John Howard Yoder, author of The Politics of Jesus (1972), was best known for his writing and teaching on Christian pacifism. The material in Theology of Mission shows he was a profound missiologist as well. Working from a believers or free church perspective, Yoder effortlessly weaves together biblical, theological, practical and interreligious reflections to think about mission beyond Christendom.
Along the way he traces the developments in the theology of mission and argues for an understanding of the church that is not merely a corrective but a genuine alternative. The church is missionary by nature, called to bear witness to the coming kingdom, because it serves the missionary God of the Bible "who comes, who takes the initiative, who reaches across whatever it is that separates us."
Decades later, these transcribed lectures read just as fresh and relevant as if they were written today. Not just a volume for Yoder enthusiasts, Theology of Mission is for anyone who cares about the mission of the church today. It only reinforces Yoder's status as one of the most important and prophetic theologians of the last century.
John Howard Yoder (1927-1997), author of (1972), was best known for his writing and teaching on Christian pacifism. He studied theology and served as a Mennonite mission staff person in post-war Europe from 1949-1957 and continued in overseas mission administration from the agency's base in Elkhart, Indiana, from 1959-1965. He received his doctorate from the University of Basel. During the 1960s he began teaching at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, leaving it in 1984. He continued his teaching and scholarly work as professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame until his death at the age of 70.
This is a major work. Whether read in order to better understand Yoder or as a book on mission, it satisfies both readings. Those familiar with Yoder will find fresh theological developments--developments that are perhaps implied elsewhere but finally made explicit here. The significance of this book is difficult to calculate, but I suspect in the future it will become one of the crucial books necessary to understand John Howard Yoder.
Duke Divinity School
The theological engagement with mission is greatly enriched by the publication of Yoder's Theology of Mission. The editors are to be commended for taking on this task, and Wilbert Shenk is to be thanked for encouraging them to do so and for writing an important foreword. Yoder's essays have been a staple of missional theological discourse for decades. To have these lectures on the theology of mission now available will strengthen every syllabus in the field, stimulate research and foster incisive missional inquiry in the response to the challenges of the end of Christendom.
-Darrell L. Guder,
Princeton Theological Seminary
The discovery and publication of John Howard Yoder's notes on mission is one of the great events in the history of the church's missionary impulse. Fresh, provocative, engaging insights are found on every page. Here is Yoder, one of our great theologians of this past century, teaching us about the missionary significance of Jesus for today. I received this manuscript when I was in the middle of teaching the Local Church in Mission class at Duke Divinity School. I read it in one day and immediately redesigned the course midsemester! John Howard Yoder taught many of us how to think about church, Christology, the politics of Jesus and Christian witness. Now he teaches us how to think faithfully about mission.
Duke Divinity School
Of the dozen or so of Yoder's books that have been published since his death, this book is near the top in terms of importance. Here we see many of the theological emphases we have come to expect from Yoder. What is unique is to see Yoder's full integration of these insights into his affirmation of the church as inherently missional. The editors have performed a great service in bringing these lectures into print. Wilbert Shenk, in the introduction, has done a fine job of contextualizing them within Yoder's life and contemporary missiology.
-Mark Thiessen Nation,
author of Bonhoeffer the Assassin?
A true treasure trove! This volume brings to print the previously recorded but unpublished theology-of-mission lectures of John Howard Yoder. Yoder was a man of his times in terms of the issues he engaged. But he was a remarkable theologian who in these chapters brings timeless missiological insights to bear, from a believers church perspective, on the church's continuing engagement in mission.
-Craig Van Gelder,
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