In the appendix to his recent book of sermons, A Cross-Shattered Church, Stanley Hauerwas attempts to give a miniature “accounting” as it were of his own work. He does this, interestingly through Samuel Wells’ secondary work on him, which he takes to provide the best guide to understanding him.
Here is what he has to say about his critiques of liberalism, a topic that came under much discussion back when the Church and Postmodern Culture blog symposium on Nate Kerr’s book was underway:
My problem with liberal political arrangements is not that they are liberal, but rather that Christians confuse such arrangements with Christianity. Wells notes that not all of my criticisms of liberal social and political practices depend on specific theological claims. That is true, but when I develop criticisms of liberalism using what I have learned from non-theological sources (Wolin, Coles, Connoly) I do so because I think liberalism is not only bad for Christians but also for liberals. It is so because the self that is formed by liberal practice lacks the substance to be virtuously habituated to acknowledge our character as ‘dependent rational animals’ [MacIntyre].” (p. 148-9)
So, it seems the problem Hauerwas has with liberal politica arrangements is that they produce bad selves. As such, it seems that the conflict between Christianity and liberalism must be, on his view a contest between two different sites of production. That seems to me to be quite problematic, ecclesially speaking. Can we really just reduce the church to a site of self-production?