Inheriting Yoder faithfully: a review of New Yoder scholarship.
Power and Practices: Engaging the Work of John Howard Yoder. Edited by Jeremy M. Bergen and Anthony G. Siegrist. Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press. 2009. Pp. 187. $24.99.
Radical Ecumenicity: Pursuing Unity and Continuity after John Howard Yoder. Edited by John C. Nugent. Abilene, Texas: Abilene Christian University Press. 2010. Pp. 235. $24.99.
Abstract: This essay discusses three recent collections of essays on the work of John Howard Yoder in order to answer inductively what it might mean to faithfully inherit the theological legacy Yoder left. First, I survey various readings of Yoder offered within these three volumes as well as the general approach of each volume. Following Chris Huebner's lead, I argue that faithfully inheriting Yoder includes careful attention not only to Yoder's content but also to his style. I then apply these criteria to representative essays from these volumes to assess how faithfully they receive Yoder's work for their own.
It is becoming increasingly commonplace to begin an essay on John Howard Yoder by admitting one's inability to keep up with the recent proliferation of Yoder scholarship. And it is indeed difficult to keep up. Even more difficult than staying abreast of current Yoder scholarship, however, is predicting the directions Yoder scholarship will take as new generations of scholars encounter Yoder's work. But before despairing of these seemingly quixotic tasks, one would do well to become familiar with three recent collections of Yoder scholarship: The New Yoder, Power and Practices, and Radical Ecumenicity. (1) Each of these collections is composed primarily, though not exclusively, of a new generation of Yoder scholars. A recurring theme in these collections is the question of how to inherit or appropriate Yoder's legacy. A variety of distinct, though sometimes overlapping, ways of inheriting Yoder are proposed or discussed, including:
1. the old Yoder reading that views Yoder as a relatively conservative Mennonite providing a particular set of answers to the traditional questions of church or sect, war or peace, etc.;
2. the new Yoder reading that views Yoder as more radical, challenging the simple either/or categories of church or sect, war or peace, etc., interacting with voices beyond the Mennonite world, and raising questions of violence and oppression beyond merely physical or military violence; (2)
3. the revisionist reading that views Yoder as a radical revisionist of Christian history and theology; (3)
4. the Augustinian reading that views "Yoder's pacifist ecclesial social ethic [as] a surprisingly Augustinian answer to an eminently Augustinian question: just how shall the heavenly city on pilgrimage within the earthly city seek the peace of that earthly city?"; (4)
5. the postmodern reading that views Yoder's work as an implicit and often explicit critique of system, conventional morality and grand metanarratives, emphasizing instead particular, historically contingent, culturally situated morality, narrative and truth-claims;(5)
6. the radical democratic reading that views Yoder as fundamentally committed to nonviolent, patient, vulnerable and receptive dialogue with people from other traditions;(6)
7. the secular reading that views Yoder as rejecting "Christianity" and "Secularism" in favor of a secularized Christianity, that is, a Christianity marked by its historical, diasporic, "this worldly" nature as opposed to an inherently violent, universal, cultic Christianity; (7)
8. the postliberal, Hauerwasian reading that emphasizes Yoder's view of the church as a radical alternative to the politics of liberal democracies;(8)
9. the apocalyptic, Barthian reading that views "Yoder's radically apocalyptic conception of history against the tendencies toward historical closure [that some see] exemplified in Hauerwas's church"; (9)
10. the ecumenical reading that views Yoder as largely concerned with reconciling estranged bodies and persons within the church by fostering dialogue at points of disagreement, such as "the liberal-conservative theological divide," (10) rather than forgoing unity due to differences or forging unity despite differences;(11)
11. the liberal reading that views Yoder as moving away from or subtly questioning traditional orthodox or conservative Protestant doctrines, such as substitutionary atonement or the authority of Scripture, in favor of his pacifist commitment; (12)
12. the evangelical reading that views Yoder as rejecting theological liberalism in favor of traditional Protestant orthodoxy;(13)
13. the just peacemaking / just policing reading that views Yoder as an advocate of international peacemaking efforts and organizations such as the United Nations; (14)
14. the Christian anarchist reading that views Yoder as offering implicit and sometimes explicit critique of global international policing and peacemaking forces as inherently oppressive and oftentimes violent; (15)
15. the reductionistic reading that views Yoder--especially Yoder's later publications--as favoring a sociological account of the Gospel and Christian practices as opposed to a more theological, pneumatological or sacramental account; (16) and,
16. the expansionistic reading that views Yoder's sociological emphasis as a corrective to personalistic, pietistic and sacramentalistic accounts of the faith, rather than as a rejection of the latter. (17)
