Speak Thus: Christian Language in Church and World

By Craig R. Hovey

A challenging exploration of the possibilities and limitations of the language of Christianity in the modern world.

ISBN: 9780227172711


In its various forms, speech is absolutely integral to the Christian mission. The gospel is a message, news that must be passed on if it is to be known by others. Nevertheless, the reality of God cannot be exhausted by Christian knowledge and Christian knowledge cannot be exhausted by our words. All the while, the philosophy of modernity has left Christianity an impoverished inheritance within which to think these things.

In Speak Thus, Craig Hovey explores the possibilities and limits of Christian speaking. At times ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical, these essays go to the heart of what it means to be the church today. In practice, the Christian life often has a linguistic shape that surprisingly implicates and reveals the commitments of people like those who care for the sick or those who respond as peacemakers in the face of violence. Because learning to speak one way as opposed to another is a skill that must be learned, Christian speakers are also guides who bear witness to the importance of churches for passing on a felicity with Christian ways of speaking.

Through constructive engagements with interlocutors like Ludwig Wittgenstein, George Lindbeck, Jeffrey Stout, Stanley Hauerwas, John Howard Yoder, Thomas Aquinas, and the theology of Radical Orthodoxy, Hovey offers a challenging vision of the church—able to speak with a confidence that only comes from a deep attentiveness to its own limitations while able to speak prophetically in a world weary of words.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 172

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Craig R. Hovey is at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he is a PhD student in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of various articles and reviews.



1. Narrative Proclamation and Gospel Truthfulness
2. On Hauerwas and Yoder
3. Democracy Beyond Democracy

4. Metaphors We Die By
5. Story and Eucharist
6. Forester, Bricoleur, and Country Bumpkin
7. This Is My Brother’s World

8. How Free Are We?
9. Basking and Speaking in Ordinary Time



Endorsements and Reviews

Craig Hovey offers us a book of Christian manners. Just as manners are the skills and practices we require to be at home in social contexts, so Hovey shows how the gospel equips us to be at home wherever God’s mission takes us, because we are always at home with the Lord. Hovey maintains Christians have not been told what to say, but have instead been shown how to speak. In this book he continues his emergence as a profound and penetrating scrutiniser of what it means to speak, witness, and confess the Christian faith. This book is a masterclass in learning to speak simple truth amid a cacophony of contemporary cleverness.
Canon Sam Wells, Dean of Chapel, Duke University

Hovey’s finely crafted collection of essays – both persuasive and contentious – combines great clarity with nuance. Apparently opposed positions are shown to share common presuppositions, with Hovey frequently providing an alternative positive conception or perspective. In an un-showy but impressive way, Hovey’s writing is richly informed by the tradition and practices to which he is committed. The voice that emerges is passionate, urgent, and wry.
Dr Christopher Insole, Durham University

… in learning from these essays, and engaging with them, all those who aspire to be churchly theologians will learn more of what it is to speak clearly the Christian message in our postmodern context.
Michael Leyden, in Theological Book Review