Targeted medicine: Resident Aliens at 25

In 1989, Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon sparked a lively debate about church, ministry, and Christian identity with their book Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony. Twenty-five years later, we asked several pastors and theologians to offer their perspective on the book and its impact. (Read all responses.)

When I read Resident Aliens I thought about blood pressure. Not because the book raised mine, but because an analogy to blood pressure medicine describes my reaction to the book. The medicine that saves patients with high blood pressure will harm those with low blood pressure, and vice versa.

I think the primary patients of Resident Aliens were traditional mainline Protestants—epitomized by Methodists, who largely understood themselves to represent America’s religion. Jesus had value for the afterlife, to be sure, but he also had value in strengthening the American people for their role as global leaders in this “Christian century.”