evaluating the latter’s theology and pacifism on its own terms. It is often assumed that Hauerwas’s project is more or less a faithful rendering and extension of Yoder’s conception of Christian pacifism and his understanding of Jesus and the church.[13] Hauerwas is mostly to blame for the prevalence of this assumption, for he often suggests his work is but a “modest statement of a position that has been articulated by people like John Howard Yoder for years.”[14] Indeed, not only is Yoder’s work instrumental for his commitment to pacifism, but Hauerwas thinks he has found in Yoder a conception of the church’s ethico-political witness that moves beyond the static church-world binaries set up by Ernst Troeltsch and exacerbated by Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr. Notwithstanding Yoder’s important influence on Hauerwas, there is more going on in the latter’s theology that must be teased out and contextualized for an adequate presentation of his work and what frames his pacifism.

Hauerwas’s theology, including the shape of his account of Christian pacifism, is formed out of a complex matrix of influences. It was through Yale-school postliberalism, and indirectly a particular reading of Wittgenstein,[15] that Hauerwas first became preoccupied with articulating an account of the Christian ethical life as constituted by a set of practices, liturgically and culturally construed. These influences led him to develop his account of character and sanctification as constitutive of the continuity of the Christian ethical life over time.[16] Moreover, the language of practices and sanctification connected well with his interest in a retrieval of the virtue tradition. The effect was that Hauerwas distanced himself from not only the 19th-century liberal Protestantism against which Barth and postliberals reacted, but also the dominant trends in Protestant theology and ethics more generally. Already in his doctoral dissertation Hauerwas sought to connect the Wesleyan and Calvinist doctrines of sanctification with the virtue tradition of Aquinas and Aristotle.[17]

Hauerwas’s effort to retrieve the Thomistic virtue tradition in conversation with the doctrine of sanctification in Protestant theology, however, took on a new shape in light of MacIntyre’s After Virtue.[18] Not only did MacIntyre share a concern to retrieve the virtue tradition, he supplied a provocative articulation of the philosophical roots of the problems endemic to ethical discourse in modern liberal societies.[19] Ten years later, John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory provided more grist for Hauerwas’s anti-liberal mill and came packaged with an “ontology of peace.”[20] What is needed according to MacIntyre is a new St. Benedict; what is needed according to Milbank is a new Henri de Lubac or perhaps a Maurice Blondel. Both books lament the demise of traditional forms of Christianity and locate the beginning of this demise in the supposed late-medieval intellectual roots of the Protestant Reformation. While their proposed solutions to the acids of modernity may significantly differ, both writers sought a “radical” retrieval of their own particular conceptions of traditional Christian orthodoxy, and a rehabilitation of a properly “catholic” ecclesiological vision that would re-locate “the Church” as the true polis over and against which the modern secular nation-state and secular socio-political theory had asserted itself.[21]


Tradition-constituted Ecclesiology: Hauerwas’s MacIntyrianism

While Hauerwas had learned from Yoder that a Christian ethic arises not out of the foundation of universal and ahistorical ideals but out of the particularity of Jesus’ life-history, MacIntyre helped Hauerwas see that “to abandon the search for a ‘foundation’ does not necessarily entail the loss of rationality in ethics.”[22] Thus Hauerwas adopts MacIntyre’s description and commentary on the modern fragmented world always teetering on the edge of violence, and concludes: “Lacking any habits or institutions sufficient to sustain an ethos of honor, we become cynical. . . . Yet, cynicism inevitably proves too corrosive. Its acid finally poisons the self, leaving no basis for self-respect because it renders all activities unworthy of our moral commitment.”[23] The response to such a fragmented world, says Hauerwas, is not to formulate a universal ethic that transcends all particularities but, following MacIntyre, to accept that all ethics is constituted by traditions of moral inquiry formed over time. Every ethic has a traditioned qualifier—and for Christians, it is the peaceable church community expressed narratively through history.

MacIntyre helped Hauerwas realize that there is “no standing ground, no place for inquiry, no way to engage in the practices of advancing, evaluating, accepting and rejecting reasoned argument apart from that which is provided by some particular tradition or other.”[24] The particularity that the qualifier “Christian” names in Christian ethics is not only the singular life-history of Jesus Christ that Yoder had insisted on but the particularity of the Christian tradition as it develops over time. As MacIntyre famously defines it,

A living tradition then is an historically extended, socially embodied argument, and an argument precisely in part about what goods which constitute that tradition. Within a tradition the pursuit of goods extends through generations, sometimes through many generations. Hence the individual’s search for his or her good is generally and characteristically conducted within a context defined by those traditions of which the individual’s life is a part, and this is true both of those goods which are internal to practices and of the goods of a single life.[25]

The ethical “rationality” and “truth” of Christian convictions in this framework are not adequately described as non-foundational but as self-foundational. When MacIntyre’s notion of tradition is applied to ecclesiology, as it is in Hauerwas, the outcome is a self-foundational ecclesiology—a church without any openness to a “truth” or “foundation” outside itself. In order for Hauerwas to sustain this account of tradition theologically, he comes to think of the church community as the epistemological and ontological precondition for Jesus himself. So he will say “there is no Jesus without the church.”[26]

To see how this plays out concretely in his discussion of Christian pacifism, consider the essay, “Can Christians think about War?,” in which Hauerwas asserts that though he initially came to be a pacifist “for intellectual reasons” his position is ambiguous, for any “compelling account of nonviolence requires the narrative display of practices of a community that has learned to embody nonviolence in its everyday practices.”[27] Clearly he wants to distance himself from any account of nonviolence dependent upon a “position” or “theory,” in favor of one that is a “set of convictions and corresponding practices of a particular kind of people.”[28] While he expresses his dependence on Yoder’s account of nonviolence as set forth in The Politics of Jesus, he departs from Yoder’s “biblical realism” in this essay, convinced that “the text of the Bible in and of itself” does not require pacifism.[29] Rather, as he puts it, “only a church that is nonviolent is capable” of coming to this reading of the biblical text.[30] Moreover, it is “exactly that society [the church] that makes nonviolence possible.”

