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This is a short paper I delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Vineyard Scholars (part of the Association of Vineyard Churches), held in Columbus, Ohio, in April 2014.

Herein I examine some of theologian Stanley Hauerwas' views in light of a wider discussion about the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God. Though I find much to sympathize with his positions, I conclude that, surprisingly perhaps, he ends up with a position similar to Calvin's "Two Kingdoms" theology. The Kingdom of God seems to merge with the Church and the kingdoms of human society seem depraved beyond any possible redemption.

Yale law professor Steven Carter addresses some of my concerns in an article he wrote on Hauerwas. For Carter, who published a book on war the same year as did Hauerwas (2011), Hauerwas' pacifism distorts the reality of violence in the liberal democratic state. Furthermore, his critique undercuts any meaningful role for social justice activism.

As I argued in my blog about Pope Francis, the new pope's discourse about Jesus and the Kingdom of God offers a more biblical view of the work of God's Spirit on the world. The notion of human rights, anathema to Hauerwas, connects organically to both creation and redemption in Christian theology, and it opens the way for Christians and people of all faiths (and no faith) to come together in a brave fight for human dignity wherever people are oppressed and beaten down.

 

From the Brill journal Worldviews, Global Religions, Culture and Ecology (Vol. 16, 2012), the Authors' Preface, and my article, "Intra-Muslim Debates on Ecology: Is Shari'a Still Relevant?"

 

This is the paper I presented at the Journal of Law and Religion conference in September 2012 at the Hamline University Law School in St. Paul, Minnesota, "Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Standard Bearer of the 'New Purposive Fiqh.'"

See also the blog in Current Islam, "Emerging Voices in Islamic Jurisprudence."

Since about 2002, I have been fascinated with the space in which law and theology meet in Islamic thinking. My 2004 article in the Brill journal Islamic Law and Society ("A Turn in the Epistemology and Hermeneutics of Twentieth Century Usul al-Fiqh," ILS 11, 2, pp. 1-50) argues that in the many centuries of debates over the relative role of reason and revelation in discovering God's law for humankind, a trend can be seen in the last century. A hereunto rather marginal school of thought, which emphasized a methodology focused on the "Objectives of Shari'a" (Maqasid al-Shari'a) gradually became prominent. This trend continues in this century with scores of books written on this "Purposive Method" (al-manhaj al-maqasidi).

Other signs of this can be seen in the founding of the London-based Al-Maqasid Research Centre in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in 2005 and in the theme chosen by the last international conference in Cairo before the January 2011 Revolution. It was jointly sponsored by the Al-Azhar University and the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Affairs (lit. Awqaf, or "religious endowments") and its theme was "The Objectives of Shari'a and Contemporary Issues: Research and Realities."

This piece was cut out of a chapter that was contributed to the volume coming out this year, Fundamentalism: Perspectives on a Contested History (co-edited by Simon A. Wood and David Herrington Watt, University of South Carolina Press). It was going to compare Muslim and Evangelical involvement in environmentalism, but in the end the editors took out the Christian side. Here it is. Its title is "Fundamentalism Diluted: From Enclave to Globalism in Muslim Ecological Discourse." Refer back to the blog series on fundamentalism to get the context of this short piece.

Here is a study in contrasts. Two Muslim scholars review my book and come away with strikingly different conclusions -- or at least, emphasizing very different aspects. That's not surprising, since, as one reviewer wrote, it's really three books in one. This in itself supports what I've been writing about regarding hermeneutics: the same text can look vastly different, depending on the reader!

First, Riad Nourallah (PhD, Cambridge University) is a Senior Lecturer at the Diplomatic Academy of London, University of Westminster. His review is published in the Muslim Education Quarterly (Vol. 24, #1, 2, 2011).

Second, Mahan Mirza (PhD, Yale University) is Vice President for Academic Affairs, Zaytuna University, Berkeley, California. This is a new Islamic university (first of its kind in the US), which is not yet accredited. His review appeared in the latest issue of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (Vol. 28, #4, 2011).

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