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Surprising Yoder quote

I hesitate even to post it, since for those not already familiar with Yoder this could dissuade you from doing so at all. But it’s so surprising, so passionate and somewhat atypical, I can’t help myself. It has a slightly Milbankian flavor, but works at total cross-purposes from him.

The attempt to reverse the New Testament relationship of church and world, making faith invisible and the Christianization of the world a historic achievement with institutional form, was undertaken in good faith but has backfired, having had the sole effect of raising the autonomy of unbelief to a higher power. Islam, Marxism, secular Humanism, and Fascism—in short, all the major adversaries of the Christian faith in the Occident and the strongest adversaries in the Orient as well—are not nature- or culture-religions but bastard faiths, all of them the progeny to Christianity’s infidelity, the spiritual miscegenation involved in trying to make a culture-religion out of faith in Jesus Christ. As religious adversaries in our day, these hybrid faiths are more formidable than any of the pagan alternative faced by Paul, by Francis Xavier, or by Livingstone. Those who have refused to learn from the New Testament must now learn from history; the church’s responsibility to and for the world is first and always to be the church.

“The Otherness of the Church” (1960), p. 61 in The Royal Priesthood.

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