Against Reinhold Niebuhr and much of modern Christian social ethics, Hauerwas says we must refuse to “separate Jesus from the church.”[31] The problem with Niebuhr and theologians such as Paul Ramsey is that they separate Christology from ecclesiology and thus “lack any sense that nonviolence is one of the characteristics of a historical community.”[32] What is problematic here, as Nathan Kerr has observed, is not so much Hauerwas’s insistence on the inseparability of Christology and ecclesiology but on “privileging the church itself as subject and agent of the Christ-story, such that it is the church’s own narrative history that constitutes the ‘storied’ identity of Jesus.”[33]

Significantly, none of this means, for Hauerwas, that Christian pacifists cannot enter into dialogue with just war theorists. For such a conversation to bear fruit, however, “depends on its ability to draw on communal practices such as forgiveness and reconciliation, which are at the heart of nonviolence.”[34] Notice the priority given to “communal practices” of the church as the source from which such a conversation must spring if it is to have any hope. The conversation does not depend so much on the singular life-history of Jesus of Nazareth as witnessed to in scripture, as it did for Yoder, but on the community’s practices that help us to read scripture rightly. Such an account stems from Hauerwas’s commitment that “there is no Jesus without the church” and that the church is itself “the story [of Jesus] being told,” for “the teller and the tale are one.”[35]


Ontological Peaceableness: Hauerwas’s Milbankianism

For all of Hauerwas’s emphasis on the priority of the church and especially the particularity of the church’s claims, Kerr correctly observes that his ecclesiology “harbors a pretension to universality, which is inimical to the ‘vulnerability of the particular’ that Yoder believes the church has committed itself to in its own ‘evangelical Christology.’”[36] This pretension to universality is, I contend, at least partly drawn from the work of John Milbank. In “Creation, Contingency, and Truthful Nonviolence: A Milbankian Reflection,”[37] Hauerwas responds to Robert Jenson’s forceful critique that his rejection of foundational accounts of knowledge means Christians “must abandon all attempts to claim Christian beliefs as true.” Jenson’s question is worth quoting at length:

Can Hauerwas’s thinking finally sustain its own central claim, that the church is the world’s salvation? The church cannot save the world in any of the ways the liberal church tries, and Hauerwas rightly rubs our noses in this plain fact. But how then is the church the world’s salvation? The student has a point: every claim to speak truth does indeed exercise something that might plausibly be called ‘violence,’ if we so choose to use the language. If Hauerwas accepts this usage of ‘violence,’ he must abandon also witness as what the church can do for the world. It seems, indeed, he must end with a doctrine that the church saves the world simply by silently existing. Now even such a doctrine may be sustainable, but only by a lot more speculative systematic theology than Hauerwas seems willing to countenance.[38]

This question highlights the problems attending Hauerwas’s ecclesiological appropriation of MacIntyre’s account of tradition. If the church’s particularity is conceived in this way, it seems to foreclose on the universality of the biblical call to mission in the world. Jenson does not so much question Hauerwas’s central claim, namely “that the church is the world’s salvation,” for as Peter Kline has shown, this is precisely the position Jenson holds.[39] Rather, he asks whether Hauerwas’s emphasis on the irreducible particularity of the church’s claims to truth does not ultimately lead to a kind of “silence” before the world that amounts to a kind of missionary failure.

What is interesting here is how Hauerwas attempts to respond to Jenson’s criticisms. What is required, he says, is the “display of material theological claims I believe Milbank has begun in Theology and Social Theory.” Milbank “provides the theological resources necessary for appeal to truth without those appeals embodying, or at least underwriting, the false universalism of secular epistemologies.”[40] Milbank helpfully supplies an explication of “the metaphysics of nonviolent creation in the hopes of providing a counter ontology to the pervasive metaphysics of violence embedded in Christian and non-Christian discourse.”[41] Milbank’s ontological account of creation as essentially nonviolent contrasts with both “the Greeks” and liberalism’s assumption that existence is essentially “agonistic.” In this “counter ontology” Christians come to see that violence is always a “secondary willed intrusion” known as such “only because of a profounder peace.”[42] A Christian ontology of peace is neither hegemonic nor totalizing, “since God’s creation is the ongoing actualization of a sociality of harmonious difference displayed in the Trinity.”[43]

By exposing the fact that liberalism’s false universalism depends on an “ontology of violence,” Milbank is able “to force the ‘secular’ to acknowledge its own contingency” and thereby open up a space for a different narration of existence, namely a properly Christian construal of ontology rooted in the Triune God. While Milbank does not allow for appeals to a foundational account of rationality, his suggestion that Christians can “out-narrate liberalism” helps to remind us that “truthful witness” requires “narrative display.” What is especially praiseworthy about this ontology, for Hauerwas, is its non-speculative character, because Milbank is committed to the theological conviction that through Christ we come to learn “the fundamental ontological claim that must shape all other claims.”[44]

