Pentecostal ethics in light of Stanley Hauerwas’s account of narrative, virtue, and the Church

PhD Thesis

Parkes, Christopher Anthony. (2022). Pentecostal ethics in light of Stanley Hauerwas’s account of narrative, virtue, and the Church [PhD Thesis]. Australian Catholic University Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
AuthorsParkes, Christopher Anthony
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis explores the ethics of pentecostalism in light of the theological ethics of Stanley Hauerwas. A coherent and consistent approach to pentecostal ethics is difficult to establish, given that the historical roots of the movement are eclectic and there appear to be competing moral priorities and methods of ethical reasoning. This problem is further described with reference to more recent church documents that outline various moral positions and the rationales behind them. Both the history of pentecostal morality and more contemporary ethical reflections demonstrate that pentecostal ethics appears to be in a state of confusion.

Nevertheless, a closer look at pentecostal ethics scholarship reveals that it is possible to identify some common emphases that consistently emerge. These characteristics are apparent in both the academic and ecclesial literature and include scriptural authority, holiness, narrative spirituality, church community, and eclectic and creative responses. While pentecostal ethics does not seem to follow a consistent or “mainstream” methodology, there is an intelligibility and self-understanding that arises when pentecostal ethics is considered on its own terms.

Given that the characteristics are not obviously systematised, and still indicate an ad hoc approach to morality, Stanley Hauerwas is employed as a dialogue partner, given that pentecostals have historically been open to diverse traditions, and Hauerwas himself is critical of the ethical traditions that pentecostalism appears to reject. Not only do Stanley Hauerwas’s ethics of narrative, virtue, and the church resonate with the characteristics already identified in pentecostal ethics, his systematic approach demonstrates how these characteristics might function together.

The conclusion of this thesis is that a pentecostal approach to ethics must attend to five characteristics. These characteristics are Scriptural authority, holiness and virtue, separatist ecclesiology, narrative spirituality, and eclectic and contextual responses. These characteristics are validated in Stanley Hauerwas’s theological ethics. Moreover, his systematic articulation of narrative, virtue, and the church clarifies how these characteristics can coexist and operate together to produce an authentic and intelligible approach to pentecostal ethics.

Keywordspentecostalism; ethics; Hauerwas; narrative; virtue
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Page range1-335
Final version
File Access Level
Supplementary Files (Layperson Summary)
File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online05 May 2022
Publication process dates
Completed18 Oct 2021
Deposited04 May 2022
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