John Howard Yoder
J. Denny Weaver
John Howard Yoder, Radical Theologian
Contributors: J. Denny Weaver, Earl Zimmerman, Zachary J. Walton, Gerald J. Mast, Ted Grimsrud
This book argues that for John Howard Yoder both theology (in particular Christology) and ethics are expressions of the meaning of the narrative of Jesus. All such statements are relative to a particular context, which means that theology and ethics are always subject to reaching back to the narrative in order to restate the meaning in new and ever-changing contexts. This methodology is visible in Yoder's Preface to Theology, which has been little used in most treatments of Yoder's thought. Yoder has been characterized as standing on Nicene orthodoxy, criticized for rejecting Nicene orthodoxy, called heterodox, and designated a postmodern thinker to be interpreted in terms of other such thinkers. None of these characterizations adequately locates the basis of his methodology in the narrative of Jesus. Thus John Howard Yoder: Radical Theologian aims to go beyond or to supersede existing treatments with its demonstration that Yoder is a radical theologian in the historical meaning of radical--that is, as one who returns to the root. For Christian faith, this root is Jesus Christ. Parts II and III of the book explore the sources of Yoder's approach, and its application in several contemporary contexts.
J. Denny Weaver is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Bluffton (Ohio) University. His other books include Keeping Salvation Ethical (1997); Anabaptist Theology in Face of Postmodernity (2000); Teaching Peace (coedited with Gerald Biesecker-Mast, 2003); Becoming Anabaptist (2nd ed., 2005); Defenseless Christianity (coauthored with Gerald J. Mast, 2009); The Nonviolent Atonement (2nd ed., 2011); and The Nonviolent God (2013). He has lectured on atonement theology in the United Kingdom, the Congo, and Germany. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Publisher: Wipf and Stock Publishers
Publication Date: 11/11/2014
From among the spate of recent books parsing John H. Yoder's thought, this is the one I want within arm's reach. Within one volume, Weaver and his co-authors manage to articulate the sources for Yoder's radical theology. . . . The authors are not dabblers in Yoder's thought, but those who knew him more intimately than most scholars and those whose lives were altered by their contact with John and his writings. Yet this is no hagiography; it is written by those with a profound knowledge of both Yoder the brilliant theologian and Yoder the flawed human being.
Numerous thoughtful, reflective young Christians are becoming enamored with Yoder--something giving rise to many different interpretations of his thought. Weaver and his co-authors offer an alternative approach to many others. For them, Yoder's whole lifework is rooted in the narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus and therefore in Christology. If they are correct, Yoder can only rightly be understood as 'radical,' which means 'back to the roots' of Christianity in the man Jesus. I highly recommend this volume to everyone interested in Yoder and the increasingly lively conversation about his theology.
I have wept with one sexually assaulted by Yoder, and her story often blocks me from reading him. Yet he deserves to be read; more to the point, Weaver's analysis of Yoderian theology begs to be read. This book forthrightly addresses Yoder's abhorrent actions, freeing me to not only engage but ultimately embrace Weaver's compelling case for a Yoderian theology persistently rooted in the Jesus of the New Testament.
This engaging treatment illumines Yoder's key role in twentieth-century social ethics, while demonstrating that he should remain pivotal for the pressing questions of the twenty-first, from Christology, to war, to the public role of the church and interreligious dialogue. Two chapters on Yoder's sorry history of sexual harassment are models for confronting the sins of the church and its members, while remaining respectful of and faithful to the gospel witness that even sinners can provide. This work will be essential for scholars and students of Christian social ethics.
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