Furthermore, Milbank’s commitment to the requirement of “narrative display” accords with Hauerwas’s own understanding of the inseparability of Christology and ecclesiology. He quotes Milbank approvingly, when the latter says that

[T]he Church stands in a narrative relationship to Jesus and the Gospels, within a story that subsumes both. This must be the case, because no historical story is ever over and done with. Furthermore, the New Testament itself does not preach any denial of historicity, or any disappearance of our own personalities into the monistic truth of Christ. . . . Salvation is available for us after Christ because we can be incorporated in the community which he founded . . . The association of the Church . . . shows that the new community belongs from the beginning within the new narrative manifestation of God. Hence the metanarrative is not just a story of Jesus, it is the continuing story of the Church, already realized in a finally exemplary way by Christ, yet still to be realized universally, in harmony with Christ and yet differently, by all generations of Christians.[45]

Not only does Milbank challenge and out-narrate liberalism, he understands the church as the community that “ultimately interprets and locates all other histories.”[46] Thus Hauerwas can say that the alternative history the church names is an “ontological necessity” for both the display of God’s story and Jesus’ identity.[47] The particular life-history of Jesus is construed here as a “yet still to be realized” universal. Jesus himself is situated within a teleological process whereby God is made manifest narratively and universally in the “association of the Church.” Indeed, the world’s salvation itself depends upon the church’s ability to display this story narratively in its practices, for it is “through the church . . . the world is given a history.”[48]


Hauerwas’s Onto-ecclesiological Pacifism

Whether Jenson would find Hauerwas’s response compelling is not the issue here. The response is helpful because it illuminates how Hauerwas conceives the “peace” that the church names and how it relates to the church’s mission. The peace of the church is not a “position,” as Hauerwas insists, but the fundamental reality—the ontological reality—of creation as such, which is only known and made manifest concretely through the narratively displayed practices of the church community. Indeed, peace is not only a possession of the church; the manifestation of peace depends upon the church for its ontological display in the world. Only in the church community can we learn what the peace of creation essentially entails.

We can now see more clearly how Hauerwas’s ecclesiological appropriation of MacIntyre’s account of tradition and practice, and of Milbank’s ontology of peace, render his view of the church as onto-ecclesiological. In MacIntyre he finds the resources to think the particularity of the gospel and its continuity over time as displayed through the particularities of the church’s tradition and practices. Hauerwas can make this move theologically by emphasizing the inseparability of Christology and ecclesiology as a way of recovering the political visibility of the church’s witness. But Jenson’s question that this account risks a certain “violence” if it is not left in a kind of missionary “silence” moves Hauerwas to adopt Milbank’s ontology, which supplies the universal element lacking in MacIntyre’s account.

What is especially helpful about Milbank’s universalism, for Hauerwas, is the appeal to an ontology naming the ultimate reality of the world while not losing the ecclesiological particularity that he wants to maintain. Thus, by wedding MacIntyre with Milbank he can think the church’s tradition and practices as corresponding to what is ontologically basic to creation. That creation is ontologically constituted in this way, however, cannot be known apart from the church community. Thus, incorporation into that community becomes a prerequisite to seeing the world not only as ontologically peaceable in this way but as the medium by which the world becomes, teleologically speaking, what it is made to be: ontologically peaceable. Such peaceableness is difficult and “hard won,” as Hauerwas will say, not because it lies outside the church’s institutional reality but because it requires habituation into the virtue of peace made possible by its liturgical and ethical practices. The church’s mission to ecclesiologize the world is not, however, discontinuous with the world’s own created reality—it is rather that to which the world is teleologically oriented. So, again we can better understand what Hauerwas means when he says “the church is what the world can be,” for the church just is the ontological constitution of the world’s telos. Significantly, such ontological constitution is not hidden; it is directly and objectively given in the church’s visible life, precisely in its ethical, political, and cultural distinctiveness.[49]


Hauerwas, Yoder, and Constantinianism

In this light, we can see how the church’s witness of “peace,” for Hauerwas, becomes fundamentally a matter of the church’s survival made possible by way of the preservation, maintenance, and policing of the borders of the church body. Such maintenance is critical precisely because the church’s mission is oriented around reminding the world of its primordial constitution, ontologically construed. Yet, this reminder is significant not because the world has resources in itself to become what it is made to be; rather the church exists to show the world that its final telos, its salvation, comes only as it is incorporated into the life of the church community. Thus, the church’s witness of “peace” cannot remain “silent,” for there is a fundamental imperative for the church to live out its mission for the sake of the world’s future. If this mission is devoted to ecclesiologizing the world, then what Hauerwas provides in the end is a conception of the church that aligns almost perfectly with what Yoder has called “Constantinianism.”

Remarkably, Gerald Schlabach has observed that Hauerwas’s theology becomes “quite consistent” once we realize that “he does want to create a Christian society (polis, societas)—a community and way of life shaped fully by Christian convictions.”[50] Douglas Harink agrees with Schlabach’s reading and sees it affirmed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Following Hauerwas and Paul, he writes that “[t]he church’s universal mission is therefore to bear testimony to the faithful Jesus Christ through its own cruciform, nonviolent life among the nations—a nonviolent, ecclesial Constantinianism that has no other goal than the conversion of all nations, by publicly exhibiting before them the crucified Jesus Christ.”[51] It is to that mission that Hauerwas “has committed himself as a ‘nonviolent terrorist.’”[52]