Other than the sheer, staggering diversity these readings of Yoder represent, a few other observations about this list are in order. First, many of these readings of Yoder are clearly compatible and simply attest to the range and depth of Yoder's writing. Oftentimes the particular shading of Yoder reflects the lens used to approach his work and the particular questions being asked of it. It may be encouraging to an earlier generation of Yoder students and scholars that his work is receiving attention from so many diverse quarters in academia. His influence has certainly grown throughout the decade following his death, and it seems as though this growth will only continue throughout the current decade as well. However, it must be admitted that some of these readings are in tension, such as (1) and (2) or (8) and (9). Some are even flat-out contradictory, such as (11) and (12), (13) and (14), or (15) and (16). In these latter instances, clearly one or the other (or perhaps both) of these readings is in error. These contradictory readings naturally raise some questions: Which readings are inheriting Yoder more faithfully? How-can one distinguish between more and less faithful readings of Yoder? What constitutes faithfulness to Yoder's legacy? Below I offer some tentative suggestions on how to go about answering these questions.
But first, amidst this diversity of approaches to Yoder's work, one can also identify three general approaches to inheriting Yoder's legacy, represented by each of these collections. For The New Yoder, editors Peter Dula and Chris K. Huebner have culled primarily previously published essays that they believe share some common traits, despite whatever differences some of the articles may have with others. Perhaps the most common feature of these essays is that they "tend to be conversational or dialogical in their very form."(18) In other words, nearly every essay in The New Yoder puts Yoder in dialogue with another important thinker in order to draw out new insights that might be just below the surface of either thinker's work read individually. In The New Yoder, Yoder's work is put in conversation with St. Augustine; with two philosophers of science, Thomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos; with a New Testament scholar, Walter Wink; an anthropologist, Rene Girard; the postmodern philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida; a French war theorist, Paul Virilio; a Palestinian postcolonial theorist, Edward Said; a Croatian theologian, Miroslav Volf; a Christian ethicist, Jeffrey Stout; an anthropologist of secularism, Talal Asad; the theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; a French theological and sociocultural theorist, Michel de Certeau, and others, as well as with Judaism, trauma theory and radical democracy. (19)
The strengths of the dialogical approach of The New Yoder are summarized nicely by Dula and Huebner in their introduction: "Not only do [the essays] make Yoder's work come alive in a variety of refreshing new ways. They also serve to introduce a new range of academic voices and concerns, both theological and otherwise." (20) Some of the potential criticisms of such an approach are also preemptively acknowledged by Dula and Huebner: "the essays here do not engage with the sources most foundational for Yoder himself--scripture and sixteenth-century Anabaptism. Not only is the new Yoder much more philosophical than Yoder himself was, it is more philosophical than he ever would have wanted to be. And he would no doubt have expressed hesitation with some of the projects he is associated with here." (21) Another closely related concern also lurks nearby--namely, that the collective effect of these essays is to make Yoder begin to sound more like the continental philosopher or French social theorist with whom he is juxtaposed than the historical-moral theologian and churchman that was John Howard Yoder. Perhaps this is due simply to the laudable work of translating Yoder into the language of others, but one worries if at times something might be lost in the translation. So, for example, it seems that something is lost when Yoder's view of discipleship and conversion is paraphrased in the language of Certeau (though I suppose it is unfair to quote out of context):
To use Certeau's language Jesus is "the Other"--that is, God--for Yoder insofar as he is first of all God's own "self-giving way of love" for the other. Furthermore, if God is other in this way, then the other is encountered as other only insofar as she is encountered as the one who is loved in her concreteness and specificity as the singular other. And it is in being loved as such that the other is freed genuinely to be other, that is, to be free to love in the self-giving way of love by which God loves in Jesus as "the Other." (22)
Moreover, as the above quote also intimates, by putting Yoder in dialogue with other intellectuals rather than ecclesial traditions, Yoder's work may begin to feel more esoteric and less accessible to the average Christian, thus ironically closing down avenues for appropriation outside of the academy. Yoder was, of course, not known for his literary style or even accessible prose, and he certainly had the intellectual prowess to go head to head with some of the greatest thinkers of his time. However, he intentionally focused on addressing particular issues as they arose within the church, writing nearly everything "on assignment" rather than engaging in armchair theology or philosophy. It would be inaccurate and unfair to characterize the essays in The New Yoder as detached, but if they err on any side, it is on the side of theory--albeit praxis-oriented, anti-theory theorizing.
