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Thoughts About John Howard Yoder 091213
Lately, various forms of Mennonite mediums (magazines, blogs, op-eds, etc) have been engaged in a discussion of the life and alleged misdeeds of John Howard Yoder, the leading Mennonite theologian of the last decade and more.
John Howard Yoder wrote The Politics of Jesus, which puts forth the idea tht Jesus was not just a religious personality but also or instead was a clearly political person, bent on social and economic revolution. His book would have led me to be a Christian and a Mennonite, if I were not already both.
But John Howard Yoder is accused of at least eight instances of sexual abuse and violence and ‘innumerable more’.
Because of various life experiences as an attorney and as a prosecuting attorney, I take with extreme caution any story of alleged crime, especially as in the case the alleged criminal, John Howard Yoder, has been dead since 1997. I am reluctant to hear accusations against the dead, of whom we should speak no ill, or against anyone not present or unable to defend themselves.
Further, despite the numbers of victims, no criminal proceedings were instituted, and apparently, no one talked to a law enforcement officer and allowed a record to be made. We have no signed statements, no recordings, no sworn (or affirmed) affidavits, and no statement of probable cause from a prosecuting or district attorney.
There seems a great deal of difficulty in getting to the facts, but there doesn’t seem to be an allegation of anything forcible, as in the case of victim(s) being bound with duct tape, rope or cord.
That there are many victims I do not doubt, and the severity of their suffering can only be measured by themselves. The most severe action taken seems to be kissing, by surprise perhaps.
What is the statue of limitations for his actions, if he were alive? It would have lapsed several years ago, and the crime is legally forgiven. Can Christians forgive as well.
There is also the issue of argumentum ad hominem. It is illogical to dispense with a logical argument just because it is possible to attack the man, the speaker. John Howard Yoder’s work will prevail, and in one hundred years that’s all of him that will be mentioned, correctly or incorrectly.
May we forgive John Howard Yoder and move on; may we continue to console and aid the victims of any action he was involved in negatively, and move on. Children in Syria was gassed to death on August 21 this year. We really do have work to do in the Kingdom, especially to love and protect the children.
Pray for peace,
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The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm, After He Was Confronted by Nathan About the Affair with Bathsheba
51 1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.
The Message (MSG)
Giants in the Land
6 1-2 When the human race began to increase, with more and more daughters being born, the sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful. They looked them over and picked out wives for themselves.
3 Then God said, “I’m not going to breathe life into men and women endlessly. Eventually they’re going to die; from now on they can expect a life span of 120 years.”
4 This was back in the days (and also later) when there were giants in the land. The giants came from the union of the sons of God and the daughters of men. These were the mighty men of ancient lore, the famous ones.
Noah and His Sons
5-7 God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds—the works. I’m sorry I made them.”
1 Timothy 1:1-11
The Message (MSG)
1 1-2 I, Paul, am an apostle on special assignment for Christ, our living hope. Under God our Savior’s command, I’m writing this to you, Timothy, my son in the faith. All the best from our God and Christ be yours!
Self-Appointed Experts on Life
3-4 On my way to the province of Macedonia, I advised you to stay in Ephesus. Well, I haven’t changed my mind. Stay right there on top of things so that the teaching stays on track. Apparently some people have been introducing fantasy stories and fanciful family trees that digress into silliness instead of pulling the people back into the center, deepening faith and obedience.
5-7 The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.
8-11 It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.