I've been pretty motivated to work through Yoder's The Priestly Kingdom again for a number of reasons, not least of which is to reconsider and understand Epic's (ana)Baptist heritage. I'd like to post a quote on each chapter and consider it here to stimulate my thinking and some conversation. In light of our Sunday discussions about the Holy Spirit and spirituality, the following quote form the introduction caught my eye:
"Just as I have denied a polar tension with catholic identity, similarly a disjunction with the Hebrew history must be denied. There was evidently in ancient Israel an ethnic base, and (for a few centuries) there was a royal state structure (or two). Yet that "nation" was a very permeable unity. Provisions were made both formally and informally for the assimilation of the stranger and the sojourner. The function of both priest and prophet was to invite an uncoerced, voluntary response of the "heart" (a very personalistic and voluntaristic term, present already in the ancient texts) to the covenant initiative of Yaweh. The "free-church" dimension of Israel as a confessing community of moral identity is worth dwelling upon here."Yoder holds two things in tension in his assertions: personal piety and corporate morality, and I would love to see this idea developed more exegetically. Finding in Israel a "confessing community of moral identity" is a wonderful way to take membership in the Body of Christ out of the realm of abstract doctrine and into practical, local ethics. I look forward to seeing how he doesn't mean the church isn't just "voluntary," too. He also opens the door for ethnic concerns to be part of the moral discussion, too. (Not that they ever aren't, it's just not identified).
My other hope in reading Yoder, is to understand how (if) he unifies internal emotional healing and ethics. I end up justifying the interior work - "healing" by its ability to move people forward in obedience, but I've never been totally comfortable with this justification. It is awfully utilitarian and defines healing always in reference to somebody else's identity. Take for example this essay "Jesus and me broke up." In this very good piece, the author explains that he has left the Jesus who is, "an invisible psychological aid" behind and embraced the Jesus who calls him to die. I think the point is powerful and speaks to evangelical narcissism, but is this exactly what Yoder would suggest, too? I worry it is equally as dangerous to live an unexamined life and ignore one's heart, to divide "salvation and help" as the author seems to do.
Here's hoping for Yoderian unification! :)