While some of the essays in Power and Practices also put Yoder in dialogue with others, including womanist theologians and Foucault, (23) the more common approach among these essays is to put Yoder in dialogue with himself. So Philip E. Stoltzfus argues that Yoder's commitment to nonviolence is in tension with his realist reading of Old Testament conquest narratives; (24) Andrew Brubacher Kaethler argues that Yoder's quick dismissal of scholasticism belies his own epistemological patience; (25) Branson Parler argues that Yoder's implicit doctrine of creation might inform the Anabaptist-Reformed dialogue to which Yoder was committed; (26) Paul C. Heidebrecht argues that Yoder's criticisms of engineering are in tension with his ecclesiology in which "Yoder himself appears to betray the mind of an engineer"; (27) and Paul Martens argues that Yoder's earlier writings, in which the church, the cross and Jesus are essential are in tension, with his later writings, in which the gospel of peace is described primarily in "social and political terms." (28)
The advantage of the "intra-Yoder dialogue" approach of Power and Practices is that it clarifies Yoder's views by subjecting them to internal criticism. Yoder's fundamental theological convictions are highlighted by juxtaposing them with his particular expressions of them--even (or perhaps especially) when his particular expression creates friction with his fundamental convictions. However, the potential drawback of such an approach is that it seeks a propositional consistency that is unrealistic to expect of a writer as prolific as Yoder. Given Yoder's penchant for addressing interlocutors on their own terms and writing on assignment, it is even less realistic to insist on propositional uniformity. This is not to say that clear contradictions within Yoder's thought should be overlooked, but it is to say that such an approach cannot ignore or downplay the contextual and contingent variables that might explain why Yoder may sometimes seem to advance one idea in one essay and its opposite in another. So, for example, in The Politics of Jesus, Yoder states explicitly that his intention is to offer a corrective to those views that dismiss the necessary social component of the gospel of Jesus. As Mark Thiessen Nation warns, "If we do not take Yoder seriously at this point--and note that he is offering a corrective--then we may in fact 'reverse a prior error.' We may forget his intention and thus confuse his corrective emphasis in The Politics of Jesus with the whole of what Yoder would have to say about the gospel of Jesus Christ." (29) I believe the same warning may apply mutatis mutandis to other instances where Yoder may at first blush seem to equivocate.
Finally, the approach of Radical Ecumenicity is to put Yoder in conversation with the church--and more specifically in this instance with the Stone-Campbell tradition. This collection is the result of a 2009 gathering of Stone-Campbell scholars to discuss the significance of Yoder's work for their tradition. Editor John C. Nugent notes in his introduction that this was the first such gathering of its kind. (30) Aside from the essays of three guests of the conference--noted Yoder scholars Mark Thiessen Nation, Gayle Gerber Koontz and Craig A. Carter--many of these essays are situated in a particular historical-theological tradition. Lee C. Camp offers personal ruminations about his interactions with Yoder as one of Yoder's last doctoral students before offering some Yoderian suggestions for how the Stone-Campbell tradition might conceive of restoration and unity. (31) Joe R. Jones channels Yoder work to call the Stone-Campbell tradition to combine radical discipleship to Jesus with trinitarian orthodoxy. (32) And Paul J. Kissling carefully analyzes Yoder's reading of the Old Testament to help Stone-Campbellites better interpret and make use of the Old Testament in their churches. (33) A common thread throughout this work is how a particular tradition can maintain faithfulness to its convictions while also ecumenically engaging the broader church. It is thus fitting that Radical Ecumenicity concludes with two rare essays by Yoder: "The Ecumenical Movement and the Faithful Church" and "Is There Historical Development of Theological Thought?"
