Master of Theology (MTh)
Martin Luther University College
I have been concerned to understand the relationship between the formation of human moral character and the Christian community. I have noted that character formation takes place in an increasingly pluralistic world, and that cultures which, some centuries ago, institutionalized Christianity as their established religion are unable to develop a character informed by the Christian narrative tradition. It is my thesis that in order to develop a moral character which will best sustain, and inform. the actions and reactions of individuals in the world, people need to be initiated, and remain within, the framework of the Christian narrative tradition. From this standpoint, individuals would develop a character which will best inform the choices to be made within an increasingly pluralistic society. I have used the methodology of Stanley Hauerwas who advocates the effectiveness of the particularity of the Christian narrative in the formation of character. As he uses biography to illustrate his points, I have looked at the lives of two persons who were educated within a society, and raised in families, which purported to be Christian. It is my conclusion that neither individual received sufficient nurture within the Christian tradition to lead them, in their early years, to make choices informed by the traditions of a community committed to a life exemplified by Christ. I began my paper by wondering how the character of an individual could manifest so little of the life of Christ when that individual had received some Christian nurture as a child. I have come to the conclusion that it is the life and faith of the community which make the difference. If the community reflects the nominalized form of institutionalized Christianity then it is unable to give an adequate rendition of the metaphors and stories of the Christian narrative which would inform the development of character. One of the individuals I have looked at began to live within the particularity of the Christian community in his late twenties. As a Christian, his Life became reshaped and oriented towards a life exemplified by Christ. I have noted that this person's later life does in fact support the thesis. In preparing this paper I have learnt to critique societies where Christianity has become institutionalized and not to assume that persons living in such a society have developed characters nurtured in the particularity of the Christian tradition. My former expansive view of Christian societies has become limited to encompass only those communities which manifest Christ.
Davis, Jennifer Mary, "The moral character formation of John Lennon and Thomas Merton: Their lives interpreted using insights from Stanley Hauerwas" (1993). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 821.