Being named “America’s Best Theologian” in 2001 was a bit like being crowned the “World’s Best Zeppelin Pilot” in 1940. But that’s been the burden and the mantle upon Stanley Hauerwas since Time magazine anointed him with that title. As American Christianity crashes and burns around him, Hauerwas continues to make a bold case that there is something important about being a follower of Jesus these days. The latest of his 50-some books is, like so many of the others, by turns brilliant, infuriating, self-obsessed, biting, funny, and redundant.
Hauerwas begins The Work of Theology by telling us that this is not like his other books, since it’s not really a book, and it’s not a collection of essays. In fact, it is a book, and it is a collection of essays—essays that only occasionally cohere with one another.