Will Willimon (of Resident Aliens fame) has an article out in the Christian Century that calls into question some of the emphasis of his and Stanley Hauerwas’s work on Christianity-as-practice:
Hauerwas and I did not originate the notion that Christianity is best defined as a “socially established cooperative human activity” rather than as a set of beliefs or a type of experience. But we certainly gave a strong shove to that idea, and to the notion that there is nothing wrong with the church that can’t be cured by restoring it as a place of practice. I bear some responsibility for the now popular conviction that Christianity is a practice and that Christians are best described as people who have adopted certain practices. So I feel I should share why I am now having grave doubts about describing Christian spirituality as a practice.
Practice has become a primary term not only in describing Christianity but in speaking about religion in general. It is acceptable to speak of Christianity as a practice in company who would not tolerate a conversation about “Jesus Christ as Lord.” That should tip us off to some of the theological hazards of this approach.
Jamie Smith has a response to Willimon up at the Duke Divinity School “Call and Response” blog, to which Willimon has also responded (in the comments), making for what I take to be a very helpful exchange. Check em out.