40 WAYS 40 DAYS #7.2: Hauerwas on Truth, Trust & Community

#7.2 Hauerwas on Truth, Trust & Community

My reading of the Sermon on the Mount has been heavily influenced by the anabaptists. Not signing oaths means that we don’t have two standards of truth – there is no Facebook event ‘yes’ vs real yes, no core promises vs non-core promises, just truthtelling. So if it comes out of our mouth people can trust it. This means keeping our commitments, even when there seems like a better offer available. Think about creation, and God’s speech creating the cosmos, and you get a sense of consistency between what is spoken and what happens that we are called to emulate. Think about Jesus as the living Word from God, who is “the image of the invisible God,” the truth and the life, God consistent in Word and deed.

Stanley Hauerwas often asks people,

“Do you think you should be held to commitments you made when you didn’t know what you were doing?”

Most people (even conservatives) answer no. He then responds,

“The problem is, this makes marriage unintelligible. How could you ever know what you were doing when you promised lifelong, monogamous fidelity?”

He does this to show people that they value freedom above all other commitments – the hallmark of liberalism (hence, “we are all liberals now”).

This is why, for example, marriage vows are witnessed in a church – because we know that a commitment to truth is a communal responsibility. And why Matthew devotes a chunk of chapter 18 to the kinds of communal practices the church requires to hold one another accountable to telling the truth.

Hope some of that is helpful…

Simon Moyle,

Gracetree Community, Coburg

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