And yet again I am back. The trip ruled. Rivers were floated down and swimmed in. Conversations were had. I totally used my massive Dutch oven for the first time ever. Fantastic trip. I recommend them.
I also finally did a cover-to-cover reading of John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited. I really regret waiting so long to really bite into this one. Honestly I’m not sure we can really understand Yoder and his important critique of Constantinianism without this book. I’ll probably post more on it shortly, but for now, here’s just one of the many money quotes:
Radical reformation and [Jeremian] Judaism have in common that they see God as active in correlation with historical change and criticism more than with sanctifying the present. For one tack of socio-cultural analysis, it is possible to distinguish ‘religion’ as that which sanctifies and celebrates life as it is, things as they are, the personal cycle of life from birth to death and the annual cycle of the sun and the culture from spring to winter. Over against this understanding of ‘religion’, the category of ‘history’ represents the morally meaningful particular processes, which may not go in a straight line but at least go somewhere; they are non-cyclical, stable, repetitive.
Such a blunt pair of prior categories is far to simple to deal with many important distinctions we need to make: yet there is something to it. Where it does fit, we find majority Christianity on the ‘religion’ side, and on the ‘history’ side we find the Jews, radical Protestants, and (today) the theologies of liberation.
This means that God is not only spoken about and prayed to as the One who once acted. God is expected to keep on acting in particular identifiable events within history, in discernible and in fact to some extent even predictable ways. The way God acts will be the same, yet will continue to challenge and to change. Salvation or wholeness or peace will come, often at great cost for God’s best friends and at the price of surprise, paradox and humiliation for those who felt the power game was already clear.
~ John Howard Yoder, The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited, 108.