After discussing the spiritual gifts in Chapter 6 Stringfellow turns to answer a question he asks at the start of the chapter:
If Americans are dehumanized by the violence of babel and brutalized in the social chaos wrought by the demonic powers and principalities, how can a person live?How can a person live? How can a person live in the midst of death, in the face of demonic, dehumanizing forces?
In answer Stringfellow revisits the theme from Chapter 5: Resistance. Resistance toward death is the only human way to live. Resistance is what gives us hope:
Where is hope?It is the incessant struggle against death that humanizes us. Resistance to death is the only human way to live.
The biblical response--again, an answer which also has empirical authority--is that hope is known only in the midst of coping with death...It is a person's involvement in that crisis in itself--whatever the apparent outcome--which is the definitively humanizing experience. Engagement in specific and incessant struggle against death's rule renders us human. Resistance to death is the only way to live humanly in the midst of the Fall.
This is the notion--resistance to death is what makes us human--that sits behind Stringfellow's argument at the end of the book that Christian ethics is inherently sacramental in nature. The issue in Christian ethics, for Stringfellow, is less about adjudicating right vs. wrong. To be sure that's a vital and critical piece. You always have to do what you discern to be right. It's just that life in the Fall is so morally confused and complicated that you will never know that you were right. You try to do right. You just have no guarantees that you are right. As Stringfellow describes it:
[T]he issue of biblical ethics is not expressed in vain efforts to divine the will of God in this or that particular situation. On the contrary, biblical ethics asks how to live humanly in the midst of death's reign. And biblical politics, therefore, as it manifests resistance to the power of death, is, at once, celebration of human life in society. Or by parable, biblical politics means the practice of the vocation to live as Jerusalem, the holy nation, amidst Babylon...The best that you can strive for, according to Stringfellow, is to resist death, to live humanly in the midst of death. Thus, Christian ethics is less about being right than about being a sign of life--a sacrament--in the midst of death. Christian ethics is about being a human being in the face of dehumanizing forces, no more, no less.
Biblical living discloses that the ethical is sacramental, not moralistic or pietistic or religious.
Living humanly in the Fall is such a sacrament, a sacranmt and sign of life in the midst of death.
As Stringfellow summarizes at the very end of the book:
To be ethical is to live sacramentally...
In resistance persons live most humanly. No to death means yes to life.