Perhaps the "dialoguing with a particular tradition" approach is the kind of appropriation that Yoder would have most strongly affirmed. Since Yoder's primary concern was to call the church to faithfulness to Jesus as a witness to the world, he certainly would be have been pleased that his writing could be used to that effect among a tradition with which he shared many affinities. That being said, inheriting Yoder faithfully will need to include all three approaches represented by these books: putting Yoder in dialogue with others, with himself, and with the church. (34)
I return now to the questions raised earlier in this essay: Which readings are inheriting Yoder more faithfully? How can one distinguish between more and less faithful readings of Yoder? What constitutes faithfulness to Yoder's legacy? In attempting to answer these questions I follow Chris K. Huebner, one of the more insightful interpreters of Yoder, who has reflected on what it means to receive Yoder's legacy faithfully. (35) Huebner offers a couple words of caution in approaching these questions. First, "in light of Yoder's dismissal of trend watching, his suspicion of a generational, family-tree understanding of tradition, not to mention his hermeneutics of messianic interruption, I think it is only right if we tremble a bit in asking what it might mean to inherit John Howard Yoder." (36) Second, "Given Yoder's dialogical and ad hoc approach to doing theology, it might even be suggested that the more a reading of Yoder strives to be faithful in a literal way to repeating and capturing his main claims, the more we ought to approach it with caution." (37) Huebner is aware, as was Yoder, that saying the same thing in a different context is saying something different. Inheriting Yoder faithfully in our time does not mean parroting back what Yoder said in his. However, it does mean continually "looping back" to what Yoder said in his time in order to inform how we use him in ours. (38) Huebner is, of course, recalling Yoder's own reflection on inheriting tradition, where he writes that
the wholesome growth of a tradition is like a vine: a story of constant interruption of organic growth in favor of pruning and a new chance for the roots. This renewed appeal to origins is not primitivism, nor an effort to recapture some pristine purity. It is rather a "looping back," a glance over the shoulder to enable a midcourse correction, a rediscovery of something from the past whose pertinence was not seen before, because only a new question or challenge enables us to see it speaking to us. (39)
Being faithful to the content of Yoder's writing, then, does not mean restating it verbatim, but rather interacting with it in ways that generate new insights and opportunities for renewal.
For Huebner, understanding the content of Yoder's work is only half the story. Huebner writes that "just as important as it is to understand and examine what Yoder said, what specific claims he made and defended, it is equally important to appreciate what we might call his theological style." (40) Christian pacifism is not simply a position Yoder held. It involves "a distinct epistemology" that "is best understood as traveling nomadically or diasporically, holding no territory, and moving in an ad hoc manner." (41) Huebner argues that attention thus needs to be paid not only to Yoder's message but also to the medium through which his message is conveyed. (42) Accordingly, Huebner notes two attending shortcomings for interpreters of Yoder's Christian pacifism: privileging "the what at the cost of the how" and privileging "the how at the cost of the what." (43) The first shortcoming assumes that Yoder's Christian pacifism is simply one "position" among many attempting to answer preset questions regarding the appropriateness of violence. Huebner identifies Lisa Sowle Cahill's Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory as an example of this first shortcoming. (44) The second shortcoming takes Yoder's pacifism for granted but then goes about trying to restate it in a more systematic way, treating "the ad hoc and diaological character of Yoder's work ... as a shortcoming to be corrected and overcome." (45) Huebner discusses Nancey Murphy's essay, "John Howard Yoder's Systematic Defense of Christian Pacifism," as a paradigm example of this shortcoming. (46)
Both of the shortcomings discussed by Huebner have in common a generally accurate grasp of Yoder's message but an inadequate appreciation for his medium. The first shortcoming ignores the medium entirely, while the second acknowledges it but views it as a deficiency. But if the medium is essential to the message and vice versa, then it seems as though there are not two ways to go wrong but four. It appears as though Huebner has not adequately appreciated other possibilities for error, namely, recognizing or affirming Yoder's medium but disregarding or viewing as a deficiency Yoder's message. To Huebner's first and second shortcomings, then, a third and fourth shortcoming must be added, which mirror the first two. The third shortcoming focuses on the nonviolent, diasporic, ad hoc and dialogical character of Yoder's communication--that is, his methodological patience (47)--as an answer to certain questions of method and epistemology. In doing so, however, it proceeds in abstraction from the message of the gospel to which Yoder's methodological patience is a witness. The fourth shortcoming adopts or assumes Yoder's methodological patience. However, instead of ignoring Yoder's gospel message, this shortcoming acknowledges it "but treats it as a shortcoming to be corrected and overcome." (48)