To support his claim, Harink quotes Hauerwas approvingly: “The issue is not whether Christian claims are imperial, but what institutional form that takes. If one believes as I do that the church rules nonviolently, I think the questions of ‘imperialism’ are put in quite a different context.”[53] Harink interprets that passage this way: “The ekklesia is the institutional form of an appropriate Christian imperialism that seeks to conquer the world through the nonviolent politics of the cross rather than the sword.”[54] According to Harink, “Not only does that sum up Hauerwas’s response to sectarian tribalism; it sums up the message and driving motivation of Paul’s apostolic mission to the nations.”[55]          

While Hauerwas may adopt certain aspects of Yoder’s critique of Constantinianism, especially his rejection of the church aligning its “politics” according to a given party, nation-state, empire, or government, we might say that he actually departs from the fundamental point of Yoder’s critique. His appropriation of MacIntyre and Milbank has led to the development of an onto-ecclesiological construal of the Christian peace witness, and thereby to a departure from Yoder. Because it is often assumed that Hauerwas’s pacifism is nothing but a faithful extension of Yoder’s theology, I want to show how Hauerwas nevertheless falls prey to Yoder’s critique of Constantinianism.[56]

For Yoder, the problem with Constantinianism lies first in the compulsiveness that Christians have to control the world, to move history in the “right direction.” One of the central theses of The Politics of Jesus is that what Jesus renounced “is not first of all violence, but rather this compulsiveness of purpose.”[57] The logic of Constantinianism is present whenever disciples are “drawn away from the faithfulness of service” and singleness of mind, and are “drawn into the twofold pride of thinking that we, more than others, see things as they really are and of claiming the duty and the power to coerce others in order to move history aright.”[58] In Yoder’s view, “if our faithfulness is to be guided by the kind of man Jesus was, it must cease to be guided by the quest to have dominion over the course of events.”[59] The non-Constantinian church is one constituted in mission precisely by giving up on the idea that the world must come out right, especially the idea that the world is to be subsumed into the church.                

While my primary interest has been to show the particular consequences of Hauerwas’s appropriation of MacIntyre and Milbank, I also want to suggest that Hauerwas misappropriates Yoder’s thought, as in the Gifford Lectures, which take as their theme Yoder’s claim that “people who bear crosses are working with the grain of the universe.”[60] Hauerwas appropriates this quotation to bolster his own onto-ecclesiological project when he says that “the God we worship and the world God created cannot be truthfully known without the cross, which is why the knowledge of God and ecclesiology—or the politics called church—are interdependent.”[61]

While Yoder would agree that “the grain of the universe” can only be known when one shares “in the life of those who sing about the Resurrection of the slain Lamb,” his point is not primarily ecclesiological, nor is it to insist on how knowledge of God and ecclesiology are somehow “interdependent.” Knowledge of God, for Yoder, is rooted strictly in the subject matter of the church’s song, namely the resurrection of the slain Lamb. He is indeed making an epistemological point against theological accounts that would claim knowledge of God derives from “nature,” but he does not thereby intend to turn “ecclesiology” or “the church” into that set of habits and practices by which one gains privileged access to knowledge of God and the world. His point is actually christological: it is only on the basis of God’s self-revelation in the cross and resurrection of Christ that we learn what it means to be human before God and for God to be God. Yoder refuses to subsume Christ into the church, a refusal stemming precisely from his radical Protestant convictions. Indeed, the radical Protestant “difference” is that the church relies wholly and strictly on the Spirit of God in every situation or dilemma, and not on the continuity of its traditions, practices, habits, virtues, or the certainty that its form of life alone exhibits the peace of Christ.[62]

For Yoder, the church is not to be oriented around the preservation and maintenance of its own form of life, but is rather to be shaped by radical kenotic solidarity with the world, for “if kenosis is the shape of God’s own self-sending, then any strategy of Lordship, like that of the kings of this world, is not only a strategic mistake likely to backfire but a denial of gospel substance, a denial which has failed even where it succeeded.”[63] The church therefore is called to “deconstantinize” and “disestablish” itself, to reject not only violence but the “compulsiveness of purpose that leads the strong to violate the dignity of others.”[64] The church does this because it is “the Lord of history and God’s Holy Spirit, not our eloquence or artistic creativity, which will make of our sign a message.”[65] Even in a world dominated by wars and rumors of wars, “our Lord Christ is not thereby shut out of that world.” For Christ is “able to overrule even [this world’s] brutality so as to ‘make the wrath of men praise him.’”[66] Contrary to Hauerwas, then, the call to the non-Constantinian church is the refusal to ecclesiologize the world, for this is to replicate the logic of self-concern proper to the “powers” enslaving the world. Instead, the call is to follow Christ as Lord of history in “the self-giving way of love by which all the nations will one day be judged.”[67]

It may be objected that Yoder has more in common with Hauerwas on some of these points than I admit. The recent renaissance in the study of Yoder has led some to insist on the difference and the distance between Hauerwas and Yoder; and while this essay seeks to contribute in some small way to this growing body of scholarship, that alone is not its primary purpose. Getting Yoder “right” is not the primary task of theological reflection, not even Anabaptist theological reflection. To distance Yoder’s theology from Hauerwas does not necessarily get one any closer to either a more faithful articulation of the Anabaptist peace witness or the message of the gospel. Indeed, Yoder himself at times departs from his own best insights. Just as I deployed Yoder against Hauerwas in the preceding pages, it is important to deploy Yoder against himself. Despite rejecting the natural law tradition and the “orders of creation” in favor of a perspective focused irreducibly on the singular historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, he does suggest that Christ and the church “run with the grain of the universe.” This seems to imply not only that he thinks along the lines of “immanence,” as Daniel Barber has provocatively suggested,[68] but even more problematically that God’s apocalypse in Christ is a confirmation of “nature” or “the order of things.” For Yoder, this is not a way to affirm the status quo but to stress how, despite the powers of Sin and Death, the world nevertheless exhibits movements “from below” that reflect the way the world really is. Usually, for him, this is a manner of speaking in what Karl Barth called “secular parables,” events in human history that are parabolic of the kingdom to come. However, for Barth, these parables are eschatological events reflecting a movement of God’s Spirit from beyond, not some primordial “given” always lying within, behind, or before the world enslaved to the powers of Sin and Death.


