Politics of Jesus, beginning

Yoder’s Argument

Thesis 1: Jesus’s ministry has a political claim that we often hide from ourselves (Yoder 2).  The Mainstream Ethic

Yoder attacks what he believes to be a mainstream view of Jesus’s ethics (5ff).

  1. Jesus’s ethic was meant for a short interim.
  2. Jesus was a wandering rural figure.
  3. Jesus lived in a world in which he had no control.
  4. His message was ahistorical.
  5. He was interested simply in worship.
  6. He died a substituionary death (and that’s the only point).  

Yoder is against a “Creation Ethic” (8).   While his primary target is natural law ethics, he also lists “situation ethics” under the same label: we discern the right be studying the realities around us (9).

Thesis 2:  Because of Jesus’s “humanness,” there is the possibility of a distinctively normative, Christian ethic (10).

Yoder is against any kind of “natural law ethic,” and for him natural law = creation = nature = reason = reality.  While I suspect Yoder paints with a rather broad brush, one can’t help but note a few points he scores: these models are usually “ascribed a priori a higher or deeper authority than the ‘particular’ Jewish or Christian sources of moral vision” (19).


2 comments on “Politics of Jesus, beginning

  1. cal says:

    Despite Leithart’s poor and absurd attempt, I think Yoder remains a bombshell in terms of ethics. I’ll be interested to see the comments you make along the way.

    Addendum: It’s also interesting to see Yoder’s interest in Barth and how he utilizes him. I don’t think Yoder is anti-Creation in the same way some radical Barthians are, but he certainly pulls the rug out from trying to stop with some universal apriori. It’s interesting to read Yoder’s essay on the particularity of Christ alongside DB Hart’s articulation in the Intro of The Beauty of the Infinite.


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