It is not as easy to identify pure examples of these third and fourth possible shortcomings. Paul Martens seems to have something like them in mind, however, when he writes:
In recent years, a wide variety of claims have been expounded concerning the legacy of John Howard Yoder. On one side, there are some who have emphasized a pronounced emphasis on the unique life and death of Jesus as definitive for Christian theology and ethics. On another side, it is beginning to appear that Yoder understood a certain expression of Christianity to be very similar to a certain expression of Judaism, pushing his ecumenical and sociological concerns against the absolute uniqueness of Christianity. On a third side, secular thinkers have begun to appropriate aspects of the politics of Yoder without particular interest in the theological importance of either Jesus or Christianity. (49)
Martens identifies the shift away from the uniqueness of Jesus and Christianity as a shift within Yoder's own thinking over the years. However, it seems quite possible--perhaps more likely--that the rift between Yoder's "sociological concerns" and his "emphasis on the unique life and death of Jesus as definitive for Christian theology and ethics" is not within Yoder's writing itself but is the result of the way Yoder's work has been appropriated by others. (50) Here the use of Yoder by Daniel Boyarin comes to mind as one possible example. Boyarin appreciatively accepts Yoder's diasporic, dialogical method. However, when it comes to the content of Yoder's message, Boyarin stops short of approval. Boyarin fears that Yoder's emphasis on a missionary church--that is, a church declaring the gospel message of Jesus to the world--might diminish his otherwise helpful insights on the nature of Judaism and Christianity. Boyarin writes, "From my perspective, mission is not a sign of non-violence and refraining from missionizing hardly a regression. As I wrote fifteen years ago, 'The genius of Christianity is its concern for all of the Peoples of the world; the genius of rabbinic Judaism is its ability to leave other people alone.'" (51) In other words, it seems as though Boyarin is happy with Yoder's diasporic medium as long as the gospel message that Yoder's medium is intended to carry can be bracketed. Of course, given the legacy of Christendom's treatment of Jews in the name of "missions" and "the gospel," one might forgive Boyarin for not being enthusiastic about the message Yoder has to share.
Far more problematic is when, in the name of Yoder scholarship, a fellow Christian theologian attempts to "fix" the medium and the message. Such is the case in Craig A. Carter's essay, "The Liberal Reading of Yoder: The Problem of Yoder Reception and the Need for a Comprehensive Christian Witness." Carter expresses deep concern for how Yoder's legacy will be received and appears genuinely interested in preserving Yoder's message. From the outset, though, he fails to adequately appreciate Yoder's medium. Instead of paying careful attention to the ways Yoder's methodological patience sought to subvert binary logic, Carter seems incapable of reasoning without dualisms. For Carter, there is either "liberal Protestantism" or "Evangelical Protestantism;" (52) either Protestant or Catholic; (53) either substitutionary atonement or no atonement at all; (54) either "'realistic' geopolitical strategy" or "liberal," "total exceptionless pacifism" and its "sunny utopianism"; (55) Yoder is either "a theologian of the Church" or "a sectarian despiser of the majority tradition of Christian orthodoxy down through the centuries" (56); and ultimately, one may have to choose between "Yoder's pacifism and ... his orthodoxy." (57) Carter recognizes, for example, that Yoder never fully articulated the horizon for the church's call for peace among nation-states, but instead of viewing Yoder's apparent reluctance to answer this question as part and parcel of his dialogical style, (58) Carter views it as "a regrettable ambiguity in Yoder's thought" that needs to be fixed. (59) In order to fix Yoder, Carter posits six "strategies" that in essence build a hedge around Yoder scholarship to keep conservatives in and liberals out. But this is certainly a denial of Yoder's dialogical approach and methodological patience, which are about inviting to the conversation those with whom one has disagreement rather than strategizing how to silence their voices.
