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Editors' Preface - Theology of Mission by John Howard Yoder

Editors' Preface - Theology of Mission by John Howard Yoder

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Published by InterVarsity Press
This Editors' Preface gives some history to how the publication came to be and the what the hopes of the editors' are for readers.
This Editors' Preface gives some history to how the publication came to be and the what the hopes of the editors' are for readers.

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Published by: InterVarsity Press on Nov 18, 2013
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01/28/2014

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E
DITORS
P
REFACE
In the past hal century many Christians have become skeptical about Christian missionary efforts. Western missionary organizations are struggling more than ever to meet their budgets as donations wane. Missiology programs have a hard time attracting North American students. Ask people what first comes to mind when they think o missions, and one is likely to hear words such as
colonialism
,
violence
 and
disrespect 
. All o this is understandable. For many years Christian mission was intertwined with the march o Western empires across the rest o the world. Missionaries were sometimes the first wave o a long process that undermined other cultures and peoples. Scholarly books document this process.
󰀱
 Popular fiction, such as Chinua Achebe’s
Tings Fall Apart 
, vividly narrates the way Christian mis-sionaries bulldozed their way through non-Western cultures and en- vironments to bring people their Western understanding o God and the church. Te good news was too ofen intertwined with the violent machines o conquest.Anyone concerned about peace and justice has to wrestle with the legacy o missions in the long advance o Western imperialism. No eth-icist or theologian rom the Mennonite tradition can avoid it. Although John Howard Yoder is best known or his work on issues o war and peace, the topic o this book—theology o mission—preoccupied him
1
For example, see Luis Rivera,
 A Violent Evangelism: Te Political and Religious Conquest of the  Americas
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 􀀱󰀹󰀹󰀲) and Richard Fletcher,
Te Barbarian Con-version: From Paganism to Christianity 
 (New York: Henry Holt, 􀀱󰀹󰀹󰀷).
Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions
 
󰀸
 󰁨󰁥󰁯󰁬󰁯󰁧󰁹 󰁯󰁦 M󰁩󰁳󰁳󰁩󰁯󰁮
as a scholar, teacher, missionary and ecumenical dialogue partner or most o his lie. He sought to articulate a theological basis or a ree church or believers church approach to Christian mission in which sharing the gospel message, disentangled rom Western industry and militarism, could become a proound practice o Christian peacemaking, a vessel or God’s saving work.
A󰁢󰁯󰁵󰁴 T󰁨󰁩󰁳 B󰁯󰁯󰁫
From 󰀱󰀹􀀶􀀴 to 󰀱󰀹󰀸􀀳, Yoder taught a course on theology o mission at As-sociated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries (AMBS).
􀀲
 In 󰀱󰀹󰀷􀀳, the course sessions were recorded onto reel-to-reel audiocassettes, and then re-corded again in 󰀱󰀹󰀷􀀶; however, we could find only nine lectures rom the 󰀱󰀹󰀷􀀶 course. Yoder planned to have the lectures transcribed, printed and used or course material as he did with his lectures or the course “Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution.”
󰀳
 As Yoder said in a memo to Wilbert Shenk in February 󰀱󰀹󰀸􀀳: “We already have a taped transcription rom the last time the course was offered six years ago. It is proposed that this be typed off and reproduced so the students can read it prior to class session. Tis would enable the same class ormat which I have used in two other subjects or years and would also acil-itate the preparation o an inormal publication such as had been done with two o my other courses.”
󰀴
Like the war, peace and revolution lectures, Yoder thought that the theology o mission lectures might someday be edited or publication as a book. In one memo he wrote in 󰀱󰀹󰀷􀀳, Yoder hinted that he might want to revise the lectures or publication at a uture date, saying an inormal transcription would be “a separate question rom whether a more pol-ished version should be created which would be visible or commercial
2
Te seminary was renamed Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 󰀲󰀰􀀱󰀲. Yoder’s course was titled “Teology o Mission,” not “Teology o Missions.” Tis reflected the shif in termi-nology beginning to be accepted in response to the conceptual development rom the 􀀱󰀹󰀵󰀰s o
missio Dei
 as the true source o missionary action. Yoder, however, neither reers to this term nor discusses the concept.
3
Posthumously edited and published as John Howard Yoder,
Christian Attitudes to War, Peace and Revolution
, ed. Andy Alexis-Baker and ed Koontz (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀹).
4
John H. Yoder to Wilbert Shenk, 􀀴 February, 􀀱󰀹󰀸􀀳, John Howard Yoder Collection, Hist. Mss. 􀀱–􀀴󰀸, Box 􀀱󰀸􀀱, Mennonite Church USA Archives, Goshen, IN.
Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions
 
Editors’ Preface
 
󰀹
publication either as a unit or in small segments.”
􀀵
 He went on to in-dicate that i he could get a sabbatical rom teaching he would be willing to work on writing a book on mission based on the lectures. In 󰀱󰀹󰀸􀀴, Yoder lef AMBS and began teaching ull time at Notre Dame, where he no longer had the opportunity to teach about mission. Te tapes were stored away in a cellar at AMBS and orgotten. In 󰀲󰀰󰀰􀀶 Gayle began teaching a course on Yoder’s theological legacy. Several years later, when Wilbert Shenk was invited to class to reflect on Yoder’s contribu-tions to mission theology and practice, Shenk mentioned that some ormer students had told him how ormative Yoder’s course on theology o mission had been in their lives and ministry. Shenk thought there might be tapes o the lectures somewhere. Afer a number o months o ruitless searching, the director o the AMBS library finally discovered the “lost” tapes in a box in the basement o the seminary.Immediately afer finding the recordings, Andy set to work tran-scribing the lectures so the two o us could see whether they were worth publishing in book ormat. At the same time we contacted the Yoder amily representative and the AMBS Institute o Mennonite Studies; both encouraged us to proceed with the project. Once we had tran-scripts in hand, we consulted with several missiologists and mission staff persons and were encouraged by the enthusiastic response we re-ceived. We set to work editing the chapters.
W󰁨󰁡󰁴 W󰁥 H󰁡󰁶󰁥 D󰁯󰁮󰁥 󰁴󰁯 󰁴󰁨󰁥 T󰁥󰁸󰁴
We have edited the course lectures significantly. Te transcriptions were, obviously, a replica o the spoken orm in which Yoder delivered the lectures. Although we wanted to preserve the more inormal, oral quality o Yoder’s voice in the final manuscript, we repaired awkward or unclear syntax, changed passive to active voice where possible, attended to consistency in verb tense, and reorganized or clarity some o the material that we believe Yoder himsel would have done in preparing a manuscript or publication. We also added a number o transitional sen-tences or phrases where we thought such things were needed in a written
5
Ibid.
Copyrighted Material. www.ivpress.com/permissions

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