Tuesday, July 13, 2010

John Howard Yoder and Robert W. Jenson on Jesus of Nazareth as the One True Revolutionary Who Lived to the Death a Genuinely Free and Human Existence

"If then God is going to save his creatures in their humanity, the Powers cannot simply be destroyed or set aside or ignored. Their sovereignty must be broken. This is what Jesus did, concretely and historically, by living a genuinely free and human existence. This life brought him, as any genuinely human existence will bring anyone, to the cross. In his death the Powers -- in this case the most worthy, weighty representatives of Jewish religion and Roman politics -- acted in collusion. Like all men, he too was subject (but in this case quite willingly) to these powers. He accepted his own status of submission. But morally he broke their rules by refusing to support them in their self-glorification; and that is why they killed him. ... He did not fear even death. Therefore his cross is a victory, is the confirmation that he was free from the rebellious pretensions of the creaturely condition. ... His very obedience unto death is in itself not only the sign but also the firstfruits of an authentic restored humanity. Here we have for the first time to do with a man who is not the slave of any power, of any law or custom, community or institution, value or theory. Not even to save his own life will he let himself be made a slave of these Powers. This authentic humanity included his free acceptance of death at their hands."

-John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972, 1994), 144-45

"The only one who could truly make revolution, would be one who lived freedom from established structures to its end in death, without isolation from the actual human beings living those structures. He would have to be one who knew exactly who and where the publicans, sinners, and pharisees were, was in no way implicated in their alienating enterprises, and just so loved them. He would have to be one who had freely abandoned his life in the inherited society, that is, who had died -- for there is no other life than that in the inherited society -- and who had died exactly of his acceptance of his fellows in all their hate and alienation. Those of us who say that Jesus the Nazarene lives, say there is such a man, and await the revolution from him."

--Robert W. Jenson, Story and Promise: A Brief Theology of the Gospel About Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973), 69

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