After "fixing" Yoder's method, it is not long before Carter attempts to fix Yoder's message as well, wondering whether Yoder scholars might need to accept Barth's "practical pacifism" and "admit that Reinhold Niebuhr was basically right in affirming vocational but not absolute pacifism." (60) Carter repeatedly acknowledges that Yoder "would not have approved" but nevertheless believes that "making a major modification of Yoder's thought" and "going beyond interpreting Yoder to correcting his position" may be necessary "to guard against a liberal interpretation of Yoder." (61) Ironically, Carter's stated motivation for such strategies is "promoting an interpretation of Yoder that does not make him say the opposite of what he actually said in the service of modern revisionism." (62) By making nearly absolute the goal of rebutting liberalism, Carter has not only neglected Yoder's medium but has subsequently rejected Yoder's message. Rather than faithfully inheriting Yoder, Carter has left us with--in his own words--"a perverse attempt to 'tame' Yoder." (63)
Rather than dwelling on ways to be unfaithful, I want to conclude by offering a positive example. As with Carter, so too Andy Alexis-Baker is clearly concerned about Yoder's reception. In his essay "Unbinding Yoder from Just Policing," Alexis-Baker takes to task those who have "invoked Yoder's name to support their arguments for international policing," such as Jim Wallis, Gerald Schlabach, Glen Stassen and David Gushee, and David Cortright. (64) Though, as with Carter, Alexis-Baker may appear to have something of an ax to grind, he nevertheless is keenly attuned to both Yoder's message and his medium. Alexis-Baker not only carefully surveys all of Yoder's published statements on policing and war, he also calls attention to Yoder's ad hoc style, noting how "Yoder was intentionally unsystematic in his discussion about policing." (65) In other words, for Alexis-Baker, just as important as what Yoder says is how he says it.
Finally, Alexis-Baker calls attention to what inheriting Yoder faithfully is really all about: "Yoder's legacy challenges us to move toward faithfulness to Christ." (66) Inasmuch as the essays of these three volumes are directed toward that end, Yoder's legacy is in good hands. At the end of the day, Yoder probably would not have been all that concerned over how he would be inherited or what his legacy would be. Rather, as Alexis-Baker reminds us, the fundamental question Yoder would have for us, however we choose to inherit him, is "But do we see Jesus?" (67)
* David C. Cramer teaches in the religion and philosophy department at Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana, and is a licensed minister in the Missionary Church.
(1.) In the following notes, these books will be abbreviated NY, PP and RE, respectively.
(2.) See Peter Dula and Chris K. Huebner, "Introduction," in NY, ix-xix, for elaboration of the "new Yoder" versus "old Yoder" distinction, including a candid admission of the limitations of such a distinction. Nancey Murphy's essay, "John Howard Yoder's Systematic Defense of Christian Pacifism," in NY, 42-69, for example, seems in a number of ways paradigmatic of the "old Yoder" approach as described by Dula and Huebner, though in other ways it shares traits with the "new Yoder" approach. In his article, "Globalization, Theory and Dialogical Vulnerability: John Howard Yoder and the Possibility of a Pacifist Epistemology," MQR 76 (Jan. 2002), 49-62, esp. 58-59, Huebner has characterized Murphy's essay as "distorting" Yoder (see below).
(3.) See, e.g., Daniel Boyarin, "Judaism as a Free Church: Footnotes to John Howard Yoder's The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited," in NY, 1-17; Murphy, "Yoder's Systematic Defense," especially 49-53.
(4.) Gerald W. Schlabach, "The Christian Witness in the Earthly City: John Howard Yoder as Augustinian Interlocutor," in NY, 39.
(5.) See, e.g., P. Travis Kroeker, "The War of the Lamb: Postmodernity and Yoder's Eschatological Genealogy of Morals," in NY, 70-89; Peter C. Blum, "Foucault, Genealogy, Anabaptism: Confessions of an Errant Postmodernist," in NY, 90-105; and Peter C. Blum, "Yoder's Patience and/with Derrida's Difference," in NY, 106-120.
(6.) See, e.g., Romand Coles, "The Wild Patience of John Howard Yoder: 'Outsiders' and the 'Otherness of the Church," in NY, 216-252; Joseph R. Wiebe, "Fracturing Evangelical Recognitions of Christ: Inheriting the Radical Democracy of John Howard Yoder with the Penumbral Vision of Rowan Williams," in NY, 294-316.
(7.) Daniel Colucciello Barber, "Epistemological Violence, Christianity, and the Secular," in NY, 271-293; cf. Paul Martens, "Universal History and a Not-Particularly Christian Particularity: Jeremiah and John Howard Yodels Social Gospel," in PP, 131-146.
