Honest Christianity – naming God

Book h2Sally brought me a book for my graduation by one of my inspirations, Stanley Hauerwas. Stanley is an ethicist and theologian, his memoir Hannah’s child is one of our favourite books.  The book Sally bought me is called “Learning to speak Christian”, something she knew would be close to my heart, and a potential source of future blogs, she was right!

Chapter 5 is a sermon which he starts by quoting someone who has inspired him, Robert Jenson in Systematic Theology:

“God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead having before raised Israel from Egypt” (p79).

He goes on to comment that “This elegantly simple but dauntingly deep sentence took Jeson a lifetime of theological reflection to write.  To write such a sentence requires that the grammar of our faith discipline our presumption that we know what we say when se say ‘God'”.

I have to say, I have never thought of who God is before in these terms and I am finding it a helpful perspective to reflect on who God is.  I wonder who would agree, not agree?  It is a concise inclusive and non inclusive term in one sentence. While I understand why Hauerwas warns against the temptation to name God in order to get the sort of God we want or need (p81), and that God’s self-naming as “I am who I am” (Exodus 3.14) can perhaps be seen as God saying trust me – I was there for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and will be for you too, the challenge to name God intrigues me.

I am pondering what my might sentence would be for who God is? I guess it would be around love, relationships, Jesus , grace and…, but then I was never was that concise!


Stanley Hauerwas Learning to speak Christian.  London:  SCM, 2011.

Stanley Hauerwas Hannah’s Child:  a Theologian’s Memoir.  London:  SCM, 2013.


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