Toward an Apocalyptic Peace Church: Undoing Onto-ecclesiology

I have sought to highlight the onto-ecclesiological basis of Hauerwas’s Christian pacifism and to show how such a view cannot help but re-instantiate a Constantinian conception of the church. By way of a theological alternative, the account of Christian pacifism sketched below depends upon, and extends, the recent retrieval of an “apocalyptic” mode of theology and ethics.[69] As employed here, “apocalyptic” signifies first and foremost God’s invasion into the world in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. From an apocalyptic perspective, God’s revelation (apocalypsis) in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is neither an “unveiling” of a once hidden ontological primordiality nor a disclosure of an originary ontological peaceableness. God’s apocalypse is rather an action by which the powers that produce and sustain this world’s presumed “ontologies of peace” are exposed as fundamentally violent in their promoting an illusory peaceable order.[70] Just as it is not an unveiling, God’s apocalyptic action in Christ is also not the mode by which this world’s ontos is “perfected” according to an ecclesial, ethical, or political ideal.[71] Instead, it is nothing less than the passing away of the ontos of this world, the destruction and overthrow of the violent onto-logic of the powers of Sin and Death that radically enslave creation. Apocalyptic thus forecloses on all onto-ecclesiological construals of Christian pacifism in refusing to lay claim and secure “peace” by way of an ecclesiological alignment with this world’s ontos. In short, it is the refusal of what Yoder called the “ontocratic” logic at the heart of the just war tradition, namely the presumption that God’s peace is equivalent to “the way things are.”[72]

In his commentary on Galatians, J. Louis Martyn argues that Paul’s theology works within an apocalyptic schema of “before” and “after.” Before the sending of Christ and the Spirit the world was enslaved by pairs of opposites (Jew/Greek; Circumcision/Uncircumcision; Slave/Free; Male/Female; Law/Not-Law) produced by ta stoicheia tou kosmou (“the elements of the cosmos”); after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection these pairs have been decisively overcome and a new pair (the apocalyptic antinomy of the Spirit and the Flesh) has been born out of God’s invasive event. These two opposed powers, the Spirit and the Flesh, are now engaged in militant warfare.[73] In Christ the turning of the ages has occurred and as a consequence humanity finds itself in “hotly contested territory, a place of jungle warfare in which battles precipitated by the powers of the new creation are sometimes won and sometimes lost.”[74] Paul is confident that there is true freedom in the present (Gal. 5:1) while maintaining an unwavering realism about the war that lies ahead. The victory has been accomplished once and for all in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and yet the present time is a battle and a struggle—a time of waiting and groaning for God’s coming new creation—in which discipleship takes the form of following after Christ in the mode of resistance against the powers under the sign of his crucifixion.[75]

Following Martyn, I suggest that, for Paul, what is overcome in God’s victory over the stoicheia tou kosmou is the power of the violence that is the ontos of this world. Hence the violence of the powers is most fundamentally an ontological operation. Under the powers, this world is invariably locked in pairs of opposites that violently oppress by way of their dialectical determination of what “is” over and against what “is not.” For Paul, God’s peace is finally not a matter of “being” or “having” at all;[76] indeed, the reason Christian pacifism cannot lay claim to God’s peace is that peace is an event of this world’s passing away. Peace, apocalyptically inflected, is nothing less than God’s victory over the anti-God powers of Sin and Death whose modus operandi is to violently pose in the form of a false ontos of peace. Apocalyptic thus says a radical No! to a “peace” determined by Sin and Death, and a radical Yes! to “the God of peace who will soon crush Satan under his feet” (Rom. 16:20). It proclaims the liberation of God’s creation from the grip of the powers and for the coming of God’s reign of peace. The upshot is that peace, apocalyptically construed, is not a possibility of this world—it is not an immanent production—but an event by which this world’s ontos is exposed as violent, and its power and rule over creation is undone. To borrow from Christopher Morse, God’s apocalyptic peace is what happens when the form of this world passes away and the kingdom of heaven comes to pass.[77]

   Peace is thus not immanent to the church’s life, its traditioned practices, whether “divinely-instituted” liturgical practices or its more mundane ones.[78] The church does not make peace a possibility in this world of violence, a world that runs through the very heart of the church community itself. The church is not set apart in a sort of holy innocence. On the contrary, it is that piece of the world which confesses that peace is alone God’s victory over the violent powers of Sin and Death. Peace is the overcoming of the ontos of this world. Yet as a piece of this world, the church too must continually repent for the blood on its hands, for its continual betrayal of God’s peace in Christ. It must repent for how such betrayal is exhibited, not only in its participation in war-making and empire-building but in the ways its own life is structured according to the very ontos of a world that has been crucified in Christ and is passing away.

