Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community before the Watching World

Overview

Binding and loosing, baptism, eucharist, multiplicity of gifts, and open meeting; these five New Testament practices were central in the life of the early Christian community. Some of them are still echoed in the practice of the church today. But the full social, ethical, and communal meaning of the original practices has often been covered by centuries of ritual and interpretation.
John Howard Yoder, in his inimitably direct and discerning style, uncovers the original meaning ...
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Body Politics

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Overview

Binding and loosing, baptism, eucharist, multiplicity of gifts, and open meeting; these five New Testament practices were central in the life of the early Christian community. Some of them are still echoed in the practice of the church today. But the full social, ethical, and communal meaning of the original practices has often been covered by centuries of ritual and interpretation.
John Howard Yoder, in his inimitably direct and discerning style, uncovers the original meaning of the five practices and shows why the recovery of these practices is so important for the social, economic, and political witness of the church today. 90 Pages.
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Editorial Reviews

Nancey Murphy
"A crucial advance in recent philosophy and theology is (re)discovery of the fact that we do not know what our words mean if we do not know how to put them into practice. Yoder's Body Politics embodies this understanding of the intimate dialectic of thought and life, doctrine and liturgical practice."
Fuller Theological Seminary
Gerald J. Biesecker-Mast
Binding and loosing, baptism, eucharist, multiplicity of gifts, and open meeting; these five New Testament practices were central in the life of the early Christian community. Some of them are still echoed in the practice of the church today. But the full social, ethical, and communal meaning of the original practices has often been covered by centuries of ritual and interpretation.

John Howard Yoder, in his inimitably direct and discerning style, uncovers the original meaning of the five practices and shows why the recovery of these practices is so important for the social, economic, and political witness of the church today.

"Protestant Christians are often tempted to think of the public practices of the church as ornamental or secondary representations of more fundamental theological realities such as personal spirituality or social ethics. In Body Politics, Yoder shows how the communication practices of the church-from decision making to baptism to table-fellowship-constitute the building materials for God's coming reign."
Bluffton College
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780836191608
  • Publisher: Herald Press (VA)
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Pages: 90
  • Sales rank: 991,758
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    John Howard Yoder (1927-1997), who was a professor of theology at Notre Dame and a Mennonite, outlines in 80 pages five practices that should be central to every church's life together. He argues that congregations need to recover these practices that are described in the New Testament and have since become distorted. This book grew out of a 1986 lecture at Duke Divinity School entitled 'Sacrament as Social Process: Christ the Transformer of Culture,' later published in his book The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical. In Body Politics, Yoder describes the five practices this way: (1) Binding and Loosing (2) Disciples Break Bread Together / Eucharist (3) Baptism and the New Humanity / Baptism (4) The Fullness of Christ / Multiplicity of gifts (5) The Rule of Paul / Open meeting In each case, Yoder argues that the original New Testament practice has been today almost entirely lost in most churches. (1) Binding and loosing - moral discernment through dialogue and forgiveness as described in Matthew 18 - is rarely practiced. (2) The sense of the Eucharist as a meal (1 Corinthians 11) where people share their food with one another is rarely practiced. (3) Baptism (Galatians 3:27-28) rarely communicates the profound transcending of social and cultural barriers - between Jew and Gentile, slave and free there is one baptism. (4) In almost every church there a few so-called 'gifted' people who dominate the church while most congregation members are spectators. (5) And it is the rare congregation that truly opens the floor for all congregation members to participate (1 Corinthians 14). What is compelling about Yoder's writing is his skill as a reader of biblical texts, his weaving of historical context 'his dissertation work was on the Radical Reformation', and his ability to talk to theologians of many denominations 'he did his doctoral work with the reformed theologian Karl Barth, taught at a Roman Catholic school, and strongly influenced the United Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas'. Yoder is also amazingly concise for a theologian. In my first year as a Th.D. 'Doctor of Theology' student at Duke Divinity School, this is the one book I read this year that I find myself recommending to friends and family. So, who will like this book? Yoder writes sympathetically denominational groups that have less formal hierarchy: Mennonites, Quakers, Methodists, Plymouth Brethren, evangelicals, Baptists, Pentecostals, Puritans, and house churches. If you are a part of any of these denominations, you will probably cheer all the way through this book and say 'Aha!' On the other hand, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians will surely find Yoder's ideas radical, wild, far out, untenable, foreign and unrealistic. For example, a Roman Catholic might initially think about the five practices: (1) the priest facilitates confession, (2) the priest facilitates the mass / Eucharist, (3) infants are baptized, (4) the priests have a special religious ritual calling, and (5) the congregation is silent as the priests recite mass. Yoder argues from the New Testament that all of these developments are unfortunate! Thus, if you are coming from that perspective, it will probably be tough to swallow Yoder's ideas and he may not convince you to be a radical protestant in 80 pages! However, if you have a niggle of doubt about any of these things, Yoder is sure to fan it! It is also worth noting that many Roman Catholics want to recover the biblical meaning of these practices. For example, I read this year at Duke a number of books that get at this by Roman Catholic authors: Raymond Brown's The Churches The Apostles Left Behind, Michael Warren's At This Time, in This Place: The Spirit Embodied in the Local Assembly, and Vincent Miller's Consuming Religion: Christian Faith And Practice in a Consumer Culture. Yoder, is most known for his book The Politics of Jesus and for his defense of pacifism but this lit

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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