(8.) No one article in these collections deals extensively with Stanley Hauerwas's reading of Yoder, though many are clearly indebted to his influence, some mentioning him explicitly. See Dula and Huebner, introduction, xviii-xix.
(9.) Dula and Huebner, introduction, xviii. Dula and Huebner are referring specifically to the approach of Nathan R. Kerr in his work, Christ, History and Apocalyptic: The Politics of Christian Mission (Eugene, Ore.: Cascade Books, 2009). See also Kerr, "Communio Missionis: Certeau, Yoder, and the Missionary Space of the Church," in NY, 317-335. Cf. Andy Alexis-Baker, "Unbinding Yoder from Just Policing," in PP, 155-156, where he critiques Hauerwas's reading or Yoder on violence.
(10.) Gayle Gerber Koontz, "Unity with Integrity: John H. Yoder's Ecumenical Theology and Practice," in RE, 59.
(11.) See ibid., 57-84; John C. Nugent, "John Howard Yoder, Radical Ecumenicity, and the Stone-Campbell Tradition," in RE, 11-19; Lee C. Camp, "Restoration and Unity in the Work of John Howard Yoder," in RE, 21-36; John C. Nugent, "Kingdom Work: John Howard Yoder's Free Church Contributions to an Ecumenical Theology of Vocation," in RE, 149-172. Also providing support for this reading are two essays by Yoder included in RE: "The Ecumenical Movement and the Faithful Church," 193-221, and "Is There Historical Development of Theological Thought?" 223-235.
(12.) In "The Liberal Reading of Yoder: The Problem of Yoder Reception and the Need for a Comprehensive Christian Witness," in RE, 85-105, Craig A. Carter identifies J. Denny Weaver's The Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001) and Philip E. Stoltzfus's essay "Nonviolent Jesus, Violent God? A Critique of John Howard Yoder's Approach to Theological Construction," in PP, 29-46, as two examples of such a liberal reading. In personal conversation Stoltzfus confessed that he does not view his theological orientation as "liberal" but as "liberationist." However, since Carter identifies liberation theology as a movement within the liberal tradition ("Liberal Reading," 87), he would likely view Stoltzfus's quibble as a distinction without a difference.
(13.) As noted above, Carter's "The Liberal Reading of Yoder" clearly offers this reading. Less polemical but still in the same neighborhood is Mark Thiessen Nation, "The Politics of Yoder Regarding The Politics of Jesus: Recovering the Implicit in Yoder's Holistic Theology for Pacifism," in RE, 37-56.
(14.) See, e.g., Glen Stassen, forward to PP, 11, note 4; cf. id., "Introduction: Jesus Is No Sectarian: John H. Yoder's Christological Peacemaking Ethic," in John Howard Yoder, The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking, ed. Glen Stassen, Mark Thiessen Nation and Matt Hamsher (Grand Rapids,. Mich.: Brazos Press, 2009), 7-24.
(15.) See, e.g., Alexis-Baker, "Unbinding Yoder from Just Policing," in PP, 147-165.
(16.) See, e.g., Martens, "Universal History and a Not-Particularly Christian Particularity."
(17.) See, e.g., Branson Parler, "Spinning the Liturgical Turn: Why John Howard Yoder Is Not an Ethicist," in RE, 173-191; Nation, "The Politics of Yoder."
(18.) Dula and Huebner, introduction, xv.
(19.) This list simply follows the order of the essays as they appear in The New Yoder, with the following exceptions: Murphy (chapter 3) interacts with Kuhn, Lakatos, Wink and Girard; Daniel Boyarin (chapter 1) interacts with Judaism; Cynthia Hess (chapter 10) interacts with trauma theory; and Romand Coles (chapter 11) interacts with radical democracy.
(20.) Dula and Huebner, introduction, xvi.
(21.) Ibid., xix.
(22.) Kerr, "Communio Missionis," 329 (italics original).
(23.) See Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, "Freedom of the Cross: John Howard Yoder and Womanist Theologies in Conversation," in PP, 83-97; Richard Bourne, "Governmentality, Witness, and the State: Christian Social Criticism with and Beyond Yoder and Foucault," in PP, 99-115.
(24.) Stoltzfus, "Nonviolent Jesus, Violent God?"