To repent means to unmask the ways the church is complicit in the violence of this world that occurs in the name of “peace,” and to turn toward Christ in conformity to his suffering and crucifixion. Since apocalyptic peace comes only from beyond as an action of God, pacifism is not a possibility of this world at all.[79] Peace is not latent in the world and thus cannot be secured, cultivated, or policed, only received ever anew in prayerful obedience to the God who meets us from beyond as the one crucified under the false “peace” of this world’s ontos. Insofar as this world remains bound to the powers of Sin and Death, the church also remains bound up in violence. Christian pacifism is thus not the ethical refusal of violence but the confession that God’s peace occurs in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, an event by which God proves victorious over the violent powers enslaving the world.

Such peace is as visible as the wounds of Christ’s crucified body crushed under the weight of these violent powers. The church witnesses to God’s peace in proclaiming that in this crucified body God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). The church’s work of peace is to proclaim this news in word and deed by freely giving its life away in cruciform solidarity with everyone crushed under the weight of the violent ontos of this world’s “peace.” From there, among those who “are not” according to that ontos, Christ as Lord by the power of the Spirit is at work against every power, principality, and ontological machination that would foreclose on the freedom and liberation of all creation. The peace church is given to live in the manner by which Christ emptied himself and became a servant for all (Phil. 2:5-11). This is so because the apocalyptic peace to which the church witnesses just is Jesus Christ, the one who “is not” for our sake—the one with no borders to police, no property to defend, and no identity to produce and maintain.



These tentative notes toward an apocalyptic peace church—a theology of pacifism after Hauerwas—hardly make possible the kind of potent ecclesiology and robust ontology that he and others would require for sustaining a peaceable kingdom over time. Yet if in his “onto-ecclesiology” we have indeed crossed over the threshold of a renewed, unprecedented form of “ecclesiological fundamentalism,”[80] then perhaps the beginning of a way forward is to resist any conception of the church’s being, much less of the peace to which the church is called to witness, as simply “given”—as if simply waiting there to be narrated, enacted, or made. For it belongs to the event of God’s apocalyptic, self-giving love that peace shall only be received in the power of the Spirit, as God sends us broken and bleeding into solidarity with those who “are not” and, ontologically speaking, will never truly “be.”[81]        


O Prince of peace,

from peace that is no peace,

from the grip of all that is evil,

from a violent righteousness . . .

deliver us.

From paralysis of will,

from lies and misnaming,

from terror of truth . . .

deliver us.

From hardness of heart,

from trading in slaughter,

from the worship of death . . .

deliver us.

By the folly of your gospel,

by your choosing our flesh,

by your nakedness and pain . . .

heal us.

By your weeping over the city,

by your refusal of the sword,

by your facing of horror . . .

heal us.

By your bursting from the tomb,

by your coming in judgment,

by your longing for peace . . .

heal us.

Grant us peace. AMEN[82]




Ry O. Siggelkow is a Ph.D. student in Theology and Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

[1] I am grateful to Kait Dugan, Halden Doerge, Beverly Gaventa, Craig Keen, and Nate Kerr for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this essay.

[2] Jeffrey Stout, Democracy and Tradition (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2004), 140.

[3] In particular I have in mind Peter Dula, Chris Huebner, and Alex Sider, all of whom studied under Hauerwas at Duke University. But Mennonites have long been grappling with the implications of Hauerwas’s work. We may also include here the many Anabaptist-leaning pastors and churches that have been inspired in large part by Hauerwas’s theological voice, as well as the “neo-monasticism” movement and the ecumenical group Ekklesia Project.

[4] Daniel M. Bell, Jr., Just War as Christian Discipleship: Recentering the Tradition in the Church rather than the State (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009).

[5] This essay assumes—perhaps not uncontroversially—that pacifism is essential to Christian discipleship. While I do not mean to limit potential conversation partners with this assumption, as a Mennonite, pacifism is central to a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, the Mennonite confession of faith is subject to scripture and therefore always open to correction. Because of its centrality in the confession, however, I think it is justifiable to presuppose the assumption as normative here.

[6] This is not to suggest that Yoder has had no lasting influence on Hauerwas, or that all the problematic elements of Hauerwas’s theology stem from sources other than Yoder. Yoder is at times vulnerable to at least some of the critiques leveled against Hauerwas here. The primary aim of this essay is to expose the particular consequences of Hauerwas’s appropriation of MacIntyre and Milbank, and to highlight how these are problematically played out in his account of Christian pacifism.

[7] Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), 70-71. Cf. Iain Thomson, “Ontotheology? Understanding Heidegger’s Destruktion of Metaphysics,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 8, no. 3 (2000): 297-327.

[8] Hauerwas, War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), xiii. The concern is not that Hauerwas abstracts from the church’s particularity by subjecting it to a more general philosophical account of being. Precisely the opposite is the case. What he wants to do is subject every philosophical account of being to the reality that is more fundamental and more basic, namely that which is objectively given in the liturgical, cultural, and political form of the church community.

[9] See John G. Flett, The Witness of God: The Trinity, Missio Dei, Karl Barth, and the Nature of Christian Community (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 192.  On this understanding of ecclesial propaganda, particularly in relation to Reinhard Hütter’s view of the “church as public,” see Flett, “Communion as Propaganda: Reinhard Hütter and the Missionary Witness of the ‘Church as Public,’” Scottish Journal of Theology 62 (2009): 457-76.

[10] Bell, “The Way of God with the World: Hauerwas on War,” in Unsettling Arguments: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Stanley Hauerwas’s 70th Birthday, ed. Charles R. Pinches, Kelly S. Johnson, and Charles M. Collier (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2010), 112-33.

[11] Stanley Hauerwas and Romand Coles, Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations between a Radical Democrat and a Christian (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2008), 22.

