Lectureship on Holy Living: Theologian Stanley Hauerwas Discusses America and God

by Karla Shirvanian ’10

The School of Theology’s Malcolm R. Robertson Lectureship on Holy Living brings a top theologian to discuss current issues every year. This year’s lecture featured TIME magazine’s 2001 “America’s Greatest Theologian,” Stanley Hauerwas. With more than 30 books published, Hauerwas has been called a “prophet,” “the conscience of America,” and “groundbreaking,” among other accolades. Hauerwas presented two lectures: a morning lecture, “Pentecost: Learning the Languages of Peace,” and an evening lecture, “America’s God.”

“Dr. Hauerwas has been one of the pre-eminent theologians and ethicists in the United States since the 1980s,” said Carmeli Silva, director of public relations and student recruitment in the School of Theology. “His selection as a lecturer celebrates APU’s Wesleyan heritage. Hauerwas’ writings have been integrative across academic disciplines, including law, medicine, economics, and politics. The breadth as well as depth of his faith integration inspires readers outside of theology and ethics.”

The evening lecture, “America’s God,” dealt with two specific topics, God and America, which even to Hauerwas was no small task. Hauerwas began by telling a brief history of his life and his journey through the different denominations and beliefs in order to let the audience in the context of his lecture.

According to Hauerwas, Protestantism known in America is dying, and dying from its own success. It has succeeded in its efforts of not needing an established church but incorporating the beliefs into their everyday lives. Christians value peace but they then become conformists in order to avoid a conflict that cannot be resolved. He related Protestantism to being in a buyer’s market where it will always lose the battle because the entertainment industry is better at getting people’s attention.

The Graduate School of Theology is committed to demonstrating the vitality of the historic Wesleyan message as a response to the complex spiritual and social issues facing Christians today. In keeping with this purpose, outstanding scholars are invited to campus to present the results of studies in Wesleyan holiness thought. In 1991, this lectureship was renamed to honor Malcolm R. Robertson, Ed.D., for his 43 years of faithful service to Azusa Pacific University as a professor and administrator.

“Our goal in these conferences is to insight deep theological reflection and to provide an opportunity to integrate a living Christian faith with theoretical knowledge in light of the churches practices and her story,” said Jacquelyn E. Winston, Ph. D., assistant professor in the department of theology and philosophy.

In all, more than 850 people attended the lectures—260 in the morning and nearly 600 in the evening—with people arriving up to 45 minutes early to reserve a seat.