Theology of Mission
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 lectures read just as fresh and relevant as if they were written today. As the editors state in their preface, "those who have followed Yoder?s work over the years will find this book to be some of his most striking unpublished material since The Politics of Jesus." 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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"The true genius of the book is a methodological model for constructing an integrative approach—one that probes the usefulness of any theology of mission based on the rootedness and missiological significance of its ecclesial tradition."
"Theology of Mission models Yoder's Anabaptist thinking in an area that has universal Christian import. As such it has value both as an Anabaptist perspective on a theology of mission, but it also is an example of how Anabaptist values integrate into areas of theology that are not uniquely Anabaptist concerns. . . . It is recommended for anyone interested in a theology of mission and for those who would like to know how central Anabaptist values speak to broader Christian concerns."
"The substance and sum of [Yoder's] lectures as filled out in Theology of Mission demonstrate how deftly and relevantly he connected his topics to each other and to cutting-edge missiological concerns and praxis. . . . I would be remiss if I failed to affirm the success of the editors in bringing the artifacts of Yoder's course together into a highly readable whole that flows well and seems even to retain the oral character of the lectures. As a result, newcomers to Yoder's theologizing on mission will find the volume as pleasurable to read as they will find it challenging and thought-provoking."
"Readers familiar with Yoder's work will find this familiar, but here extended in new and innovative ways, and the editors are to be commended for making this important work available."
Editors' Preface, by Gayle Gerber Koontz and Andy Alexis-Baker
Introduction: John Howard Yoder's Mission Theology: Context and Contribution, by Wilbert Shenk
Yoder's Introduction To The Topic
1. The Prophets: Israel and the Nations
2. Jesus's Public Ministry and the Nations
3. The Great Commission and Acts
4. The Ministry of Paul in Salvation History
5. Other Texts and the New Testament's Theology of Mission
6. Mission and Systematic Theology
7. Church Types and Mission: A Radical Reformation Perspective
8. Pietist Perspective on Mission
9. The Church as Missionary
10. The Church as Responsible
11. The Church as Local
12. The Church as Laity
13. Ministry in a Missionary Context
14. People Movements and the Free Church
15. Salvation is Historical
16. Salvation is for the World
17. Message and Medium: Presence
18. Message and Medium: Servanthood
19. Theology of Religions: Particularity and Universalism
20. Radical Reformation Perspectives on Religion
21. Christianity and Other Faiths
22. The Missionary Challenge of Non-non-Christian Faiths
23. Judaism as a Non-non-Christian Faith
Afterword: As You Go