[12] See Hauerwas, A Better Hope: Resources for a Church Confronting Capitalism, Democracy, and Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2000), 227 n. 39. Douglas Harink notes that “At the 1999 meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics, Hauerwas, in positioning himself vis-à-vis John Howard Yoder, declared, ‘I am much more Catholic, more Constantinian, than John.’” Douglas Harink, Paul Among the Postliberals: Pauline Theology Beyond Christendom and Modernity (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003), 102.

[13] Some clarification has been made. For an exceptional essay highlighting their theological differences, see Gerald W. Schlabach, “Continuity and Sacrament, or Not: Hauerwas, Yoder, and Their Deep Difference,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 27, no. 2 (2007): 171-207; see also Paul Doerksen, “Share the House: Yoder and Hauerwas Among the Nations” and Craig R. Hovey, “The Public Ethics of John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas: Difference or Disagreement?,” both in A Mind Patient and Untamed: Assessing John Howard Yoder’s Contributions to Theology, Ethics, and Peacemaking, ed. Ben C. Ollenburger and Gayle Gerber Koontz, (Telford, PA: Cascadia, 2004), 187-204 and 205-20. See also Nathan R. Kerr, Christ, History, and Apocalyptic: The Politics of Christian Mission (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009), 128-33.

[14] Hauerwas, In Good Company: The Church as Polis (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1995), 51. See also Hauerwas and Chris Huebner, “History, Theory, and Anabaptism: A Conversation on Theology after John Howard Yoder,” in Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, ed. Stanley Hauerwas, Chris Huebner, Harry Huebner, and Mark Thiessen Nation, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 391-408; Hauerwas, “Foreword” to Craig Carter, The Politics of the Cross: The Theology and Social Ethics of John Howard Yoder (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2001).

[15] I have in mind especially the influence of George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984) and The Church in a Postliberal Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003). While Hauerwas rarely engages Wittgenstein directly, he does express his indebtedness at times. See Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1983), xxi. Here, he expresses his indebtedness to his then Notre Dame colleague David Burrell in particular. For the recent use of Wittgenstein in theology with Hauerwas in mind, see Peter Dula, “Wittgenstein among the Theologians,” in Unsettling Arguments: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Stanley Hauerwas’s 70th Birthday, 3-24.

[16] Hauerwas, Character and the Christian Life: A Study in Theological Ethics (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1994); originally published in 1975 with Trinity University Press.

[17] Hauerwas, Character and the Christian Life and Vision and Virtue: Essays in Christian Ethical Reflection (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1986).

[18] Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1981).

[19] For a discussion of MacIntyre’s influence on Hauerwas, see Stout, Democracy and Tradition, 144-47.

[20] John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990).

[21] Important in this regard is the work of Hauerwas’s student William Cavanaugh and his critique of the modern nation state. See William Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination (New York: T&T Clark, 2002).

[22] Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom, xxv.

[23] Ibid., 6.

[24] MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 350.

[25] MacIntyre, After Virtue, 222.

[26] Hauerwas, Dispatches from the Front: Theological Engagements with the Secular (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1994), 120.

[27] Ibid., 117; italics added.

[28] Ibid., 120.

[29] For an explication of Yoder’s “biblical realism,” see John Howard Yoder, Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution, ed. Theodore J. Koontz and Andy Alexis-Baker (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009), 309-20.

[30] Hauerwas, Dispatches from the Front, 118.

[31] Ibid., 121.

[32] Ibid., 130.

[33] Kerr, Christ, History, and Apocalyptic, 106.

[34] Hauerwas, Dispatches from the Front, 123.

[35] Hauerwas, Christian Existence Today: Essays on Church, World, and Living in Between (Durham: Labyrinth Press, 1988), 54. In this context we should read Daniel Bell’s comments quoted above regarding Hauerwas’s inspiration of Just War as Christian Discipleship. It is the Christian tradition as constituted by concrete practices that Bell takes as the primary starting point for any conversation about Christian participation in war. In his account the church’s reading of the scriptural texts as it is shaped by its concrete practices throughout history takes on special prominence. Bell’s book can rightly be seen as the outworking of key Hauerwasian insights. See Ry O. Siggelkow, “Just War is Not Christian Discipleship,” The Other Journal 17 (May 2010):

[36] Kerr, Christ, History, and Apocalyptic, 115. For Yoder’s discussion of this point, see Yoder, The Priestly Kingdom (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 44, 61.

[37] Hauerwas, “Creation, Contingency, and Truthful Nonviolence: A Milbankian Reflection,” in Wilderness Wanderings: Probing Twentieth Century Theology and Philosophy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997), 188-98.

[38] Robert Jenson, review of Stanley Hauerwas, After Christendom? First Things 25 (August / September, 1992). Quoted in Hauerwas, “Creation, Contingency, and Truthful Nonviolence,” 189.

[39] Peter Kline, “Participation in God and the Nature of Christian Community: Robert Jenson and Eberhard Jüngel,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 13, no. 1 (January 2011): 38-61.

[40] Hauerwas, “Creation, Contingency, and Truthful Nonviolence,” 189.

[41] Ibid., 189-90.

[42] Ibid., 190.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid., 191.

[45] Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 193. Quoted in Hauerwas, “Creation, Contingency, and Truthful Nonviolence,” 192-93.

[46] Hauerwas, “Creation, Contingency, and Truthful Nonviolence,” 193.

[47] Hauerwas, Christian Existence Today, 60-61.

[48] Hauerwas, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 91.