(25.) Andrew Brubacher Kaethler, "The Practice of Reading the Other: John Howard Yoder's Critical and Caricatured Portrayal of Scholasticism," in PP, 47-64.
(26.) Branson Parler, "John Howard Yoder and the Politics of Creation," in PP, 65-81.
(27.) Paul C. Heidebrecht, "Not Engineering, But Doxology? Reexamining Yoder's Perspective on the Church," in PP, 117-129 (quote from 117).
(28.) Martens, "Universal History and a Not-Particularly Christian Particularity" (quote from 141).
(29.) Nation, "The Politics of Yoder," 37.
(30.) Nugent, "Yoder, Radical Ecumenicity, and the Stone-Campbell Tradition," 11.
(31.) Lee C. Camp, "Restoration and Unity in the Work of John Howard Yoder," in RE, 21-36.
(32.) Joe R. Jones, "Yoder and Stone-Campbellites: Sorting the Grammar of Radical Orthodoxy and Radical Discipleship," in RE, 107-128.
(33.) Paul J. Kissling, "John Howard Yoder's Reading of the Old Testament and the Stone-Campbell Tradition," in RE, 129-147.
(34.) For my admittedly far from perfect attempt at appropriating Yoder's work from within my own faith tradition, see David C. Cramer, "Evangelical Hermeneutics, Anabaptist Ethics: John Howard Yoder, the Solas, and the Question of War," in The Activist Impulse: Exploring the Intersection of Anabaptism and Evangelicalism, edited by Jared S. Burkholder and David C. Cramer (Eugene, Ore: Pickwick Publications, 2011), forthcoming.
(35.) See Dula and Huebner, introduction; Huebner, "The Work of Inheritance: Reflections on Receiving John Howard Yoder," in PP, 19-27; Huebner, "Globalization, Theory and Dialogical Vulnerability"; Huebner, A Precarious Peace: Yoderian Explorations on Theology, Knowledge, and Identity (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2006).
(36.) Huebner, "Work of Inheritance," 23-24.
(37.) Ibid., 24.
(39.) John Howard Yoder, The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 69.
(40.) Huebner, "Inheritance," 24.
(41.) Huebner, "Globalization," 51.
(42.) Ibid., 49.
(43.) Ibid., 55, 56.
(44.) Lisa Sowle Cahill, Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and just War Theory (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994).
(45.) Huebner, "Globalization," 56.
(46.) Nancey Murphy, "John Howard Yoder's Systematic Defense of Christian Pacifism," in The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, ed. Stanley Hauerwas, Chris K. Huebner, Harry J. Huebner and Mark Thiessen Nation (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1999), 45-68. (Reprinted in TNY, 42-69).
(47.) See John Howard Yoder, '"Patience' as Method in Moral Reasoning: Is an Ethic of Discipleship 'Absolute'?" in The Wisdom of the Cross, 24-42.
(48.) Huebner, "Globalization," 56.
(49.) Martens, "Universal History," 131.
(50.) For a response to Martens's argument that Yoder's position significantly shifted over time, see Parler, "Spinning the Liturgical Turn." While there are certainly points of development and change in Yoder's thought, I resist the view that there are clear substantive shifts between his earlier and later work. For now, however, I can only register my opinion without justifying it.
(51.) Boyarin, "Judaism as a Free Church," 11-12.
(52.) Carter, "Liberal Reading," 86.
(53.) Ibid., 100-102.
(54.) Ibid., 90, 92, 94.
(55.) Ibid., 99, 103.
(56.) Ibid., 87.
(57.) Ibid., 104.
(58.) As early as 1964, Yoder describes such dialogical engagement between the Christian and the statesperson regarding violence. See Yoder, The Christian Witness to the State (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2002 ), 71-73.
(59.) Carter, "Liberal Reading," 99.
(60.) Ibid., 99, 103.
(61.) Ibid., 100, 103.
(62.) Ibid., 95 (italics mine).
(63.) Ibid., 87.
(64.) Alexis-Baker, "Unbinding," 147-148.
(65.) Ibid., 158.
(67.) Ibid. Alexis-Baker is, of course, recalling Yoder's chapter by that name in The Priestly Kingdom, 46-62.
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|Title Annotation:||John Howard Yoder|
|Author:||Cramer, David C.|
|Publication:||Mennonite Quarterly Review|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2011|
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