Cross Shattered Christ & A Cross Shattered Church

Stanley Hauerwas, Brazos, 2004; Stanley Hauerwas, Brazos, 2009

Reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

        Two books that invite us to walk with the crucified carpenter.  Cross Shattered Christ consists of meditations on the seven last words on the cross; A Cross Shattered Church is a collection of sermons.  ‘The way Jesus went to the cross, despite the pressing demands that the world be saved some other way, is the definitive part of the holy story’ (A Cross Shattered Church, p. 156).

        Hauerwas quotes Michael Ramsay, calling on us ‘to be on the watch constantly for the ideological bondage that threatens to take over a church-based or church-focused theology’ (Cross Shattered Christ, p 18).  ‘Our resource is our faith in the G-d to whom Christ prays on the cross’ (Cross Shattered Christ, p 19).

        In our time when reorganization is a major preoccupation and tampering with committee structure in the institutional church, the scattered shattered body of Christ, a shifting, rumbling body, will not be united by means of conferences and negotiations; it is only as our bodies are held in common through prayer and Eucharist’ (A Cross Shattered Church, p 20). The sermon, for Hauerwas, is an attempt ‘to make the familiar strange’ (p 24).

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.