Mohler: … When you look at evangelicalism and you look at evangelical churches, what do you see as the particular moment that now presents us with a completely different set of challenges? In other words, be a prophet for a moment. You can do that. In other words, where is evangelicalism going to be given the increasing secularization and the hyper-modernity of our culture?
Hauerwas: I think evangelicalism is destined to die of its own success and it will go the way of mainstream Protestantism because there’s just—it depends far too much on charismatic pastors, and charisma will only take you so far. Evangelicalism is constantly under the burden of re-inventing the wheel and you just get tired. For example, I’m a big advocate of Morning Prayer. I love Morning Prayer. We do the same thing every morning. We don’t have to make it up. We know we’re going to say these prayers. We know we’re going to join in reading of the psalm. We’re going to have these Scripture readings. I mean, there’s much to be said for Christianity as repetition and I think evangelicalism doesn’t have enough repetition in a way that will form Christians to survive in a world that constantly tempts us to always think we have to do something new.
Mohler: Well you are well-known for arguing that spirituality is practice and that ethics is virtue; just to put it in, perhaps, too short a compression there. But when you look at American spirituality in general, there doesn’t appear to be much practice or much on emphasis upon practice. And is that because our congregations have lost that set of habits?
Hauerwas: It’s hard for me to generalize. I can’t pretend to be someone that has studied these matters from a sociological point of view—not that I particularly trust sociology—but I do think that Hagel made the comment at one time, “Christians arose in the morning and said their prayers. Now they read the newspaper.” Of course, that’s changing too. They probably look at their smartphone now. But I think that the fundamental habits of the faith have been in decline and that leaves us with insufficient resources to sustain our lives as Christians in a world in which we find ourselves. I think, again, it has to do with the loss of fundamental practices, such as reading the Bible, but reading the Bible, I don’t trust necessarily to me as an individual. I need to read the Bible with other people. And that has pretty much been lost. Let me say in that regard that one of the other things that worries me about evangelicalism is I’m afraid it’s got the Bible and now, and exactly how it is that you reconnect evangelical life with the great Catholic traditions, I think is part of the challenges for the future because you need to read the fathers reading Scripture as part of our common life if we are to sustain a sense that we don’t get to make Christianity up. We receive it through the lives of those who have gone before and that just becomes crucial for us to be able to survive in which we find ourselves.
Read the whole thing. Thanks to Baconboy for sending this in.