[49] For this emphasis on the church as irreducibly “visible,” see Hauerwas, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Political Theology,” in Performing the Faith: Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Nonviolence (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004), 33-54.

[50] Quoted in Hauerwas, A Better Hope, 44.

[51] Harink, Paul Among the Postliberals, 103; italics added.

[52] Ibid., 103.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] On this assumption, see the concluding remarks of this section.

[57] Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 237; italics added.

[58] Yoder, “Christ, the Hope of the World,” in The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiastical and Ecumenical, ed. Michael Cartwright (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1998), 203.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Yoder, “Armaments and Eschatology,” Studies in Christian Ethics 1, no. 1 (1988): 58.

[61] Hauerwas, With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2001), 17.

[62] See Yoder, “Anabaptism and History,” in The Priestly Kingdom, 123-34.

[63] Yoder, “The Constantinian Sources of Western Social Ethics,” in The Priestly Kingdom, 145.

[64] Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 237.

[65] Yoder, “Christ, the Hope of the World,” 204.

[66] Ibid., 217.

[67] Ibid., 217-18.

[68] See especially Daniel Barber, “Immanence and Creation,” Political Theology 10, no. 1 (2009): 131-41.

[69] “Apocalyptic” is a slippery term. Likewise, talk of “apocalyptic theology” as suggesting a kind of unified theological front does little to clarify matters. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find any sort of unified theological front. For my part, I seek to extend the tradition of biblical exegesis and theology best represented by Ernst Käsemann, Paul Lehmann, J. Louis Martyn, Christopher Morse, Nancy Duff, Beverly Gaventa, James F. Kay, and Fleming Rutledge. More recently, David Congdon, Halden Doerge, Nathan R. Kerr, and Philip G. Ziegler have made significant contributions to this still ongoing conversation. For a volume bringing together a diversity of voices and reflecting the current conversation, see Douglas Harink and Josh Davis, eds., The Future of Apocalyptic Theology: With and Beyond J. Louis Martyn (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2012).

[70] J. Louis Martyn, Galatians (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1997), 99.

[71] I am indebted to Nicholas Healy’s criticisms of the idealistic character of Hauerwas’s ecclesiology and more generally his cautionary remarks about what he calls the “new ecclesiology.” See Nicholas M. Healy, “Practices and the New Ecclesiology: Misplaced Concreteness?,” International Journal of Systematic Theology 5, no. 3 (November 2003): 287-303. 

[72] For Yoder, the Augustinian mistake as regards war and peace is to merge the gospel’s language of reconciliation with the classical Roman language of peace and order “as if they were all the same thing.” In this form of thinking, “Rome, nature, and providence are all seen as essentially the same. Religion celebrates the unity of everything and the way things are.” The logic of such ontocracy assumes that “things are ruled by the way they are.” The problem with ontocracy is that it assumes that “God is the God of the way things are, the God of nature.” Thus, “if the world is Christian, that is the way it should be.” It is this “commonsense logic” that underlies the just war tradition. The crucifixion of Christ exposes the reality that the ontos of this world exhibits a peace built on violence and death-dealing, for this ontos is itself the operation of the anti-God powers of Sin and Death. See Yoder, Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution, ed. Theodore J. Koontz and Andy Alexis-Baker (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009), 63.

[73] Martyn argues that, for Paul, this new apocalyptic antinomy does not inhere in the cosmos as such—as in the theology of Qumran (e.g., 1QS 3:13-4:26)—but has begun only since the advent of Christ and the Spirit. Martyn, Galatians, 101.

[74] Ibid., 102.

[75] As Ernst Käsemann rightly insisted, the glory of Christ’s victory over the powers of Sin and Death is hidden under the sign of the crucifixion. Discipleship consists not in ecclesial triumphalism but in the willingness to take up the cross after Christ. “The theology of the resurrection is a chapter in the theology of the cross, not the excelling of it.” In their earthly life Christians are not transferred from this crucifying world into the world of the resurrection but drawn, in freedom, more deeply into the depths of its suffering. The peace of the resurrection is given to us in the mode of promise, expectation, and hope, under the sign of the cross. See Ernst Käsemann, “The Saving Significance of Jesus’s Death,” in Perspectives on Paul, trans. Margaret Kohl (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1969), 59.

[76] See Käsemann, “Corporeality in Paul,” in On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene, ed. Rudolf Landau; trans. Roy A. Harrisville (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 48-49.

[77] For this phraseology, see Christopher Morse, The Difference Heaven Makes (New York: T&T Clark, 2010).

[78] “The freedom of the church is not where it has possibilities, but only where the gospel is truly effective in its own power to create space for itself on earth, even and especially when there are no such possibilities for the church”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 448-49.

[79] See Paul Lehmann, The Transfiguration of Politics (London: SCM Press, 1974), 264-66. From an apocalyptic perspective, God’s action is always revolutionary inasmuch as the coming kingdom of God is that new order which inevitably breaks up the established order. When Lehmann speaks of revolution as the sign of God’s kingdom on its way, he does not “justify” violence, but instead points to the inevitable consequence when God’s power confronts the established powers that enslave the world.

[80] Donald MacKinnon, “Kenosis and Establishment,” in The Stripping of the Altars (Bungay, Suffolk: Fontana Library, 1969), 19.

[81] For this way of putting the matter, I am indebted to Nate Kerr.

[82] Source unknown. Reprinted from Hymnal: A Worship Book, © 1992 Brethren Press, Faith and Life Press, and Mennonite Publishing House, selection 697. Used by permission.