Yoder’s Gospel Part 2

Now we can look at chapter 12. Yoder’s epilogue for this chapter (written for the second edition) highlights that he should have put the last paragraph in a more prominent position. In it, he states that the contents of his chapter serve as a corrective to an over-emphasis on Jesus as sacrifice and faith as a subjective response. Instead he argues for an emphasis on Jesus as example and faith as participation. He suggests that there is no contradiction between the two in his mind, instead the contradiction had been drawn by the position he was correcting. (p 226)

Based on chapter 1, it is safe to assume that Yoder is battling against the theological assumptions beneath points 4, 5 and 6 (see last post), in order to negate those points. Carefully reading the first paragraph of page 213 makes it clear that the theology that Yoder is arguing against is the standard “Reformed” doctrine of Justification by Faith as put forward by Luther and Calvin. However, the way he presents this very prejudicial; using the language of “legal fiction”, attributing the position to a Hellenistic dichotomy between soul and body, and highly emphasising the separation of works and justification.

Yoder is arguing against a form of Reformed theology that over-emphasises Justification by Faith, and under-emphasises “good deeds”, or considers the irrelevant. However, this form of theology is not the theology of Luther and Calvin, who both taught of the ethical responsibility that flows from Justification by Faith. But Yoder does not recognise this fact. So is he arguing against “hyper-Reformed” theology, or is he painting Calvin and Luther with the same brush and arguing against them as well?

With luck, this question will be answered as we examine his “corrective”


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