John Yoder: a great theologian, and decades of sexual assault

John Yoder: a great theologian and decades of sexual assault. 

John Yoder is not nearly as widely known as Karl Barth or Reinhold Niebuhr.  Yet, he is as significant as they, primarily because he politicizes Jesus in a convincing way.  “Christianity Today” ranked The Politics of Jesus as the fifth most important religious book of the twentieth-century (v. 44, no. 5).

Yoder is also a troubling character, having been accused by more than one-hundred women of sexual abuse.  His status, institutional cover up, and the absence of the #MeToo movement in the 1970’s protected him.  I’m not sure how important sexual assault is in judging a theologian’s contribution, but I can’t believe that the behavior of the man doesn’t matter.  More on this later in my post.

Yoder’s thesis: Christ was a political actor in a political world

A Mennonite, Yoder argued in The Politics of Jesus (1972), his most well-known book, that if one doesn’t think of Christianity as a confrontation with corrupt power, and instead thinks of it in terms of personal salvation, then one has missed the point. 

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A brief note on temptation in the Lord’s Prayer

A brief note on the phrase “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” in the Lord’s Prayer.  See  for the original post.

This phrase has puzzled many over the years, for why would God lead us into temptation in the first place?  I don’t have a great answer, only a suggestion.  My answer is basically the same as Richard Tyson’s of October 30, 2021.  I simply suggest a paraphrase of the Greek. 

Though almost all translations render πειρασμός (peirasmos) as temptation (Strongs 3986), the word could as easily be rendered “testing,” in the sense of “do not test our faith, for we know that we are weak.” 

That would be a paraphrase, rather than a translation, but I see nothing in the context that contradicts it.  The transliterated Greek is “peirasmos me eisenenkēs hemas eis peirasmon.”  (Matthew 6:13)

There are many occasions in the Bible where God tests people.  Job is perhaps the most dramatic example.  I believe many people still see God as tempting their faith to make it stronger.  It is not just the work of the devil.

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