John Howard Yoder's Trinitarian Theology of Culture
As an Anabaptist, John Howard Yoder is often depicted as Christ-centered in his theology but with a creation-deficient approach to culture. In this clearly reasoned study, Branson Parler argues that Yoder advocates a trinitarian theology of culture that upholds the continuity of God's work in creation and redemption. For Yoder, Jesus' humanity makes him directly relevant to culture while Jesus' divinity connects him directly to creation. Yoder's writings, says Parler, affirm that Jesus restores and re-establishes the politics of creation. In Things Hold Together, Parler joins a growing number of writers from outside Anabaptist or Mennonite traditions who are finding resonance with Yoder, one of the leading theologians of the twentieth century.
From the Foreword by Richard J. Mouw
"In my own wrestlings with Yoder's thought, I have thought of myself as trying, more than most Calvinists do in depicting Anabaptist life and thought, to give Yoder credit for having developed a complex theology of culture. Now Branson Parler's detailed study of Yoder on culture has convinced me that things are even more complex than I had been acknowledging...[This book] is a wonderful exploration of the highly original contribution that John Howard Yoder made to the study of the foundations of Christian discipleship as we prepared to enter the 21st century. I am greatly indebted to Yoder for all that he taught me. And now I am also indebted to Branson Parler for making it clear to me that the learning process still continues."
- Richard J. Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary
Presentation from Kuyper College Faculty Scholar Day
"Interpreters who dismiss Yoder's call to discipleship find comfort in suggesting he lacked a doctrine of creation or in finding him to be at best a heterodox theologian. Parler takes the ground away from such critics. His book sets the bar for any future reception of Yoder's theology."
-D. Stephen Long, author of Speaking of God: Theology, Truth, and Language
"Things Hold Together helps us see that John Howard Yoder was from first to last a trinitarian thinker. Parler therefore provides an illuminating context for interpreting Yoder's critique of H. Richard Niebuhr."
- Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University
"Caricature artists posing as scholars beware! Branson Parler’s wonderful, careful portrait of John Yoder’s understanding of Christ and culture will reveal the gross distortions of many previous portrayals, revealing them as the caricatures that they in fact are. However, this informative book does much more than that. It will show Yoder to be the gift he is to the broader Christian world. For, as Parler has shown, Yoder is offering the Christian community a way into the future in a post-Christendom world, a way that embodies love and service while providing a clear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness."
- Mark Thiessen Nation, author of John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical
Witness, Catholic Convictions
"Since Yoder read widely, mined gems from multiple traditions, and incorporated them into his own project, it often takes thinkers beyond his tradition to see themes in his work that resonate deeply with their own. I am grateful to Branson for showing me in Yoder and Scripture what I would not have seen otherwise."
- John C. Nugent, author of The Politics of Yahweh: John Howard Yoder, the Old
Testament, and the People of God
"By reading Yoder's body of work as a whole, Parler reorients our attention to the strong trinitarian logic that grounds his understanding of Christian pacifism. We are in his debt."
- Chris K. Heubner, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Canadian Mennonite University
"Parler is very good at seeing connectedness within Yoder's wide ranging work and at recognizing the inner logic--the grammar, as it were--of Yoder's thought."
- Paul Doerksen, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Canadian