Review of John Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus

I finally finished Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus. It is older now and I am surprised I had forgotten most of the information in this book. This book created a great challenge to read since it challenges a couple elements of Christianity.

It is an outright challenge to the Just War Theory. It proposes that via Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, violence can is rejected in the Early Church. It also points to Paul and the other writers as rejecters of violences as well. Even the Revelation of Jesus Christ is put into terms of pacifism.

The pacifist is challenged too. Pacifist have sometimes stated that they can be more influential than those who follow the Just War Theory in that they can push their agenda just as far if not further than people who use violence. Yoder disagree’s with this by saying that through the cross Jesus abandons retaliation and in such abandons any notion to control outcomes in history. The proper way is to obey the Lord and to not seek any agenda except love.

The book dives into deep biblical study and then takes a short turn towards application. I appreciated the use of original languages and look forward to using this book for years to come. Many may not agree with the road to pacifism that Yoder takes, but they can appreciate his approach to pacifism as better than described by others.

I am not sure about the relinquishing of controlling historic outcomes. In the sense that we are not really the controllers of History, then yes. We are not called to called to be that and when it boils down, Scriptures is not about humans who controlled history, but God who controls history and us. I do question the mention of the word agenda. Although I see where he is going, it makes it hard to read the end of his book. We do in some sense have an agenda. It is not our agenda, but it is a call to be something within history and moves towards life in the City of God.

In the end, this book enlightened me. And as a writer, I have found a new source. I am a pacifist too, but this book challenged my pacifism. Maybe I can try to let go of controlling those around me by wit, charm, or strong vocabulary. I highly recommend this book.

Have you read this book? Have you read other books similar to this one? If so, which book was it? What do you think of Pacifism?