John Howard Yoder famously makes the claim that the “church precedes the world” in at least two key senses:
“The church precedes the world epistemologically. We know more fully from Jesus Christ and in the context of the confessed faith than we know in other ways. The meaning and validity and limits of concepts like ‘nature’ or of ‘science’ are best seen not when looked at alone, but in light of the confession of the lordship of Christ. The church precedes the world as well axiologically, in that the lordship of Christ is the center which must guide critical value choices, so hat we may be called to subordinate or even to reject those values which contradict Jesus.” (The Priestly Kingdom, p. 11)
A bold and revolutionary claim to be sure. However, what does it truly mean for the church to precede the world in this sense? Or is this even conceptually possible?